Girl Bosses on the Go showcases gals who have a passion for traveling. This is an on-going series to showcase those women who deserve a girl boss stamp in their passport.

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The first of the Girl Bosses on the Go is my lovely friend, Rae, who has lived in Dubai for 3 years and currently works in business development. Read about her travel tips and tricks, life as a woman in the Middle East and favorite travel experiences after visiting 42 countries.

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(hiking Mount Kilimanjaro)

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am American, from Orlando, 28 years old, have completed 2 master’s degrees, lived on 3 continents, and traveled to 42 countries. Traveling is my oxygen, I itch to get out and explore the world – I want to see every country of the world – even the “forbidden” ones. Every country and culture is a new experience and I would hate to miss out on one.

2. What inspired you to start get your start your adventures living abroad?

My life has always been about chance… I read an article in Marie Claire magazine while on an airplane which highlighted this elite program at the International University of Monaco. I didn’t think much of it but my Mom encouraged me to apply. I didn’t tell anybody because I didn’t think I had a chance of gaining admission but when I got my acceptance letter, I was in awe. For a split second I had to think about what was happening, but then it just became a given that I was going because of the amazing opportunity awaiting me.

3. What made you decide to move to Dubai?

When I was living in Monaco, I was having the best time of my life. I always traveled here and there when I grew up in Florida… Bahamas or Mexico, always “far enough” but still close to home… but when I moved to Monaco is when I truly discovered my unquenchable thirst to explore the world. I suddenly found a new appreciation for history and cultural immersion, always seeking unique and authentic experiences. When I finished my degree, I knew I didn’t want to go back to the U.S. yet and Dubai just happened to have a great opportunity for me so as I always say in my life… “why not?”

4. What is life like as an American woman living in the Middle East? 

Before I moved to Dubai, I was buying sweaters, long dresses, one-piece bathing suits, and preparing myself to be ultra-conservative. Once I arrived is when I realized that the only people who dress like this (aside from the locals, of course), are the tourists because they don’t know any better. Being a woman in an Islamic country actually has its perks. We have ladies only taxis (driven by ladies wearing pink hijabs and the taxis are pink too!), ladies only check-out lines, ladies only gyms, and hundreds (yes, hundreds) of ladies nights all across Dubai every night of the week offering food and drinks specials – all of these are optional and nothing is forced. Ladies are always prioritized before men are – I often find myself being invited to skip lines.

Living here you learn to dress for the occasion and keep it appropriate… When I am going to the club, I wear the same as I would back home, when I go to the mall, I wear normal clothes (just not short shorts), and when I am going somewhere more conservative with locals (like a bank, government office, etc.) then I dress much more conservatively to show respect. Living in a country like this is all about finding the balance and maintaining respect.

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(Visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates never gets old – the opulence and details are simply stunning!)

5. What’s the hardest part about living in Dubai?

The hardest part about living in Dubai is obviously being so far away from my family and missing key moments. A few weeks after moving to Dubai my Grandfather passed away and it was very hard to get back for his funeral, but thank God I did. This past Christmas I missed my step-sister’s wedding. Living so far forces you to make tough decisions and learn to be independent while also making painful sacrifices.

In regards to Dubai specifically, the hardest thing about living here is respecting the laws for the Holy Month of Ramadan – especially when it’s in the dead middle of the summer and it’s 120 degrees Fahrenheit outside! I have experienced 3 Ramadan’s so far and it’s very hard to not eat in public, drink in public, no road rage, no cursing, no loud music, and basically just creating a “Stepford” style environment. Of course it’s a nice change to have everyone being so happy and nice, however, when it’s so hot outside and it’s illegal to drink water being seen, it definitely creates a challenge (I mean, who wants to sneak in a public bathroom just to sip the water you’re hiding in your purse!? Gross!).

6. What do you miss most about America?

Umm, totally Chik-Fil-A! Jokes. I mean, I do miss it but it’s not the number one thing I miss. The thing I really miss the most is special moments. I’ve had to pass up bridal showers, engagement parties, bachelorette parties, baby showers, funerals, weddings, American holidays and other monumental moments in the lives of my family and girlfriends. You would think that as the time goes on it gets easier but that’s never the case. Each one hurts just as much as the first time.

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(I’ve celebrated the 4th of July being abroad for the last 5 years – this year was my favorite celebrating in Dubai with fellow Americans.)

7. What advice can you give to people to make the leap to start traveling?

Americans get criticized a lot for having one of the most powerful passports in the world but not traveling enough. Once I moved abroad, I finally understood why… Traveling from the U.S. is not convenient as it often takes 24-hours each way to get anywhere vastly different from home. Given that most employees get a mere 2 weeks’ vacation, this does not make it easy to tempt someone to waste 2 days just for travel purposes. On the contrast, I wish more people would take the leap of faith and just go… go somewhere totally different, somewhere out of your comfort zone, so you can experience something completely new and at the same time, learn to appreciate where you are from.

8. What’s your best advice for someone who has never traveled abroad before?

Before booking a trip, if you want to go with someone, make sure they have the same traveling style as you. By “traveling style” I mean, find someone who has the same priorities. For me, I can’t stand wasting my time in museums. I spent 30 minutes in the Lourve and 20 of those minutes were spent battling crowds just to see the Mona Lisa, take my photo, and get back out. When people travel they have styles whether it be shopping, adventure, museums, city trips vs. nature trips, etc. I have been on a trip with someone who has a totally different approach to traveling than me and it doesn’t allow for a productive or enjoyable trip.

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(Hiking up the mountain to enjoy the beautiful views on Cat Bâ island in Vietnam.)

9. What are some of your traveling tips?

I have 3 goals when I travel: look for adventures, immerse yourself culturally, and give back.

When I go to a new city or country, I always try to book something adventurous (some examples of my adventures: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, a hot air balloon ride over the Great Migration in Kenya, riding on an elephant bare-back in a river in Thailand, taking a private side-car tour in Spain, great-white shark diving in South Africa, and the list goes on). These moments to me were each unforgettable in their own ways.

For immersing yourself culturally, I always try to seek the most authentic moments possible… be spontaneous and see where you end up. Trust your gut. Talk to locals, hear their stories. Try to get off the beaten path and go where the tourists aren’t. Discover your own places and experiences.

When I travel, I naturally want to give back because many of the countries that I’ve been to are not thriving economies and I want to contribute as much as I can. Giving back doesn’t always mean volunteering but there are other ways, too. For example, when booking to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I realized there are hundreds of companies to choose from, with many based out of the U.S. and U.K. Instead, I chose a local company based out of Moshi, Tanzania. I would much rather give a local company the business than some overpriced Western company.

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(After climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, all I wanted to do was go play with the kids at Amani Children’s home in Moshi, Tanzania.)

10. Where has been your favorite location to visit and what made it so special?

After conquering 42 countries, it’s really hard to narrow it down to one. I am in love with so many countries and places for reasons that were unique to each experience. 

Laos was definitely one of my favorite and life changing at the same time. While I was there, I learned of “The Secret War” which basically is a huge event in the history of the country, but no one knows about it – which is strange since the U.S. was the cause of all of it from 1964 to 1973 ☹ Basically during the Vietnam War, when the U.S. fighter planes had bombs that they didn’t drop, they couldn’t risk landing while still carrying them because of potential risks of self-explosion. Because of this, they would drop them over Laos, land safely back on base, and think nothing of it. The UXO’s (unexploded ordnances) would then sit there for years and still decades later and have caused detrimental damage to the country and people when they eventually develop the land. Because of the U.S.’s negligence, this beautiful country is still facing major, major challenges and deaths even today due to the presence of the UXO’s. Long story short, learning about this was embarrassing as it is indeed a secret (the U.S. finally acknowledged our role on May 15, 1997) but the most humbling moment was realizing that the Laotian people were so peaceful about it and so kind and welcoming to me.

It was a moving moment for me, so moving, that I got the word “Peace” tattooed in Lao language as the people represent the ultimate example of peace and how we should live. The fact that they don’t seek revenge or publicity, just peace, was absolutely mind blowing to me.

Catch Rae’s recent adventures on her travel blog or on IG @roamingrae. Comment below any questions you have for this traveling babe!

I present to you Santorini with #nofilter

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13876512_10154377303792442_5090453960512603888_n(A local Grecian’s home – aren’t those flowers to die for?!)

13876163_10154377303457442_4126185490839453116_n(dinner views from rooftop restaurant, Terpsi en Oia)

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13925024_10154377303682442_6120155666494157338_n(Lounged & pinacolodaed at Lioyerma Lounge Cafe Pool Bar)

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13932879_10154377303912442_7338207642662316431_n(This picture doesn’t do the Santorini sunsets justice)

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Couldn’t stop drinking, so sips and trips has continued!

 

1. Chateau Marmot in Los Angeles, CA

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2. Mango daquiri at The St. Regis Saadiyat, UAE

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3. Irene serving us a Sex on the Beach welcome drink in Markos Village, Ios, Greece

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4. Mint Lemonadae at Souq Waqif, Doha, Qatar

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5. Riesling in Mykonos, Greece

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6. Chai Tea Latte at Brew Urban Cafe, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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7. Nutella Latte at Sambalatte in Las Vegas, NV13933355_10154365596292442_1583866673_n

8. Prosecco Pops at Loopy Doopy, New York City

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9. Merlot at Steak 954, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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10. Fresh Orange Juice at Dubai Miracle Garden, Dubai, UAE

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Flights can be the largest chunk of your trip budget, but these sites make buying a flight a bit lighter on your wallet. There are two ways to do it: searching for a flight for specific location and time, or if you’re flexible. Tip: With flexibility comes greater savings.

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Here are the best kept airline secrets:

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(📷 by amwarman_)

Sky Scanner

 This is my first go to when looking for flights. It’s a flight search engine that shows the cheapest deal.

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Google Flights

More interactive user face including “Discover Trips” where eyou can set dates, places and interests. Google Flights allows you to include the “Multi-city” option when searching for flights. This means you can fly from different locations without having to buy one way tickets each place. For example, you can fly Orlando to Florence, and then from Rome to Orlando, and it’ll be within the same purchase.

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Airfarewatchdog 

A low airfare alert site that covers all airlines. You can sign up for email airfare alerts.

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Secret Flying 

If you’re dying to travel, but flexible on time and location, this is the site for you. How it works: This site offers details to the most incredible flight deals(I’m talking US to Asia for less than $500). When they find a great deal, it’s immediately posted it on the website. 

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Travel Pirates

 Similar to Secret Flying, Travel Pirates is a travel resource for posting the most affordable flight deals.

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Follow these on Twitter for instant knowledge of flight deals:

JetBlueCheeps

airefarewatchdog

SecretFlying

TravelPiratesUS

If you want to travel abroad, but don’t know where to begin, don’t be ashamed. Everyone needs to start somewhere! Here are 10 tips and tricks to having the best travel experience on a budget.

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1. Secure your passport

Your number one travel tool for exploring outside of the country.

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2. Decide where you want to go

You may have a city or country that’s been on the top of your bucket list, or you may have be open to suggestions. First time travelers tend to migrate to the bigger, more popular cities (London, Paris, Rome) There is nothing wrong with that, but be sure to embrace the culture and experience how locals really live in smaller/off the beaten path cities. Keep an open mind and broaden your horizons – that is why you’re exploring a new country in the first place. To find a town or city thats right for you, research ‘day trips from (location you’re visiting)’ Rick Steves and Lonely Planet Guide Books provide great itineraries and all the information you could ever need on a foreign city (Tip: buy it on your iPad or phone so you can have it with you anywhere). From history, to best places to eat and drink, free walking tours, they have it all. My favorite inspiration websites(and Instagram) are Conde Naste Traveler and Travel and Leisure.

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3. Book your plane trip abroad

Use a flight search site to find the flight with the best deal. Read my blog, 5 best airline tips, for more specific information.

4. Set a budget

The number one reason that people make excuses to travel is money. If you cut out the things you “want” verses what you “need” in the process of planning your trip, you can save more money then you think. Skip the Starbucks and 4th meal at Taco Bell, and put that money in your traveling piggy bank. Eat more meals in and pick up extra money making opportunities where you can. Matt of Nomadic Matt published a book called “Travel the World on $50 a Day.” His website provides helpful articles and and has a destinations tab, that has specific country guides. Each country is separated by city, and has typical costs, money saving tips, and things to see & do. 

5. Stay in low price accommodations in hostels or AirBnB

Hostelworld is a world renowned website for the best way to find hostels. Type in your city and dates, and a list of hostels will appear. The most important way to determine what hostel to choose is the percentage based off of total reviews. BUT, be sure to read the reviews and consider what every visitor has to say. Sometimes, hostels will pressure visitors to write positive, praising reviews (I’ve experienced it many times before) so be sure to read a few pages of reviews.

I’d recommend sticking with hostels that are rated in the high 80’s and 90 + %. Once you choose a hostel, there are different room types available. The more beds in the dorm, the cheaper the room is. But consider your sleeping priorities, the more people there are, the nosier and less sleep you will get. Ensuite means there is a bathroom in the room. That way you don’t have to walk down the hall to go to the bathroom. Mixed dorm translates to male and females are allowed to sleep in the same room. It’s a little weird waking up in the same room with complete strangers, but they’re all like-minded travelers from all around the world. Part of learning more on your trip and embracing the friendships you create.

AirBnB is another cheap alternative than hostels. With AirBnB you can have the whole place to yourself, share a room, or have a private room.

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(AirBnB in Cork, Ireland..dogs included!)

6. Transportation within the country

Research all options: train, bus and plane. Each depends on the time you have to spend on transportation, whether you’re on a time crunch or have the time to spend a full two days on a bus. Sometimes, trains aren’t always your cheapest option. If you’re crunched for time and going a long distance, consider a budget airline. Typically, Ryanair is your go-to budget airline for Europe, and AirAsia for Asia. BUT, buyers beware, being a budget airline, they’ll try to get your money any way possible. There are very specific weight and size requirements for bringing a carry on. My best advice is to check your backpack when booking your ticket online. This way you’re paying $15-25 when you purchase your ticket, instead of paying about $100 once you get to the check in counter because your bag doesn’t fit the specific requirements. Be sure to read and reread the requirements when booking. One outrageous RyanAir rule is you have to print your ticket before, and charge you a fee if you don’t. For bus or train transportation, use Google and type ‘trains from place a to place b.’

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7. Get the right gear

Step 1: acquire a backpack. The correct backpacks(meant for you) can be a tricky find. You have to find the right size and fit for you. This isn’t the easiest piece to blindly buy online. Besides researching, my best tip is finding your local outdoor store. This way an expert employee can help fit and explain to you the dynamics/straps/fit/right way to wear a backpack. The bottom of the backpack should fit right on the back of your hips.You don’t need a lot of expensive gear – pack light and keep in mind you are carrying all of it on your back. When packing, no matter how long many weeks your trip is, my best advice is to pack 7 days worth of clothes. Choose clothes within the same color scheme so you can mix and match.

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Top 5 travel necessities you wouldn’t think of :

Packing cubes – help make packing more organized and easily accessible.

Microfiber towel- necessary for hostel living since towels aren’t provided, or they are for a fee. Be sure to get one of the larger sizes. 

Lock- locks are necessary to lock up your possessions in the lockers provided in hostels. Some provide locks for a fee, but that’s money you can be spending elsewhere.

Nail Clippers – effective mini scissors at a moments notice.

Ziploc Bags- bring extra!! I can’t emphasize this enough. These are essential for organizing.

8. Take Advantage of the booming sharing economy

AirBnB – Stay in locals’ homes in a shared room, private room, or have their house to yourself. Often with rates cheaper than hotels.

Homestay- Homestay accommodation connects guests with live-in hosts who open their homes to travelers.

Eatwith – EatWith hosts share a talent for making amazing meals and a love for welcoming people into their homes to share them.

Über -Connecting riders to drivers through the Uber app, drive with a local for a lower fare than a taxi

Vayable – Discover and book unique experiences offered by local insiders.

9. Travel slow

It can be tempting to try to see it all in a short amount of time. But squeezing every city in, and rushing through 12 cities in 12 days isn’t your best bet. Your memories will be fogged by long commutes, stress and only a surface of knowledge about the places you visited. Take time to people watch, relax in a park, get lost in the streets and spend hours at a coffee shop, art gallery or local restaurant.

10. Souvenir tips

When traveling light, it’s hard to buy trinkets and knicknacks along the way. To preserve memories, I love collecting tickets, postcards, bookmarks and other light paper objects. Then when I get home, it’s fun making a DIY travel memory notebook. Use your ziploc bags or a folder with you to keep them safe.