It’s time for another interview in our series “The Most Interesting Travelers In The World”! Today’s interview is with Wad Khalafalla. Wad is a courageous wanderer, healer, and philanthropist. She loves to write, cook, and is a bit of an adrenaline-junkie. She considers herself funny, is unaware if anyone else considers her so, but she continues to laugh at her own jokes. Wad wants to share her story in hopes others can understand that traveling can be affordable for all!
What inspired your love of travel – how did you get started?
I moved to the U.S. from Sudan when I was five years old. Since moving here, I’ve always lived at an intersection. There is the intersection of being Sudanese and being American. Being Muslim and living in a predominantly Christian society. Living as a Black woman in a white male-dominated society. I’ve been trying to understand identities, cultures, languages, and lifestyles since I was five. Going back and forth between Sudan and the United States was the beginning for me, and then I made the decision to venture out. Surely there were other countries to discover, to experience, to feel. I wanted to feel, to see, and to experience…so I did.
Tell us about your favorite style of traveling…luxury or budget? Packing heavy or light? On the go or laid back?
I wish I could afford luxury travel, but Mr. Wells Fargo doesn’t allow me to experience such things. I am unwavering in my need to see the world, so I have to figure out how to make it work. That being said, I am a budget traveler to the core! I’m always searching for the best deal, figuring out how uncomfortable I’m willing to be to save some money, and relentlessly looking for those hole-in-the-wall restaurants that I know will guarantee me the best food for the cheapest price. Being a budget traveler means you’re packing light (you can’t afford those extra luggage fees). I’m taking the basics and manifesting my dreams. Check out how I save money while traveling here.
Once I get to my destination, I love to take the first day to rest. Depending on how much time I have in the country, I am either moving a million miles a minute, trying to fit in everything I want to see and do, or moving at my own pace. I love a relaxing beach day, just as much as I love bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls bridge. It’s my duplicitous nature. Check out your travel style here.
What’s your favorite travel story: the weirdest, or funniest, or most exciting, or most beautiful trip you’ve ever been on?
This is a difficult one. The most beautiful trip was my time at Yosemite National Park. The most exciting was bungee jumping off of the Victoria Falls Bridge. The weirdest trip was definitely when I went traveling during Ramadan. Over all of these, I think that my favorite travel story was definitely finessing my way into a club in South Africa. I was somehow able to get four of us into an exclusive venue, for free, without being in dress-code. Everyone was in heels and beautiful dresses, and I literally had on sandals and jeans. I was even able to MC the event once I got inside. Don’t ask how I did it, I still wonder to this day, but if you’re interested, read about the full experience here.
What advice do you have specifically for female travelers?
My beautiful, beautiful women. I want you to repeat after me. I CAN TRAVEL ALONE. I AM CAPABLE OF HANDLING MYSELF. I AM EQUIPPED WITH ALL THAT I NEED. Many women fear traveling alone, and I was one of them. What if I die? What if something happens to me? What if I’m abducted? All rational fears honestly, especially in the world we live in. But, there are a million and one ways that you can make sure you are traveling safely, especially if you are traveling alone. Figure out how to not die when traveling here.
What would you say to encourage someone who wants to travel but is afraid to because of cost, time, etc.?
You can make anything happen as long as you make it a priority. Small adjustments are catalysts for big changes. Life is on the other side of fear, so conquer it. You have to feel life, experience it, explore it, and most importantly, love it. Many of you may wonder how to get this done, just like I did. For me, It was as simple as setting a goal and breaking the goal down into smaller, more manageable goals. If your goal is to save, find out where you can pinch some pennies. Pinch those pennies long enough and you’re well on your way. My last pieces of advice are this: Discipline yourself. Be Patient. Discipline yourself. Be patient. Discipline yourself. Be patient.
What are your top 3 tips for newbie or wanna-be travelers?
Patience is a virtue…also a motherf*****, but you’re going to need a lot of it. Master this skill.
Follow your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, remember it is ok to redirect. Your plans do not have to be set in stone.
Embrace the adventure, the culture, the language, and the food. You are a guest in someone’s home, so make sure you are being respectful.
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