Photo Credit: Hiba Anderson
How Seasoned Globetrotter Hiba Anderson Sees The World On A Budget
Born in New York and a proud graduate of Hampton University, Hiba Anderson is a seasoned globetrotter who likes to keep her followers in the dark about exactly where she’s going until she gets there. The list of places she’s visited is so extensive, she leaves Carmen Sandiego and Waldo spinning in the dust.
You could be scrolling through Facebook, and there’s Hiba on your newsfeed, looking regal on the beach in a floppy hat, or taking a selfie with a camel in the desert. We’re all for seeing a vibrant Black woman living her best life in any context, but it’s impossible not to feel a little envious.
What you wouldn’t give to feed a banana to a friendly coati (an animal that looks like a cross between a raccoon and an anteater), chow down on delicious Costa Rican cuisine, or watch a monsoon from a beautiful villa!
If you can’t get up and go right now, globetrotter Hiba makes it possible to travel vicariously through her.
“I’ve been to 5 different continents, which include the following countries,” she told Travel Noire, and you can just picture her clearing her throat before naming them. “The Bahamas, Antigua, St. Maarten, Anguilla, St. Barths, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, The Netherlands, Belgium, Ghana, Singapore, Haiti, England, France, Monaco, Malaysia, Thailand, Belize, Colombia, El Salvador and Costa Rica. I’ve also been to three US territories: St Thomas, St. John, and Puerto Rico.”
Whew chile, is she done or nah? Nah.
“I’ve been to about half of the US states so far. In addition to New York, I lived in Virginia for 14 years, and I have been to New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, California & Utah.”
It begs the question: do you have to be loaded to visit that many places?
“I have a very modest, barely middle-class income, and I don’t have any type of silver spoon,” Hiba said. Ultimately, the key is planning, budgeting, and geographical awareness, a combination that hasn’t failed her yet. For example, because Europe consists of so many countries bordering each other, it’s easy to hop around. Flying is an option, but for a more scenic experience, you can rent a car, take a bus, or book a train for much less than you might expect. Comparatively, flights within The United States can be exorbitant, and that’s not counting accommodations, food, and other expenses.
Hiba’s globetrotter lifestyle dates back over twenty years, but motherhood kept her from traveling much back then.
“I used to work for a call center company, and people would reach out for help to book airline tickets,” she said. “We’d do an online search for the best prices, and this was before everybody and their mama used Expedia, Orbitz, or Kayak. E- tickets existed, but they weren’t trusted, so we mailed our paper tickets. I learned about airport codes and different ways to get the fare to be lower. I also never forgot how much a ticket should be.”
Such travel smarts have saved Hiba “literally thousands of dollars,” and when she spots a sweet deal, she doesn’t tarry, she pulls the trigger.
“When I traveled to El Salvador, both United and Delta were offering $203 round trip tickets, which is a steal because sometimes you can’t even fly coast to coast for that amount. Four years ago, when I went to Amsterdam, I found a round trip ticket for just under $400, and while I was there, I went to Brussels which was right next door. That’s what I call a two for one!”
She similarly got bang for her buck by squeezing in a day in Cairo before flying to Dubai. In The Caribbean, she visited three islands in a week, taking a catamaran from St. Maarten to Anguilla, and a ferry from St. Maarten to St. Barts. She hasn’t visited the prettier French side of St. Martin, but she hopes to.
When the globetrotter plans the itinerary for each trip, does she prefer to visit sites off the beaten path or the tourist traps? Are there advantages to doing one over the other?
“I’m like a tourist geek,” she said, with a laugh. “If I go to Paris, I’m going to the Eiffel Tower. If I go to London, I want to see Big Ben. When I linked up with a friend in Kuala Lumpur, we got the touristy things out of the way before visiting the other sites.”
Racism makes some Black people apprehensive when they travel, but overseas, Hiba has largely been embraced with open arms.
“I’ve been treated so well that I wish I could extend each and every trip. There is an inherent fear that a lot of us have that we will be treated poorly, or won’t be welcome in certain places, because this has been our experience in America. Even though it’s possible to face racism and prejudice globally, I’m very fortunate that I’ve had positive social interactions during my travels.”
On a solemn note, Hiba points out, “as Americans, we’re so overworked. Most of us have the money to travel to about 75% of the world, but we don’t have the time. People are so caught up in the rat race, and when they do get time off, they wind up spending crazy amounts of money stateside, which could go even further internationally.”
Like many of us, Hiba stayed home in 2020, but made up for lost time this year. She intends to return to her favorite countries, and sprinkle Black girl magic in new ones. And when she does, rest assured she’ll stoke yet more envy with a fresh round of photos and videos.
“I’m just getting started,” she declares. “I’m eager and excited for future journeys that await me. I’m so thankful for all the domestic and international opportunities that I’ve had, and those yet to come.”
Catch this globetrotter if you can on Instagram @hibaaroundtheglobe.