Co-Founder – Too Fly Foundation
Location: Dallas, TX
The experiences I have from traveling will last me a lifetime. There’s no better feeling than exploring new territories and new cultures and being able to provide that opportunity for the youth is amazing.
Meet Bola Ibidapo. Bola, is the co-founder of The Too Fly Foundation, who hosts “creatively lit” functions to raise money for passports and travel grants for students who wish to study or volunteer abroad. I’ve attended a few Too Fly Fundraisers in the past and it’s opened my eyes, having met so many people who look like me and have traveled all across the globe, lived abroad for months, and have learned new languages. Growing up I’ve read about students who spent a semester living in another country but I never personally knew someone.
Because of the Too Fly Initiative, traveling to Egypt is not only a dream of mine, but it’s a goal. A goal I plan on documenting and sharing my experience to help open someone else’s eyes like Bola has done for me. But enough about K.G., lets get to know Bola, QUEEN of Too Fly, founder of The Queen Talk and recent TedX speaker.
Let’s start at the beginning. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up, I was always involved in music. Whether it was leading my youth group choir or being choir president throughout middle school and high school. I was so sure I would end up in music business or performance arts. However, I realized that the reason I loved music so much was that I was always involved with people. I had the opportunity to not only learn and grow, but to lead others. I realized my true passion was not necessarily music, but people. When I went off to college, I focused on mass communication and the nonprofit sector for my studies. Now, I dedicate everything I do to serving, developing and leading others.
What’s your position with Too Fly Fundraiser and tell us how this Non-Profit was created and what’s the overall mission?
I am the co-founder and director of the Too Fly Foundation. The Too Fly Foundation has the mission of providing funds for passports and travel grants for students who wish to study or volunteer abroad, but may not have the financial support to do so. I have had the honor of growing this nonprofit with my dear friend, Brandon Miller. In 2016, Brandon was actually helping raise funds for passports for another scholarship program. I understood the importance of traveling when I was young, so I wanted to help. Through a random conversation, I simply said, “what if you had a happy hour and called it the Too Fly Happy Hour”. I love play on words, so I just thought I was being cute. But then we had our first Too Fly Dallas event in August 2016, and it was a huge success. We gave everyone a simple name tag, on which everyone had to write a country that they’ve been to or wanted to travel one day. Conversations were had, relationship were built and opportunities were presented. Before you knew it, Brandon and I were planning the same event in different cities nationwide. We had everyone from Austin to Oklahoma to Chicago to Washington D.C. and more rocking their name tag with their favorite country.
In 2017, we raised funds for over 80 passports and touched down in over 10 cities. Seeing the support behind our mission is truly incredible. Whether it is through our creativelyLIT™ events, our generous Passport Adopters or someone rocking his or her Too Fly shirt in a different country, everyone is doing their part in helping us broaden the horizons of our young people. When young people travel, they gain a world bigger than themselves and those experiences help mold them into the young leaders we need in this world.
As a Passport adopter, where are some amazing places that you have traveled to? Tell us about your favorite experience?
I have had the opportunity to travel to China, live in Argentina, serve in many parts of Central America and so much more. I’ve also had the opportunity to explore the many dope cities right here in our own country. However, my favorite experience will have to be when I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I lived and studied abroad in Buenos Aires for about four months. One day, I stumbled upon an Afro-Argentine festival. At this point, I had been in Argentina for almost three months. The history of race in this country is wild. You want to talk about being a minority? Try walking down the street and notice people staring at you trying to figure out where you’re from. Try sitting inside a scholarly history lecture and no one can explain the history of your indigenous people. Even with all that, it was at this festival, where I saw so much life and love. It was truly a celebration. I learned more about the Afro-Argentine culture. I ate. I met so many dope people. We exchanged languages and stories. It was one of those Utopia moments you can never forget.
When did you fall in love with traveling and what entices you to travel?
Truly…I think you keep falling in love with travel. I don’t know if there was necessarily a define moment. Every trip I learn something new about myself. I believe that’s why I love travel. Whether you’re traveling solo or in a group, you are experiencing two types of explorations—the exploration of yourself and the exploration of your world. It was in various countries and cities that I fell more in love with Jesus. It was in various countries and cities that I learned to be independent. I learned what I did like or didn’t like. I picked up boxing. I became fluent in Spanish. I learned to cook a new dish. Do if I were to answer when you did fall in travel, I’d just say…on my last trip.
Traveling abroad has become a movement. Who are some Travel Influencers across the globe that you #COSIGN and recommend people follow?
I would highly recommend following @callme_ambam, @hardlyhome (Too Fly actually started this journey funding The Hardly Home Initiative, so they’ll always be dear to my heart), @thebrittanyb_ and @hustleattravel. There are also some influencers that are giving you the opportunity to travel, whether for impact such as @globalintent or to wild out, such as @haywireweekend. Also, any of the dope people that I’ve cosigned are worth following.
What are some travel sites/blogs you #COSIGN that a beginner traveler should check out to get more information?
Thirty30Courtney is an awesome blog for beginner travelers! Courtney has a great way of sharing her experiences, but also giving practical tips for solo travelers. I also recommend people to visit travel.state.gov. The website has all you need to know about how to get your passport and visa. Also, if you ever come to a Too Fly event or visit tooflyfundraiser.com, we put awesome resources right into the hands of our guests. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come to one of our happy hours, day parties or brunches and said, “I don’t even have my passport.” We want to change that.
Seeing minorities fall in love with traveling has been amazing to watch. Why do you think it’s important for black and brown people to see the world?
I truly believe knowledge is our birthright and it is powerful. When you travel, you learn. And there are statistics that show that there is a gap between opportunities for young people of color to travel. It’s important that people of color see that there is a world bigger than themselves. They have the same right to explore that world. Traveling is what made me love my skin even more. Also, we need more people of color in leadership. Although travel is not the only way to develop your leadership, it gives you a larger perspective of those around you, which helps you lead others more effectively.
Can you share 3-5 travel tips with our readers? Ex: What are the best days to book flights? How to save money? etc.
Tip 1: Your passport picture is just as important as your actual passport. Sometimes passports are denied because of the quality of your identification picture. If you don’t get your picture taken at a government-official office, make sure you get it taken at locations that usually take those type of pictures, such as a Walgreens. Usually a passport picture costs $15. An adult passport is $135.
Tip 2: I am still learning the hacks of flight deals. If you’re flying internationally, your best deals will be two-three months in advance. When flying domestically, if you’re able to fly mid-week such as Wednesday or Thursday, you’ll likely to get a better deal. There are plenty of websites such as justfly.com that helps find flights dirt-cheap. However, you may only be able to take one personal item and that’s it. Everything is give or take. I am also now a believer of GroupOn trips! If you’re looking for something fun, GroupOn has trips that may also include your flight. My next one is to the Bahamas. It’s lit.
Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to travel solo! I am true extrovert, so I love being around people. But some of my best trips was traveling alone. Take the risk.
What is your ultimate travel goal?
I WILL visit every Spanish-speaking country in this world before I die. There are 22 and I have been to six thus far!
Last but not least, who do you #COSIGN?