For our first guest writers series we are having Sharize Odongo. Shes a globe trotter sharing how you can travel the world in 2020.
My name is Sharize Odongo I just turned 23 a couple of days ago. I’m a recent graduate from the United States International University-Africa where I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in International Relations and a minor in Criminal Justice (Hons). Currently I am working at the African Wildlife Foundation which has sparked a passionate interest in me which is conversation. I am also the founder of Malishaj Enterprise and a board member of Faniki Africa Community Based Organization that carries out projects across various counties in Kenya with the aim of expanding to other countries in the continent. Traveling is something that fascinates me probably it’s because I’m a sanguine and when something or a destination attracts me then at times I get overwhelmed and I start fantasizing or planning without even thinking about the necessary details like finances.

Malishaj Enterprise comprises of a fashion line thus when I was starting and struggling to establish a clientele me priority then was marketing. Make people aware of my brand and then attracting clients was the next agenda. Hence, I used to pitch to hotels to allow me to take a couple of photos at the hotel then I will therefore market them in exchange. Back then I used to either use my tablet and I’d force my partner to accompany me and he would act as the photographer. At times I would talk to some photographers whose rates were affordable and we would work together. This turned out to be fun because we were often visiting hidden gems since it was easy to come into an agreement with a budget boutique hotel as compared to the established five star hotels. One instance I went to a five start hotel with a photographer and a well-known blogger I had inquired form the management if they allow people to take photos and I was actually told yes. Unfortunately, when we got there the photographer was well equipped with all manner of gears lighting etc. and once the management saw that I think they assumed we were making a lot of money from the business thus they told us that we were not allowed to take the photos unless we paid 40,000 ksh. Of course we left that was way above our budget. In short I was trying to balance between fashion and travelling.
It reached to a point I got tired of the hustle of hiring a photographer thus I decided to now, travel for fun with my partner. We would visit hidden gems and I was always excited to recommend the beautiful hotels and destinations even if I was not earning anything from it. For me it was more off a hobby, passion and I think the fact that I always visited new places with someone when my partner was not available I would include my family.

For me it has never been about the money but the joy of just exploring new places. I received my first sponsorship when I visited hotels such as Camp David in Tuala, The Amazing Kenya Retreat in Maanzoni and the Last Village Lodge in AthiRiver where I was offered free lunch for my partner,photographer and I in exchange of a blog post. My highlight of 2017 is when I actually approached Nyati Hills Cottages and we came into a partnership and that’s where I got to stay at the beautiful cottages for two people, for two nights inclusive of breakfast. Before that I had also secured a deal with a four-star hotel in Diani but due to the elections scenario that made everything go to a standstill we were not able to work together.
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Before all this in 2016 I was able to travel to Morocco for six weeks through AIESEC and I was fortunate that my parents were be able to sponsor my stay where I stayed in Rabat working voluntarily for six weeks. This was a very important experience for me I was sonly 19 staying alone in a foreign country that was very different from Kenya I actually experienced culture shock. Like what I’m I still in Africa? Why do they have trams and in Kenya we do not have? I had so many questions and I documented most of my experiences on snapchat, Instagram and on my blog. Then before the year came to an end I got the chance to explore Dubai again another culture shock like wait how is this country so developed like wow. Then to Netherlands I was even tired of comparing I was like you know what it is okay I have accepted that every country is different. 2018 is where I decided to go all on the Tembea Kenya mission and I’m glad my efforts were noticed and two of my photos made it to the official Temebea Kenya social media platforms. Every month I had to explore hidden gems in the country and my highlight for 2018 was visiting Mambrui where I will highly recommend it to everyone and please stay at Kola Beach Resort. I also got the chance to visit Rwanda and Uganda and I can tell you Rwanda is just on another level that is another story for another day. Oh wait last year thanks to I got to stay at a hotel in Rwanda where I only paid 2200 ksh for four nights inclusive of breakfast.

Now I was a travel guru after all this and when the chance for me to go to USA came about even my parents felt that I was prepared to travel miles away by myself. I took myself to the American embassy and once I got my visa I embarked on my second solo trip again courtesy of World Bank this time as a mature lady. I went through ups and downs such as intense security checks at JKIA simply because an air hostess thought that I was not the same person on my passport surely how now. I guess they just assumed how is this small girl travelling alone, my suitcase got damaged and I was not compensated well that was my fault I didn’t complain. Imissed my return flight from Washington to Nairobi , slept at the airport lounge at Doha since I had a 17 hour layover but above all I made long lasting friendships.

To summarize my travel journey I am a budget traveler I always go for the affordable deals but one day I will shift lanes. Do you know I travelled to Arusha in 2019 for the Easter holidays alongside a couple of friends and we ended up using only 8000 ksh per person which catered for meals, transport, accommodation, park fees, local has really helped me because I have been able to get good accommodation deals through the app I am now a level two member. Sky scanner always comes hand in hand for me whenever I want to book a flight. If you can get a travel partner/buddy it always makes things easier and there is also that sense of security as compared to travelling solo. However, if you’re friends and family are not travel enthusiasts then please do not give up just travel alone eventually you will find your tribe along the journey. Always use the cheapest mode of transport if you are traveling within the country then at times use public transport to save on costs and always book your trips in advance so that you can get the low rates as compared to booking last minute. Imagine I have already booked for our 2020 Christmas holiday and for four nights for four people, I will be treating my family and taking them to Diani. Guess how much I will be paying 8200 only for all of us. Exclusive of meals though but still that price is worth it and that is what I mean the power of booking in advance thanks to Thus I hope that everything will work out as per GOD plan.

Last advice if you get the chance to travel please do. When I was traveling I didn’t know that my experience will one day come to shape my career. In 2019 I ended up doing my internship at the United Nations (UNEP-Africa office) and my supervisor was Moroccan. I guess you can imagine what questions I was asked in the interview.
Parting Quote
" Travel for leisure, travel for work, travel for fun, travel for love, travel for joy, travel to relocate but all in all travel because you will never regret making that decision. "

- Sharize Odongo