Elle Is Proving That You Don't Need A Lot Of Money Or A Car To Travel & Enjoy New Experiences In Jamaica
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GAFFL
12th Aug | 8 min read

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    At GAFFL, we love to publish inspiring travel stories from adventurers around the world. You can connect with adventurers from 190+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this post, we'll be highlighting Elle, who has been showing travelers how to explore Jamaica on a budget through her blog Adventures From Elle.

    For Elle, it all started with her first trip in December 2016 to an off-the-beaten-path waterfall in her parish, which was accomplished with two JUTC buses and a taxi. This led to an epiphany that lack of money, or even a car, isn’t a valid obstacle to traveling and enjoying new experiences. 

    Be sure to check out her Facebook, Instagram & YouTube for more about her latest adventures. You can also connect with Elle on GAFFL.

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    My Inspiration To Start Traveling

    Travel is therapeutic. My troubles melt away when I’m outside in nature, trying new foods, meeting new people, and immersing myself in a different culture.

    For now, most of my travels have been domestic. I got inspired to travel after realizing that I didn’t know the tourist spots in my own country, as well as our foreign tourists, did, so I put Jamaica on my priority list to explore.

    Since graduating from medical school, I’ve gained some financial freedom which I intend on using to travel the world. It’s only a pity that the pandemic came six months into my career and has put a hold on that dream.

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    How I Decide On My Next Destinations

    My trips are guided by flight prices and countries to which I can travel without a visa. The Jamaican passport is my only passport, so I place priority on the countries for which I can just buy a ticket and go! Jamaicans traveling on a Jamaican passport only have visa-free access to 58 countries currently.

    Duration Of My Trips

    I’ve never spent more than a week at a time outside of Jamaica, and that’s just because of life’s obligations. In the future, I dream of either living abroad for a bit or taking a few months off and slowly backpacking my way across a continent, but of course, such an adventure will take years of saving and preparation.

    adventures-from-elleMust-Haves That I Pack

    I try to travel as light as possible, but that isn’t always the easiest thing for us gals. I pack multifunctional wardrobe staples like jeans and neutral-colored clothing and ensure I wear the bulkiest pieces such as sweaters and sneakers to save space in my suitcase or carry-on. Swimwear and sandals are must-haves because I always make time for a water body.

    My Favorite Memory Of Meeting New People & Exploring With Locals

    On a visit to Hanover last year, I took a detour from my road trip after noticing some craft vendors and a sign which highlighted Jamaica’s heritage trail. The craft vendors saw the interest my companion and I took in the area’s history and encouraged us to enter the property and see the waterwheel for ourselves. The waterwheel turned out much grander than expected, and I still marvel at the fact that so many bits of history are hidden across Jamaica in plain sight. I’ve also had lovely experiences hiking with a local from the community of Millbank in Portland to two remote waterfalls, and another trip with a ranger from the Blue Mountains National Park to some more waterfalls. On both occasions, we were treated with freshly picked delicious fruits such as apples, peaches, cheese berries, coconuts, and sweet cups.

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    What Inspired Me To Start My Blog & My Goal With It

    I started Adventures from Elle because I fell in love with discovering Jamaica’s hidden gems, and wanted a platform to record these experiences for my own memories and to help future travelers. I enjoy the privilege of sharing stories about Jamaica with the world and showcasing the island’s off-the-beaten-path gems.

    My blog’s mission is to show people that Jamaica can be an affordable travel destination and to teach people that there are loads of places to visit on the island besides the traditional beaches and beach resorts.

    Also, my desire to help readers explore the best of Jamaica inspired me to publish a travel guide earlier this year. Sightsee Jamaica captures all the places I’ve visited and those still on my list in an easy-to-follow checklist so that one can keep track of their Jamaican travel progress.

    adventures-from-elleCountries I Have Traveled To So Far

    I’ve only visited the USA, Curacao, and Trinidad and Tobago to date. My destination bucket list involves countries on every continent except Antarctica, but the countries top on my list include Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, France, Spain, Italy, Egypt, and more of the Caribbean region.

    My Coolest International Travel Experience

    My coolest foreign travel experience to date was exploring Port-of-Spain, the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago in 2019.

    I was amazed at how similar the island was to my own, while equally awed at the subtle differences. Port-of-Spain is home to the world’s largest roundabout.

    Queen’s Park Savannah lies in the center of this roundabout and is the home of Trinidad’s Carnival. Outside of Carnival season, the Savannah is still alive with Trinidad’s best street food, and the road is bordered by beautiful colonial buildings and memorials worthy of civic pride. You can just walk the entire ring road for hours on your own and have a great afternoon.

    adventures-from-elleSome Of Jamaica’s Hidden Gems

    Backpackers should travel to Jamaica because there are a wealth of activities to do on the island. You can go hiking for weeks upon end in the island’s remote countryside and find new rivers and waterfalls to enjoy each day.

    There are fruit trees growing wild from which you can harvest fruit on your hikes, plus enjoy the refreshing coconut water straight from our omnipresent coconut trees.

    I highly recommend visiting Blue Mountain Peak, Jamaica’s highest point, at least once. It’s located at 2,256 meters (7,402 feet) above sea level, which makes the climate on the trail almost temperate with average temperatures of 10°C. The tree species and birds on the trail are seldom seen in any other corner of the island, and the views are absolutely beautiful. 

    Also, the communities of the Upper Rio Grande Valley in Portland are a must-see. These lush rainforests are home to dozens of untouched waterfalls and loads of heritage, serving as home to the Windward Maroons of Jamaica, an indigenous group of formerly enslaved African descendants. These communities include Ginger House, Cornwall Barracks, Comfort Castle, Nanny Town, and Millbank.

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    How Travelers Can Save Money While Traveling In Jamaica

    Stay at hostels, and ensure you withdraw local currency at our ATMs. Hostels are the most affordable accommodation on the island for tourists, and you’ll encounter other foreigners and like-minded travelers with whom you can split travel costs.

    Also, many Jamaican destinations and eateries list prices in both Jamaican and US dollars, but you pay less in Jamaican currency as the exchange rate isn’t usually fair. Also, try to Google what things should cost ahead of time, and don’t be afraid to haggle or go elsewhere if a price sounds unfair.

    My Say About GAFFL

    GAFFL can play an important role for travelers who want to see authentic Jamaica but are worried that it may be dangerous on their own. Jamaica often gets a bad rap as being a dangerous country because of its high murder rate per capita, although that does not translate to all parts of the island.

    Nonetheless, if one wants to experience dancehall culture and life in Kingston’s inner city communities, a GAFFL travel companion could prove indispensable to remaining safe and having a great time.

    GAFFL can also make it easier for tourists to access Jamaica’s off-the-beaten-path gems in small groups.

    adventures-from-elleAdvice That I Can Share

    Don’t spend all your time at the all-inclusive resorts. All-inclusive is great for those who just want to eat and drink all they want, relax and laze around at beautiful beaches.

    However, if you’d like to see the real Jamaica instead of a curated version, spend more time at a hostel, villa, Airbnb, or boutique hotel. This will encourage you to explore the island and brings you into closer contact with locals going about their quotidian lives.

    That way, you can get better suggestions about where to eat, what to do and where to go. Visiting where the locals actually go makes for a more fulfilling trip.

    Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I First Started Travelling

    I wish I’d known earlier in life that you can travel on any budget! While having lots of money will make for a more comfortable or luxurious stay, it’s not essential.

    I’ve learned that people are generally kind and willing to help. Lastly, an exciting lesson I’ve learned while overseas is that Jamaicans are well-loved. People are usually excited to hear that I’m Jamaican and either tell me about someone they know who has vacationed there and had a good time, or they tell me that they’ve heard about Bob Marley or Usain Bolt.


    Other cool travel stories worth reading!

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 190 countries to plan trips and travel together!
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