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Welcome My name is Tess. I'm a 9-5 New Yorker and traveler. My hobbies include destroying suitcases, photo-bombing tourists in Times Square, and taking long romantic ADHD walks around the globe. Welcome!

Sep 23, 2012

Move Or Get Mauled

Migration is logical - right?

Met this Senegalese vendor in Rome. He has been in Italy for over 3 years.

Globally, species are born, hard coded from buffalo to butterflies, to know that movement is detrimental to survival. They are driven to move in order to live. It makes them stronger if they survive and more prepared for the challenge of moving again.

They don't hem & haw over whether it's the right time, they simply follow instinct. Those who get mauled to death by predators, were caught still eating, still drinking or still resting - in short, stagnating and contemplating their next step and ran out of time.

The Bicycle guys of Manhattan are almost, always from other countries.

Like me, many of you are curious to know, what it would be like to travel the world? To migrate from the place you've always known to places you always dreamed of going, and possibly putting down some temporary roots. Take a year off and migrate.

Perhaps you have contemplated busting into your boss's office to have a Dave Chappelle moment.
Afterwards, you shore up your dirty back-pack nest egg, say goodbye to everybody who told you that you're outta your fugging mind and hop on the first thing smoking into the global grid - right?

Amadou, a Senegalese vendor, has been in New York for more than 8 years

You start your world tour on Khaosan Road in Thailand, ride elephants in Bali, dance your ass off  at Tomorrowland in Belgium, climb mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, smoke your cares away in Amsterdam at the Tulip festival. And finally when you barely have two nickels left to rub together, you return home with some exotic rash, a distaste for the use of deodorant and a blog full of memories.

Welp, here's something else you may have realized immediately after that genial thought occurred: What the fugg am I going to do when I get back. And who is going to hire a nonconformist defector?

Have an idea of what you want, once the globetrotting is through
or this could be you.
Don't let that stop you. You are not the first and you will never be the last. Besides if your current circumstance was satisfactory, then your basic instincts wouldn't instigate such a drastic change. Chances are, you are in danger of being mauled to death by the passing of time.

And upon your return - if you do return - perhaps you'll be unsure about what you want, but  absolutely certain that you'll break out in hives at the thought of returning to a desk job.
Here are a few careers where your nomadic skills and lack of deodorant make you prime candidates for certain companies. Also check out this link. Some of these careers may even send you back out into the world!

My Top Five picks
  1. Wine Importer - cultivate your palette then pimp your skills globally.
  2. Excursion programmer/Trip planner - Put together packages for places you've already been. 
  3. Freelance Travel Writer/Travel guide writer - Let the world in on what you have learned from your wanderlust
  4. English as a Second Language/ ESL Teacher - it's not as easy as it sounds. But getting certified to teach ESL can get your foot into many domestic & international doors.
  5. professional vagabond -  I'm not sure how you will get paid for this one, but if you figure it out, email me immediately!
Can you  suggest other careers or companies for returning global drifters?

Sep 15, 2012

Groupon can take me to Africa?

"Who would use a Groupon coupon to go to Africa?"

So, I have been looking for mid-level budget package deals to Africa. And I am horrified at my findings. 

Planning my own adventure, is the way to go.  But traveling with family members who have expectations can complicate things. That's where the travel agency comes in and my money goes out the window.

Lone Zebra in Nakuru National park - Kenya

 This is not my first Africa rodeo folks.  And these " Packages" can stomp a several thousand dollar mud hole into your savings account. Holy sh*t you say? - Holt sh*t indeed my friends.  But this pre-packaged tour, is going to hurt way  more than my pockets.

You see, I am a rehabilitated chronic spender. And this "purchase" could send me spiraling  into the relapsed-chronic spenders version of a crack house with a dirty mattress and a smart phone buying shoes online.

Whites sands beach of River No.2 - Sierra Leone

The problem is, if I say no, I stand to disappoint. But if I say yes, I will probably be harboring a grudge for the next 6 months. Neither option is acceptable. That's when groupon came up.

When a friend told me about these all inclusive safari packages that groupon was offering to South and East Africa, I laughed. And then, I said something snarky like, "Who the heck would use a groupon coupon to go on a safari in South Africa?"

No seriously, who does that? I will tell you who; travelers who question having to fork out $4-$6 grand for 6 days of regimented, mediocre touring - that's who!

"But it's Africa!" you say, "a once in a lifetime adventure!"  Well folks, I digress, This doesn't have to be your only international escapade, simply because of the presumed restraints of a mid-level budget.

Lodge in Naivasha - Here,  you can take a walking tour of the grounds where hippos,
zebra, giraffes and other animals roam freely  just behind the compound.  

In my experience, it really depends on what you're looking for.  Sure there is a vacuum of information out there for "do-it-yourself travelers."   But websites like Travel Dudes, for travelers by travelers works as a great alternative for mindful folks looking to minimize costs without sacrificing a good time.

Not to discount the need for professionals who can alleviate certain concerns unforeseen or otherwise. But if you knew that you could do more with your budget (with a little leg-work) would you do it yourself?

I've also used AirBNB to find a great guest house in Tobago. No sooner than I dropped my bags off at Miller's Geust House  ,Winston, the owner introduced me to the other guests and I was whisked off to a local dinner party. From there I spent the next four days with an amazing group of locals and travellers.

Sleeping inside the safari Park at Sarova Lion Hill Lodge  in Nakuru.

All I'm saying is, weigh your options. If you're an adventurous solo traveler who's not afraid to do your homework to save hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars, then you can hit the international travel circuit as often as you like.   Sure, you might say that I'm a tightwad-dreamer  - but I'm not the only one....And I hope some day you will join us... And the world will be as one.

  This lodge in Naivasha gives their guests private tours of their grounds. Where they allow you to walk as close as possible to the animals.
  I love giraffes.......
                          ....They just don't love me back.
Staring at the baby giraffe that got away from my clutches ...not my finest moment, but so exhilarating.

Still not convinced? No problem.  Below are a few suggestions for these crooked-ass travel agencies, but also for YOU's, the traveler.  Think of them as demands. Ask for them, insist on them, and if all else fails  buy a fugging Groupon coupon!


My Africa Tour Package Wish list

"You paid how much to come see me?!
..and  you call  us stupid animals?" 
  1. First class, non-stop flight on anything that doesn't have the words American or Continental in the airline name. However if non-stop is not optional, then no more than a 2-4 hour layover. A great option is Emirates, Having flow with them, I can assure you that their economy feels less like Guantanamo Bay and more like the back of a modern SUV
  2. All meals included - ALL -   for the length of my stay. Several of which should be at local eateries.  Whether that means goats milk and cows blood in a Masai camp or Nyama Choma (BBQ) and banana rum at a local eatery in town, i want local fare baby!  
  3. Feeling obligated to tip transport drivers. If the agency gets a commission from my purchased package then so should the drivers. However, I will gladly tip the safari park ranger for not letting my ass get chomped to pieces by a hyena.
  4. Next, don't put me in a 2 1/2 star hotel and then tell me it's 5 stars by Africa standards. If you promote it as four stars then that's what I'm expecting. Not an adult hostel with a continental breakfast. I've seen the hotels in Africa and they are very first-world modern. So no cutting corners with my money!
  5.  Give me some options - if you are going to strip me of $3-$6 grand, at least take me to two countries. African countries are, sometimes, within a few hours drive from each other. I have travelled by car from Kenya to Tanzania within hours. Even pulling over to pee next to livestock, (not my classiest moment folks). Then  pulled over to to eat; pulled over by extorting policemen; and pulled over again to pee once more. Still arriving in less time than it takes to drive from NYC to Virginia. So take me to Uganda, The Gambia, Botswana Zanzibar -please!!  Chances are I will never spend this type of money again on a trip.... but treat me right and I might recommend you to someone else!
Fisherman in Lake Nakuru