Black Travel Summit x The Hostel Healer (Recap)

This past weekend, Black Travel Summit hosted another Instagram Live as part of their “BTS Travel Indoors” series. This episode featured Reis Armstrong, a.k.a. The Hostel Healer, who shared his journey to becoming a black expat in Melbourne, Australia. Though he is currently based in L.A. due to COVID, he has called Melbourne home for the last year and is looking forward to returning in January 2021. Reis’ story is a very relatable one rooted in his growing spiritual detachment from life here in the U.S. and desire to see and learn more abroad. He has been able to travel to many countries due to the affordability of hostels which has doubled as an opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people he’s ever met and establishing lifelong friendships. He even got his name, The Hostel Healer, from a British friend due to his offering of tarot card readings in these hostels as Reis is a psychic medium. Of all the great anecdotes he shared, I found it most important to share today the myths that he and the host, Anita, debunked about traveling and staying in hostels, especially for black people.
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I’ll start with hostels. Reis’ primary source for hostels is a site called HostelWorld which I have mentioned a couple of times here on the blog. HostelWorld is, as he described, the Yelp for finding hostels. It’s a database of hostels around the world complete with photos, amenities, dorming options, as well as an incredibly reliable rating system. I was first introduced to HostelWorld in 2017 when I traveled to Cabo. I have used it ever since and even used it in London in 2018 where I found an extremely affordable, clean, and centrally-located hostel–literally right next to the Tower of London. I wrote about the accommodation more in-depth in that trip’s blog post, but it was easily one of the best experiences I have had while traveling. Ultimately I was able to find it by not compromising the rating of the hostel. Though my Cabo trip wasn’t my first time staying in a hostel, I had heard first-person horror stories of hostels that were worse than anything I’d seen on TV due to choosing whatever was cheapest. But the good news is, hostels are not always what they are portrayed to be, and I think as traveling becomes more ‘mainstream’, more people are discovering that they are great options for accommodations. Here are some tips Reis had for first-timers:

  1. You get what you pay for: If you think “it can’t be that bad,” it’s probably worse.
  2. Never go under 7 stars: Reis himself doesn’t like to go below a 9 (8 for me), but obviously people have different priorities when they travel. It’s just better not to take the risk if you can afford it which you should definitely be able to if you’re choosing a hostel to begin with.
  3. Read the reviews: This I can personally attest to. To use London as an example again, I originally was tempted to go with a hostel in Shoreditch, a popular area for nightlife with a younger demographic. Seeing as it was my friend’s first time in London, I wanted her to be in the heart of everything, but an overwhelming amount of reviews about no hot water, dirty beds and showers, and thin walls reminded me to trust my gut. The HostelWorld reviews are truly honest.
  4. BRING SHOWER SANDALS: If you have attended any kind of camp or college, you know how important it is to have shower sandals. Under NO circumstances should you be traveling without them, especially in a hostel. Period.
  5. Try it AT LEAST once: Plain and simple, don’t knock hostels until you try them. I think this is generally a good attitude to have when approaching most things when traveling. 🙂
  6. *Bonus* Ladies, if you cannot afford a private room or just prefer to be around others, there is always an option for all-female dorms instead of mixed dorms.

A final note that both Reis and Anita talked about was how more people of color, especially black people, need to travel more. Representation is key when it comes to traveling because it can greatly alter our experiences. Obviously, traveling is a privilege. I have written and said this many times because traveling is an expense no matter which way you cut it. But if you want to, you can absolutely make traveling a possibility. Something he pointed out that I, too, first recognized when I stayed in a hostel was the abundance of young (18-19 year old) white people that are traveling. Sometimes it’s due to being on gap year and other times, it’s just because their parents sent them/allowed them to go with their friends. I was in total agreement that both of these options are things we should be encouraging with future generations/our own children, especially within communities of color.
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A Gentle Reminder

A Gentle Reminder

Today’s post is simply a reminder to everyone to enjoy all parts of your life–the good and the bad. It is a dark time that we are all experiencing for various reasons. It is so easy to wallow in this darkness and expect someone to pull us out. While we will be experiencing gradual change over the next however many months (maybe years), we cannot resign our efforts. We especially cannot press pause on life. This absolutely is not a declaration for people to start living their lives ‘as normal as possible’ and throw caution to the wind with a global pandemic happening. Instead, see it as a reminder of having good health and having a fulfilling life, however you define it.
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Content Creation–What Is It?

Content Creation–What Is It?

content creation: the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media for an end-user/audience in specific contexts

Ever since my return to YouTube, I have started to step fully into defining myself as a content creator. While I consider myself a blogger first, as it is something I have been doing for five and a half years now, I also realized that I have been consistently creating and editing YouTube videos for a year and a half now.  It only makes sense that I widen the umbrella as I continue to learn new skills on different platforms. Let’s also not forget the innate Millennial skill of being able to adapt to new social media as they arrive. But when it comes to compiling all of these skills and turning that into a career, the world of creating content isn’t as simply boiled down as the two-word title.
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What’s the difference between an influencer and a content creator, for example? Is it the age-old conundrum that an influencer can be a content creator, but a content creator is not necessarily an influencer? Should people who work in social media be expected to also know graphic design, video editing, animation, etc.? If I do apply for a video editing job, am I expected to take over social media as well? This is all part of the confusion that I can personally say I am witnessing in job descriptions, advice webinars, and panel discussions about media. When I Google “What is a content creator,” the first page of results stem from personal blogs rather than major publications. The definition I pulled at the beginning of this post was one I found on Wikipedia which goes to show how new this realm really is, even to people who are considered to be a part of it. Continue reading “Content Creation–What Is It?”

Travel Withdrawals

The past few days, I have been reminded through social media of memories that took place at this exact same time: five years ago, I was in San Francisco for the first time.
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Four years ago, I was finishing up my internship abroad in London.
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Three years ago, I was exploring Boston with my friend, Brad.
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Two years ago, I was a couple of days out from my family trip to LA.
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Last year, I was preparing for my trip to Cabarete in the Dominican Republic with my friend, Ilse.
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In a couple of weeks, I would have been on my way to London again on a two-week trip with the plan of country-hopping in Europe. As if I don’t already spend all of my free time thinking about traveling, these memories have hit me harder than I could have imagined. Continue reading “Travel Withdrawals”