Travel Hacks For The Budgetnista in You

Travel has become part and parcel of a millennial’s life. We prioritize traveling a lot more than we did over a decade or so ago. Why?

Because travel life is the best life that’s why. Visiting new places, experiencing new cultures, new cuisines and making lifetime memories while you’re at it?

What could be better than that?

That being said, the jet set life isn’t something people willingly get into because of the cost. SLA has a few tips and tricks on low budget travel that can possibly help change your mind…

1. Save Smart

It goes without saying that if you want to travel, you need to save for it.

Travelling requires sacrifice and compromise and good financial management. So if it means ditching your daily coffee run and carrying your own lunch to work for three months then so be it – every little bit counts.

We spend so much on little luxuries that we can actually do without if we think about how much we can save in the long run. If you have a financial goal to meet by a certain time – you will need to cut out some unnecessary spending habits. Save and save diligently.

2. Visas

Check whether the country you are traveling to requires a visa on arrival or one to be acquired before travel or none at all.

In regards to visas on arrival, be sure to check with the country’s consulate directly and not just Google.

For example – I was travelling to Mexico last year and being a Kenyan, I immediately knew I needed to get a visa and when I checked the requirements on the consulate’s website, the list mentioned that if you have a current US visa, you can still get entry into Mexico – no need to apply for a visa.

I called the consulate to confirm this and they did confirm it. Saved myself the process and the coins and had I not checked, I’d have paid for a visa I didn’t really need.

Please do your research when it comes to visas. The UK visa, for example, gives you access to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The US, Canada, and UK visa do also offer visa-free access to plenty of other countries with an entry of up to 15 to 180 days, depending on the country.

You do have to check whether your passport is eligible for such access though.  All this helps you void visa fees and the entire process altogether if necessary.

Some consulates require confirmed flight and accommodation bookings when applying for a visa. A trick to get around this – book your accommodation through booking.com, this site lets you book a hotel room without any payment required and you can cancel the booking within a particular timeframe.

This helps you get through the visa process without losing any money in case you aren’t successful in the visa interview. You can also reserve tickets without paying immediately with some airlines or travel agencies.

3. Best Time to Travel

It is always cheaper to travel during off-peak periods.

Traveling during the holiday season such as Easter and Christmas will cost more than any other time of the year.

The Summer season is also an expensive travel period especially to countries in the west. Here in Africa, peak times depending on the country. For example in Kenya, excluding the holiday season in December, other peak seasons include April (Easter holidays) and August (when the cold season here ends). Any other time of the year is off-peak season so perfect for traveling here.

In Europe, off-peak times include January – March or September – Early November. For countries in South-East Asia like Indonesia and Malaysia, the best time to travel would be during their monsoon season, which starts around November until March.

The weather is still hot and humid, just mixed with showers of rain from time to time.

The best days to travel in terms of affordability are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Majority travel is done from Friday to Monday so those days will have more costly travel fares.

For holiday travel, it would be wise to book a flight scheduled for a week before the actual holiday, i.e. a week or two before Christmas week or if you can’t leave that early, traveling on Christmas day is another option. It’s not ideal but it will be the cheapest ticket you get.

Flying on Christmas day or Thanksgiving day will give you the best rates on the low.

4. Flight Hacks

Searching for cheap flights is really an extreme sport sometimes but if you’re keen on various airline trends, you can find a loophole.

First tip – when looking for flights, browse using an incognito/private window.

Websites track your searches and you will always see the same rate on several different sites because they have picked up that you are looking. Either use a private browsing window or clear your cache every time you search so the sites have nothing to pick up on.

The best time to search for flights is a good three months in advance, the rates go up the closer you get to your departure date.

Flights with one or two stops tend to be cheaper than direct flights. As convenient as direct flights are, they tend to cost so much just because of said convenience.

Picking a flight with connecting flights saves quite a bit of money and for some airlines like Emirates, if your layover is 10hrs or longer, they automatically give you a transit visa which allows you to get out of the airport and put you up in a hotel for that duration before your next flight.

Join ALL the miles programs. Most programs are partnered with more than one airline, for instance, Delta SkyMiles program is partnered with KLM, Air France, Kenya Airways, Korean Airlines, Alitalia, China Airlines, etc…

So you can get miles from any of these airlines and use them on any of them too. The more miles you rack up the better your chances on using them to get upgraded/free flights.

Travel light when you can. Especially during domestic travel, you can avoid all those baggage fees by just having a backpack or a carryon suitcase.

5. Accommodation Hacks

Airbnb and Booking.com are some of the best sites to find affordable accommodation.

When traveling in a group, it’s better on your wallets if you rent out an apartment or villa, which come by super cheap in places like Bali and Vietnam instead of spending so much on resorts and hotels.

If you choose to stay at a resort or hotel, pick the bed and breakfast option. This saves on the money you’d have to spend on food throughout the day, the breakfast is usually buffet style, you could eat as late as 10 am and be full throughout the day thus avoid spending money on finding breakfast and lunch elsewhere.

Couch-surfing is another cost-effective way to travel. There’s plenty of people who are willing to offer their couches for solo travellers and backpackers, it’s free, you get to have your belongings in a safe place and you get to connect with locals all at once, it’s a win-win!

6. Live like a Local

Get to know your surroundings, don’t just stick to doing the cliché tourist activities that are popular in the city you are visiting. Walk the path less traveled, talk to the locals and find out what else is good to experience and explore.

The locals will shed light on what to do and what not to do, this keeps you from spending so much on overpriced city tours.

Check out event sites for that particular city, some cheap or even free events are always advertised on these sites and on Facebook. You can tour an entire city for as little as a simple subway/bus ride thanks to lots of free events.

Use public transport often – a lot more affordable than cabs. If the city has Uber/lyft/Grab, you should take advantage of those as well and avoid local cab services as they mark up the price if they know you are a foreigner.

Walk a lot. You’ll find that most times you don’t even need to take a cab or a bus. European and Asian countries especially are very walking friendly, there are also walking tours that you can take to acquaint yourself with certain areas of the city.

Walk often and get to know the area, the people and get your 10k steps in all at once.

7. Be Flexible

To travel on a low budget you have to be prepared to be flexible. Anticipate flight delays or cancellations, you may not get to travel on the days you have planned so being flexible with travel dates is also important.

Allow some flexibility in your itinerary; being in a new country not everything will work the way you are used to. Do not be tied to your plans, travel requires breathing room.

8. Use Your Network, Grow Your Network

If you’re planning to go to India and you happen to have had a college roommate from Mumbai or you may want to visit Southern Africa and you worked with someone from Namibia… hit them up!

Keep your contacts well especially if you have any international contacts, they really come in handy. They could help you with accommodation, give you some insider knowledge of their city/country, all of which can help save you money.

Having friends or family who work in
hospitality i.e. big hotels can help you save money by letting you use their
employee discount, it cuts the price by a good percentage – you could end up
staying somewhere like the Marriot for much cheaper than what is advertised
thanks to the plug from your friend.

Talk to other travelers, join various travel groups on social media, learn from other solo travelers and travel groups. 

Get to know your Airbnb hosts, they could be very useful (read free) tour guides because they know the area they live in better. Using your already existing network and growing it will benefit your travel life immensely.

Joanna Steele: 2019, my year of return – from London to Equatorial Guinea

I was born in London in the 80s to Jamaican immigrants who arrived in the UK as young children in the 1950s. My mum studied and worked as a nurse for the NHS (UK’s national health service) specializing as a midwife before becoming a health visitor. My dad was a Ph.D. educated engineer, physicist, and researcher working for MI5 (the UK government security and intelligence agency). He was also an Open University lecturer. My early ambition was to be a lawyer. I began a Law degree at London Metropolitan University but discovered pretty early on that it wasn’t for me. I changed to Marketing and Spanish with the ultimate aim of working internationally. After university, I worked in a number of traditional PR and marketing roles and in the early 2000s, transitioned to a more digital focus. More recently I have been making my mark within the UK digital retail space leading award-winning teams, projects, and campaigns. I developed the content for the Mothercare (UK Mother & Baby Retailer) app – Winner of Best App at Paypal E-tail Awards – 2013 & 2014. I managed the social media team shortlisted for Best Social Media. In 2017, I was a Tech50 Women award nominee which acknowledges emerging UK female tech talent.
“But I’m leaving London for Equatorial Guinea”.

Why Leave?

In 2014, I met my now fiancée –  a self-taught digital designer and animator who had worked for companies including Google and Amazon. We would often get requests to design leaflets and websites – many from DRC and Angola where my partner originates. There was a clear demand for digital and design services but no-one local to fulfill. My partner went to DRC to explore the market and landed an opportunity in Equatorial Guinea where he teaches animation at a local school, has built their website and is working on other marketing collateral. Africa’s potential as a global leader in the world’s digital economy grows significantly every year. A growing population, increasing internet penetration and mobile adoption, already goes a long way towards overcoming infrastructural barriers to digital transformation and connecting people and services online. That’s why we’ve created Dimax – a digital agency helping businesses in Western Africa become more digitally focused to drive growth. Relocating and establishing a business is exciting, but it is hard work - @MissSteele Click To Tweet

How am I preparing for such a big transition?

Here are my top 5 ways to prepare for a huge transition such as this… 1. Visit the region multiple times. Read, research and understand the cultural and business landscape. Upskill if necessary. Current reads: “How We Made it In Africa” – compiled by Jaco Maritz & “Africa’s Business Revolution – How to succeed in the world’s next big growth market” by Acha Leke, Mutsa Chironga and Georges Desvaux. I’m also a student at the Oxford University Fintech Programme learning about how technology is disrupting financial markets. 2. Network. Get yourself known. I attend at least 2 networking events per month and am working on elevating my online personal brand 3. Get your finances in order. Reduce expenditure, increase passive income and have a plan for how your assets will be managed whilst you’re away 4. De-clutter – I didn’t realize how much stuff I had – most of which I don’t need or won’t be able to take with me 5. Focus on your physical and spiritual health. Your mind and body will be tested with all that you have to do, so step up your exercise and healthy eating regime.

What am I looking forward to?

  • Playing my part in Africapitalism. Driving financial returns and long term sustainable economic growth with social and environmental responsibility, education and community enrichment at the core.
  •  Living and working side by side with my partner in life and business
  • Sounds cliché, but the weather – anyone who has ever lived in London knows the struggle!
I will however definitely miss my family, friends and the fast-pace of London.

Looking to make a similar transition? Follow these steps…

  • Preparation is key. I’ve hired a business coach to help me plan and prioritize which has been so helpful because at times I get overwhelmed with what I need to do including holding down my day job whilst I’m still in the UK!
  • Be patient. You’re going to want everything to happen quickly – know that everything will happen when it’s meant to.
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable: No need to always know your next move. Whilst we have short, mid and long-term goals, we still don’t have everything figured out.  It helps not to overthink things. Once we made the decision to make the big move, things just started to fall in place.
  • Tell people about your plans: you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help you or connect you with someone that can.
  • Be flexible: Whilst I aim to be in Equatorial Guinea by the end of 2019, nothing happens before its time. Following my most recent visit, 
I have been invited back to host a workshop and participate on a panel at TegCampus – an annual tech initiative for young people organized by telecommunications company GITGE in May. So, I will be back sooner than I had anticipated. Watch this space! Follow my journey on Instagram and read more about Dimax here: www.dimaxdigital.com
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I have evolved as a traveler: Senzelwe Mthembu shares her ultimate travel guide

27 years old Senzelwe Mthembu is an explorer at heart, a South African traveler, researcher, content creator, and photography enthusiast.

When she’s not curating travel experiences, Senzelwe works as a social researcher at the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA). She focuses on youth transitions into adulthood, youth (un)employment, and on other topics related to young people.

She has a background in politics, philosophy, and economics and obtained her Master’s Degree in Philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2015.

In this article, she highlights how she’s evolving as a traveler and her experiences traveling on the continent.


What made you fall in love with travel?

My passion for travel started at a young age when, as a family, we would drive down to rural Kwa-Zulu Natal during the festive season.

I remember being fascinated by the change in terrain and context. The first memorable trip for me was to the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga. So my passion for travel and the African continent started right here, in South Africa.

I later realized the need to showcase my love for travel and to highlight Africa’s beauty to other Africans and to the world.

What kind of traveler are you?

I think I have evolved as a traveler and will probably continue to evolve as my interests change. I was once primarily interested in going to the main tourist attractions and wanting to do things because so many other people had done them.

Travel felt like quite a selfish endeavor. I now take a greater interest in the people from the place that I am traveling to and I want to fully immerse myself in the culture and learn as much as I can.

What interesting social customs have you encountered while traveling the continent?

There are two things which I found interesting. The first was just how friendly and helpful people in Kenya are.

I have not experienced hospitality in the way I experienced it in Kenya. It felt like there was a real concern for other human beings, especially those visiting their country.

The second, which we generally don’t practice here in South Africa, was taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s home. Not only was this the case in the traditional Swahili settlement of Lamu where most of the population is Muslim, but this practice was also found in Nairobi, Kenya where on one evening we invited friends we had made over to our Airbnb home and they did the same.

I found it interesting that young people in Kenya were also taking their shoes off when entering someone’s home.

Paradise on a plate… Your favorite meal on any of your travels?

My favorite meal on my travels was at a very unpretentious, buffet-style traditional Swahili restaurant.

It was the first meal I had in Lamu, Kenya and consisted of pilau (a rice, meat and vegetable dish that is very popular in Kenya), lentils, fish in a spicy tomato stew and other vegetables.

I was so impressed by the flavors.

What do you know now about traveling on a limited budget that you wish you’d known earlier?

I wish I took the plunge earlier! Travel is possible for many people and a range of budgets can be accommodated.

But I do wish I learned the art of saving ahead of time and drawing up a budget. There are so many ways of making travel more affordable, whether it’s taking local public transport, staying in someone’s home or eating where locals eat.

Traveling on a limited budget does not necessarily make your experience any less enjoyable.

Got any travel & safety hacks for passport newbies & solo travelers?

Here are 3 tips for keeping safe and for saving money, especially as a solo traveler.

1. Do your research ahead of time.

The first important things to check for international travel in Africa is whether or not you need any vaccinations such as for Yellow Fever or Malaria.

Also, check luggage dimensions and free baggage policies for the airline or be prepared to pay extra, risk missing your flight or be forced to leave things behind!

2. Choose your accommodation wisely.

Solo travel often means paying more for accommodation since you won’t be sharing the costs with anyone. But that is not always the case!

It’s important to ask yourself what you can afford but also, what you can’t compromise on when it comes to accommodation. If your budget is low, you can still find good accommodation but manage your expectations.

Use Airbnb to book your accommodation as it allows you to book a private room in someone’s house at your stated budget. This makes it safer for you as most of the time you are living with a local who can provide invaluable information and tips about the neighborhood.

Also consider staying in a hostel or backpackers, which will work out to be much cheaper and makes it easier for you to meet like-minded solo travelers.  For both these options, remember to read reviews!

Be as prepared as possible.

Prepare for possible long layovers at airports by having a pillow or blanket, WATER (I cannot stress this one enough) and snacks from the plane or from home.

Carry a moon bag or small backpack for your valuables. It’s so much easier to remember the important things when you can access valuables easily. Write out important contact details and information in multiple places, including on your phone and have extra copies of important documentation in case you lose anything.

And make sure you can access your money from more than one bank card.What is your next travel destination, and why?

I will be traveling to Rwanda and Tanzania soon, but this time it’ll be as part of a beautifully curated group trip where West Africans and Southern Africans, amongst others, will meet in East Africa for an experience of a lifetime.

My sister and I have a shared passion for travel in Africa and so we launched our destination travel company, Lived Experience Travel, this year. Our first international trip is in partnership with Ghana-based, The Travel Clan (@thetravelclan on Instagram) and we are heading to East Africa.

This will be a two-country, 11-day trip to Rwanda and Tanzania that fuses culture, art, traditional food and that celebrates what Africa has overcome and what some of our achievements are.

 

Your final travel advice for motherland moguls?

I think we need to take advantage of what technology and social media have enabled us to do and that is – connect.

The best way to experience a new place is by meeting the locals, having real conversations with people and exploring together.

Another piece of advice is not to wait for others to come along and that local travel is valid! If you notice a pattern of passing travel opportunities up, save some of the money you would have spent on eating out and shopping until you can comfortably do a solo trip or an organized group trip.

Be open-minded, humble yourself to the ways of others, be yourself and learning from my past mistakes – draw up a budget (even if it’s rough).


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Eyitemi Popo: How I turned my media brand into a lifestyle brand

If you're an entrepreneur who feels stuck with your business, I hope you find this article at the perfect time and it encourages you to keep pushing. Click To Tweet

After five years of building my online magazine, painstakingly growing a social media following, and nurturing relationships with global brands, I had found a comfortable niche in the media landscape.

The night after my magazine’s 5th-anniversary party, I quietly reflected on the journey. I read the congratulatory messages I had received, some reminding me that many online sites and magazines that started with – or even after – Ayiba no longer existed.

But was survival enough of an achievement?

Making my dream my reality was significant. Building a team to drive that vision forward had significance. I mean, I had gone from shooting the first cover of Ayiba Magazine on my college campus to having celebrity photographers shoot the cover with Hollywood actresses.

The growth was undeniable, that had to count for something. And perhaps it did. However, my side hustle was still a side hustle bringing in side hustle revenue. Was that the best I could do? And more importantly, what was next?

Almost a year to the date of my quiet contemplation, I have built Girls Trip Tours, a social venture that is a direct manifestation of my magazine’s mission. It leverages Ayiba’s readership, brand equity, and professional network to design unique travel experiences across Africa with a focus on female empowerment.

Our trips have the goal of empowering future female leaders through mentorship, while taking in the sites and dining around town in the company of high profile business women and local industry leaders. I like to think of it as ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ with less soul-searching and more self-actualization.

Where once you could read about Lagos’ nightlife, Nairobi’s startup ecosystem, or Rwandese artisans in the pages of Ayiba, now we can arrange for you to experience these things first-hand through group or solo travel with Girls Trip Tours.

The idea came from the opportunity I observed for digital brands to bring online experiences offline and create deeper more meaningful connections with their virtual communities in real life. The concept of Girls Trip Tours emerged from a perceived customer need. Ayiba readers were emailing to ask for travel advice.

Our articles had inspired our readers in the diaspora to want to visit the continent and they were looking to us as an expert resource. My mission with Ayiba is to connect Africans in the diaspora with those on the continent through storytelling. I have consistently done this through online and print mediums, but now I have the opportunity to create those connections in real life.

Lifestyle brands thrive when they figure out what their customers end goal and design their brand around the experiences that their customers desire - @AyibaMagazine Click To Tweet

Figure out your customers desire, along with the people, places, things, and ideas that inspire them to action.

After surveying 100 plus women in Ayiba’s online community, I decided to organize trips to Kenya and Nigeria in 2019. As per their feedback, there are a mix of experiences to satisfy those seeking ancestral travel experiences to West Africa, wildlife and adventure in National Parks, as well as urban exploration in Africa’s most vibrant cities.

In addition to satisfying a customer need, by expanding my media brand to include travel experiences, I now have a new avenue for creating content. On each trip, there are multiple opportunities to connect with new talents to feature or more contributors to write.

I also will be creatively inspired by my surroundings to shoot video series, photography campaigns, and write OP-EDS on social issues I am confronted with. In the long run, I believe it makes sense for Ayiba to become a lifestyle brand.

I am creating a customer journey that can start with exploring content online, which may lead to booking a travel experience or vice versa. The magazine and the trips will feed into one another. In this next phase of my entrepreneurial journey, I look forward to listening to my customers, as well as looking to broader industry trends for my continued evolution.

For any entrepreneur that may feel stuck with their businesses, I hope you find this article at the perfect time and it encourages you to keep pushing.

If your growth has become stagnant and you are looking for a new direction to go in, observe customer behavior, look to the industry for inspiration, and most importantly, ask your audience what they want/need, then test it out.

I did a soft-launch with a Girls Trip to Ghana in July. It was that small group trip, the women I met, and the girls I mentored that gave me the confidence to do more.My advice

  • Consider what other verticals may be profitable before you give up on a business you have put time, money, sweat, and tears into.
  • As tough as it may be, if you have a good foundation: reputable brand and loyal audience, there are many ways you can consider monetizing and scaling up.

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Kachi Tila-Adesina: Striking a Balance for Every Season

Kachi Tila Adesina is an example of Motherland Mogul goals! After growing up in Nigeria, Kachi moved to the UK in 2014 to work as a corporate lawyer. In March 2017, she was admitted as a solicitor of England and Wales. 

Beyond her career, Kachi enjoys a wide range of hobbies that have led her towards starting her blog – Kachee Tee. KacheeTee.com is a different kind of lifestyle blog that features everything that women would go through. From relationships, travel, career, beauty, fashion, blogging, food and most recently parenting – this blog has a little bit for everyone. 

Through her blog, Kachi hopes to inspire her readers to learn to live intentionally and have fun. In this interview, she gives us a glimpse of her blogging journey and her great plans for the future.


Tell us about your blog – KacheeTee

I started KacheeTee.com with zero ideas of what I was getting into. My need to get an outlet to write was constantly consuming my thoughts. So, I decided to give it a go and two years later, I am still blogging!

Before starting, I was oblivious to how big the blogging industry was. This was good because not knowing the task ahead kept me from quitting earlier on. Over the years, the blog has evolved from just sharing my own stories. I now also share other people’s experiences, journeys, and stories.

Due to my curiosity about a lot of things, my blog has more of a holistic lifestyle blog. It was important to me to create the kind of blog I’d love to read which is easy to read and I can relax while reading.

 

What was it like publishing your first post?

I published my first blog post on Facebook for my friends to read. Though I was nervous and almost regretted my decision to ‘come out of my shell’, my friends were very receptive. Many of them subscribed to the blog and sent messages of how they were looking forward to the next post. At this point, I couldn’t quit.

It’s been a learning curve and an interesting couple of years. Now, my posts are much different to the initial ones. But, what’s remained consistent is the amount of passion and effort poured into every single post.

What values have been critical to your personal and career growth? 

My top three values are – Excellence, Integrity, and Christian faith. I have a genuine desire to truly excel at most things to the best of my ability and this constantly pushes me.

To me, excellence also ties in with impact. I am very keen to inspire, educate and add value in some way. So often, in my career and personal life, I ask “what’s to be gained from this?“. This has guided everything that I do from my career to even on my blog. 

I strongly believe, where there’s value, there’s often growth. In all this, I’m conscious of acting with integrity and authenticity – making sure I stay true to who I am and don’t lose my voice. Finally, my Christian faith and beliefs guide me all the way and I believe is very instrumental in my growth.

 

In everything you do, it's important to strike a fair balance and identify what are your current priorities Click To Tweet

How has your lifestyle blog impacted you?

Launching my blog is definitely one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. But it’s had a lot impact on my life. It’s given me confidence and made me believe in myself a lot more. I’ve also met many amazing people! 

But interestingly, I’ve also developed a creative mindset I didn’t think I had. Even when I’m tired, my mind is always spinning all these creative new ideas for the blog.

Overall, the blog has brought a lot of fulfillment in my life. During my 28th birthday – the first after I launched my blog – I received many overwhelming messages from people saying how much I’d inspired them through my blog. This was a great sign of how fulfilling my blog is.

You’re a very busy Motherland Mogul. How do you manage it all?

Two words – balance and support. As an adult, it is important to know how to balance the many things that demand your attention.

In everything you do, it’s important to strike a fair balance and identify what are the current priorities. There have been times when my priority was work or family, and my blog had to take a back seat- and that’s okay! The most important thing is to become organized and resourceful. 

It’s also instrumental to have the right kind of support. My husband knows I enjoy being a lawyer and a blogger, therefore, being able to do these things allows me to be a great wife and mother. He’s happy to give his 100 percent support when necessary. I’m also very open to other kinds of support – from outsourcing the house chores to volunteers who edit blog posts.

What kind of partnerships and environments are necessary for bloggers to thrive?

Blogging is hard work! Many bloggers put in time, effort and money to produce great content. However, without engagement from their audience, fellow bloggers, and brands, it becomes tough.

Therefore, support is very important for the growth of a blog. Support can be engaging with the content to partnering with fellow bloggers to get advice and even create content. Though sometimes it may be uncommon for lifestyle bloggers to collaborate with others, it’s important as it helps reach new audiences.

Does living in the diaspora influence your style of blogging in any way?

Living in the UK does influence my style of blogging in a couple of ways relating to content and standards. Knowing that my blog is being read by a diverse set of people,  I especially pay attention to ensure my content is relatable, and the language is not overly limited to Nigerian/ African lingua.

This does not mean that I refrain from telling our stories or experiences. On the contrary, living here propels me to tell more of our stories and push for greater representation and diversity in blogging.

Finally, being in the UK exposes me to a higher standard of professionalism and expectations. I’m constantly challenging myself to write better and produce a blog that I can introduce to anyone, anywhere.

What are your goals for the future?

Essentially my goal is to build a blog and platform that is so much bigger than just ‘Kachi’. I plan to do this through increasing readership across Nigeria and wider Africa – as well as Africans in the diaspora.

However, knowing that there is a lot of content out there sometimes scares me. But I’ve realized it’s not just about me. I’m ready to build a team to help me take this blog to the next level in terms of quality and quantity of content. I’d also love to create a network where bloggers can share knowledge and exchange ideas through seminars, workshops, events or even virtually via podcasts.

Finally, I’d love to partner with more brands, companies, and organizations to reach my target audience and add value. From parenting to travel, fashion, lifestyle, and careers – there’s so much opportunity for such mutually benefiting partnerships.

What three movies do you think should definitely have sequels? 

Me Before You.  I cried so much watching this movie, and perhaps a sequel where I get to laugh a lot might be good. There’s a book sequel now (haven’t read it yet though), so we just might get a movie sequel

Black Panther. I absolutely enjoyed the movie and I think a sequel that further raises the issue of diversity and representation is very much welcome! Rumor has it, there’d be a sequel and I hope we see more of Shuri – loved her.

Pretty Woman. I’m not sure what the plot of the sequel could be, but I’d pay to watch it. Such a classic.


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Emeline Nsingi Nkosi: Never sell yourself out – stand up for what you believe in

Emeline  Nsingi Nkosi is a confident and experienced bi-lingual actor and presenter based Accra, Ghana presenting for GHOne TV. She is currently presenting and producing a lifestyle and entertainment show called ‘The Core’.

She has interviewed the likes of Asamoah Gyan, Ozwald Boateng, Abedi Pele, Azumah Nelson, Sarkodie, M.Anifest and many others.

 Emeline has a background in Fashion Textiles. She was named Hilary Alexander’s “Secret Seven to Watch” and nominated for the Ethical Award at Graduate Fashion Week 2012. 

During her final year in the university, she created a visual dissertation on natural hair which awakened her love for presenting and producing.

 Emeline founded M about Town, a London based Lifestyle show in 2015.  Highlights include interviewing Rosario Dawson, Ian Taylor and documenting the Ethical Fashion Forum Summit and Fashion Africa Conference 2015.

Emeline has been writing and interviewing celebrities for ThandieKay.com since early2016, concentrating mostly on inspiring individuals, she has interviewed Angela Bassett, Ade Hassan, and Zuriel Oduwole.

She has joined Alexander Amosu’s prestigious LuxAfrique and covers Art exhibitions, Luxury Travel, Restaurants and Fashion in London and internationally.

Emeline Nsingi Nkosi makes us proud to spell our name W-O-M-A-N!


Pace is better than haste - @emelinenn Click To Tweet

What things have you learned about life from being a media personality?

Everything is about great PR and image, it’s no coincidence when you see more of an artist or actor in the media, it’s all carefully curated, and nothing is random.

Your mood can really impact your work, if I have an argument with someone I care about, I can’t leave it to linger, otherwise, my day just feels dark and negative and you need to able to put on a happy face for TV.

Life can sometimes feel lonely especially when knowing who to trust, surround yourself with people who really have your best interest at heart.

 

Tell us about an interview you conducted that taught you the most?

My interview with the boxing legend Azumah Nelson. He shared that his ill wife had found out that she wouldn’t survive just before he was about to have one of the biggest fights of his life.

Although he didn’t want to fight, he felt he couldn’t cancel it as it was sold out.

It taught me that sometimes you have to put your work before your own needs but also that at the end of the day, what really matters the most is those you care about, without them life feels meaningless.

What’s the one question you wish you’d asked someone you’ve interviewed but never did?

When I meet key personalities I have an idea of what I would like to ask but if it’s not possible, I tend not to dwell on it.

The only person I wish I could have probably gone for a coffee, drink or dinner or maybe all three was Angela Bassett.

I interviewed her for ThandieKay at a beauty brand launch that she had collaborated with. When I went to sit next to her, I felt such warmth and love. We spoke skincare and American Horror Story.

 

What should every woman try at least once in her life?

Travelling alone. It gives you such self-confidence and belief in your strengths. Before visiting my cousin in the US, I spent the first 7 days alone in New York and at a Yoga ashram in Monroe.

It was both thrilling and petrifying. I’ve never relied on my senses and my gut as much as when traveling alone to various places.

Advice for aspiring media entrepreneurs?

  • Start: What can you do today that will impact your career positively?
  •  Look at how your favorite media entrepreneurs started and how can you replicate that for you?
  • Get onto casting websites such as Starnow and look for opportunities if you want to get into presenting.
  • Head to relevant networking events
  • Get onto Linkedin, build your network.
  • Hone your skills, can you do a part-time course? Check out Coursera or Masterclass

What app do you most often use?

Sleep Cycle. I’ve used it for around 983 nights as of today, I’m obsessed with my sleep and getting enough of it.

What can you not miss on TV?

I don’t watch TV at home but when I’m traveling I’ll put on the TV to see which channels are in that country and which programmes they watch.

At home, I’m more of a Netflix chick, I’m currently waiting for the new season of The 100.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

One of my uni teachers told me to slow down and remember that I have a long career ahead of me. For one project, I must have put about 5 different design ideas into one and she reminded me that if I am to have a long career ahead, then why use up all of my ideas in one go.

I want to achieve everything yesterday but actually, there is no need, pace is better than haste.

What’s the key to developing a successful personal brand?

1. Being authentic to yourself and your audience, I’m really not good at lying and then remembering that lie, so I can’t pretend to be something I’m not or will be found out. At the end of the day, there is only one you and those that like you will stick with you.

2. Knowing what you stand up for, so when opportunities arise you know if they fit.

For example, although I love red wine, I’m not a big drinker, so an alcohol brand sponsoring one of my shows wouldn’t really fit, it’s not me and I can’t stand there pretending to like something that I don’t.

3. Never sell yourself out – stand up for what you believe in, don’t be swayed easily but be flexible. Rooted in a tree but flexible like the branches.

What brings you the greatest joy?

Simple things in life, the sun, warmth, my partner, mum, brother, those close to me being happy and fulfilled.

When I see a project realized and it has impacted people positively, yoga, good smells, music, amazing food, and red wine.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood to me means genuine support for women, knowing that everyone has their own journey and there is enough space for everyone.

I see it over and over where women are catty towards each other but it’s so pointless and a waste of energy.

What song instantly gets you up and going?

Fabregas – Mascara – When I working as a Graphic Designer, I had many lunchtimes where I would go for a walk listening to this song to uplift my mood.

Anything by Koffi Olomide – Effrakata, Micko, Loi … it reminds me of my childhood and feeling carefree. It puts everything into perspective.

What’s next for you?

More seasons of “The Core”, starring in a film out later in the year, producing season 3 of Revealed with Bola Ray, more travel.
I have a good feeling for this year.

2018 is the year of ……?

Money, work, and sleep

I feel like this is the year to grow the finances and as women, being able to talk openly about it, being able to ask for what we are worth and then growing those finances by investing.

Work because I love what I do and want to create more entertaining but impactful content and sleep because I promised myself that I would take better care of myself this year.

Health = Wealth.


Got an article you’d like to share with us? Share your story with us here.

8 International residencies for African visual artists in 2018

 Are you a visual artist or art student who dreams of traveling the world?

While every other day we read one article or the other of people quitting their jobs to travel the world, sadly that will just never be a reality for many people.

But that does not mean we should write our dreams off completely because International residency programs are one way for you to explore new places across the world!

Without further Ado, here are 8 thrilling international residencies you might want to look out for.

1. Est-Nort-Est, résidence d´artistes

The top priority of Est-Nort-Est is to encourage artistic research and experimentation in contemporary art. Artists will have access to an individual studio and share a collective house with the other artists.

The program places importance on working in new cultural spaces, and dialogue between artists of different backgrounds.

The Est-Nort-Est residencies take place three times a year: spring, summer, and autumn.

Location: Québec, Canada

Style: Contemporary Art

Media: Visual Art, Sculpture, Textile Art, New Media, Painting, Installation

Duration: Two months

Funding: $1215 stipend and lodging provided.

2. Art Noise Travel Residency

While many residencies typically take place in one country throughout the course of the residency, art noise travel residency will take place in 3 different countries, although within Africa, if you have ever wanted to learn and travel, this might be something you are interested in.

The Art Noise residency is open to not only visual artists but designers and art theorists as well.

Artists will receive guidance from more experienced colleagues in the residency. In return, all artists will create at least one project per country inspired by a culture in that country and presentations are expected.

Selected artists will also have access to a private studio and apartment, cultural spots, tourist locations and gallery spaces.

Location: About 3 African countries

Media: Visual Art, Sculpture, New Media, Printmaking, design, art theist.

Duration: A little over three months.

Funding: Studio provided. Allowance and Accommodation available.

 

3. Villa Lena Foundation

The Villa Lena Foundation is a non-profit that supports contemporary artists working in art, music, film, and various other creative endeavors.

Each year, they invite applicants to live and work in a 19th-century villa in the Tuscan countryside for two months in order to promote multi-disciplinary dialogue between professional artists of all levels and backgrounds.

The Villa Lena Foundation is a hub for new research, collaborative discussion, and innovative ideas.

Selected artists will stay on a thousand acre estate with sweeping views of vineyards and olive groves. Artists are asked to donate a work to the Villa at the end of their stay, where it will be displayed on the property.

Location: Tuscany, Italy

Media: Visual Art, music, film, literature, fashion and other creative disciplines.

Duration: Two months.

Funding: Lodging, studio, and half-board included (breakfast and dinner).

 

4. 360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency

360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency is a fairly new organization that provides free housing, studio space and board for its residents.

Based in central Mexico, this charming mountain town is home to many artists who gather in the cafes, ride horses around the mountains and gather by the lake to watch the pelicans.

Artists are lodged in a hacienda style home with both individual rooms and studios and shared living and dining areas.

All artists provided with a desk and wi-fi, painters get professional easels, ceramic artists have access to a kiln, and a new floor loom was just obtained for weavers.

Location: Chapala, Mexico

Media: Visual Art, New Media, Printmaking, Sculpture, Ceramics, Textile Art, Photography.

Duration: One month.

Funding: Enjoy free housing, wi-fi, all utilities, laundry on the premises, and weekly maid service. Each resident also receives a $1,000 peso food stipend. You will only need to pay for your local transportation, entertainment, and additional food.

 

5. Nordisk Kunstnarsenter Dale

The Nordic Artists’ Center was established in 1998 and is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture to bring international artists in the visual arts together.

With the stunning, award-winning architecture with sweeping vistas, this residency attracts artists from all over the world to concentrate on their work while taking in the surroundings. Over 1520 artists applied for spots last year, with only five residencies available for each session 

SLA Tip: make sure your application is in tip-top shape before submitting.

The center’s facilities include private residences, wireless internet access, a shared workshop, a machinery hall for woodwork, a darkroom, and a ventilated room for painting, etc.

The workshop is also furnished with welding equipment and facilities for printmaking. English and Norwegian are spoken.

Location: Dale Sunnfjord, Norway

Media: Visual Art, Design, Architecture, and Curators.

Duration: Two or three months.

Funding: The residency at the Nordic Artists’ Centre includes a monthly grant of 1200 USD, living and working space, as well as support for travel expenses up to 725 USD, which will be reimbursed on arrival.

6. COLECTIVO R.A.R.O

In this new type of Artist-in-residence program, artists choose at least two different studio/workshop spaces to visit in order to complete a proposed project, deepen techniques, and exhibit work.

With many studios to take residence in, artists have the opportunity for rich exchange between experienced and emerging artists alike.

This residency is for emerging, mid-career, and established artists of all disciplines.

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Media: Visual Art, New Media, Printmaking, Sculpture.

Duration: Two weeks minimum.

Funding: Depending on the case, R.A.R.O might be able to grant some scholarships to foreign artists. Find more information on their website.

 

7. MAK-Schindler Residency

West-coast wanderers can slip into a California state of mind while roosting in the Rudolph Schindler-designed Mackey Apartments.

Every year, the MAK-Schindler residency invites two artists and two architects to explore the intersection of culture and the built environment of Los Angeles. MAK steps in with a healthy monthly stipend and the LA connections to realize resident projects, which are made public through a final exhibition.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Media: Visual Art, New Media, Printmaking, Sculpture.

Duration: Six months

 

8. Richard Rogers Fellowship at Residency

This research-based residency programme was launched in October 2016 by the Harvard Graduate School of Design team.

Taking inspiration from its namesake, Lord Rogers, the Fellowship does not distinguish between disciplines; any accomplished professional or scholar whose work addresses the built environment is encouraged to apply.

Six fellows will be selected each year for a 12-week residency in Rogers’ famed Wimbledon House – which he built for his parents in the 1960s. Next year will also see the Modernist building filled with lectures, exhibitions, and parties.

This residency is for emerging, mid-career, and established artists of all disciplines

Location: Wimbledon House, London, UK

Media: Visual Art, New Media, Printmaking, Sculpture.

Duration: Three months


Do you know of any special opportunities or events lined up for 2018? Share it with us here.

 

Facebook Live chat with Anita Ottenhof: How I built a world class hospitality business(Aug 23)

It’s certain that one thing that can make or break your business, is your approach to customer service.

Gone are the days of saying “This is Africa” as an excuse to mediocre and bad service delivery. It’s all over Jackie.

 Join us for a Facebook Live discussion on Wednesday, Aug 23rd, with hospitality and customer service expert –  Anita Ottenhof, who will teach you how excellent customer service can help you build a world class hospitality business.

Learn how to build a world class hospitality business with excellent customer service(Aug. 23) Click To Tweet

Anita Ottenhof operates a luxury boutique hotel in Ghana –  Villa Monticello which has a 100% female management team and has recently been nominated by the World Travel Awards in the category of Africa’s Leading Boutique Hotel.

Being in operation for  6 six years now, Anita wants to prove to the world that excellence can be achieved in Africa by an African woman.

Register below to join this session and ask Anita all your pressing questions.

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • Breaking into the Hospitality Industry
  • How customer service can make or break your business
  • Training your staff to be customer service champions
  • 5 steps to having a customer service focused culture

Facebook Live Details:

Date: Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Time: Accra 1 pm // Lagos 2 pm // Joburg 3 pm

Where: facebook.com/sheleadsafrica/

Watch video here:

How excellent customer service can help you build a world clas…

She Leads Africa Facebook Live with Anita Ottenhof ( Senior Guest Relations Manager) – Villa Monticello. How I build a world class hospitality business. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting SheLeadsAfrica.org/join

Posted by She Leads Africa on Wednesday, August 23, 2017

About Anita

With almost ten years of extensive experience in the hospitality and travel industry within Europe and Africa,  beginning  her career in Amsterdam with KLM, Flying Blue, Anita Ottenhof has a natural flair and passion for exceptional customer service, and for the past three years has been a part of the management team at Ghana’s premier luxury boutique hotel Villa Monticello.

Stemming from a credible background, she holds a degree in Travel and Hospitality Management from ROC College Leiden- Netherlands and a certificate for strategic marketing for hotels and restaurants from the Cornell Hospitality School in Ithaca, New York.

Having completed first class training at Africa’s leading boutique hotel – “The Saxon” and various hotels within the continent, Anita is well equipped to take on a challenge.  She is an innovative and versatile professional with excellent interpersonal skills and a drive for consistency with an eye for detail.

With a profound understanding of the hospitality industry, Anita foresees the need and acquirement for quality-trained hospitality personnel’s within Africa.

She is currently studying a HR course at the International Hotel School in Johannesburg, which will enable her to facilitate programs that will support the Human Resource division in her industry.

Sante Nyambo: Education is the most important gift you can give yourself

My father always told me, education is the most important gift you can give yourself... just go for it! - Sante Nyambo Click To Tweet

“I remember standing still in a dark room for a long period of time with one hand on my face and the other on my phone… On that day, the news beaming from my phone lit up my life forever.”

This is how Sante Nyambo recalls the moment she received the acceptance letter from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, where she later obtained her B.Sc in Civil Engineering. At only 18 and filled with courage and a desire to positively impact her nation, she flew across the world to pursue knowledge that would change her life forever. This Tanzanian probably never dreamed that her story would be told in film. She’s now one of the stars of “One Day I Too Go Fly”, a documentary film about 4 African youths’ journeys to become engineers at MIT. It is directed by Arthur Musah, a Ghanaian engineer/filmmaker who seeks to create powerful new narratives about Africa and Africans in cinema.

You can view a glimpse of the footage of the film on Kickstarter, where Arthur and the team are rallying up support to fund post-production editing of all the footage: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arthurmusah/one-day-i-too-go-fly-documentary-post-production


Take us back to that moment when you got the acceptance letter from MIT, what went through your mind in that moment?

I was still up at 3am on Pi day (March 14th 2011). I stayed up because I could not fall asleep. The letter came in around 3:30 am via an email portal notification. As soon as I read the beginning of the letter, I immediately thought I was on the waiting list. I had the biggest smile on my face. I felt happy to have been considered. I sighed with relief. As I kept on reading on, I began to cry. I remember standing still in a dark room for a long period of time with one hand on my face and the other on my phone. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed with happiness as my smile turned into a pool of tears. When I read the end of the letter saying “Now go party and have fun! See you on campus…”, it was a day that I will never forget. On that day, the news beaming from my phone lit up my life forever.

Before you left for MIT, what ideas did you have about the world and about yourself (as a young African woman) and how have they been refined since your studies at MIT and your exposure to a different way of life in America?

I was 18. I did not know a lot about myself at the time as I do now.  I still feel have not changed much. I am still all about having fun with life and remaining strong and persistent to follow my dreams. As I got to America, I thought I knew what I wanted out of myself and life. My way of thinking gradually changed slightly during the school year and internships.

I vividly remember the look on my father’s face as I made my way to the departure gates in 2011. We both felt the same way. I was nervous. My father was skeptical about letting me leave. I literally had to convince my family. It was not easy because I could not predict or control the future. The fear of the unknown. I never thought a lot about myself. I cared more about my family, cousins and grandparents. I grew up with a very close knit family with my mother as my best-friend. I knew that I would be leaving a void. I also strongly felt that I would eventually strengthen the bonds when I returned home. I felt that I was given a great opportunity to be challenged and one of tremendous growth.

Being introduced to a different way of life in America, have you found it hard to decide how much of Africa to hold on to and how much of America to absorb? What are you holding on to that is African and what American ideals are you absorbing, without losing your African heritage?

Coping was a combination of a sine and a cosine curve. It had ups and downs. Immersing yourself in a new environment really has a way of molding you. It reinforces your foundations. After graduation, time to time, I watch the first “One Day I Too Go Fly” Kickstarter video that was launched in 2012. It looked back into the past and it captured moments in my dorm room where it showed how I decorated my room with Arusha region decorations (Maasais dancing). I do hold on to my memories of home and my heritage as a chagga woman. I think the ability to cope presents a challenge, however it is a function of resiliency. We can to some extent control that.

What new narrative about Africa and Africans is the film, ‘One Day I Too Go Fly’, aiming to share with the world?

7 years ago in Dar es Salaam, I was sitting on a curb on a very warm sunny day after a long basketball game. I was waiting to catch a daladala when a young lady walked up to me looking for directions. In our conversation, she told me she attended MIT and how much she enjoyed it. She went on to mention that it is the best university in the world and I should consider this opportunity to study abroad. I had never heard of such a college or considered being an engineer at the time. I enjoyed and loved STEM and despite my strengths lying in engineering, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I went home that night, I reached out to her for help with the applications. For me, the film is a way to create exposure to the world about opportunities in general. The exposure about life abroad while in college. The film will tell a story that may inspire people. It captures a glimpse that most people are scared to share. Their lives. It is difficult to be very transparent to everyone and potentially the world. I want to be part of making a positive impact. Even though I cannot give riches, I can give and share other things. I would like to encourage people to strive above and beyond their abilities. The film has the potential to be what the young lady I met was to me. My father always told me, education is the most important gift you can give yourself, therefore we should try and not let circumstances dictate when or how it should happen, just go for it!

It has been suggested that STEM subjects be taught in indigenous languages for African students to understand mathematics and science subjects better and fear them less. What is your take on this?

I have had this debate before with some friends. Most of us agreed that as long as something is taught despite fear, the subject matter will eventually stick regardless of language used in administering the topics. If we make language of instruction the barrier, this will be impeding growth. May be the individual can take initiative to learn other languages. It is possible by creating an encouraging environment to do so in schools. For example, I have a friend that moved from West Africa to America at 16. She learnt how to speak English in two years by reading books with her friends for fun. My father and his family grew up in the mountains of Kilimanjaro, speaking and being taught only in their indigenous language (kichagga). But they ended up being doctors, engineers , diplomats, etc, and fluent in English. My take away was that it is possible, however I do not deny that learning how to speak some universal languages early is a good thing.

Do you perhaps foresee a future where Africans no longer necessarily need to cross the ocean to get ‘world class’ studies and degrees, and if this dream is ever possible, how would you propose we get there or how do you propose we start?

I think this is very possible. Being educated in the West grants us new networks and exposure to a new culture and ways of operating. Education is knowledge at the end of the day, it is where and what you do with it that counts. Therefore, yes, I do foresee a future in which we do not have to cross the seas if one opts not to. I believe that I live in this era and the trend is booming. Examples I’ve heard about are Ashesi University in Ghana and the African Leadership University. Both of those were started by Africans who stepped out into the world, picked up knowledge from other countries, and returned to the continent to experiment with new ideas for teaching and learning.

On 4th July weekend, while waiting to party with my friends, I watched a TED talk by South African former investment banker, Euvin Naidoo, that talks about investing in Africa. As I watched the talk, I recalled the conversation I had with Mohammed Dewji at Harvard Business School (HBS) this year. As we sat at the roundtable discussion with my fellow Tanzanians that morning, I truly felt that we had the same goal and we shared a vision. We have to let people do what they can to improve themselves so that they can actively contribute to the goal. Away or while in the west all contributions count. If they do decide to head back to the continent, they have to have a plan. The plan is the most important part. You need to figure out what problem you are going to tackle and how. Despite your education, the moment you get the drive and figure out how to implement or execute your plan, you will define your own excellence. Most people that are educated in Africa, move on to be Presidents, doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, teachers etc.

In the Kickstarter video of ‘One Day I Too Go Fly’, very few hands went up when you asked pupils from a school in Tanzania how many of them were interested in doing engineering. How will you use your position as a qualified engineer, whose ideas about the world and herself have been refined, to change this?

8/13/13 {Brighton Xxxx}

“hello sante,

mambo, hope you doin good .i like how u presented when u came at ardhi university u motivated & inspired me alot …..thanx for dat! I have got so many questions to ask but I guess it would be best if contact you via watsapp [xxxxxxx] or facebook {xxxxxxx} if its fine with you, looking forward for your reply

regards.”

This is one of the many letters I received from my trip. I spoke to over 400 students on separate occasions. Junior year in college, I spent some weekends speaking to some of these students via social media, email and calls. As I sat in my dorm and discussed with my friends at MIT’s Women’s Independent Living Group (WILG), I realized that the recurring problem is systemic. I think that people not only feel that STEM is a challenging field but also that the rewards are not worth pursuing. The question is how do we engage people to build a nation when we offer no significant incentives. The growth seems to only benefit a few. The students that I spoke to throughout the trip are well qualified in STEM, however, they are scared and some told me that they do feel helpless. The what if question always holds people back. No incentive and fear is a bad recipe. Solutions need to be at the personal and the government policy levels. Individuals can mentor others, which is why I am taking part in the film, to show that engineering, even though it is tough, is tractable. That could help remove the fear factor. And then our governments need to create an environment where the people are rewarded for developing their talents for engineering and science, and for applying them to their country’s needs.

You are in a bookstore and you have to choose between buying a captivating novel or a good textbook on Thermodynamics, with your last money. Which do you choose?

:)) Trick question. I would pick up the narrative. Two reasons. I did so much of thermo in college, I am all thermo-ed out now lol. I can never say no to some quality time with a great book, some tea and a snack!


A documentary about Sante’s experience is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. Click here if you’d like to support.

How to mission travel

The best trips are those that are the most demanding, socially and professionally! Click To Tweet

I am sitting in the middle seat of an empty row (great when you need to catch up on some sleep), and we are a few hours away from final destination: Dakar, Senegal.

Since July last year, my world has been turned upside down in ways I never thought possible. I exited two years of post-bachelor unemployment (forcing myself to confront my aggravated social anxiety) to join an agency where I am in the air for what feels like 3 weeks every month.

Though it has been exciting to discover everything business travel has taught me, oh boy has it been tricky and downright scary sometimes. It’s that fear of the unknown I suppose. I cannot tell you if it will ever leave me. But I don’t intend on wasting these travel opportunities by focusing on my fears.

So I have mapped out a way in which I could be better prepared for mission travel, therefore less stressed, and more likely to take in as much as I can from these travels.

If you are interested, and especially if you will be going on your first travel missions soon, I hope you stick around and enjoy the read.

Step 1: The pre-travel prep

In the week preceding your travels, take some time to research not only your final destination but also the countries in which you will be transiting. Make sure you have the travel and transit durations right (those can get so confusing, I mean is it just me?).

Check the weather, the currency used in these countries and the predominant culture/religion for acceptable dress codes. You may want to calculate how much money you will need for the time you are away and take the appropriate amount of money beforehand; carrying dollars is very often the most appropriate. If you are not carrying cash, check for available banks and ATMs where you will be landing.

Let me give you an illustration of what went wrong when I didn’t research my travel destinations. Last month, I embarked on a trip to Abidjan via Addis Ababa. I was so excited because after my mission I would be discovering Abidjan with some friends who have their parents there.

All I could think of was the heat of Côte d’Ivoire and I imagined myself lying on the beach, sunnies on and all. I didn’t bother to check the weather in Addis where I would be spending the night and let’s just say, it was a pretty cold and uncomfortable night.

The same goes with transit durations. I once confused an overnight layover for one that would only last a few hours. I encountered a lot of stress finding a hotel to spend the night in, and I thank the heavens I hadn’t given in to the temptation of spending all my remaining cash.

Step 2: Pack appropriately and as lightly as you can

This is where, till today, I binge watch “how to pack lightly” YouTube videos like they’re going out of style. Yesterday I think I hit the mark when an airport officer remarked: “Your suitcase is so light for a lady, you always feel the need to pack everything.”

Needless to say that as a compulsive over-packer, I felt great. In all seriousness, it is important not to pack too heavily. If you pack light, you lose fewer things and you move faster.

Packing light, however, doesn’t mean you leave the things you do need behind. Other than clothing, make sure you pack all professional material relating to your mission travel, and then you’re good to go!

Learn how to pack like a pro here!

Step 3: Keep your eyes on the prize

So you’ve made it to your destination. Now what? If you are traveling alone, contact your boss or supervisor and make sure they know you’ve arrived safely and are ready to get moving. This serves two purposes,

1. Someone from your organization will know where you are and can assist with any urgent queries.
2. By calling when you get to your destination you can find out as soon as possible what you need to do and how you can get ahead on certain tasks.

Mission travel is often very short and we can use all the time we have.

How do you ace travelling for work when you have social anxiety? Read this! Click To Tweet

Step 4: Take care of yourself

Indeed, mission travel can be pretty fast pace. So remember to take care of yourself whenever you have the time. During travel, we often end up in surroundings we are not used to with people that may have completely different cultures than ours.

The change in scenery can be exhausting all on its own. So take some time out for you. Call your friends or a family member -yes, even if you’re only going to be away for 4 days- wake up a little earlier for some prayer or meditation time, or get to bed earlier if you can.

Step 5: Take in the travel and loosen up!

I recently read “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown from which a sentence struck out to me. I turned into an everyday prayer, and I am paraphrasing here, but it goes a little something like this; “let me have the courage to show up and let myself be seen”.

All this to say that you should expect that despite the stress of the travels, your colleagues are going to be a lot more relaxed, and it’s an opportunity to show your personality and get to know on a deeper level those with whom you work.

Travelling for work is a great opportunity to get to know your colleagues on a deeper level Click To Tweet

You’re going to get some FOMO too, sometimes you’re going to get an entire afternoon to yourself after work to visit your surroundings and sometimes you’re going to touch down and be on the next available flight in a matter of hours. Embrace it all and do what is possible.

As I finish off this article, I reflect on a week in Dakar, in which I was nervous to mix business and pleasure (I have a bestie in Dakar and I knew it wasn’t going to be just business)! But a lot of the time, the best trips are those that are the most demanding, socially and professionally!

With these words, I will leave you. Until next time.