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We live in a big world comprised of various cultures and access to different experiences that are just a plane, train or car ride away. According to research, 36% of travelers rated travel as an important spending priority. With travel being such a common goal, it was only right that we discussed ways to do it better and for less on this season of Color Full Lives, presented by State Farm®.

While I’ve enjoyed my fair share of travel, I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m an expert. However, we had the opportunity to sit down with a woman who is. Jessica Nabongo, also known as, The Catch Me If You Can, recently became the first black woman to travel to every country. To say she knows a thing or two about travel would be an understatement.

Here are four valuable takeaways from our interview with this record-setting globe-trotter:

1. The Value of Travel Insurance

Often times, when we think of purchasing travel insurance for the purpose of covering an unexpected trip cancellation or inconvenience. However, the right travel insurance policy can do so much more. In the event that you fall ill or are hospitalized during your trip, travel insurance can cover the cost of a last-minute flight for a loved one to join you at your destination.  It might also cover a portion of your hospital bills or make it possible for you to receive necessary care.

2. It Pays to Be Loyal

During the episode, Jessica shared how she experienced an unexpected delay returning to the country, in turn missing her flight back home to Detroit with the airline she flies frequently. Though it was not the airline’s error, they issued her a ticket for another day at no cost, as a courtesy, primarily because she had a relationship with them.

Sometimes, in an attempt to save a few dollars, we miss out on the opportunity to further a relationship, demonstrating consistent loyalty. There are perks to loyalty that extend beyond baggage fees and boarding order, such as rescheduling a flight without penalty in Jessica’s case.

3. Chase the Deal Not the Destination

Jessica mentioned the value of signing up for flight deal websites and email lists to receive notifications when a good deal is available. I learned about this back in 2015 from my friend, Zim Flores, who created Travel Noire. During the time I was undecided about where my husband and I would honeymoon. A few weeks later, I received a notice that there were round trip flights to Jakarta, Indonesia from JFK for $385. This deal dictated our destination. Although we weren’t interested in Jakarta, we booked flights to Bali and Thailand on that trip with discount carriers’ savings us thousands. Even if a deal isn’t to your ideal destination, if it gets you in proximity to a country that you’ve had your eye on, maybe you can book an inexpensive flight to your ideal destination from the nearby country.

A little flexibility can go a long way when your goal is to see as much of the world as possible.

4. It’s All About the Benjamins

When asked about her money exchange hack, Jessica mentioned that she travels with crisp $100 bills that are made after 2009 at all times. The truth is that the dollar is still powerful throughout the globe. In the event that you need to exchange money in the local currency, crisp and newer $100 bills are almost always guaranteed to be accepted. Some countries won’t even take worn and tattered U.S. paper money. 

Speaking of money, another money hack that she shared was withdrawing money from the ATM machine instead of cash exchange businesses because the rates are often better. If you’re worried about not having money in the local currency when you land, don’t worry, there are almost always ATM machines in the airport, so you can withdraw cash in the local currency before you exit the terminal.

This was such a good interview and the season was full of gems and exciting guests just like Jessica.

You can listen to this episode and catch up on the rest of Season 5 of the Color Full Lives podcast here.




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Created by nationally recognized millennial money expert Tonya Rapley, My Fab Finance is a leading financial education and lifestyle blog for millennials who want to become financially free and do more of what they love.