Monthly Archives: July 2014

How Travel Makes You a Better Person


Photo by Kate Ter Haar via

If travel were packaged as a product, the label might read like a prescription. The (positive) effects would include making you smarter, stronger, healthier, relaxed, and, yes, happier. Even much more interesting as a person; I’m just throwing the last part in.

Like many similar articles out there, travel can make you a better person for a ton of reasons. Here are some of mine.

  • You learn to adapt to new and different situations and surroundings quicker.
  • You see how others live, sometimes with more and often times with a lot less. How you measure the difference is up to you.
  • You will mistakes and possibly tough ones, or even get caught in worst-case scenarios, but learn and grow from them. Experience is a great teacher.
  • You discover how very little you need and what you don’t have to buy, from what gets packed in your suitcase or what is not worth buying there.
  • You will become more conscious of what’s going on around you as well as pick up on when and where you need to be more cautious.
  • You will have great stories to tell and memories that will last a lifetime.
  • You realize you have to keep track of your spending as well as plan and maintain a budget.

Image by tup wanders via

  • Your taste buds will get a workout in sampling different foods and drinks. Yes, at times, your stomach too.
  • You will meet and befriend people from all walks of life, locals and fellow travelers. It’s certain that most will be friendly and helpful and want to talk to you.
  • You will gain self-confidence and, perhaps gradually, a better sense of direction.
  • You will always learn something new: history, culture, religion, politics, culinary, nature/wildlife and, of course, language.
  • You can conquer your fears: of the unknown, of physical challenges, of getting lost (insert here). And if you realize you have limitations, it’s okay.
  • You learn to go with the flow and realize that people have a different way of doing things than they do back home.
  • You will see how a destination’s past and present coincide. You’ll also see how certain things are changing the future of the places you go to.

What to Look for in a Travel Partner


Photo by dichohecho via

As much as I think people should not be hesitant with solo travel, I have to admit that it’s nice to have a travel partner. But how you pick one is very important.

Drawing from my experiences, here are my suggestions on how what to look for in a travel partner.

1)   Be upfront about your travel expectations before you leave.

It’s exciting to book a trip together to a place you’ve always wanted to see or if the opportunity strikes to go somewhere. However, you and your travel buddy may or may not share the same sense of travel style. While your idea of seeing a tropic destination is pursuing local activities, your travel partner may be more down for a ton of beach time. Or while you plan to visit museums, your friend may want to explore the local scene or the outdoors. Before leaving, talk about what you both would like to do. When I go overseas with my cousin, we email and text each other the names of places and things that we want to see and do—a few weeks beforehand. We also set up a general day-by-day itinerary, with some wiggle room for changes, solo activities, and downtime.

2)   Be honest about what you both can afford.

Slightly or greatly, spending limits and habits can differ, so talk openly about what financial shape you’re in. With making reservations and purchases, I find it’s best for each person to buy his/her airfare. It’s also important for both of you to be very clear, as well as mutually agree, on how to divide up shared expenses like lodging or transportation. Figure out, too, how you both might respond to unexpected costs. For one girls’ getaway, I booked our hotel reservation with my credit card; my friend gave me her half in cash. When we got to our hotel, we found out our reservation had listed us as arriving the following night. We were still able to get a room, but a new and higher price (which I fought against but lost) was charged to my card. So, I asked my friend for the difference. To my surprise, she said no, arguing that she had paid the amount I had told her it was going to be. Whether she was right or wrong, her answer made me leery about traveling with her again. (We’re still friends.)

3)  Make sure you both can adjust to situations, or at least compromise.

Since no travel plans are fully secure, it’s important for both of you to be able to go with the flow—or be open to switching up your schedule. At your destination, you might learn about a great scenic tour or a hit up a locally recommended nightspot. Food can also be tricky, so see what and where each of you will eat—and won’t. I’ve been lucky in that most of my travel partners are pretty open to trying new things or agreeing to last-minute changes. I’ve gotten better in these areas too. A college friend of mine is very spontaneous, especially when traveling, and by doing things on a whim (like driving one night from Chicago to Gary, Indiana for riverboat gambling) we had some great times on the road together.

4)   Know when to let certain things go.

In following Tip 4, remember that people react to issues in different ways and reactions can change the course of your trip. When tensions get high, and depending upon what’s happening, remember to not take it personally. If possible, step away for few seconds or more, or just stop what you’re doing, so you each can calm down. It will also help you both out in addressing the problem better without initially responding with your emotions. During stressful scenarios, I’ve discovered that some people I’ve traveled with can get “tough” on others and I learned quickly when to ignore them and when to push back. And don’t be afraid if you or your travel partner needs alone time. If you’re both comfortable about splitting up, just check in with each other about where you’re at and if everything is okay, and set a certain time and place to meet up later.

In all, remember that with your travel partner it’s the journey that should really matter. Make sure you’re both on the same route.


Magical Kenya: New Campaign for Kenyan Tourism Board

_DSC1033When asked by Kenya Tourism Board about what they like most about the country, visitors’ answers include the people, the wildlife and the scenery. In fact, Kenya is considered to be the “safari epicenter of the world,” where the “Big Five” (a former hunting term for a group of animals including lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard) can be seen.

During a New York City luncheon held by Kenya Tourism, representatives greeted guests with a warm Jumbo (hello) and spoke about their recently launched campaign, “Magical Kenya.” The campaign is not just important in terms of attracting visitors but also to help to maintain tourism levels after recent events impacting Kenya.


Phyllis Jeplosgei Kandie, cabinet secretary for Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, spoke of the challenges that Kenya faced last year such as the attack by gunmen at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last September and the conflicts happening in neighboring Somalia.


A number of measures are being taken to change this public notion that Kenya is unsafe, said Jeplosgei Kandie, and “that is what we are fighting.”

“There are good stories found in Kenya,” she added.

In increasing security levels in Kenya, there are many new initiatives being introduced through the current fiscal budget. They include increasing new police recruits by 7,000, bringing protection of Kenya wildlife under police departments, and establishing special 24-hour operation units in towns. Another big change is in bringing in community police to encourage locals to give information on anything suspicious.

By nature, Jeplosgei Kandie explained that Kenyans are friendly people who want to help visitors. Yet she also acknowledged that, too, there can be a need to “have to look at ourselves and say that not everyone that comes to us means well.”

With marketing, Kenya Tourism Board recently launched #whyiloveKenya, a virtual campaign to encourage visitors to share their experiences. The campaign centers on promoting what people love most about this East African country.

Kenya has also earned accolades through last year’s World Travel Awards, being given the title of “World’s Leading Safari Destination.” CNN Travel  named Kenya’s Watamu and Diani beaches as the second and third Best Beaches in Africa for 2013. Further good news, particularly for visitors to East African, happened this past February with the launch of the East African Joint Tourist Visa, a single visa to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Learn more about Kenya Tourism Board through

Editor’s Note: Top image provided by Kenya Tourism Board