travel hacks

Extremely low: NYC to Kenya for only $350 round-trip

H/T The Flight Deal on this amazing deal.

Kenya Airways is offering a major sale to Nairobi for dates spanning throughout 2019. Find your dates through the ITA Matrix, and then book on Delta’s website. The folks at TFD kindly put together a link you can use to plug in your dates. You must follow the directions exactly in order to get the low fare.

No word on whether this is an error fare or just an extremely low sale, or whether Kenya/Delta will honor the flights but this is reminiscent of the Etihad Airways glitch fare sale to Abu Dhabi that sent hundreds of folks around the world in 2015.

As with all error fares, book now while you still have the opportunity to do so. These dirt cheap prices won’t last.

If you book — let me know!

Thank you!

Vikkie Ventures turns a year old today.

Since then, a lot of things have changed. Some good, some awful.A year ago, I had an idea for a blog that would offer cheap travel hacks, muse about life, and make travel feel accessible for people of color. I'd like to say that I accomplished much of that.

In the year since this blog launched, I've gotten so much great feedback from yall. What has been the most heartening to me has been the people who reached out to me for travel advice or to tell me that they were planning a trip because of my advice. The travel industry has missed a huge market by ignoring the experiences of people of color in general, and black people in particular. I hope this blog helps to fill that void.

This website was started with the mission to help you reach your travel goals, to take risks, and to see the world.

If this blog inspired you at all, I consider my work to be complete. But it doesn't stop here. Stay tuned for more.

Thank you,
Vikkie

The advice I'd give to a first-time international traveler is...

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So you've booked your first international trip. You've booked your round-trip flight. You've found hotel/Airbnb/hostel accommodations. You have your visa. Maybe you're going solo, or perhaps you're going in a group. Your friends in the group chat can't stop talking about the trip.

You're excited, but yet, you're also terrified. Maybe this is too much, too soon? Perhaps you aren't ready yet? I get it. I wish I could tell you that your first international trip will go entirely without a hitch, that you'll hit the ground running as soon as you land, and that you won't get food poisoning. I can't tell you that -- but I can tell you the experience will change your life. What you make of that experience is up to you. Here are three tips:

1. Being afraid is alright -- and normal
I can't tell you how terrified I was on my first flight out of the country. I worried about my health, whether I could acclimate to a new culture, the plane, not having cell service, being harassed, missing my family, and whether I would mesh well with the people on the trip. Some of these worries are uniquely "American," I can admit. Some are specific to traveling the world as a Black woman. But some were real worries. My advice is to embrace your emotions at all ends of the spectrum, but don't let them consume you or make you feel like you aren't brave enough. You are. 

I've always thought that travel was an exercise in vulnerability. On my trip to Haiti -- which was the second time I'd ever been out of the country, and the first time I flew on an airplane -- most of those fears disappeared. I loved the folks I traveled with. I found myself rarely checking my phone, and my health wasn't an issue. I'm not saying all of your fears go away once you land, but you may think less about them once you arrive. 

2. Flexibility is key/plan for anything
I can't stress this enough. As much as you want to avoid it, missed flights are possible. You may get to your destination and lose your cash. Or your AirBnB suddenly cancels. Or -- God forbid -- you get the dreaded food poisoning. It sucks, but it happens. I try to minimize risks as much as I can by staying prepared. If you're prone to sickness, I recommend keeping Cipro and ginger ale handy. Keep your doctor's phone number on speed dial if you have service. If you don't have service, buy or rent a cheap burner once you arrive.

To that point, I always recommend registering for the State Department's STEP program, so the U.S. government is aware you're in the country. Keep your credit cards on you, but always have local currency to catch a cab or pay a tip.

If time is an issue, I recommend signing up for TSA Pre-check or Global Entry to expedite getting in and out of the country. No lines are the best lines!

3. Try new food!
As Americans, we can sometimes be picky about our food. We go with what we know -- and I get it. But you aren't home, and it's alright to step away from what you know and try something you don't. You're in a new place -- don't go to iHop. Or, if you do, have dinner somewhere else.

I'm very guilty of this -- I won't tell ya'll the story of the time I flew nearly 30 hours to Malaysia and ate at Red Lobster. But the point of traveling is to get out of your comfort zone. Try something different! Ask the locals what they recommend -- folks are usually more than happy to tell you where and where not to grab a bite. People worldwide can bond over food. Ask the front desk/AirBnB host/hostel host what the best restaurants are in the area. I'm a huge bruncher, so in Cape Town, I made sure to hit a restaurant that had an authentic South African brunch. In Cuba, one of the first meals I had was at a hole-in-the-wall spot that served ropa vieja, and I immediately fell in love. You can eat American food in the States. Try something new!

Here's to a great trip! 

17 hour flight? No big deal! 3 tips for surviving long-haul flights

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Plenty of people hate flying. We want to get to our destination, but there's a way to enjoy the journey as well. 

I tend to take a big trip at least once a year -- and that requires me to be on a plane for an extended amount of time. I've flown to Abu Dhabi (non-stop), Kuala Lumpur, and Johannesburg, among other locations. Long-hauls can be tough, but I think I have created a system that works. Below are a few tips to survive your next long flight, and how to arrive at your final destination not looking so jet-lagged. 

Dress comfortably. Wear loose clothing and layers
I can't stress this enough. I don't care about looking cute on long-hauls. I'm in Adidas track pants, a hoodie, and flip-flops. I wear compression socks to minimize the risk of deep-vein thrombosis, which can be fatal. Because space is at a premium, especially when flying economy, I try to be as comfortable as possible.

Planes can be really warm or freezing cold. Rarely have I been on a long flight that was room temperature. I wear layers that can be put on or taken off easily. I usually wear a loose, long-sleeve shirt and a hoodie to maximize comfort.

Don't tire yourself out before a long flight
I know people who try to tire themselves before long-flights believing that they can just sleep during the flight. It might work for them, but I haven't had much luck. Every time I arrive to a flight dead tired, I get maybe an hour or so of sleep during the flight. That means my jet lag is brutal when I arrive at my destination. 

Two days before I depart, I try to sync my body to the time of my destination. Example: Johannesburg is seven hours ahead of D.C., so if it's 10:00p JNB time I try to be in bed by 3:00p D.C. time. It's weird, but it's worked for me!

Hydrate and eat healthy foods
Planes are notorious for serving foods high in sodium. I always pick my meal when I book the flight to ensure that I get a low-sodium meal. Plane food isn't usually great, but low-sodium meals usually come with fruit. 

It can be easy to make a pit-stop at the airport shop and buy $30 worth of junk food. I shy away from salty and overly sweet foods when flying. There's nothing worse than feeling uneasy or ill on a flight when there's no way to get off. I opt for salt-free pretzels and lots of water. Water is your friend!

 

How to make last minute travel plans and not break the bank

Photo by seb_ra/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by seb_ra/iStock / Getty Images

Man, listen. Sometimes you just want to get away. You're having a rough week, and it's only Tuesday. You're dreaming about a beach, or the woods, or any other place not where you're currently at.

Scenario:
You decide on a location, and you're looking for flights and a hotel. The prices freak you out, and you almost decide to just kick it at home. But before putting a pause in those last minute travel plans, here's a checklist to follow:

1. Do your Googles
I can't stress this enough. The best way to find cheap, last minute flights or hotels is through Google. Google Flights is your friend. Google Flights will save your life. Google Flights will save you hundreds of dollars. Toggle around with the dates, and if you decide to make a trip into a long weekend, do realize that you may have to fly back home on a Tuesday. Google Flights is a hassle-free way to find last minute, often dirt cheap domestic and international flights. 

For example, I want some sun and am desperate to get out of D.C. for a few days. Today is July 23. I found a round-trip, one stop flight to Cabo for July 29-August 1. It's well-known that some flights actually decrease in price the closer you get to the date, so this is a good strategy if you're a procrastinator. Not too shabby for a last-minute, international trip. 

2. Peak times are not your friend
Sometimes – you may be able to fly out on Friday and come back on a Sunday or early Monday in time for work. Most time however, you'll probably have to fly on days or hours not considered ideal. When I went to L.A. in May, my return flight was cheaper because I was fine with flying back to the East Coast at 11:00 pm. Unfortunately I had a layover in Chicago, but slept on the LAX-CHI flight, landed in D.C., and went straight into work. 

3. Yes, you might have to fly Spirit (or Frontier)
Spirit, and to a lesser extent Frontier, get a bad rep. It's understandable. They're late, crowded and generally unfriendly. Yeah, your flight will probably land late, but if you aren't pressed for time and don't care about not getting snacks on flights, this might be the best, economically-friendly bet for you.

4. You ain't staying at the Intercontinental, shawty. But you can find something nice (or nicer) on Airbnb
You don't get to be picky on last minute trips – mostly. I was picky on my L.A. trip and landed in a great housing situation because of AirBnB. If you're open to house sharing sites like AirBnb, you may end up with a gem that's better than a traditional hotel.

It's possible to book last minute travel and not stretch the limits of your budget. But flexibility is key. Play around with some dates and locations, and see what you can find.