East Africa
East Africa

Traveling is not only my job, it’s my lifestyle. As the CEO of two service travel companies, I find myself on a plane, train or road trip at least twice a month! I’ve been to over 60 countries across five continents and I plan to double that number before my 35th birthday in 5 years. At this point, I would definitely consider myself a travelista, mainly because it just has a nice ring to it. But with this self proclaimed title, I feel it’s my duty to share some travel tricks and tips. Here are my six must have travel items to make your ride a little smoother!

1. Business Cards: Collect the business card of the hotel where you are staying before you go out to explore the city. You can use the contact information to get back if you get lost by showing it to the taxi driver, or someone local to the area. This can come in handy when internet isn’t readily available or your cell phone dies.

Bonus: As an entrepreneur and business woman, I NEVER MISS an opportunity to NETWORK and make an impact! You never know whose path you’ll cross as you travel. Your business may be exactly what your neighbor on the plane may need. Last year, I gave my business card to a woman on the plane next to me who became a board member of my charity Jelani Girls a few months later.

2. Shot of {insert favorite spirit here}: There aren’t many things you can get through airport security. You can’t bring salsa (I learned the hard way), more than one carry on bag, or any of your favorite toiletries unless it is 3.4 ounces or smaller. But you can bring your drink of choice. After the process of going through airport security, delayed flights, concourse sprints from one gate to another, and general airport foolery, you may just need one. Bring a shot or three so that you don’t have to pay the expensive airline prices. My personal go to is Grand Mariner. Just make sure it is the miniature size and that it is packed separately in your carry on.

3. Comfortable Shoes: One should always be adventure ready because you never know where your travels may lead. Once, my layover went from three hours to 19 in Cairo, Egypt and I ended up hanging out on the Nile River with the person next to me on the plane. Even if something like that doesn't happen, you will always have to wait in line at the airport or take a long walk through a concourse so make sure to wear comfortable, easy to slip on/off shoes.

Bonus: Throw a pair of socks in your carry on if you aren’t already wearing them on travel day. They can come in handy if you don’t want to walk through the security checkpoint with bare feet and if your feet are cold while on a chilly flight.

4. General Purpose Scarf: The trick to being a packing pro for traveling is knowing how to be fashionable, functional and flexible. You always want to pack clothing and items that are multifaceted in case of weather changes and to keep your luggage light. Regardless of the season, I always pack a scarf that’s thick enough to be used as a covering for a cold flight, thin enough to be a head wrap on a bad hair day - or simply a random Tuesday, and fly enough to tie around my neck or waist to enhance my outfit!

5. Journal: Oh the places you will go and the people you will meet! Make sure to document your journey, even if it is a work trip. Traveling exposes you to another side of yourself, and experiences that you don’t have in your everyday grind. Make sure to carry a journal to write down your adventures and general thoughts. I seem to come up with some of the best ideas while traveling.

Bonus: Don’t forget a pen to journal with. It is something that we usually have close by when we are on the ground but can become a hot commodity when you are in the air. It will also be useful when filling out your customs form.

6. Cash: This may seem obvious but there are levels to this as there are several things to consider: how long you’ll be traveling, how accessible ATMs or credit card transactions are at different location, etc. This will make a big difference in how much cash you have on hand. I like to use credit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees wherever I can because I feel safer having smaller amounts of cash on me. I also use ATMs of international banks that partner with my U.S. bank because they don’t charge fees. But when credit card and ATM availability is scarce, it is always important to have the local currency as well as an emergency stash of US Dollar or Euro.

Remember when it’s all said and done, as long as you have your passport and some cash you can always figure out the rest. In fact, I recommend snapping a photo of your passport and emailing it to yourself so you always have a digital copy. I hope these tips serve you well as you embark on new adventures.

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