My Top Frequently Asked Travel Questions – Answered Here! (Part 1)
As the co-founder of a dynamic London based group travel start up, The Wind Collective Trips, and travel blogger I’m often swamped with insightful, hilarious and the often, “hey Doyin, how can I travel for free?” type questions. From DMs to emails to tweets and more DMs I thought why not centralise it all and create an FAQ blog series from time to time. So here we are, the first wave of your travel questions answered:
1. “AirBnB’s or hotels?”
Am I against booking directly with hotels? Not exactly, BUT the wider choice of accommodation available on AirBnB and Booking.com gives me the option to filter out for deals and save some cash without conflicting on quality. Here are my “yaayys” and “naaays” of both AirBnB’s and hotels to help you decide…
- Insanely broad range of accommodation on AirBnB (from apartments to villas to hostels & more).
- Invite and earn referral scheme: I receive £15 credit every time someone uses my referral code to make a booking (£55 when they host), and they’ll get £25 in return. Create an account (using my code: AirBnB), accumulate credit and use it for FREE/discounted accommodation (that’s pretty much what I do!)
- Direct contact with a local host who’s usually keen to share the best tips about their country.
- The best way to get to know a place is by knowing the people, right? I’ve made friendships with hosts and far too often I return and have a place to stay, for FREE!
- The “feel at home” type feeling (hotel rooms can be lonely/cave like at times…)
- Last minute traveller? 99% of the time you’ll still find an available AirBnB.
- Let’s be real…prejudice and racism is well and alive today. Sadly, racial profiling does occasionally occur on “inclusive” platforms such as AirBnB. I’ve personally experienced an unusual booking experience where my booking was cancelled and offered to someone else for no apparent reason (too suspect)! Similar occurrences have happened to others, and although a rare personal experience, stay woke!
- You’re staying in someone’s home/property so you must adhere to their personal rules.
- Complaints/booking issues are made to AirBnB (not the host) which can take a few days (or longer) to solve.
- The added service and cleaning fee can be annoying as there’s no concrete percentage added on by hosts.
- You know what to expect (especially if you book a reputable hotel).
- Many hotels run exclusive holiday deals with airlines.
- I tend to take less basic amenities and toiletries when I stay in reputable hotels (as quality products are supplied), so hey, you may save on baggage costs by staying in hotels.
- Again, reputable higher star hotels tend to have great in-house facilities (pool, bars, restaurants and 24/7 room service).
- Safety factor: Many reputable hotels are located on busy strips and offer taxi services throughout the day (and night) so you rarely need to rely on local taxi’s/Uber.
- Hotel rooms can be quite lonely (especially for solo travellers) – consider shared AirBnB apartments or Hostels.
- “Why are all the reputable hotels hella’ expensive?!” You can often find a place of equal standard (or even better) considerably cheaper on AirBnB
- Many hotels are centrally located in bustling areas so If you’re trying to avoid super touristy vibes and large crowds consider other options.
- “Star” ratings are VERY country specific. I’ve stayed in many 4/5 star hotels abroad that would be considered 2/3 star in London. Do your research and scrutinise reviews!
- Search around for hotel deals
- Accommodation can make or break your trip
Trust your instinct on a place. If you love it – go for it!
2. “Which honeymoon destinations would you recommend?”
I’ll list my top 5, I’m yet to visit any due to obvious reason (lol):
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
The Amalfi Coast
The Hamptons, Long Island
3. “What’s the best way to exchange money when going abroad?”
- It completely depends on the destination
Thanks to the new mobile-only banks like Starling Bank (my current fave), Monzo and Revolut who charge close to nothing for using your card abroad (Starling Bank is completely FREE) – at times, you hardly need to worry about exchanging lots of cash before your trip.
- Find out whether exchanging cash abroad is better than exchanging cash at home.
When going to Thailand for example, it’s always better to exchange your home currency at the local exchange booths when you arrive (these rates are better than the airport rate). Make sure you withdraw your home currency cash before you arrive as many booths don’t take credit/debit cards (£/€/$ notes are widely accepted currencies).
- Sometimes you have no option.
If the currency is a closed currency (such as the Moroccan Dirham) it can only be purchased once you arrive in the country. Again, when you arrive it’s always better to exchange your cash at local exchange booths rather than at the airport or your hotel.
4. “Where can I purchase cheap flights?”
Everyone’s favourite question…I’ve created several posts on this topic and stay tuned more.
Finding cheap flights for a trip planned well in advance or last minute, my answer will always be the same:
- Utilise the bae’s, Google Flights and Skyscanner to compare flight prices. I’ve secured flights as low as £5 to Europe and £169 to the states by constantly checking on these sites!
- Check out cheap flight deals on Hitlist and Jack Flights Club
Flight Searching Tips:
- Sign up to airlines’ frequent flyer programs to receive member only airlines, perks and deals
- Make note of the sale season. The flight deals during Black Friday/Cyber Monday and the January/Summer sales are sweet!
- If the flight price seems cheap, it’s probably cheap – don’t wait too long, book that flight!
5. “Solo travelling…is it safe?”
Due to the commonality of this question I previously dedicated a post on solo travelling. In due course I’ll also create another FAQ post solely dedicated to answering your solo travel questions. In the meantime…here’s my top 5 responses:
- Trust your instinct
Wherever you are in the world ensure you are mindful of your surroundings and trust your instinct!
- Stay in communal accommodation, a busy hotel or hostel
You’re more likely to meet others and/feel a sense of security.
- Ask locals, your host/hotel or friends who have previously visited for advice (& don’t forget to read blogs)
Listen to locals, they usually know the ins-and-out of a city (including the areas you might want to avoid)
- Start small, go on a solo trip that’s not too far away from home (especially if it’s your first)
It’ll probably be one of your best experiences yet! I’ve been solo travelling for 6 years and I’ve only looked forward – it’s safe, life-changing and a crazy confidence-boosting experience! More to come on solo travelling.
6. “Doyin, where’s the best place you’ve visited and why?”
The world is a beautiful place and you want me to pick one? Lol…so far here’s my top 5 (in no particular order):
Bali (Stunning scenery, amazing people, great weather all-year round and the food!!)
Japan (Out of this world & the food!!)
California (I honestly love CALI. The weather gets me every-time and I appreciate the diverse nature of Californians, it’s landscape and food!)
Italy (The food every-time! Sooo much history and the food!!)
Seoul, South Korea (One of the coolest places on earth & the food!! …there’s a trend here haha)
“Where are the worst countries for black folks?”
“Where have you experienced racism?” (No blurred lines here, we should talk about this but we can’t let it hold us back!)
From experience, I’ve been treated and looked at differently due to the colour of my radiant melinated skin on a few occasions, predominantly in Europe. To specify, Germany (Berlin) and Italy (Rome).
You’d be surprised as Italy is actually one of my fave and most visited destinations in the world, so hey, you choose whether to let such behaviour diminish your experience (well most times).
As a black woman, it’s actually the sexual objectification and fetish like behaviour that needs to be discussed too (you feel me?)
8. “Where are the best countries for black folks?”
Again, don’t be afraid to visit a place due to stereotypes or the opinions of others – check it out for yourself!
- As a black traveller, I love vising places where my culture and uniqueness builds a sense of wonder, births conversations and establishes friendships.
- I truly loved Bali. Balinese folks are some of the kindest and most accommodating folks you’ll ever meet!
- Being back in West Africa makes me feel at home (it’s a give – it is home)!
- I recently came back from Japan, and it was everything and more – it really lived up to it’s expectations! The food, the vibe and the people – I’d recommend a visit to everyone!
9. “What’s your favourite Airline and why?”
Previously, I would say Norwegian Air due to it’s crazy affordable comfy flights out of London (I flew to both Puerto Rico and LA for under £300 return!)
As of present I’m not loyal to a specific airline but I recently enjoyed my fight with EVA AIR due to the flight price, comfort, in-flight food on request and quality service. I flew with them from LA to Bali (with a stopover in Taiwan) for £300!
10. “How do you stay healthy fit while travelling?”
So, I replaced “healthy” with “fit” on this one as I barely limit my diet to “healthy” food while abroad (& in general lol). However, I always try to stay active on my travels by:
- Walking and cycling – a lot!
- Going on morning jogs in almost every new place I visit
- Including one big hike on every trip (if its geographically feasible)
- Drinking heck lots of water
Don’t beat yourself up if you lose yourself a little over a short period of time while on holiday.
Get back in shape and drinks lots of water when you return!
Hope you took some takeaways from this FAQ post.
Peace & Love