I had the privilege to speak with one of my favorite travel bloggers- Raqhelle Millbrooks. Keep reading to learn helpful tips on budget travel and the wonders that traveling can do for you.
Get Ready to Raqh the World!
So, first, tell me a bit more about yourself and your interests in traveling.
I’m Raqhelle Milbrooks I’m originally from Grand Rapids MI and I went to the University of Memphis for two degrees, in International Business and Spanish. I just graduated last year.
I have been traveling since I was pretty much in diapers, but that pretty much stems from my mom being from a different city (not from Michigan). Her family is scattered across the US. We would visit all of them in Virginia, Chicago, Washington state, Seattle, and Oregon.
Then, I was also part of a Community Center group called the Mizizi Maji Mentoring Program. Mizizi Maji means root and water in Swahili. That was with Baxter Community Center in Grand Rapids, MI. So, that kind of spearheaded by international travel. They have a “3.0 Gets to Go” program for young kids, elementary to high school [age]. We went to Buxton and Toronto, Canada. I actually ended up being in the first group to go to South Africa. All of those trips are free for the students as long as they have a 3.0 or higher. That kind of spurred my international travels and they were always very educational but fun. There was always a good mixture of things to do so I’d always learn a lot.
How long have you been traveling/ budget traveling?
I started traveling in high school and college too. And always on a budget, because I didn’t have money like that. Last year, that’s when people started asking me, “How are you traveling?” “How cheap is it?” Or just being a little bit more interested. That’s why I’m trying to really launch a new business in the travel agency realm. But then I really realized that I enjoyed inspiring and teaching people how to do it themselves more! That’s why I decided to switch gears and work on travel influencing.
Working with brands and collaborations, hotels, Airbnbs, different locations around the world so I give then influence and help other people. Teach them specifically how to do it versus just telling them what to do. And then I realized over time the more I show people through video or the more I explain things in detail people understand better. [They] are more equipped and encouraged to do it themselves so that they feel good about finding a really good deal on a trip. And planning the whole thing themselves versus just staying at home and not do anything.
That’s how it all spurted and now I am overwhelmed with so many things but it’s so exciting because now I can start everything. I get to start working on my Instagram, my Pinterest, my YouTube (eventually), and my travel blog.
Check out Raqhelle’s recent blog post here
Have you thought about doing webinars to teach people budget travel?
I know, eventually, I’ll probably have to think of ways to monetize my business more, outside of my brand collaborations or like blog posts. I really have been thinking of what can I do virtually? Or how can I engage people through webinars? It’s a very good point because more people may be interested in virtually or may have time to set aside for that.
Is there a difference between vacationing and traveling? Why or why not?
I think when you really dive deeper, you kind of think vacationing may be more so relaxing or just a time to take those vacation days. Take that personal time off just to destress and get pretty much get away from your job. Get away from work or whatever it may be. Traveling, on the other hand, is more so really immersing yourself in the culture. Immersing yourself with the people. Exploring. At the end of the day, you still say do both of those things.
So it really depends on what type of traveler you are. If you’re looking for just relaxation, just the resorts, that good drink. Or you are actually thriving for that connection, connecting with people seeing, different sides, and all the touristy things? I think at the end of the day, it really just has to do with what type of traveler you are.
Do you prefer group travel or solo travel?
I actually prefer group travel! My love language is quality time. I love to make memories with other people and experience things with my friends. Trying new things with my friends. That what I thrive off of.
I have the best time when I’m with other people and doing crazy-ass things with other people. And if I’m by myself or solo traveling, and I feel like I’m missing that, then I make sure things to includes things in my itinerary. Like Airbnb cooking classes or dance classes. Different things like that so where I’m surrounded by other people. I can talk to people from the country. Or other solo travelers or other random travelers that I meet along the way.
I think it just dives deep into me just wanting to integrate and make meaningful experiences with people. That’s why I prefer group travel.
What are the three things you MUST have when traveling?
I always have a medicine bag. It will have the main things I need if I ever get sick or anything like that. Definitely my phone to take photos. (Because that’s exactly what I love to do all day every day!) Of course my passport!
I could probably go to a country with nothing and come back with a ton of stuff. I never really think about what I always have to have on a trip. Other than my phone. That’s the main thing!
What are the three things you HAVE to do on a trip?
I always like to do an Airbnb experience. A cooking class, dance class, wine tour, photo walking tour. It directly connects me with someone from the culture that’s sharing a piece of them and a piece of their history. Their arts. That’s what I really love. That one on one connection, or even a group setting.
Then I always have to go shopping! I always plan to shop, pretty much, for a full day. That to me, in itself, is a day of just fun. I just thrive off of fashion. The different styles. I’ll walk around the stores all day long. I’ll just people watch and see what type of clothing they’re putting together. How they piece their clothings together. The different types of stores there are. I go into the same stores that are in the US and try to compare prices. And then guess what? I’ll have even more stuff to wear on my actual trip, okay?
Shopping is my way of getting all of my souvenirs. You may think, “Oh it’s just shopping.” But you’re actually sightseeing. At the same time, you’re seeing all the restaurants around. You’re interacting with people on the streets. You see a lot of people, different clothing, little stores. You really just soak in a lot and get the feel of the people, the city in just one day.
Do you think that traveling is a form of therapy/healing?
I think therapy and mental health has much to do with self-reflection. If you’re on a trip you’re not so worried about everything else in your life. You are focused on you. You are focused on your experience in the current moment. It helps you bring that out. It helps you understand yourself more. How you maneuver a different city. Your independence and confidence. How you interact with people that are different from you.
It also just helps you understand your priorities in life. You start to really recognize a lot of social issues that are plaguing the world, that may not be directly affecting you. Or things that you may have more privilege of having at home that other people do not. In general. it just helps humble yourself and kind of put yourself in a brighter mindset. So when you come back, you are ready to tackle a lot of the issues that you may be experiencing back at home. You can either compare/contrast your situation with other people. Or you can just revolve in the great time that you’re having. And the stress-free feeling that you are having. Overall, I definitely think of traveling as a point of self-reflection. Self-understanding in general.
Understanding your true self and coming back to who you are as a whole person and how that growth can help you along the way in your journey.
Do you have any reflection exercises you do?
Yes! Mainly, I like to reflect on my trips through storytelling or journaling.
When I was younger, I used to journal all my trips. That was mainly because I liked to document everything that I did that day. Or where we went. If I ever wanted to go back and be like, “Dang. What was that restaurant we went to?” I could always go back.
What are some final pieces of advice you would like to give?
First, if there are new travelers it’s all about “Thinking big but starting small.” I think it definitely applies to now just because the world is kind of closed off. There is no issue at all is starting small and focusing on domestic travel. ‘Cause that is what we are going to have to do for a little while. There are so many gems in the U.S that are there to explore. Or just different things to do in your own state that you probably have never heard of. Gas is cheap! Let’s get on the road and go!
Really start small and never forget about those big dreams. If you really can’t afford those big dreams, maximize your dollar and your time exploring the United States first. After, start branching out to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean once the world starts to open back up. Then a really big trip so that you’re even more prepared and ready to conquer those trips!
Overall, travel is definitely affordable for everyone. It just depends on what type of traveler you are and when you want to experience [it]. And what you want to do. I don’t want anyone to ever feel discouraged about them thinking they don’t have the time or money. It’s possible and it is something that can change your life forever! It can really open your personal growth, independence, confidence, etc.
When it comes to finding fun and unique things to do, a lot of it comes from research. Honestly, all of the fun things that I find are already just on the social media apps that we use on a daily basis. For domestic travel, I use the Facebook Events list. For things going on in the city that I’m visiting, I use Eventbright. I use Groupon, not only to snag deals, but get ideas on things to do in the city. Instagram is mainly for photos, but if you ever use hashtags you can find fun, cool places to get photos at and/or potentially go to restaurants too.
When it comes to international travel, it’s a little bit harder but it just requires more research and using key phrases when it comes to Google.
When you finally get to the international country, using the locals and asking them where to go. They will quickly tell you, “No, girl! Don’t even waste your time. Go to this place and it will save you a headache.” The locals are always there to help you and tell you what’s going on. I always ask someone, “Hey! How do you get here?” Or, “What are people doing right now? Where is everyone going?”
Overall, just have an open mind. Get ready to be out of your comfort zone. Get ready to experience new things, places, cultures.
For more of Raqhelle, visit her travel blog https://www.raqhtheworld.com And make sure you catch her on the following socials: