Ultimate Guidebook: To ICELAND

Iceland Air – I know a lot of people fly WOW Air to Iceland which is a budget friendly airline which is a perfect embodiment of a “no-frills” airline. So if you want to save a few coins & don’t mind having a Spirit Airlines equivalent flight experience then by all-means go with them. I actually will be flying with them for a future trip so I will check back in to let you guys know how it goes. I flew with Icelandair all for a mere $352. They allow a stopover in Iceland for up to 7 days, COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE! So in retrospect all I paid for was my trip to Sweden. This is all a strategic move Iceland has made to get tourism rates up, which they have been very successful at in the last couple of years. Icelandair was a pleasant flight experience. I flew from Detroit to JFK on United then JFK to Rekjavik on Icelandair. No bag fees, nice legroom, great customer service. The only slight disadvantage I could think of is their lack of food service aboard. This wasn’t an issue for me as I took a red-eye flight & was sleep 80% of the time & almost always eat before I get on a flight.

Keflavik Airport & Transport to Rekjavik – If you are staying in Iceland, then the airport won’t be as much as a hassle but otherwise be prepared for the hustle & bustle. I got to the airport at 9am & couldn’t check into my hostel until 2pm. So I lodged at the airport for a couple of hours. It was a little chaotic. This could be attributed to the fact that Keflavik is a transient’s airport & there is just not enough space to accommodate the traffic. Not enough space to sit, eat or even go to the restroom. They do have a lot of nice restaurants at the airport & also free wi-fi. My favorite spot was Joe & The Juice mainly because they play non-stop trap music through the day. Enjoyable but again crowded. As far as transportation, you can catch the Flybus to and from the airport for a mere $50. It is clean and convenient and leaves every 30 minutes. There is heat and wi-fi on the bus as well. You will see the Flybus kiosk/desk as you are exiting the airport and this is where you can buy your tickets. The bus dropped me off right at my hostel. Took about 45 minutes to get there. You can also take the Airport Express which is the same concept.

Currency/ATM – I did not exchange currency in Iceland. I recommend you don’t either. Iceland is pretty plastic friendly. You can use your credit card almost everywhere. I even remember one of our tour guides saying he hasn’t seen real cash in so long because everyone uses their cards in Iceland. In any case though, never exchange your money at the currency exchange desks. They charge you ridiculous rates. Go to the ATM instead & save some money & save some time on waiting. Money is useful to have for tipping although tipping in most European countries is not common, especially Iceland. It is literally frowned upon as the tax & gratuity is almost always already included anyways. Some people feel better if they have a little bit of the local currency on them though. So use your discretion but I got by fine with just my card.

Communication My T-mobile plan allows me to send free text messages & I communicate verbally over Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. Wi-Fi is also very easy to find in Iceland. Even the tour buses had free Wi-Fi.

Lodging I suggest doing an Airbnb and securing that in advance. Like well in advance! I tried booking an Airbnb 2 months prior & most were already booked. The cheapest I could find was one for $70/per night & it was inside a luxury tent in the wilderness. No ma’am. This was a huge mistake on my part so I opted for a hostel instead. Now hostels are great to stay in, especially in Iceland, if you want to save a little money. I am a person who doesn’t really care for certain luxuries but I value privacy. So if I could get a room with just a bed that’s all mine, I’ll be fine. So hostels aren’t always my first choice. In this case though even the hostels were almost fully booked. I had to go with a 16-bed hostel/mixed at Kex Hostel. It was in a very convenient location in Rekjavik with a very nice atmosphere & I met some amazing people in the process. Hotel rooms were astronomical prices but if you enjoy that luxury, by any means, do what suits your boujee-ness.

Excursions Since I was based in the capital city of Reykjavik, it was very easy to do day trips. First, I would recommend doing a free walking tour of Rekjavik. Great way to see the city. On the tour, take a stop at the Phallological Museum. It’s the only one in the world & very interesting may I add. For day excursions, I used BusTravel Iceland & GrayLine Tours. Booked both through Viator. The Bustravel Tour was a Southern Iceland tour which was very nice. It included waterfalls, glaciers, volcanos & historical sites in Iceland. The Grayline Tour group was the company who took me to the Blue Lagoon. Very convenient experience as the buses left every hour. Both of these tours picked & dropped me off right from my hostel in a smaller bus then took us to the bus terminal where we boarded a bigger bus. Bustravel & Grayline have a nice northern lights tour as well on the nights that visibility is high. Would be amazing to experience that. I recommend booking all tours through Viator as they have very good customer service if your tour falls through. If you are an adventure enthusiasts, go on a Silfra Dive between the continents or go on an exclusive volcano tour. Most people do the Golden Circle tour but that tour didn’t seem too exciting to me but it is a popular one so if you have time, put it on your list. Excursions were very expensive so many people recommended renting a car & doing the excursions on your own. That’s one way to do it especially if you aren’t solo. If you love Game of Thrones, they also have an excursion dedicated to this on Bustravel Iceland.

The Blue lagoon excursion was great. The Lagoon is man-made & an experience to witness. If you opt for the Blue Lagoon excursion, book online at least a few days in advance as the Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most visited attraction which means tickets sell out quick. I’d say go before 3pm before the “tours” start. There are several other geo-pools u can try in Iceland. Secret lagoon is one & it’s less touristy, crowded and less expensive. If you rent a car, this may be a better option.

Blue Lagoon
Southern Iceland
Black Sand Beach

Food –  Food is overall one of your biggest expenses in Iceland. Bring snacks to offset the cost or do a quick grocery store run & cook for yourself. Many hostels & hotels also serve breakfast for a fee much cheaper than what the restaurants will charge you. Everything I had in Iceland may have been expensive but it was well worth it as everything was delicious & fresh. When in Rekjavik, search along the main street and you should be able to find something that fits your fancy. Look up food suggestions on Tripadvisor before you go to make your life a little easier. You can find places to eat traditional Icelandic food (fermented shark/whale and all-things fish) but I am extremely allergic to fish so I wasn’t interested. But if you are vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian, you won’t have a problem finding food that adheres to your dietary restrictions. You can drink the water straight from the tap too. It is perfectly safe and clean. Pure Icelandic water straight from the springs. Places also tend to close early, so try to seek dinner as early as you can or make reservations in adavance.

Breakfast Buffet at Kex Hostel


Restaurant Suggestions:

Durum – Breakfast, brunch, & lunch place with a variety.

Bravo – Right on the main street, Lauvagenour. Great atmosphere & cozy.

Grillmarkadurinn aka Grill Market – A nice, fancy restaurant. Try the Meat Gourmet (lamb, duck, beef) with potatoes & greens.

Eldsmidjan – Great pizza spot. They have a lunch special. Medium 2 toppings for $16. But try the Rustica. Very good.

Braud & Co. ­­– I had the best cinnamon roll here amongst other pastries. Iceland loves their pastries, dairy, and coffee.


HAPPY HOUR: You MUST download the app Reykjavik Appy Hour so that you can find where the affordable drinks are for happy hour. This is especially good if you do a day where you explore Reykjavik the city. There are some pretty dope spots to have a drink in Reykjavik.


  • Iceland is a ridiculously clean country.
  • Take a South Coast Excursion. Hike the waterfalls, go to the black sand beach and marvel at the beauty.
  • When you buy your souvenirs try to do it at 1 place if you spend more than 6000ISK (around 60USD) at select giftshops you turn your receipt in at the airport and get the taxes back.
  • Be prepared to travel 1-2 hours just to get to most tour locations outside of Rekjavik. I strongly suggest that you pack a lunch and/or snacks for the tours that average from 5-10 hours. This will save you a lot of money. If you stay at a hostel, pay the breakfast buffet fee & pack a deli sandwich from the buffet.
  • Everything in Iceland is about 3-4 times what you would expect to pay in the US. Budget accordingly.
  • There are lots of Americans and people from the UK visiting Iceland. Those two regions make up about 60% of the tourists to the country. In this case, take the opportunity to meet new people.
  • Iceland is the safest country in the world. The crime rate is almost non-existent here.
  • Be open-minded & explore.


Scandinavia: Magical & Equitable

Scandinavia owes me nothing. I decided to take the trip for an opportunity to bask in God’s seemingly untouched glory and to be reminded that I am just a small entity in the vastness of it. I captured a flight deal to Iceland & Sweden for a mere $350. Reluctant at first because I didn’t see Iceland & Sweden as a tourist destination that was for me. I decided to tell my fears to shut-up & continue this unpredictable journey. I also just could not pass up that flight deal. One week before I started back work, I needed the alone time to unwind & put my mind at ease, as I always experience a high-level of anxiety right before the school year starts. The original plan was to take a day trip to Copenhagen. Upon research though, I realized I couldn’t take on Denmark in just 1 day so I am already planning my trip back to Scandinavia to experience the parts that I left untouched.

Prior to arriving I booked all my excursions for Iceland & decided to wing the rest of the trip. I also secured lodging which I thought was well in advance but because the tourism infrastructure in Scandinavia is still very young, there were not many AirBnBs available & the hotels were way to pricey for my budget. I chuckled at the option of booking a tent Airbnb in the wilderness for $75/night. I opted for a hostel, instead. Now while I love hostels every now and again for the experience of meeting others, I do value my privacy which I so needed on this trip so a hostel just wasn’t my first choice this time around but I was thankful I found some type of affordable lodging and it all worked out.

16-Bed Hostel at Kex Hostel

I flew from Detroit to New York then New York to Iceland via IcelandAir. IcelandAir allows up to a 7-day stopover in Iceland, completely free of charge! Jumped on that opportunity quick. Besides not having in-air dining, I thoroughly enjoyed my in-flight experience on Icelandair & already plan to fly with them again when I go back to Scandinavia. They also have no bag fees which is why I happily decided to not do carry-on only for this trip so I had room to take some treasures back with me. I landed in Iceland & it wasn’t a hassle to get my bags & such. There was just so many people to maneuver through though because of the transient nature of the airport. Eventually made it through & caught the Flybus to Reykjavik which is almost 45 mins away from Keflavik, the airport. I got to my hostel & checked into my 16-bed dorm around 2pm. I was exhausted by then so I pretty much took a nap & relaxed the day away. I really wasn’t pressed on being a tourist for the first day as I like to always just unwind the first day & just take it all in.

The second day it was time to explore Reykjavik a bit. I took a free walking tour & visited a couple attractions including Harpa, The Phallogical Museum & Hallgrimskirkja. I think most of Reykjavik’s beauty can be discovered by just getting lost in the city. You will find gems that most people don’t talk about it. This day was exhausting for me though. Not physically but financially. This is the day I realized how expensive Reykjavik truly is & made a strategic plan for my meals over the next few days as I wasn’t about to go broke in Iceland.

Day three came, And it was time for my first excursion: The Blue Lagoon. I feel like I went during a perfect time, 2 pm. It was also a beautiful day out. Not cold at all. Although I think the experience would have been more memorable had it been below 0 weather. The Lagoon was breathtaking though. Serene & Dreamlike. I opted out paying $100 for the premium entry which included a robe & a aloe mud mask. I would have splurged on an in-water massage though but they were booked by the time I got there. A blessing that ended up being because come to find out, in-water massages don’t seem all that comfortable or relaxing. I sampled my unlimited silica mud masks & basked in the sedateness. At the Lagoon, I bumped into a Puerto Rican from DC, Louie! He was an amazing individual & after the amazing conversations we had, he bought me a drink & the amazing conversations continued. Honestly, I am forever grateful for the amazing individuals I meet when I travel, a primary reason I do it. I must have been at the lagoon for 6 hours before I called it a night. My skin was pale & after being in there so long, you start to feel a little dehydrated. The sleep I had that night was unparalleled though.


The next day brought the next excursion: Southern Iceland. I recommend everyone doing this tour while they are in Iceland. You get to see a lot in one day which is so worth it. I got on the bus that day & guess who I saw, Louie! We had no idea we both were doing that tour on the same exact day, what are the odds? God clearly wasn’t ready for us to separate yet. We got to see the Glaciers, Waterfalls, Black Sand beaches & Volcanos. I also splurged on a meal at a nice Café on the beach. This tour really made me really appreciate the immensity of Iceland’s beauty.

The next morning, bright & early it was time for me to fly to Stockholm, the capital of Scandinavia. Got to the airport early as I assumed the lines would be long & guess what? They were! Got to my gate just in time. Got to Stockholm pretty quickly. Got off my flight, picked up my luggage & caught the Flygbussarna bus to my hostel. Pretty quick trip. My hostel was very centrally located & I even shared a room with 3 other Italian men who had been there for a few days & gave me some tips on places to go. My first stop there was the Icebar. The world’s first permanent bar made completely of ice! It was an experience to say you’ve been there but once you take your selfies, get your overpriced drink & dabble with the few ice sculptures they have, it’s pretty much time to go. A no more than 45-minute experience. That was that so I then just decided to wing it & get lost in Stockholm as I appreciate the architecture & wanted to talk to locals about the equality that everybody raves about there. Spent most of my time on Gamla Stan but there are so many islands, each with its own culture; I wish I could experience them all.

ICEBAR in Stockholm

The coffee houses in Stockholm are always packed with people from all over. You also can’t leave Stockholm without having Fika (coffee & pastry). I talked to a few people & discovered that women are entitled to up to 18 months paid maternity leave, while men are entitled to 90 days which cannot be transferred to the woman. In addition, women are entitled to some 400+ days of leave, until the child is 12, which they can take off to spend more time with them (this is different to sick leave to care for them!!) In same sex relationships, both parents are entitled to paid leave. You’ll also notice an abundance of unisex toilets so everyone can feel comfortable going to the bathroom. Not only that, but gay rights have already been addressed too and everyone is accepted, no matter what their sexual preference or identity. Talk about Progressive! But what about the Black People? My People! Well, skin color matters in every country. Sweden is not exempt which goes back to my theory that there is not a single place in this world that White Supremacy hasn’t laid hands on. I didn’t experience any blatant racism myself but the microaggressions were constant & were so subtle, I almost missed them. So Sweden I appreciate you but you still have some work to do.

On day two I decided to have some fun. Went to the Vasa Museum which I originally thought I wouldn’t enjoy but it was very interesting. Followed by The ABBA Museum which is nice if you are a fan of them. I was not but still interesting to learn about Stockholm’s music culture. Then spent the rest of the day at Grona Lund, an amusement park right in the heart of Stockholm. Very expensive but I enjoyed being a big kid for the day. The next day was Sunday & I decided to visit The Royal Palace to see the changing of the guards’ ceremony. It was very crowded & hard to see but it was one of the best changing of the guards’ ceremonies I have seen as I witnessed them in a couple other countries. The architecture of the Palace was also a sight to see. Went on a boat tour after that & spent my last supper at a really nice restaurant near my hostel. Winged it & have no regrets. Thank You Scandinavia.

Woman Guard at Royal Palace
I always stumble upon a good protest abroad. This one is a protest for the disappearance of an Argentine backpacker.
Last Supper in Stockholm

Ultimate Guidebook: To Cuba

Cuba is a country of contrast that embodies rich history. A lot of times one may feel like they are back in the 20th century with the archaic buildings & disconnectedness. The colors will captivate you, the classic cars will bring you nostalgia but the greatest gift Cuba really will give you is a new appreciation for life. Sure, it might be harder to travel to this country in the future but please don’t let this discourage you. There are always caveats & I wanted to share this guide for anyone who plans to visit this amazing country soon or later.


Visa and Health Insurance
Super easy and stress free. I had to pay $50 for the visa. I had to sign a form to check the reason why I was there (Educational Reasons – 5B). After signing this form, no one asked me or questioned me about my reasons or asked me to produce evidence of my reasons. I didn’t see anyone else being asked to provide evidence either.
The health insurance that is required for Cuba was included in my Jet Blue ticket price, but if it is not, then it is an extra $25. If that health insurance is not included in your ticket price, then you would have to pay $75 when you check in. This may be the case if you take another airline (Delta, Spirit, Frontier, etc.)

Leaving the Airport
I suggest pre-arranging transportation with your Airbnb host or hotel. If they suggest that you take a taxi, then DO NOT use the classic car taxis (the old cars from the 1950’s). These classic car taxis are very expensive (even though you will see many people riding in them) and the city is NOT close to the airport. You will have to pay a grip (like 70 CUC maybe) to get to the city of Havana if you take a classic car. I’ve also heard the yellow taxis are expensive too, but I didn’t take one. As always, make sure they are running their meters. Use your discretion with the taxis. The cost should be no more than 30 CUC to get to the city.

Getting around the City
Taxi: Depending on your negotiation skills, this might be of reasonable price.
For short distance, use the bicycle taxis.
Getting around Old Havana and Centro Havana should be between 10 CUC & 20 CUC.
Walking: Free
– if you love walking, you will love Habana Vieja & The Malecon area.
Havana (the city)
I walked most places as the city is not very big. The Hop-on, Hop-off bus was cool, although it was narrated in some indecipherable Spanish, but good for getting a general overview of the city and seeing many sites at once.
I spent most of my time in the city but took a day trip to Vinales where we used a private driver hired by our Airbnb Host. The cost was $150/roundtrip which was split amongst 3 people. Pretty good deal as Vinales is about 2.5 hours away. The trip included seeing a cave, cigar farm, coffee farm, optional horse-back riding, lunch and buying cigars. You can also take a day trip to the many beaches that are outside of the city, which you will have to take a taxi to. There is a cheaper way to get to the beach rather than paying $25-30 CUC though. Our Airbnb host showed us a way that cost us only $3 CUC by way of public bus. It will be packed but it is cheap! Santa Maria beach is a great local beach as well but I would dedicate at least two or three days to tour Havana itself.

PRO-TIP: The beauty of Cuba is its people and laidback attitude. You’ll want to see the sites, but definitely take some time to sit back, kick it with the locals, and drink a bunch of mojitos!

New Havana (Habana Nuevo) is like what it says, the newer part of town. Old Havana (Habana Viejo) is the older part of town and they both have their pros and cons. Old Havana has most of the museums and sites, some pretty good food options, as well as salsa lessons & entertainment on Obipso Street.
I stayed at an Airbnb in Central Havana which was perfect because I could easily walk (or take a cheap bicycle cab) to Old Havana or New Havana. My host, Mario, was absolutely amazing & even introduced me to another woman who was traveling solo as well. I highly recommend any three of his properties. Here is the link to the Airbnb https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16689251. Although this place was nice for Cuba, it was not 5 stars. So assess your level of comfortability & find out which place is right for you. I found hotels for pretty reasonable prices but I wanted to stay with the locals to get the full Cuban experience. Do Not Regret it at all.

Cave Dive in Vinales
The Amazing Art & Artists you will find walking around Old Havana.

In general, I found all the hyped-up restaurants that everyone recommended to me to be a huge disappointment. The best food I found was outside of major tourist areas. I got a full-course meal right around the corner from my Airbnb for 3 CUC! 3 CUC! I left so full. The food was so good that we ended up going back 2 more times after that. If you prefer more of the touristy restaurants that are expensive but good, I would suggest going to Obispo Street where there are some hidden gems. They vary in price but none are really outrageous. Here are some spots to try:
Dos Pelotas– The food here was super cheap, super abundant & super good! It is a really small establishment & very popular amongst the locals so you might have to wait outside until seating is available but it is so worth it. A lot of time though some things that are on the menu, they might not have so make sure you ask before you fully commit.
Paladar La Familia –This was suggested to me by my local Cuban Friend. You will have to walk up 2 flights of stairs to get to the actual seating area. The food was good & they had a lot of variety on the menu. A tourist trap though is what I heard so be mindful.
La Guardia-People rave about this restaurant; however, I found it to be over-rated but they do have a nice rooftop where you can get very scenic pics of Havana. Suggest it for that purpose, alone.

Plate from La Familia

Jazz Club La Zorra Y El Cuervo – has jazz 7 nights a week and their mojitos were cheap and decent. Get here around 10-10:30ish to ensure that you’ll get a seat if you come during the weekend.
Fabrica de la Arte Cubano – this spot was really dope with an art gallery, food, live DJ, and a dance floor. The food menu seemed limited so you may want to eat beforehand, but I enjoyed this spot thoroughly as I really love art. It is a younger crowd & there was a diverse mix of people there which was lovely. This place is popular so definitely get there early because there will be a line wrapped around the building. Around 9pm is a good time. Entrance is 2 CUC.
Visit Casa de la Musica – on a Friday or Saturday night when there’s a live band, and also the Tropicana show is not to miss.
Cabaret Show – at Hotel Nationale is a cheaper alternative to The Tropicana Show if you are on a budget.

Fabrica De Arte Cubano

I did not connect to Wi-Fi until the 4th day I was there. I bought a Wi-Fi card at a hotel when I was in Vinales for 1.50 CUC which is much cheaper compared to the 5 CUC you will pay in Havana. I did not have Wi-Fi in my Airbnb. I had to go to local hotels where it was a 50/50 chance that Wi-Fi would work. It was exhausting so I gave up at day 2 & decided to enjoy my time disconnected. But if you absolutely have to connect just ask anyone where to get a Wi-Fi card and they will tell you where to go. You don’t have to be a guest at their hotel to get a Wi-Fi card either.

Classic Cars!
You will find an overwhelming amount of Billboards & Street Art of Fidel Castro & Che Guevara throughout Cuba. Neither are All-Hero nor All-Villain but we should let the native people decide.

Miscellaneous Info

·       Download the Spanish language in Google Translate app so you can use it offline. I used mine a couple of times. You really need to know Spanish in Cuba and this app will save your life if your Spanish is like mine, needs work.

·       I bought about 10 Cuban cigars for 30 CUC while in Vinales. My friend bought 10 cigars for $100 while in Havana from someone selling them out of his house. Our Cuban friend told us she for sure got ripped off as the cigars weren’t even authentic so please be cautious of this if you plan to buy cigars while there.

·       CUBA IS VERY SAFE. It is poorly lit in some areas at night, but even in these areas you have nothing to worry about. I stayed in an area that a local told me was known to be a big drug user spot. Which may have been true because at least 2 times I got approached inquiring about buying marijuana. I still felt safe in the neighborhood though. Exercise reasonable caution, but rest assured that crime in Cuba is rare.

·       AN ABSOLUTE MUST DO: Afro-Cubano Sundays! Callejon de Hammel (Centro) – weekly rumba on Sundays from 11am-3pm. Afro-Cuban music, dancing, and religious celebrations. A place where you get to engage with Afro-Cubans, learn the history, see traditional Afro-Cuban dance & even buy some of the dopest art you will ever see. This was one of the highlights of my time there. Amazing space!

·       VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure you save all of the places you want to go to on MAPS.ME so that you can see where they are while you are offline. This was a lifesaver for me. Google Maps is another option but it didn’t seem to work for me while I was there. You can give it a try though.

·       Take a pic with the popular grandma with the cigar. She’s on one of the side streets by the Cathedral in Old Havana. She is very sweet & even gave me a cigar as a gift so make sure you tip her.

·       Convert USD to Euro and Euro to CUC. Make sure it’s CUC. DO NOT BY ANY MEANS BRING AMERICAN MONEY TO CONVERT! They charge Americans a 15% tax on top of the regular conversion fee. It is so not worth it. You can also try to use Canadian Money to Convert too. Canada Dollars or Euros will do.

·       Do Not Drink The Water. I know someone who got sick who drank lemonade forgetting it was made out of local water. I slipped up & drank the water a couple times as well. I was okay though, it built character. 😊 However, I did bring a 12 pack of 12-ounce waters in my checked bag that I rationed through the week. I advise everyone to do the same. If you drink coffee or tea ask that they use a sealed bottle of water to make it. No big deal but if you have a weak stomach, be on the safer side.

·       Pack toilet tissue. A lot of places did not have tissue and will charge you for tissue or to use the restroom.

·       Cuba makes delicious honey. Plan to bring some back in your checked luggage.

·       If you only have a carry on. Only buy alcohol at the airport. It must have a seal in order to get through TSA.

·       Make sure you bring enough money for your trip & then some. ATMs that accept American cards are hard to come by & Cash is King in Cuba. I only ended up spending 50 CUC a day because this was a budget trip for me but I had extra money on hand just in case.

·       My Airbnb host informed me that Cubans are humble & appreciate modest dress especially amongst tourists. So keep that in mind when you pack.

·       LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Do not come to Cuba empty-handed. Bring simple gifts & necessities like candy, gum, shampoo, toilet tissue, sheets, & kids toys. I brought candy for my host & toys for the kids in the neighborhood. Everyone was so grateful! One girl even cried as I gave her a 100-pack of scrunchies. Life-Changing!




Auténtica Cuba!


Cuba easily climbed its way to the number 1 spot of countries I would love to travel to again. With hopes to reverse yet another amazing thing Barack Obama brought us, our 45 plans to roll out new regulations on travel to Cuba from the US (new regulations set to be released on September 15th). I don’t see it actually being enforceable until many months later but I will admit once I heard the news, I knew I had to get there, quick. Cuba, the only country that people from the US are still not able to travel freely to unfortunately. This was a whim trip for me. I originally planned to go to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil which is known to be “The African Capital of Brazil.” Unfortunately, Brazil did not accept my visa application so I had to exchange for another diasporic location that was affordable & rich in culture. Cuba came to mind as I knew flights were very cheap at the time.

This was a cultural exploration trip for me. As are all my trips but this one I came with a real personal obligation to engage authentically with the people there. I would see people all the time post in blogs about how they hated Cuba, the city was dirty, the food was terrible & not being able to easily connect to internet was unbearable. This didn’t easily discourage me from visiting this amazing country though, especially since my purpose of visiting may have not been aligned with their purpose. Admittedly, Cuba is not a luxurious location in terms of amenities. You can definitely find those areas that are but in general Cuba is a cultural destination & you must find beauty in the ruins. I knew since I put that this trip was for Educational Purposes on my visa, I had to indulge & learn something while I was there but I also had to make sure I came there with intentions of supporting the people who occupy the Cuban space & many of those people have never seen a world outside of the boundaries of the vast island. I researched what things I could bring that would be beneficial & much appreciated. The main things that came up were toiletries like shampoo & toilet tissue, sheets, candy & of course toys for the babies. I never check bags anymore on my trips but this trip I filled up a whole suitcase with supplies to bring to give to the people when I got there.

I flew from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale then Fort Lauderdale to Cuba. My trip unfortunately got delayed 1 whole day because of weather. However, I was originally told it was due to maintenance & because of that, Jetblue issued me a $250 credit of good faith for the miscommunication. Reasons why I love Jetblue! Honorable. I was bummed that I missed out on a whole day of Cuba exploration but I waited patiently for 24 hours & began my unforgettable journey to Cuba.

So I am a part of a Facebook Group called Black Travel Movement where I saw a woman post a picture of herself with the caption “Off to Cuba.” Liked the pic then a couple minutes later, I saw that same woman at my gate. I introduced myself, noticed she was with another woman, gave them a hug as seeing other people of color traveling always excites me to a point where I have to thank them & embrace them. They were so welcoming & swiftly became my travel squad for the next couple days. We rode to our Central Havana Airbnbs together where we realized we were staying only a few minutes away from each other. Split the taxi 3 ways & made plans to meet back up the next day for a day trip to Vinales.

I got to my Airbnb & noticed it was quite a few of people hanging outside it. Now normally this would alarm me but not once did I feel unsafe In Cuba, not once did I feel on edge or uneasy. I am not quite sure how to explain this but I always felt at home & at peace. Made my way up the 2 flights of stairs to meet my Airbnb host Mario. He was so pleasant & despite what he may say, spoke really good English. The apartment belonged to his sister though who he rents the apartment out to. She was my host mom for the week & made me a delicious breakfast every morning for 3 CUC. I highly recommend staying in a Casa Particular to engage with the locals & get a home cooked meal once a day.

The next day we headed to Vinales which I recommend everyone take a day trip there while they are in Cuba. We visited a cave, visited the tobacco farms, ate an amazing lunch, shopped & was able to buy so cheap yet quality cigars. So worth it as the scenery in Vinales is breath-taking. It is an all-day trip though so make sure you plan ahead for it. Came home this day & was exhausted, only to get woken out of my sleep to Mario & Christina Jo (A kind soul from Brooklyn who was staying in his other property). We agreed to meet up later that night. I got up & had a little time to spare so I decided to walk the neighborhood & give out the many gifts I had bought. I first saw a group of women & I gave one woman a 100 pack of scrunchies & she cried. I ran into a kid’s birthday party on my block where I gave the babies a bunch of toys including glow sticks. They were so grateful & every day after that they would come visit me every time they saw me sitting out on the porch. Every time I had more toys for them as I could have rationed them to other kids but these particular babies stole my heart.

The Scenery Was Remarkable!


Tobacco House in Vinales.
At Margarita’s (Girl with Glasses) Birthday Party. In Spanish, Margarita means Daisy Flower.

I finally met up with Christina Jo at 7 where we basically walked around the city looking for a place to eat. We stumbled upon a hidden gem, “Dos Pelotas,” which literally translates to “Two Balls.” I didn’t expect much out of this restaurant but boy did they surprise me. They had an extensive menu & everything sounded delicious. We all ended up ordering separate things so we can sample each other. I got the bistek wrapped in ham & deep fried paired with rise & beans, sweet potatoes & salad. So delicious! We ended up coming back to this particular restaurant 2 more times. That night though I did end up sick. My heart is telling me, it was not the restaurant. I had an allergic reaction, nauseated stomach & could not stop sneezing & coughing. It got to a point where I could barely breath & my host mom felt concerned. She gave me a pill for my stomach & something that resembled Vicks Vapor Rub for my breathing. I was better instantly & she even stayed the night with me to make sure I was ok. If this is not the epitome of mercy & benevolence, I do not know what is. I honestly can’t find the words to thank her. Truly appreciative of Mariela’s (host mom) presence & compassion.


The next day I woke up & took the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus to explore the city. It was a great way to see the city in a decent amount of time. It was very hot though. Sometimes the heat was unbearable. I had to take a break as water was hard to come by & dehydration is real in Havana. I visited The Museum of Revolution, Revolution Square, & Central Park amongst other places. Later that day I linked back up with Christina Jo again & we continued to explore the city together. We decided to eat at La Familia which is a restaurant that many people recommended to us. The food was average to me. Incomparable to Dos Pelotas. Upon exiting the building we ran into Alain Garcia Atola who was an Afro-Cuban from Santiago De Cuba who was in Havana working. We talked to him for a minute & asked him to take us to a certain street, as we were a little lost. He ended up being our personal tour guide for the rest of the trip & expected nothing in return.

The next couple of the days the three of us were inseparable. He showed us where to find some amazing art, some more amazing food restaurants, gave us history lessons & even showed us some of Cuba’s great nightlife. We went to Fabrica de Arte one night which is an Art Gallery/Night Club. Super dope! Don’t leave Cuba without checking out this jewel. It costs 2 CUC to get in & can get pretty crowded so get there early. Met so many dope people here too from the US. That Sunday was my last day there & I was able to experience La Ramba (an alleyway that is clothes with art & history). On Sundays from 11am-3pm they have an Afro-Cuban celebration equipped with live music & dance, selling of art & a tour of the Afro-Cuban culture/religion in Cuba. This was probably one of the highlights of my trip. That night we sat on The Malecon for a couple hours which Cubans call “The Big Sofa.” We laughed, reminisced on the week & promised we would see each other again. Those two really became my brother and sister over the course of a few days & the next day I struggled in tears saying bye to them, my Host Mom & Mario. This trip was truly life-altering & I am already making plans to come back.


La Ramba Performers
Thankful for you Alain! ❤

Why Wanderlust Revolution?

In a country, The United States of Amerikka, where the movement of black bodies is seen as a threat, I believe that traveling is literally a revolutionary act.

      In a country, The United States of Amerikka, where the movement of Black bodies is seen as a threat, I believe that traveling is literally a revolutionary act. Let’s take it back to the Jim Crow era where brother Victor H. Green created “The Negro Motorist Green Book” in response to encourage and guide African American travelers through the segregated and very much unsafe Jim Crow era. His purpose was to save the travelers of his race of as many difficulties and embarrassments as possible. Sadly what Green was trying to save Black travelers from more than 60 years ago can still be seen manifesting today.  

     I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. I never traveled much when I was growing up and had no desire to. No one who I knew took extravagant family vacations across the world. All I knew was the seeds of gold confined in the boundaries of Detroit. It was not until I went to college just an hour or so away that I begin to realize how big this world truly is. Then my first semester of college, I took my first international trip to Dubai for a study abroad and have been to well over 10 countries since then. Every trip bringing back much more power than I came with. Today, I am an educator in the heart of Detroit as well as a mom of a very impressionable 5 year old and my goal is to breed consciousness within them as it relates to the movement of Black bodies. Yes, In modern day Amerikka, they only value the movement of Black bodies if it is to a prison cell. The way to combat this, move at your own pace, to your own space, your own space of power.

     The greatest lessons I was ever taught has been on my journeys around the world which is why I believe traveling is the best form of education and one of the most powerful forms of resistance. It is so important to learn history separate of what the western culture or as I like to call them “The oppressor” has taught us. My spirit becomes liberated every time I book a trip & my chains begin to unfurl as soon as a step on the plane and by the time I get to my destination you cannot tell me that I haven’t reached another level of liberation. But I know that one cannot aspire to be what they cannot see.

        So as I embark on this revolutionary journey of not being shackled in my movements and seeing all of God’s beautiful manifestations, I pray that someone sees my journey and in direct response starts their own, all in hopes of normalizing black travel. Welcome to the Revolution, The Wanderlust Revolution.

Passport Support Giveaway Winner!


Kennedy Stone is a 21 year old student at Central Michigan University studying mechanical engineering. 

     I know that often times being a person of color from an inner city can be a limiting factor on the opportunities life puts in front of you. I am a first generation high school graduate and a first generation college attendee. At Central, I am studying mechanical engineering technology and once I graduate I plan to go into prosthetics. While I understand the privilege being in college affords me, it is not without its own struggles. I am currently in debt from student loans and being at a predominately white institution has affected my mental health, but I am still here. I may graduate a year later than “norm” but I will graduate.  
       My mother has helped me with what she can and is very proud of me but she recently got her GED and went back to school. Needless to say my money situation is tight. I recently moved off campus and bought a used car all on my own. I am slowly making a way for myself in the world and gaining independence. In the few months I have been more autonomous. I have realized the importance of said independence. Being able to go where I want, when I want, and revel in the fact that my dedication got me there has been astonishing. 
       However, I know that life is nothing but the connections one makes and the lives we touch. While I have gone far on my own, I am not ashamed for asking for help, and I need help to go further.  My power-trip would be to apply for an international engineering internship in Singapore, one of the worlds leading engineering powerhouses. Being an Afro-latinx female engineer in the middle of a corn field has made me very aware that there is more to life than what’s between 6 mile and W. Outer Drive. With a passport I could gain a broader perspective of international relations and cultures different from mine. With a passport there is one less boundary in my way, one less thing that could possibly prohibit my growth not only as an engineer but as a human. 

Congratulations Kennedy on being selected as our FIRST Passport Support Recipient!

Quick Solo Getaway: Paris & Barcelona

      It was the beginning of May & as a Middle School Educator in the heart of Detroit, I was exhausted. Overwhelmed with state testing, meeting deadlines and relentlessly trying to turn my students into social-change agents. I knew I had 1 month left & I knew after that 1 month I was going to need an escape, a self-actualization escape. At this time, I was constantly getting flight deals to Europe. I decided that is where my next solo escape would be to. I booked my flight and didn’t tell a soul.

     I originally booked my flight to Paris as that was the cheapest destination to fly to but I knew I didn’t want to stay in Paris for the duration of my trip. So I did a little research and found out there are budget airlines you can fly from one European City to another for very cheap. I booked my flight from Paris to Barcelona on Vueling Airlines for $63. June came and I was off to start my second solo adventure.

     I spent my first 3 days in Paris doing all the typical touristy stuff like visiting the Eiffel Tower, putting my touches on the lock bridge and eating delicious macarons. I stayed in a nice Airbnb outside of the city in the Noisy-la-Sec Neighborhood with a nice woman and her daughter. I wish I spent more time in this neighborhood as it was super diverse and had a lot of entertainment and affordable shopping to offer. My second day there, I stumbled upon the Paris Pride Festival which I had no idea was happening. Was elated to be in the presence of self-love for those few hours as the parade bought me the greatest moments I had in Paris. I also stumbled upon a Carnival upon leaving the parade. I love Carnivals and the rides at this carnival were incomparable to any carnival ride I’ve encountered in the US. Snatched me a wristband & was a big kid for the rest of the day. All in all, I was not impressed with France though. Maybe I went during the wrong time, it was entirely too many people there and if you know me, you know I am not really a big city girl. By my third day there, I was ready to escape to a new place. Overwhelmed with the hussle & bussle, I spent my last day at a park outside the city reading and writing. I think France can be conquered in 2 days. I would probably never come back anytime soon. If I do come back I would come back with my Adam as France is the city of love and should be experienced with a loved one.


       I was excited to take my flight to Barcelona the next day. A flight I almost didn’t make because I forgot that flying with a budget airline comes with so many stipulations. I made it there though and eager to start my Barcelona adventure, I took a quick cab ride to my Airbnb, met my host Pedro and was back out into the Barcelona streets. I visited Guell park first which I got extremely lost looking for. It is a huge park in the center of the city with amazing architecture by Antonio Gaudi. You could easily spend a few hours at this park, but you have to buy a ticket to enter the good parts so I decided to buy my ticket and come back at the end of the next day. I then visited The Sagrada Familia. Such an amazing place with great architecture. If visiting Barcelona, I would suggest getting your ticket a couple days in advance to Sagrada Familia. It is the number 1 visited attraction in Barcelona, especially during peak season and if you don’t get your ticket in advance, you will be like me, left outside, not able to witness the amazing architecture from within. The aesthetics from the outside was enough for me though, I was floored by the beauty.


         The second day I decided to get a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus ticket as I didn’t realize how vast the city of Barcelona is. I rode the bus to the other end of the city where the beaches and Soccer stadium was. 2 days clearly wasn’t enough time to indulge in this amazing city. Barcelona is a fun city with so much to offer for any type of person. I would recommend spending more than 2 days here as I felt short-handed as I boarded my plane back to Paris because there was so much more left to relish in. Europe may not be my happy place but it is always a great place to travel solo to especially if you are a new traveler. Do it!

Laughter: Its good for The Soul.

Paris & Barcelona Pro-Tips:

  • Do The Black Paris Tour with Ricki Stevenson & after eat at Mama Jackson Soul Food Restaurant
  • Paris is stupid expensive for no damn reason. Create a budget before going and stick to it.
  • Try to learn the basics of the language before you go to Paris. Some people there are not all that friendly so asking for help may not be your best option.
  • Hotels hike their prices up during peak season. Book a nice Airbnb to save.
  • In Barcelona, book tickets ahead of time to places like Parc Guell & Sagrada Familia.
  • Get the Barcelona Card for 3, 4 or 5 days that covers all public transportation for the course of those days. Also gives you discounts to certain attractions.
  • Visit La Rambla if you wanna splurge a little. It is a street that offers a high-end shopping experience.
  • Take a day trip to Montserrat  if you have time. My biggest regret is not being able to do this.

Costa Rica: Sensory Overload

     Costa Rica, a developing country that got rid of its military to instead focus its finances on a universal healthcare and education program, you know the things that really matter. Not a surprise they consistently rank top in the global happiness index. Once again, the plane ticket price confirmed my attendance when I was looking for my next country to visit. I remember I had just got word that Betsy Devos would be our new Secretary of Education. I was floored, angry, so many damn emotions! Looking for an escape to put my mind at ease, I stumbled upon a Costa Rican flight deal, texted my travel crew and we were booked.

     Our plane arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica which is the nation’s capital. There’s not much to do in San Jose so we decided to go somewhere with more sensory overload. Though it was tough narrowing it down because Costa Rica had so many great destinations to escape to, we ultimately decided on the Manuel Antonio/Quepos area. Being that we visited during rainy season, we heard up north was more susceptible to rain than the south so we took our chances during rainy season in the southern part of the country and luckily we only got caught in the rain once while we were there.

       We took a shuttle from San Jose to our hostel in Manuel Antonio which took us almost 2 hours. We found out that you can get a plane ticket for the same price so be sure to look into that if you ever visit. The hostel we stayed in was called Selina. It was an amazing atmosphere. Didn’t seem like a hostel at all. So many good vibes. We met so many people from around the world, even met a girl from Ann Arbor who was attending the University of Michigan  with us. It was the 3 of us to a room and we had an amazing extra roommate from Utah.

Daily Activities at our Hostel.


      We spent the first day exploring and relaxing at the beach. We then stumbled upon a group of students studying abroad from Virginia. They were pretty awesome and we invited them to our hostel later that night where there the hostel would be hosting a hip-hop dance party. That night was amazing. Wish I could put it into words. The second day we woke up and had a Zipline/Canopy adventure which further added to my sensory overload. The tour took us through the amazing Costa Rican Rain Forest and the scenery was amazing. The Ziplining was some of the best and highest in the world they say.

    The next day we went on a white water rafting excursion. This one I was particularly nervous about cause heights I can do but I don’t do water especially rapidly moving water. No Bueno! But I did it and I’m glad I did. It was one of those things that you only see and hear about in movies so it’s still so surreal that I was able to conquer my fears and make lifelong memories. We had our last dinner that night at a really fancy restaurant where we met a nice black couple honeymooning from Houston who basically shared their wisdom with us on how to make marriage work. They were so dope and we even got to see them again and chat with them at the airport. I will be forever grateful for the many people I meet and connected with on this journey. Costa Rica showed me what living truly is. Pura Vida!

Costa Rica Pro-Tips:

  • Bring comfortable shoes, you’ll be hiking a lot in Costa Rica
  • Visit the southern region if you are going during Wet Season
  • Try to see at least 1 waterfall & volcano while you are there.
  • Depending on where you are, you can plan a day trip to Nicaragua or Panama using a tour company.
  • Amigos Del Rio is the best tour company in Costa Rica! Period.
  • If in the Manuel Antonio/Quepos area, visit Silencio Village. A completely community ran town where everyone puts their money together to better the community as one. Remarkable to hear the story of the village.
  • Pura Vida!

Cartagena: The Juxtaposition

     Cartagena, Cartagena, Cartagena. The quickest I ever fell in love with a travel destination. I want to say this is mainly because the people there are so remarkable. Despite getting my passport stolen (which is a whole other blog post), I honestly & truly didn’t have 1 bad experience in Cartagena. I see Cartagena as a Juxtaposition though because there is a clear distinction between The Walled City or Old City & The Outer City or New City.

      I originally wasn’t suppose to go to Cartagena. I basked in all the media posts about Colombia and how it is a drug-ridden, incredibly unsafe place. However, I kept seeing Cartagena pop up in my travel groups & Instagram Explore Pages & thought God was sending me a sign. Then Lo & Behold, I got an alert for a cheap flight to Cartagena for a mere $300.  I immediately texted my travel squad and see if they wanted to join me, my sands Shardae was easily convinced. We booked our flights, arranged lodging and then I told my parents. They were anything but happy. In fact, it took a month for me & my dad to get back on good terms after returning. He was beyond scared, he didn’t think Colombia was a safe place to travel to at all, of course due to the media manifesting this false image in his head. I assured them that I would be fine and took that leap of faith.

       We arrived in Cartagena and the atmosphere was so welcoming. As soon as we landed, everyone started cheering “Cartagena, Cartagena, We made it home!” The energy was everything! We arrived at our Airbnb where we met our host Alex & his amazing family. He was a lawyer who lived with his mom, his aunt and his nephews. I thought that was so amazing. They spoke absolutely no English so I had to hone in on the broken Spanish I could remember from years ago. I would always tell his mother and aunt that I didn’t speak Spanish but we would sit on the porch after a long day and they would just tell me stories and I just listened, picking up on words and phrases here and there. They were just happy we were there, you could tell. If you are ever in Cartagena, I would highly recommend staying with a host family who can authentically show you the true jewels of the city.

Host Family! Beautiful Family Portrait.

       Our first day we visited the shopping mall which is where my passport got stolen. We also spent way more money than we intended to at this small boutique only because we didn’t fully understand the currency exchange rate there.

A Sweet Young Girl who tried to calculate our total as we tried to understand the currency exchange rate.


Pro-Tip: Download XE Currency app before arriving so you know exactly what the currency exchange rate is. Also never exchange money at the currency exchange counters at the airports, they charge you a high, unnecessary fee. Instead, go to an ATM and use your debit card or ATM card to get out money in the local currency. Much cheaper!

      Although my passport was missing, I didn’t panic, I resumed our trip as normal and decided to deal with it the last day. Our next day we spent at Castillo San Felipe de Barajas which is a fortress built in the 1500s by Spaniards during the colonial era. At this fortress is where we met our friend Sergio who was a tour guide and recently moved there from Detroit, which he called home for 16 whole years! His reason for leaving: Detroit didn’t embrace him like Cartagena did. He always felt on guard and not welcomed, whereas in Cartagena people exude happiness and acceptance. He said it’s just different. While I love my city & do not have any intentions on leaving anytime soon, there is many many truths in his statement unfortunately. We then spent the rest of the day exploring where we ate some amazing Colombian cuisine, engaged with the locals at Plaza de La Trinidad, and even met the Beautiful Palenquera women who were dressed in vibrant colors & carrying fruit baskets on their heads. Originally from the village of San Basilio de Palenque, they represent slave resistance and a survival of African Culture in Latin America which to me, made me honored to be in their presence.


       The next day I had to gauge a plan to get a new passport to get back into the US. Luckily I had amazing friends from college who resided in Cartagena. We met up with them, went to the police station and I booked my flight to Bogota, the state capitol, to get another passport. Forever grateful for you Cyntoya, Ivory & Dani.

       The next morning I got up early to take my flight to Bogota. I wasn’t a fan of Bogota at all. It gave me too many “Big City” vibes which were unfortunately not welcoming. Nothing like Cartagena at all! I went to the passport place, did the process and went on a Street Art tour while I waited for my passport. I am a sucka for quality street art and Bogota had it! On top of that, it was a free tour! If ever in Bogota, I would recommend going on a street art tour. Probably one of the best things the city has to offer. Before the evening I was back in Cartagena like I never left with a new passport I kept clutched. The last night we went back to Plaza de La Trinidad which is a popular meet up place for locals and tourists. You can find food and free entertainment there. Such an amazing space. We met some amazing locals who took us to a dance bar and we danced our last night away.

        People will tell you all the time that the Walled City is a prettier, safer, more affluent part of the city than the other parts. Which may be true but it doesn’t make it a better place. The Walled City is surrounded by Las Murallas, the thick walls built to protect it against enemies. It also has a lot of colors and beautiful architecture equipped with plazas, churches, mansions & horse drawn carriages, I was happy I stayed outside the Walled City to get a feel of the real Cartagena. However, whenever I was outside the Walled City, everyone warned me to be safe and not to be out too late. Crime is not as prevalent in the Walled City as it is patrolled more and the people are so close that if they found out who did it then they would basically be disowned. I found this whole juxtaposition interesting but would say that all of Cartagena is safe for the most part, if you use your common sense of course. It was hard to leave this amazing city and I got super emotional saying goodbye to Alex and his family. I don’t ever make plans to return to a country I’ve been to before but this city most likely will be seen by me again in the near future. Thank you Cartagena.

We looked a mess as we just woke up but this pic perfectly describes our time in Cartagena. So Much Love! ❤

Cartagena Pro-Tips:

  • Try some of their amazing street food. My favorite is Arepa con Queso. Mouth-Watering & also mouth-drying. Get something to drink with these as well, Coco Frio is always a good choice.
  • There is no such things as seasons in Cartagena. It is hot, I mean very hot all the time & can get a little chilly at night.
  • Cartagena is a coastal city with not many beaches, except in Bocagrande. Go to Playa Blanca if you want to experience paradise.
  • Visit the Getsemani neighborhood to experience good food and amazing street art in protest of gentrification. This is also were Plaza de La Trinidad is located.
  • If you want to experience the Real Cartagena, visit La Boquilla Beach. A fishermen’s town that has kite-surfing classes and the best fried fish and coconut rice in the entire Caribbean coast.  
  • Visit Parque de Simon Bolivar: At about 5:00pm every night there are dancers performing cumbia, mapale, and other Afro-Colombian dances.
  • Bargain, Bargain, Bargain in Cartagena. If they say 10, you say 8. Always!