Among other things social media has created, filters are the most sought after.
And I’m not talking floating stars, floral crowns or farm animal filters.
I’m talking about the filter that frequent and/or overseas travel projects.
Something happens when a person posts a picture tagging a foreign location.
All of the sudden the normal guy you thought you follow ain’t so normal no more.
I mean 48 hours ago they were at Chipotle posting a pic of their meatless burrito, complaining about the price of guac like the rest of us. Now they’re on a beach in someplace called Koala Lemonpurr. “How did jigolbitties85 pull this off?!“, you wonder.
So you make a mad dash for their profile page, trying to piece together their lifestyle, looking for evidence of how the slacker you went to high school with has arrived here, literally.
Hadn’t he, like you, convinced himself that travel is a non-essential opulence? So you scroll through his most recent posts, smacking your teeth and resolving that, “His daddy got money…” or “He got 3 kids so he prolly got a few stacks back on his taxes“. This is how we chock up the travels of the non-rich, young adult.
Unfair but totally valid.
I, on the other hand pride myself on being transparent.
I get no pleasure out of traveling and posting pics with captions borrowed from a flashy rapper in an attempt to make you feel bad about your life. (Sticks finger in throat).
Ugh. That disgusts me. Not stuntin’, we all do that — posting pictures and using Top 40 lyrics to describe the scene. Yuck. That’s gross. Bye. Be creative.
I digress though.
I’m hoping I can take my signature transparency to another level, combine it with my first big vacation and use it to encourage other ‘everyday people’ to travel. So I’ve made a list of things that I anticipate will normalize me and my 10 days in Thailand. Six things that will hopefully convince you, a regular degular person with minimal income, that you deserve (and can afford) to inject extraordinary experiences into your ordinary life.
1. I Wore a Wig for a Few Months to Save for Spending Money
To naturalistas, I’m sure, this is nothing.
But if you have self-diagnosed alopecia-of-the-edges like me and can’t execute a straight part even with the pointiest of rattail combs, this is everything.
So in an attempt to save a couple hundred bucks, I swapped my signature stripper sew-in for a prim and proper pixie wig. Sure I looked like your favorite “Let me speak to your manager” auntie for a month of Sundays but I saved up so much money by the end of the penny-pinching period that this auntie was able to bring back souvenirs to all of her illegitimate nieces and nephews.
2. I Did Run of the Mill Activities
No shade to people that visit Thailand and hit yoga poses atop an elephant while petting a tiger but I don’t like cats in real life and can be found trying to make eye contact with the elephant at the circus — motioning for the poor guy to run for the exit.
I prefer to view species (the human kind) in their natural habitat.
Therefore I tried my best to skip the traditional Thai tourist activities.
Plus I’m American so como de say, the mall?
Lucky for me Bangkok offers a top level shopping experience which ironically is where their equally awesome movie theater is held; on the top floor of the swanky Siam Paragon. And because I didn’t heavily plan and prearrange a bunch of tropical, day trips, I was free to make decisions on the spot. Like, “Hey. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 doesn’t come out in the states for another week. I hate superhero movies but why the heck not?!”
And did you know that before the movie starts, you have to stand and salute the King of Thailand as imperial pictures of him roll across the screen flipogram style?
An unforgettable cultural occurrence that only cost me the price of a movie ticket. And to think, I didn’t have to risk my life in a tiger cage to get it.
3. I Put This Ticket On Layaway!
Ok. So if there were a travel awards show and I somehow received the award for Best Regular Degular Trip of a Lifetime, I’d first and very dramatically, thank airforable.com, “To whom none of this would be possible“, then I’d gather my crinoline laced, fishtail gown and inch away from the podium whilst undergoing sporadic bouts of the holy ghost just thinkin all the black lives the layaway process has changed.
Shout out to Ama Marfo, founder of the startup site who filled a void in this travel space after saying to herself, “I wanted to see my family in Ghana during school breaks, but couldn’t afford the $2,000 ticket,” she recalled. “I stayed in the dorm alone or with other international students who couldn’t go home. Because of this personal frustration, I set out to determine how to make travel more accessible”
And that she did aka She didddd det!
Not long after finding out that my international dreams were before me in thee blackest way possible, I included Thailand in my list of goals at the beginning of the year. Using it as an incentive to work harder towards the more difficult goals I’d laid out for myself. Ultimately, I paid good on my intrinsic objectives while simultaneously paying off my vacation layaway. When I was notified of my zero balance I was ecstatic and in my head it’s how my mom felt — Christmas Eve, Kmart, 1992.
4. Thailand is Pretty Cheap Once You Get There
And thats basically it.
I’m not a real life travel blogger so.
I can’t convert the baht (pronounced bot) to usd for you without the help of google. Don’t ask me to write an article on How to Spend $30 a Day and Still Be Straight. And even though I tried my best, I still got, got for my baht more times than I’d like to admit.
My point again — I am not a travel blogger. But I managed to.
Spend 3 days in a villa on top of a cliff, overlooking the beach in what is known as the Hollywood Hills of Ko Samui island. Enjoy the best, most freshest steamed snapper known to man on the same street where I met a friendly family of cats and rats. And I got around Thailand seamlessly using a taxi, tuk-tuk, ferry, plane, train, scooter and bus.
My point? I still came back wit my rent money yall!
What can I say? Aside from the dollar being more valuable there, this country is known for providing a variety of activities and accommodations for unbelievably affordable prices. An ideal country for first time international travelers who don’t wanna be bogged down with travel costs right after buying a costly airline ticket. Great. Now I totally sound like a travel blogger.
5. I Stayed in a Boarding House for a Few Days
When planning this trip I desired a combination of four things: luxury, relaxation, culture and adventure. And I desired these things to occur in a climactic kinda way. In terms of housing this meant, beach house last, hotel in the middle and hostel first.
Yes hostel. An item on my eternally expanding mental bucket list.
An item that, now that it’s been crossed off, don’t nevah-eva have to reappear.
Hey. I’m an introvert. I’m an only child. I like my space and privacy.
And any other excuse that will cover up the fact that I am bourgeois and like squeaky clean bathrooms that don’t require shower-shoes.
Though just as strange in theory and in sight as I imagined, this dormitory costs me $8 a night which is perfect if you arrive to Bangkok after 12am and don’t wanna pay an extra day for a hotel.
Though, if you go this route, choose a spot that’s centrally located in a happening hub. I chose Khao San Road which is known for it’s nonstop street food, vibrant nightlife and energetic markets. This is where I got my gulp of culture.
And since being in the hostel made me feel like I was in the Thai version of American Horror Story, this plan worked out well. I was able to spend my days exploring the neighborhood so by the time I was ready to call it a night, I was too tired and/or tipsy to even care why my bunkmate Esmerelda hung her panties up to dry on the ladder of my bed.
6. I Have a Black Grandma Who Thinks I Went to Poland
Ok. This should lay it all out right here to confirm for you just how black, normal and necessitous things are over here.
My grandmother, who has never been farther than a Carnival Cruise ship will safely take and return her, is still confused on where I’ve been for the last two weeks. All she knows is that I went somewhere that ends in “land” and that’s good enough for her.
Actually it’s not.
She’s your typical “Cuss like a sailor, ‘My name is Bennett, I’m not in it’, white people smell like dawg” black grandma. Which also indicates, if you too have one of these national treasures, that she wasn’t too keen on me going anywhere.
She believes that luxuries are reserved for the retired.
And that once you’ve worked your way up “the ladda” on a job you hate for 50 years then you may be able to spend 3 days in the Caribbean and that’s only if your house is paid off. But even then, “You bet not get yo hair wet!”
She doesn’t understand that it’s lives like these that have convinced us millennials that we don’t have time for that. I mean, paying for a new experience over paying for a new mattress is a no brainer to many of us.
But that didn’t stop Grandma Fay.
When I called her to checkin while traveling thru Thailand she urged me to return before “Trump build dat wall“. She questioned why I chose this place asking, “If you was gon go somewhere. Why not da Bahamas?” and declared nonsense like “You couldn’t pay me to go all da way ova there…kidnap, murder, slice, dice, blah, blah, I saw it on the news” and then finally ending her daily diatribes with an extremely convincing, “Nooooo lawdy. Not me!“.
If you have a characteristically colloquial black grandma, know how layaway works and are willing to wear a stale wig for a few weeks then you too can travel internationally, just listen to Granny and do it before “Trump be den deported all yall black asses!”