Any person mildly versed in marketing or promotions will tell you that an online presence is necessary for getting noticed. However, it seems that the information superhighway is so gridlocked that your link might never make it on the acceleration ramp. Whether or not you’re blowing up online, it might be time to take your show on the road. You don’t need a hefty advance from a book publisher or an outrageous 360 deal from a major record label to turn your online presence into mobile success. With a little planning, you can organize a fun and rewarding summer tour.
Here's are major keys in planning your own creative tour:
Consider your connections
The first time you thought about sharing your work with the world, you probably took to the internet. Whether you uploaded a song to SoundCloud, a sketch on DeviantArt or simply posted a poem on your Facebook status, somehow you knew the internet was the perfect venue. When you started spreading all those awesome links, you probably started with the people you know. This is a good place to start when planning your summer tour.
Think about who you know and where they’re located. Try to target cities where you have a familiar point of contact. Maybe you have a friend from college that has lots of connections in town and can help you set up a performance at a local bar. Maybe you have a regular customer that you’ve never laid eyes on, but who would be happy to help promote a pop-up shop in their city in exchange for a small incentive. Even if your local connection can’t help secure a venue or hand out fliers, couch surfing at a few stops could help save money on hotel costs.
Hop on the bandwagon
How many times have you seen a photo captioned with a completely unrelated but popular hashtag? Use this logic when planning when you’ll hit the cities you have mapped out. Looking for a unique way to gain new fans? Try shopping your music at the San Francisco International Hip-Hop Dance Fest. Take a bundle of your pro-black T-shirts to the Colorado Black Arts Fest, and do work.
You want to make the most of every stop on tour, so it’s just as important to find out what events won’t work for your brand. You don’t want to arrive in town selling sweet tea during the Lemonade festival.
Other things to consider
If you’re planning to set up a pop-up shop or sell your items on the street, be sure to find out if any permits are needed. You don’t want to end up being cited for violating city codes.
You’ll also want to make sure your method of travel is conducive for your delivery. If you planning on showing off your spoken word talents, you might need no more than a notebook. However, peddling large canvas artwork could be tough if you’re traveling by plane.
The bottom line? It’s possible. Organizing your own creative tour doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it's bound to be extremely rewarding.
Are you thinking about planning a tour this summer? Let us know what cities and events you’ll be hitting. You never know, we just might be in town.
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I remember those days when I would call up all my friends and excitedly talk travel plans. The only question asked was "Where to next?" And we were so free that all we needed to finalize were travel arrangements and packing our bags. I remember when everyone would actually go on the trip. Oh, how times have changed — for me at least.
With each passing year, this has become more of a distant memory as my priorities, as well as those of my longtime travel companions, have shifted significantly. Many of us now have spouses, families, demanding careers and actual budgets. It can be frustrating to get excited about pending travel plans only to have people dropping out at the last minute. This usually results in the remaining group nixing plans altogether due to lack of motivation and unanticipated increased shared costs.
There is a lot of world to see. Many of us have a bucket list of places we want to see and things we want to do. It can soon feel as though you are missing out on countless travel experiences while waiting for everyone you made plans with to get their acts together. I, too, am guilty of getting bogged down with family and work life, making for very little travel time. Never in a million years would I have even considered traveling alone in the past, but now I wholeheartedly embrace it. It would be a shame to look back later in life, realizing that you left so much to be desired and having no one to blame but yourself. I am grateful to have my spouse, children, siblings and friends to share most of my adventures with. However, I have also opened myself up more to the idea of traveling alone.
I am inspired by those free souls who pick up and jet off to see what the rest of this world has to offer, but not everyone has that luxury. There are amazing sites right here in the United States and in our very own backyards to explore. Some nearby destinations are easier to plan and mainly involve getting in the car and simply going the distance. Others are not, but it's great to know that there are personal tour guides and resources available internationally to ensure that you have a very fulfilling experience.
Here are some key reasons why you should consider traveling solo:
The responsibility relies on you. No more logistical debates or relying on others to hold up their end of the bargain. If the plans don't pan out, it's strictly on you.
It's empowering. It can be difficult to muster up the courage to even go to the movies or out to eat alone, but once you get a taste of how amazing it can be to enjoy your own company, you will feel a different sense of accomplishment. Just imagine what an experience it would be to book the solo trip of your dreams. Life is meant to be lived, don't put yourself in a box. Moreover, don't worry about what people will think or say.
A form of self-care. Much-needed alone time gives you the ultimate opportunity to enjoy unique moments with hardly any distractions. You can explore a new location or culture in your own way (ex. food, clothing, people and landmarks) without having to go along with the crowd. In other words, you get to do what you want versus what everyone else wants!
You set the standard for what you wish to explore in life. Cheers to no longer waiting on 'permission' to travel the world — save, plan and go!
Have you ever traveled alone? If not, would you consider doing so? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
READ NEXT: 6 travel resources for black...
Do you have wanderlust that you just can't seem to cure? Are you endlessly excited to travel, even for small work trips? If you love traveling, you have to check out these amazing communities that specialize in black travel. These groups focus on creating spaces for people of color to share their travel experiences. From Antarctica to the Arctic and everywhere in between, these communities are excellent resources for those looking for all things travel — suggestions, financial help, first-hand experiences, ideas for future trips and so much more.
“Adventuristas who happen to travel” — not to be confused with travelistas who might go on adventures — Black Adventuristas is not for the faint of heart. These brave women are going on adventures all over the world. Its creator, Veronica E. Garnett, hopes to inspire and connect black women as they pursue and conquer adventures big and small. Black Adventuristas is all about encouraging women to live their lives to the fullest, whatever that might mean to them. These adventuristas share photos as they ride camels in Egypt, skydive in Dubai and pet koala bears in Australia. From Zambia to Thailand, from Maui to Morocco and even all the way to Antarctica, Black Adventuristas follows women as they adventure to the ends of the Earth and back, literally! Check out their Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram to get in on this great community.
2. Collin Devon Events
Collin Devon events is the perfect group for black millennial intellectuals who want to turn up as they explore the world. Collin organizes events that span from happy hours and club events to international trips. His trip to Antigua last spring — officially titled “Turn Up Tour Antigua” — was a huge hit...and he’s getting ready to do it again. If you’ve ever wanted to visit the Caribbean without being stuck at a resort, completely surrounded by families with babies or couples on their honeymoon (I was just in Antigua and that was literally everyone), #TurnupTourAnu might be right for you. Collin is actually lucky enough to call Antigua home. As a dual citizen, he’s been taking friends in small groups to visit since 2012, showing them some of the best-kept secrets on the island and working with his family who lives there to give his friends the best possible vacation. Collin is good people so you’re guaranteed to be in good company. Plus the trip is all-inclusive and very reasonably priced, which means you’ll have none of the stress associated with planning a vacation. This tropical trip is certain to be filled with laughter, adventure and fun! Check out his feature in Time or the Collin Devon Events Instagram and website for more info about his Antiguan adventures.
TravelNoire is a top resource to find your inner explorer and find experiences that let you live like a local. Its founder, Zim Ugochukwu, has found herself on the 2016 edition of "Forbes 30 under 30" list for her passion and dedication to create resources for the unconventional traveler. The website boasts stunning images and first-hand experiences from hand-picked black curators across the globe. For food, fashion, nightlife and other cultural gems, you can search TravelNoire for those one-of-a-kind experiences that will leave memories for a lifetime. The black travel brand recently launched TravelNoire Experiences, a group travel package that brings together 12-14 like-minded individuals to a pocket of the world to build connections and foster friendships. Every experience comes with a licensed photographer to capture each magical moment, an itinerary of activities, travel meals and accommodations to make for a truly unconventional experience. Check out the brand's Instagram to learn more.
4. One Young Traveler
If solo travel is more your speed then this might be the resource for you. Founder and Managing Director of One Young Traveler, Aylin Young, is not new to the travel game. Her life story includes speaking three languages and living in Europe for eight years. She has devoted her website "to bring together the young generation of conscious travelers through cultural engagement." One of the ways she and her team make that happen is by providing strong visuals and a travel blog that highlights the essence of virtual travel. Their hope is that in doing so, you might feel connected to the area and take a chance on visiting it yourself. In doing their part to serve others, they also offer their Passport Campaign, which gives scholarships to budding travelers to fund the cost of a passport so that their travel journeys can soon begin.
5. Nomadness Travel Tribe
Founder Evita Robinson began her invitation-only platform, running after the success of her popular travel series Nomadness TV, executive produced by her and Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae. From 'The Tribe' you can find stories, advice, conversations and photos all dedicated to promoting black travel internationally. Since 2012, group trips have found tribe members adding stamps to their passports by throwing colorful paint with locals at Holi in India or running with bulls in Spain. In an effort to further the push for black millennials to seek traveling experiences, the #NMDN ALTERnative Travel Conference brings together travel experts beyond borders to connect, network and discuss "international art, music, food, entrepreneurship and much more." If you have at least one passport stamp you have a chance of being a part of 'The Tribe,' so what are you waiting for? Just do it!
6. Cool Young History
Full-time traveling couple Amirah and Jarrell Cook are advocates for creating and living the life you want. After finding successful careers and tying the knot, the pair made a life-changing decision to honeymoon indefinitely by leaving their fulfilling jobs and set out to "achieve greater success independently" from all corners of the globe. (#RelationshipGoals) Since 2013 they have traveled and lived on four different continents and have no plans of stopping anytime soon. On their website you can find very helpful tips for how to spend less and make money abroad, as well as tips for how the couple has afforded to travel for two years and how you can, too! If you're looking to make a permanent stamp on your passport, then look to these two for advice on how to find economic success no matter where you are.
Whether you'll be traveling next week or are saving for your dream trip, these communities are the place to go for all your travel needs. These groups have certainly inspired us to start planning our next trip.
Ready for your next trip? Tell us where you want to travel in the comments below!
READ NEXT: Satisfy your wanderlust with IT professional Libryia Jones of 'My Wander...
Just one year ago, Tallahassee, FL native and IT Project Manager Libryia Jones made the decision to breathe life into her love and desire to travel and share that passion with the world. Featured recently on Black Enterprise, her company, My Wander Year, is a developing sensation centered around travel and living the life of your dreams. Libryia indulged my curiosity with some of the steps in her newest journey, sprinkled with a bit of sage advice. Check out some of our conversation below.
Blavity: What have you accomplished (accolades/awards) for My Wander Year that you're most proud of?
Libryia Jones: I launched My Wander Year on my birthday last year. I made the decision to do this on July 7th and by September 25th I had made it public. We haven’t been around long enough to win any awards or accolades, we’re still building awareness about our program. But I’m very proud of myself for taking a passion for living abroad, which sparked a passing thought that wouldn’t leave me alone, and turning it into something real. That passing thought is changing my life and the lives of the people who are participating in the program!
B: Growing up, how did your family support/encourage the steps that would lead you to where My Wander Year is today?
LJ: It would be trite and cliché to say my mother always told me I could do anything I wanted to. Which, of course, she did. But more important, I think, is my mother invested in my talents and interests. When I showed an aptitude for writing, she put me in writing programs at Florida A&M University. When I showed an aptitude for math, she enrolled me in the Minority Introduction to Technology and Engineering (MITE) Program at FAMU. In doing so, she set an example for investing in yourself and nurturing your talents and interests. Additionally, both of my parents have always had incredible work ethic. My mother has juggled the roles of employee and entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. That type of hustle is in my blood. My dad might be the most dedicated and hardworking man I know. They both have been incredible role models and their expectation of my being successful in school and in my career was threaded into our everyday life to the point that it was treated as inevitable and I believed it to be so.
B: If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any brand/company, who would it be, and why?
LJ: I have quite a few friends who own small businesses and I would love to collaborate with them. Black & Abroad (@Blackandabroad) is a company I’m excited about partnering with for community service events that directly impact people of color all over the world. I will always seek ways to work with Nomadness Travel Tribe (@nomadnesstribe), without my tribe, I never would’ve dreamed of starting My Wander Year. I’m looking forward to working with The Grant Access, a New-York-based event planning company owned by Lauren Grant, to host our events in each stop on our journey and our kick-off party in New York. Of course, there are some major corporations that would be a complete dream to partner with. I am insistent that all of our participants have T-Mobile cell phones, given they are the only US carrier who provide free international texting and web (and I’ve been a loyal customer for over 10 years). It would be fantastic for AirBnB to be our official lodging partner as we truly want our participants to live like locals which aligns perfectly with their brand. A great partner would be eBags, their weekender bag is such a good product. We absolutely must have a major airline partner like Delta Airlines or one of the alliances.
B: Aside from traveling to the Burj Khalifa (The World’s tallest building,) what is one of your most memorable experiences thus far, and why does it mean so much to you?
LJ: I’ve had some amazing experiences abroad. One of the most memorable was visiting Fort Jesus in Mombasa. A small group of us went to the passages where they would hold the slaves and then march them down to the ships. We stood in the doorway where they last stood on their continent and looked out to the ocean where they would be loaded on boats never to return. We held a misa, where we paid homage to our ancestors. It was quite an emotional experience with no shortage of tears. I would also mention visiting one of the schools in Kibera, the poorest slum in Nairobi. I met a little girl named Yvonne there who was incredibly astute and kind. She taught me how to count to five in Swahili. My first trip to the continent of Africa will likely always be very special to me. I look forward to revisiting the continent with my daughter, we are headed for Johannesburg and Cape Town.
B: For someone who has never heard of you or My Wander Year; how would you describe it to them?
LJ: We’re a community of people creating a life we don’t have to vacation from for a full year.
B: I know My Wander Year is very important to you, so how have you handled the roadblocks along your journey? Can you give me an example of a problem you encountered, and how you went about solving it?
LJ: At the risk of sounding cheesy, I have two things to get me through challenges — faith and a great team. I’ve been blessed enough to accept that things will always work out the way they should. Whether it happens in the way I want it to or not, it always works out the way it should. I also have a great team of people who genuinely care about what we’re doing.
B: If you weren’t traveling and successfully running My Wander Year, what would you be doing?
LJ: I can’t imagine not traveling at this point, but I’d be continuing my work as an IT project manager, cheering for my daughter on the soccer field, and pursuing another passion — cooking. I’d likely be taking culinary courses in training to be a chef.
B: Being that My Wander Year encourages sharing the traveling experience, I know your daughter travels with you. How do you manage work-life balance?
LJ: Honestly, I never feel that my work and life are truly in balance. Some days I’m more focused on one aspect and some days the other. I think if I look back over a week, it typically nets out to something that resembles balance. Most of the week, I’m splitting my time between work and working on my business. Thursday nights my daughter and I get sushi. I take advantage of our rides to school in the morning to chat it up with her. Most of my Friday nights are spent hanging out with my daughter as well. I’m typically very intentional about taking time for myself and my friends. I believe happy people make great parents, employees and friends.
B: What social media platform do you find most useful, and why? Which platform would you like to be more interactive with?
LJ: Facebook, it makes it easier to passively/actively participate in the lives of people I may not otherwise have the opportunity to. Much easier to facilitate conversations and sharing of information. I’ve been beefing up my Twitter skills lately. I love Periscope. The one I can’t seem to figure out is Snapchat. I sound incredibly old but I just don’t get it. I’m going to give it a shot soon.
B: What are 5 things you absolutely cannot live without?
LJ: Freedom, love, laughter, cheese and Internet access.
B: What motto do you live by?
LJ: There are quite a few mottos I apply to certain situations. This one from Desiderata is one that has stuck with me since one of my college professors introduced it to me my Freshman year. “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
B: I know you said you’re launching a fundraiser beginning in February to sponsor one single mother and her child to travel with you, is there anything else you have going on that you would like our readers to know about?
LJ: Two things 1.) I don’t think people know or realize that I’m paying for mine and my daughter’s trip on MWY just like everyone else who is participating. I’m a customer of the program also, I believe in its value that much. 2.) We’re planning some pretty big events. We’re throwing a big kick-off party in New York at the end of July before we take off. We’re also planning to throw a big NYE party in Thailand. Additionally, we’re putting together packages for people to come and visit the group for a week or two at a time. All of those details will be coming out this summer.
B: Many of our readers are up and comings, such as myself, what advice do you have for us?
LJ: We live in a time [when] people are encouraged and rewarded for living their passions. Technology and creativity facilitate that now more than it ever has. Companies are embracing the idea that passionate people are much more creative, productive and effective. That plays out in companies providing unlimited vacation days, remote work options [and] tailoring the workspace and structure to fit the needs of employees. It must be said that these perks should be in return for great work ethic and contributions, not treated as entitlements. Millennials are in the perfect position to create the lives they dream of.
B: What are some goals you have for the rest of the year that you don’t mind letting us in on?
LJ: I want to complete a Spartan Trifecta. Spartan races are obstacle course races. In order to complete a trifecta, you have to complete three increasingly longer and tougher races within a calendar year. I’m also looking forward to learning styles of cooking in every country we go to.
Visit her website for information on program costs, and frequently asked questions. And above all.. apply!
READ NEXT: 8 Reasons Introverts Make the Best Travelers
Make yourself at home on My Wander Year and don't forget to follow Libryia on Twitter at @WanderWomanInc, and My Wander Year on...
Since I was a child, the middle child at that, I've always cherished time to myself. After a long day of being huddled up with friends at school, I gleefully leaped off of the bus and ran to my room to be alone with my books.
At 26, not much has changed but the scenery. I've exchanged crowded classrooms for exotic beaches and yellow school buses for bullet trains and Amazonian fields. After a jam-packed day of exploring foreign lands, at the end of the day, I just want to be alone with a book.
People often ask, "How could you travel alone? I need my #squad at all times!"
I think traveling solo is the best thing since sliced grain-free vegan bread.
This is why traveling solo and being an introvert are a match made in heaven:
1. We don't mind eating alone
I actually prefer to eat alone. The most nerve-wracking time living in Spain were the drawn out communal meals. Just imagine 1.5 hours of staring at strangers in the eyes as they slop on paella, slurp on warm beer and release all types of cringeworthy sounds. TWICE A DAY. Eating turned into a treacherous minefield of mentally blocking out the ungodly noises, scrambling together some incomprehensible Spanish to defend my vegetarian eating habits and kindly turning down all animal-filled dishes passed my way. Not to mention my level of Spanish was so remedial that I barely knew what anyone was saying.
Eating in groups is the most uncomfortable time for me. Bring it, empty table.
2. We survive without being constantly entertained
My extroverted friends need a full schedule of quality time, 10 major landmarks to explore daily and hours of endless talking and attention from strangers. I get the most enjoyment from blending in with the locals as much as possible and silently comparing the minor differences of the last location with the new one as I walk down the street.
3. Alone and happy > annoyed with company
Just a few days ago, I was determined to see one of my favorite natural occurrences, the sunset on Cafe Del Mar in Ibiza. I grabbed my DLSR, strapped my tripod to my backpack and headed west with just enough time to go to the store, buy a box of wine and enjoy the slow stroll to Cafe del Mar. Halfway down the street, a housemate asked if she could join. A reluctant, "yes" slipped out of my lips before my mind could think of a nice way to refuse her company.
She coerced me into trying a new location for the sunset and why not listen to her? She lives on the island full-time. Surely she knows where a nice sunset spot is! Energetically, she led us east on a "short cut" to see the sunset from a new location. I skeptically followed along, licking my finger and putting it in the air as a compass. The compass said we were probably going to miss the sunset. 45 minutes later, still rapidly marching through dilapidated buildings, we missed the sunset. I was incensed. It was my last night on that side of the island and I missed all of my pictures. Fuming inside, I knew that I should have gone alone. I sat there fuming, while she obliviously talked 100 miles a minute, saying flippant things like "Oh well! We should have gone the other way. Why didn't we go the other way? Why don't you just take a picture of the sliver of light poking through these huge buildings? We should have gone west. Who cares, the sunset will happen tomorrow...blah blah blah blah"
4. We enjoy silence
Listening can be a strenuous task, especially when words become superfluous. Deciphering what someone is saying in a foreign language is even harder. Sometimes we introverts just want to sit back and revel in the silence.
5. Constant conversation isn't necessary
I often say that I'm not quiet, I'm just saving up my words for an important topic. Social introverts choose their conversations carefully and end up in amazing conversations. I've discussed 18th-century politics with a stranger on the street and the Vietnam-Cambodian war spontaneously at a festival. Every conversation doesn't have to cover a deep topic but rest assured we'd rather sit in silence than talk about the weather or Miss Piggy and Kermit breaking up.
6. We travel at our own pace
When I travel with friends who move at warp speed between six monuments in one day, check off 10 bucket list items, take 45 selfies and then backpack to the next city before dawn, I feel drained by day three. After many years of trial and error, I realize that I am a slow traveler. I can stay in a city for three months and not ever feel like leaving. I love to ingest the subtle nuances of a particular street, culture or city and that happens best when I am alone.
7. We actually enjoy being alone
The phenomenon called loneliness is one I don't know much about. People ask all of the time if I am lonely and my answer is, "How? I'm hanging out with my favorite person all of the time!" Introverts enjoy being with our thoughts. Many times I laugh out loud and have an amazing time laughing with myself about.
8. We're never really alone
People are attracted to solo travelers like a moth to a flame. Once people figure out that you are companionless, they usually stare, come and say hello or ask for a picture. If you oblige, they grill you endlessly about your motivation to see the world alone and then BAM! You aren't alone.
Being introverted can create an issue while traveling with friends but it is perfect for solo traveling. If you ever feel the need to have company, there are many ways to find someone to hang out with.
How to meet a friend for the day:
Hang out at a popular hotel bar or lobby until you meet someone
Use websites such as Couchsurfing, Meetup, UrbanBuddy or TripTogether to schedule dates on your lonely days
Check out apps to share home-cooked meals with locals such as Eatwith, Feastly, Bookalokal,
Make eye contact with other solo travelers and offer them chocolate.
A tripod is a dead giveaway for other solo travelers.
Traveling the world alone has definitely cemented the introvert aspect in my personality, although, after many years on the road, I can interact just like an extrovert. I can comfortably strike up conversations with anyone who speaks the same languages as I, and I effortlessly build many long-lasting connections at train stops, coffee shops and on park benches. But when my social energy drains, I simply have to be alone.
Any other travelers feel the same way?
Jelisa is a adventure-obsessed travel coach that encourages would-be travelers to research and book their own affordable trips. On her travel website, Travel For The Low, she introduces travelers to a unique formula of mindset training, saving, and making money abroad. When she isn’t transforming lives by inspiring travel, she is constantly moving around the globe. Her wanderlust spirit has taken her diving in the deep caves in Tulum, Mexico to riding a motorcyle from Berlin, Germany to Helsinki Finland - with a Tinder date she met two weeks before.
She enjoys sharing her story about transitioning from a student-loan debt saddled barmaid to a full-time digital nomad and entrepreneur, inspiring her peers to throw off the ropes and venture out into the world. She spreads the travel gospel by speaking, writing, coaching, and hosting series about real life Millennials who have left their old lives to see the world.
When she’s not encouraging everyone to travel, she can be found on Spotify, creating eclectic playlists.
Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on her...
Africa has a terrible reputation when it comes to its general perception around the world. This is largely due to frequent media coverage regarding corruption, lethal viruses and acts of warfare. In reality, these are very rare occurrences on one of the largest landmasses in the world. For the most part, Africa is a very safe place to travel.
Unfortunately, the lack of tourists lining up to visit the dark continent does not mean it's any less expensive to get there and, in this sense, the airfare is usually a significant investment. However, it's most certainly one worth making and by taking note of the following pieces of advice, it really is possible to travel Africa on a budget.
Eat & sleep local
Although a third world continent, there's always something to spend or blow your hard-earned cash on in Africa. If you want five-star lodges with Egyptian cotton sheets and Kudu steaks barbecued by the local celebrity chef, then there are usually a few options for you to indulge in.
Alternatively, if you see more value in traveling for a longer period and enabling your spending money to go further, then the solution is always to eat and sleep locally.
Every city, town and village in Africa has a local market, or at the very least some local food stalls. The taste of food can vary from one place to another but the quality is perfectly safe, not to mention the fact that it always costs a small fraction of what you normally pay in a restaurant.
Likewise, the local guesthouses or family-run hotels are a bargain compared to the larger hotels in town. The difference in this cost weekly will help you save money for other activities such as taking safaris.
Buy crafts or souvenirs
Africa is one of the richest places in the world when it comes to arts and crafts. The quality of paintings you'll see belong in a collector's gallery. And it's not just paintings, but also woodcarvings, jewelry, clothing and other pieces.
By all means, everyone should pick up souvenirs. Even more so when they are as unique or high quality as you are likely to find, but always make sure you purchase them directly from the locals.
Buying directly from the locals is obviously making sure that they are properly rewarded for their work, which is a problem you might encounter elsewhere. It also means you're likely to pay a lot less than if you were to go to a shopfront or store in the local area.
You could literally spend hundreds on fascinating memorabilia from your travels to Africa but making an effort to search out the actual creator of these items will be the most rewarding.
Book your safari right
This is likely to be the biggest money-saving piece of advice you will receive for planning a trip to Africa; when booking a safari, don't book it online.
Yes, we're living in an age when everything is pre-arranged on smartphones but unless you want to pay twice the cost of what the same safari is advertised as on location, don't book it on the Internet. For some reason, online safaris in Africa are always grossly overpriced in comparison to what you find on the ground when you arrive.
The best method for getting the tour you require is to arrive in the nearest town to the National Park and then negotiate a suitable price with your operator of choice. In many places, the local towns will have an endless stream of safari operation and they will gladly reduce their asking price if it means not missing out on your custom.
Choose transport wisely
The option of traveling entirely by local transport will save you hundreds at the very least. It might not be most comfortable or the least amount of hassle but it's definitely the most cost-effective.
That being said, if you're not entirely comfortable taking on the task of traveling Africa on local transport, another excellent budget option is to take an Overland tour.
Although not for everyone, an Overland tour is a great opportunity to meet new people with whom you travel with and share new experiences. Of course, a lot of the inconvenience is taken out of your itinerary when you take a tour but really the shared cost of a trip like this is often what makes it the best way to travel through Africa on a budget. Many Overland tours include two meals a day, park entry fees, optional excursions and the services of an experienced guide making it a great option for anyone who doesn't mind traveling as part of a group.
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Planning a group trip is great for many reasons. Accommodation costs are cheaper, group activities tend to be more fun and you can meet new friends. In every group trip, you'll find some similar personalities showing their faces. Good or bad, expect these six people to be on your next group trip.
The Unbendable Planner
Ahh yes, the never-failing organizer and the one who has every half hour planned down to the second. This person, forgetting that a weekend getaway is probably going to be more of a relaxation weekend than non-stop adventure, has various activities planned with no room for down time, naps, or simple alone time. This person has everyone on a schedule, from an 8 a.m. breakfast to a non-stop game night beginning at 10:30 p.m. This person means well but tends to forget that multiple personalities and people with various travel goals might need room to do their own things.
This person was the well-known person everyone wanted to be in college and is now stuck in corporate America. The boredom and personal dissatisfaction with their day-to-day job causes this person to start unnecessary drama with the vacation. As most faces are new to one another, this isn’t difficult. The instigator picks disruptive topics to talk about while vacation-goers are doing simple activities, such as drinking morning tea on the balcony or grabbing a snack. This person also mentions little tidbits about what someone else said, hoping to stir the pot as much as possible before going back to their dreaded office on Monday morning.
The Hookup Seeker
This person comes on the trip to hookup with someone. That's all. They spend the week before scouring the Facebooks of the trip attendants, looking for a suitor for that Saturday night. This person spends the trip slowly “getting to know” each apple of their eye, and tends to try and get the wine started a little early. You can tell if this person succeeded or not depending on their facial expression at Sunday-morning brunch.
This person isn’t necessarily Houdini, but they always feel the need to show some type of skill they feel no one else has. Whether it’s starting a fire (even though most people know how to do that), cooking some exotic dish (even if everyone else knows the dish), or knowing a particular animal species on the harbor (we’ve got Google), this person feels the need to point out every random detail or skill they’re capable of, so everyone knows just how interesting they are.
This person reads the entire trip, asks if anyone knows the obscure author they’re currently “just obsessed with” at the moment, then proceeds to list all of the 150 books they’ve completed thus far this year. This person goes on to say no matter how strenuous one’s full-time job is, everyone should make time to read at least 7 books per week, watch The Daily Show, and be up on the most recent Op-Ed from Charles M. Blow. This person also pushes everyone toward excessively-intellectual debates, discussing the influence of the ISIS regime on people of color while everyone is sipping a whiskey shot during the middle of a game of Taboo.
The “Terrance J”
The goofball was a bit of a dork through school and found some cool clothes and a great job. This person is extremely friendly and tends to be the moderator of the various personalities, but can also really irritate people when there’s actually a problem going on.
So, did we miss anyone? What personalities always seem to show their faces on your group trips? Let us know in the comments below!
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When I decided to move to Santiago, Chile, I thought I would look like everyone else in the country. People have always thought I was from the Caribbean or South America because of my skin tone and Miami accent. In my admitted ignorance, I was certain that Chileans would look just like Brazilians, and I could blend in with ease. I realized just how wrong I was the minute I arrived to my adopted home three months ago.
From the time my best friend and I moved to Santiago, we have experienced a whole new type of staring game. Everyone — and I do mean everyone — stares at us. This is not the “oh, you look different but now that you see me looking, I’ll look away” type of stare. This is more like “I’m going to look at you until I can read your mind” type of stare. They would look at us for a full two minutes and then snicker with their friends about us.
Some of the attention is a bit expected, such as people trying to touch my hair or men cat-calling, because that happens in America. Still, most of it is unnerving and damn near rude. One night, my best friend and I were visiting a park when this group of teenagers suddenly ran up to us and started speaking to us in the world’s fastest Spanish. Next thing I knew, they were taking a picture with the two of us. I immediately felt like I was some ancient artifact on display in a museum.
My discomfort led me to discover the history of Chile, which has had scarce numbers of people who look like me for centuries.
A European country in South America
Basically, black people have not had a true identity or presence in Chile in the 20th and 21st centuries. Some official accounts of Chilean history exclude African slavery altogether (we see where certain U.S. textbooks get it from). Nearly 89 percent of the current population is white and non-indigenous, and it seems this makeup is extremely intentional. Like other Latin-American countries, it feels like Chile has adopted the idea that the more European the country looks, the more successful it will be. Even with the country's denial of African heritage — Chile's national dance, cueca, is said to have African elements.
I don’t know what to call Chileans’ obsession with my skin tone. Chileans make it extremely clear that I'm different, though it doesn't feel like it's in hate. It feels more like an uncomfortable, inappropriate curiosity. Given the history of the country, it's easy to understand why; however, the idea that I am now part of the country's 0.3 percent of the population that is of “unspecified” race is an idea that I am finding difficult to grasp.
One in 6.5 million
For the last three months, it's been painfully clear that we're different. I’m totally used to being one of the only black people in my class or at certain functions. It's an entirely different feeling being one of the only black people in the whole country. It's not something you just deal with or brush off. People remind me of it every day when they to ask me where I'm from and what I'm doing in Chile — like I don't belong here and there's nothing for me here.
Faced with an outrageous amount of unwanted attention, I started to ask around. In a city of 6.5 million people, I simply couldn't accept that we were such an odd sight. There had to be diversity right? I wanted needed to find out where all the black people were. I began by asking my students why my best friend and I were looked at like some kind of genetic mutants. All the students had the same answer: Chileans were simply “curious” because there have never really been black people in Chile. Never? Not ever. They all said that the Spaniards didn't bring African slaves when they occupied Chile. They even said black people only started arriving in the country less than 10 years ago from Brazil and Colombia due to the political climate.
Where are the black people?
And as it turns out, my students were partially right. The Spaniards didn't find much to exploit when they arrived in Chile in the mid-1500s. There was no gold or silver and Chile quickly became a blip on Spain’s map. Chile did have copper, however, and the Spaniards enslaved indigenous people to work in those mines. They later brought Africans to Chile to supplement the indigenous workforce. Major slave markets were more than 2100 miles away from the newly established capital, making it too expensive to bring in large numbers of slaves. Still, within 100 years of Spanish colonization, there were approximately 20,000 Afro-Chilean people in the country.
By the beginning of the 19th century, this all changed. Chile was fighting for its independence from Spain and promised slaves their freedom if they fought against the Spaniards. Slave trade from Africa ceased, along with much of the recorded history of Afro-Chileans. Historians speculate that there were much more men than women imported from Africa, leading to more frequent mixing with the indigenous population. At the same time, Chile made a major push for European immigrants. The African diaspora became intertwined with the largely mistreated indigenous people while more Europeans moved into the country, resulting in a very white-washed culture.
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So you just got off of Instagram and saw all the beautiful pictures from the travel accounts. Now you have the itch to go somewhere new, explore a different part of the world, and see places and people you won't encounter at home. We call this feeling wanderlust. After this high of travel inspiration, it's easy to get discouraged when thinking about the steps you'd have to take to actually make it happen. It looks too expensive. How will I get there? Who will go with me? Do I have enough vacation time?
If you let trip planning overwhelm you, you'll talk yourself out of taking the trip in less time than it took to like the Instagram pictures on that travel page. Let me assure you that the trip of your dreams is totally within your reach! No, you don’t have to be rich to travel. Yes, you can plan a trip on your own. And yes, you can make it everything you dreamed of and more.
I just finished planning a trip to the great Southwest with a few friends, followed by a big move out of the country. And I didn’t use frequent flyer miles, a trust fund or Olivia Pope to make it happen — nor did I go broke. Here are a few tips that made all the difference:
Once you've decided where to go, budgeting will probably be the most tedious part of your trip. Don’t let it discourage you! You can definitely have a great trip while staying on target financially. When deciding on how much to spend on each piece of the trip, determine your priorities. Do you prefer a plush villa on the beach with a personal butler? That might mean taking a cheap Spirit flight where the only free carry on is your clutch. Are you trying to go to a fancy brunch spot that charges $500 a plate and has bottomless mimosas? (Yes those exist.) If so, you might have to cut your trip short one or two nights to supplement the cost.
The sooner you can start saving, the less you have to put away each month and the easier it will be for you. If you're worried about spending every penny you save before you take off, purchase in steps. Buy the plane ticket as soon as you have the money and then pay for your lodging or any excursions. For items you can't purchase ahead of time (like food and souvenirs), create an automatic deposit to a savings account you can’t easily access — even if that means setting up a new one.
figure out the essential costs
If you are going international and don't have a current passport, expect to pay between $140 and $225. The cost depends on whether you need a renewal and if you need it expedited. Applying at least six weeks ahead can help prevent expedite fees. Also, check if there are tourist visa costs for the country you are visiting.
A safe way to budget for food is to expect that you will pay between $20 and $50 for food per day. This depends largely on where you are going and how much you eat, but it will give you a rough estimate. If you're driving, don’t forget you will have to pay for gas along the way. Check the average gas price in the city you're visiting and the car’s miles per gallon to figure out an estimated cost.
Also, think about your hair! Of course, we must look cute in all our travel pics. If your trip entails quite a bit of water activities, add in braids to your budget. Pick up a few extra head scarves for when your hair is doing its own thing. Make sure you have enough products to get you through the trip.
The easiest place to start is by booking flights. Nine times out of ten, the spot you are visiting (especially if you saw it on social media) has plenty of housing options that will be much easier to find once you know how long you are staying and how many people will join you. Your flight budget will help you figure out how long you are staying, because you'll want to choose optimal flights. Airlines have become more and more unpredictable, but for most destinations, flights will be the best price for a six- or seven-day trip.
If your destination is close enough to drive, most rental car companies charge less for pick-up and drop-off at the same place. Pay close attention to the fees, which can include mileage and re-stocking (basically putting the car back where they found it in the lot or at a different facility).
look for flight and lodging deals
There are tons of ways to find the best flight deals. Visit Student Universe, which has low cost flights for passengers up to age 26. Set up fare alerts on Kayak for free. Check Google Flights using an incognito window so you lose the cookies; this prevents airlines from tracking your searches so they can't raise prices on your flights. Southwest flights don't show up on search engines so check their site separately. And TWITTER WILL SAVE YOU! Accounts like @airfarewatchdog and @TheFlightDeal post low fares and glitches all day, literally. Turn on notifications for these accounts and you can hop on a deal as soon as it comes up. If you're nervous about committing, you can usually cancel a flight within 24 hours of purchasing it — just read the terms carefully. Groups such as Travel Noire and Nomadness Travel Tribe also have great options catered to black travelers.
Once you’ve got your flight, you can start looking for housing. Check several different options, including sites like Hotels.com that have rewards programs. For trips lasting longer than three days, AirBnB and Couchsurfing usually end up being better deals. These options are especially helpful if you have a group bigger than four or you prefer to steer clear of tourist-riddled parts of town. Just remember to take safety tips and terms to heart — tell someone from home where you are going before you leave and always use a third-party for payment.
choose your travel partners wisely
One of the most important things when planning a trip is who joins you. This can make or break your trip. If you're going international, don’t take your friend who is notorious for procrastinating and always ends up in some dramatic situation that would have screenwriters eating out of the palm of her hand. You don’t want to end up one person short because someone ended up in an Italian jail. Take people who you trust will have fun with you at that laser foam party, but will also get you back to the hotel safely at the end of the night.
Of course, we all have those flaky friends who are “for sure down” for the adventure and then cancel at the last minute or just never commit. Make sure everyone that's "tryna go" actually has his or her passport, or seriously intends to get one. Make deadlines for passports and for everyone to get plane tickets. People can put a down payment on a hotel or AirBnB and ask for it back after the flights got too expensive because they procrastinated, but try asking Delta/American for your money back from a flight you “just can’t make." Not happening. If your friend booked the flight by your deadline, she will be a little more invested in making that trip work.
Regardless of where you end up or how you get there, remember you're there to enjoy the experience. Don’t let planning drag you down. Enlist your travel partners to help you. If you're like me and love spreadsheets, make one for your trip that organizes your links, budget and a list of who is joining you. You have all the power to create the trip of your dreams!
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If you're inspired by the possibility of adventure, you might need to learn another language. Whether you're visiting for a day, a month or a year, it's always helpful to learn some vocabulary and phrases that will allow you to communicate with all the wonderful people you will meet along your journey. Even if you’re not going anywhere just yet, knowing a second language can be extremely helpful at home. The 2011 Census found that 21 percent of U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home, and one out of five of those residents either spoke English “not well” or “not at all.” Also, most employers absolutely love bilingual applicants.
The tips below can help you master your new language without touching your wallet.
1. Language Osmosis: Listen Passively to Podcasts/Radio in Other Languages
In science, osmosis occurs when a substance passively moves into a cell — think of dirt absorbing water. This happens without the dirt doing much work, it just passively absorbs the water.
You can create a similar process with language. As millennials, everything we want to hear, see, and do is at our fingertips. You don’t even have to pay attention to what you hear, just make sure you are listening to something.
Clear out a few minutes each day to listen to something — anything — in your new lingo. Play a telenovela (I highly recommend La Reina del Sur) or a Bollywood movie while washing the dishes. Listen to a German podcast or turn on the news while driving. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it is in the language you want to tackle.
As a language teacher told me, you cannot reproduce sounds you’ve never heard. Once you start hearing how native speakers pronounce their words, you can not only repeat them better but you will also better identify individual words. Will you be fluent after three podcasts? Not likely. But you might sound more like a native when you start flexing your new language skills.
2. Apps on Apps on Apps
Of course, there is an app to support learning a language. Duolingo, one of the most popular language learning apps, is totally free (no ads, no in-app purchases). It offers English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. A nice little birdie (literally) will remind you to practice each day and you can set your own pace for learning. You can test out of skills you already know and continually practice new ones. It's easy to make it social by competing with friends and sharing your accomplishments.
If you really want to dive in and master the language, other apps like Mango and Busuu are more effective. Mango has more information about the structure of the language you are about to tackle. It’s also available for free through most public libraries. Busuu offers a social environment where you can chat live with native speakers and if you choose to make it more dynamic, you can with in-app purchases.
3. Read with a dictionary
One of the best tools for picking up a language is reading. There’s just no way around it. Reading in your new language can be extremely effective in helping you pick up vocabulary while seeing how sentences are formed.
To get the most out of reading, always read with a bilingual dictionary nearby. Gone are the days of having to buy a physical dictionary. Use Wordreference.com or Google Translate if you’re focused on keeping the cost at $free.99.
You’ll also be able to learn the multiple meanings of a word and build context. If you are a visual person, keep a notebook of all the new terms you learn. For auditory learners, say new vocabulary out loud three to five times to make it stick. This definitely takes some patience, but you’d be surprised what you’ll pick up after just two or three paragraphs.
4. Watch TV/Movies with Subtitles
If you are like me and you feel empty inside without a daily helping of Netflix, incorporate it into your language learning routine! Most Netflix movies and shows have subtitles in at least Spanish, if not Portuguese and French as well. Turn on the subtitles next time you binge and you will be picking up vocabulary in no time at all. It's the ultimate way to multitask productively. You won’t lose any time catching up on your shows and you’ll still get in your language practice.
Once you're ready to kick it up a notch, reverse it: put the audio in your new language and watch with English subtitles. This is best to do with a show or movie you've already seen, that way you know the context and can match dialogue with the general story. Mastered that? Watch with both audio and subtitles in the new language. Super Saiyan: audio in your new language with no subtitles. Once you can watch a movie all the way through without subtitles, you’ve got it.
5. Check with your library
Public libraries are a gift from our taxes — take advantage! Libraries have evolved to include a wealth of resources. Online language learning programs, including Mango and even Rosetta Stone, are often offered for free. Yes, FREE. These programs are highly effective and usually cost upwards of $200 if you purchase them on your own. All you need is a card from your local public library and you can access these resources, which often have corresponding apps.
If you're more of a face-to-face type of learner, some public libraries and community centers have language learning groups. These are all structured a bit differently depending on the group and organizer. Usually, you'll find learners of all levels in one group trying to improve their language skills. And if you're lucky, your group will have a native speaker. Check sites like Meetup.com for language practice groups near you.
6. Talking to people is free — Go do it!
The absolute best way to get comfortable with a new language is to just dive in and start speaking. Having just one conversation a day with a native speaker will help you develop your skills sooner. Force yourself to talk to the security guard at your office who spent three years in Brazil or your coworker from Senegal. Flex your new skills!
If you mess up a word here or there, people will correct you. If you don’t know a word, someone will fill it in for you. Either way, you will learn how to apply all that you have learned from your new language. Don’t know what to talk about? Ask about food. Everyone eats and everyone knows what they like to eat.
No matter what method you use to acquire a new language, you'll gain a new skill and a glimpse into how other people communicate. You would be surprised by how much your world can open up just by breaking down some basic communication barriers.
If you are traveling to a place where people speak a language other than your own, picking up a few words in that language can really save you. Places like Cozumel, Mexico with high tourist traffic tend to have bilingual staff and restaurant menus in English to cater to the yearly influx of American and European visitors. However, other countries like Argentina or Mozambique might not have such accommodations.
The amount you need to learn will largely depend on where you're going and how long you'll be there. If you're straying a bit from the beaten path, picking up some of the native tongue will help you and your hosts. Even if you are visiting the country for three days, your life will be infinitely easier if you can say a few phrases, such as:
Basic greetings (hello, goodbye, please, thank you)
Three or four food items you love
Three or four food items you hate
All items you are allergic to
Finding the bathroom
Hailing a taxi
Learning those phrases will not only make your trip smoother and safer, but even if you mess up, people will generally appreciate your effort and work with you to identify what you need.
If you’re planning to spend a bit more time in the country, it’s helpful to also learn numbers and directions in the native tongue. This will help when making any purchases and finding your way back to your lodging.
What's your favorite method for learning a new language? Let us know in the comments below!
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It all started when I saw a photo of a river with a few boats by a cathedral. I’m a sucker for picturesque scenery. I Google image searched the photo and Nantes, France appeared. I had no idea exactly where it was at the time, but naturally I started looking for flights.
I take my fiancé away on a surprise trip of sorts for his birthday every year and I figured this could be it! I looked around for flights and saw that Iberia (the Spanish national carrier) flies directly there. On top of that, it was less than two hours away. The departure time and price were absolutely ideal. Just like that, we were on our way!
Nantes is located in the Northwestern part of France, formerly known as Brittany. It only has about 900,000 inhabitants, making it the 6th most-populated French city. While walking through this beautifully quaint city with croissant crumbs all around my mouth, my fiancé and I saw a sign pointing to a memorial of sorts. My French was at a beginner level, but I could make out that this site was dedicated to the abolishment of slavery. Naturally, a question mark appeared above my ‘fro because I couldn’t for the life of me understand the connection between delicious, cheese-filled Nantes and slavery.
We followed the signs expecting to find some giant, marble phallic object with an eternal flame and a sign along the lines of “Never Forget.” Boy were we wrong. This memorial was more like a museum, located underground and right in the city's center. Of course, my first thought was: “Dang, they must’ve really messed up big time!”
Nantes and The European Slave Trade
What we learned was that at one point in the 18th century, 75-80 percent of France’s slave ships left from the port at Nantes and in total this tiny city was responsible for almost half of all of France’s slave trafficking. There were over 4,220 expeditions from French ports and 1,800 from Nantes alone, which translates to around 550,000 African souls shipped to the Americas and Caribbean with French Guyana, Martinique and Guadalupe being some of the main destinations.
It’s rumored that there were so many black Africans in Nantes during the 18th century that wealthy landowners gave human beings away as “tips” for services rendered.
I noticed something different about Nantes as soon as I stepped off the tram. There were African hair stores, African people and African businesses throughout the city, including in high commercial areas. The black men and women I saw on the streets walked with a certain sense of security, agency and yes, confidence. This is a stark contrast to the way Africans scurry through the streets of Madrid almost expecting to be annoyed by the prejudiced Spanish police force.
They wore bright colors because being noticed here, unlike in other European cities, would not ultimately bring trouble or blatant indignation at their presence. In Madrid, people of color try to slide by and not make too much noise because they know that the unfair stereotypes of our brothers and sisters weigh heavily on the minds and the sometimes cold hearts of the majority.
As if the memorial wasn’t enough, there was a block party happening that we managed to attend before our flight. There were food trucks and other vendors as well as a stage set up with performances by local artists. The showstopper was the dance battle. Young, beautiful, talented and confident dancers battled one another (respectfully) while dancing to Soca, Ghanian hip-hop, contemporary African dance music and Caribbean rhythms. Although there was much to see, they weren’t a spectacle. In other places, people gawk, stare and eventually judge, but for some reason the vibe here was electric in the most positive way.
This trip was one of the most memorable in my five years of living in Europe and was such a wonderfully pleasant surprise. It almost brought me to euphoric tears seeing black people walk through this European city proclaiming the truth: we belong here. The blood of our ancestors taints these cobblestones. Our bones bent to build this city that you now call home, and this fact needs to be recognized. So yes, our hair will fly free. Yes, we will dress how we please whether that be in African or Caribbean garb or with piercings and tattoos or traditionally French styles. We are home. Look around you and you see that our influence and our history covers every square meter of this city and that our cry is so loud and so powerful that it can't be denied
Written by Danni Roseman for Las Morenas de Espana
Las Morenas de España is redefining the Black experience in Spain. With stories, resources and insights and exclusive travel knowledge, Las Morenas is the ultimate destination for those with an interest in the country. Thriving as a lifestyle brand for millennial travelers and expats, LMDES has turned into an informational and inspirational hub for many individuals across the globe.
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Black Americans have been bitten by the travel bug, and it's not just those old and retired ones who have time and money on their hands who do so anymore. The younger generation have taken to traveling to quench their wanderlust.
If you think about it, traveling before you reach the age of 30 is a great decision. Traveling young widens your perspective and view of the world and plays a big role in shaping the way you will live the rest of your life. So why not travel now before big life decisions (marriage, kids, career, and all that other serious stuff) happen and take away the perfect time and opportunity to do so?
If you're looking for several places to start, here's a bucket list of places you should definitely go to before your time runs out!
1. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
2. Elmina Castle, Ghana
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
4. The Inca Trail to Machu Pichu, Peru
5. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
6. International Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico
7. Blyde River Canyon and the Panorama Route, South Africa
8. Kruger National Park, South Africa
9. Old Havana, Cuba
10. Jerusalem, Israel
11. Carnival at Trinidad & Tobago
12. Cape Peninsula in Cape Town, South Africa
13. Hanuman's Temple in Jaipur, India
14. Montgomery, Alabama
15. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri
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