Updated: Apr 29
When I was a kid well into my adulthood, my dad traveled a great deal as a global church leader . While I hated that my dad was always gone, I loved the treasures and stories dad brought back upon his return. When we developed the film from dad’s travel camera, I would gaze at each picture a bit longer than normal, letting my imagination take me where he’d been.
My desire to travel peaked in college when opportunities to study abroad were presented to me . That dream was deferred as quickly as it was sparked because I had no money and I would not dare ask my parents to foot another bill with my student loans already piling up. When my cousin took me post college on an all expense paid trip to Karlsrue,Germany as he scouted out talented African immigrant soccer players there, my love for travel was solidified.When I enrolled in grad school a year after my trip to Germany, there were several travel study trips offered by my school, but again, I could not afford to go because I didn’t have money and didn’t know how to get some to travel.Thanks to the help of a friend who knew how to take advantage of the education we were paying for by seeking out grants, we sought out a grant that allowed us to do 2 peace building workshops at two after school programs in post conflict Liberia. This was also a home going trip for me after 16 years away from my beloved ancestral home.
When I graduated from grad school , I participated in a service learning fellowship that paid very little ( because that’s how those things work ) thus putting my travel dreams on hold, or so I thought. At my fellowship site, I attended an impromptu class organized by my then supervisor about how to travel on credit card miles and after that lesson, my travel dreams were activated.
While I am still a public servant and still on my journey to accumulate mass wealth, I’ve seen 14 countries based on that lesson making a total of 16 countries I’ve traveled to. While I haven’t even seen an eighth of the world, I plan to see as much of it as I am able to in my lifetime and if travel is a thing you too have dreamt of, the short list below is a combination of tips I remembered from the class and tips of my own that can help you get started .
1.If you have a stable job, no matter what you make, apply for one good credit card that has a partnership with airlines that can give you miles for the dollars spent and points for other things like hotels and car rentals . The Points Guy has done the research on the best cards ,their APR rates and annual fees for you here.
2.Instead of paying your bills using money directly from your bank account , pay your bills or some of them with your miles credit card and then immediately pay your card off with the money you were going to use to pay the bills to avoid lingering debt. This also allows you to build a great credit history and raises your credit score.
3. Almost every major airline has a skymiles program.Join as many programs as you like so that no matter what airline you fly with , you’ll get credit for a possible free or discounted flight because miles are like money. Many domestic airlines have international partners and vise versa so it’s possible to fly local and get points to fly international. Simply call the airline or do a google search to learn about the partnerships and how the points transfer. Delta’s skymiles program was the first one I signed up for so I’ll recommend you start there. T
4.If your job has a travel component to it, be sure to give your company’s travel agency the airline miles numbers from all of the airlines you fly with so that no matter what airline they book your travel on, you’ll get credit for it.
I recognize that some people who want to travel may not be able to due to unemployment or family obligations. I look forward to being part of creating opportunities that allow all people , regardless of these situations , to experience travel because travel changes a person for the better. Through travel, I learned about the root causes, which often are a result of western meddling , that propel migration. Travel is educational. In breaking bread and receiving the radical hospitality of strangers and friends,travel has allowed me to be vulnerable. In jumping off boats into sky blue waters in The Philippines and tasting foods I would never dream of trying, travel has taught me the value of spontaneity. In seeing that people , no matter their nationality , race, class and gender simply want to live abundantly , travel has reminded me of our common humanity .
If exploration of the earth is about solidifying your superiority over others , by all means , stay home ; but if you want to be left in awe and wonder that there is more to the world than your own little corner, I’ll see you out there in that great big world of fun. As you prepare to go, be inspired by this glimpse of my adventures.
Janjay Innis is the Founder of The Africa Expo
She is obsessed connecting black people globally.
This article was originally published on Janjay Innis' Medium blog which you can visit at https://medium.com/@janjaykamahinnis .