The black travel movement definitely blossomed in 2017. We are out here seeing the world! Unfortunately, like too many other markets, black folks are dreadfully underrepresented in the travel industry. This fact, and many others, heavily fueled my desire to see the world and show people that they can do it too! In July of 2016, I decided 2017 would be my year. I had taken trips out of the country previously, but they were not far or long enough for what I wanted to eventually accomplish. It was in this moment that I decided that I could not wait any longer and I would take my dream trip to Thailand later that year. I declared 2017, My Wander Year.
Essentially, My Wander Year would be and entire year of me traveling every single one of my work breaks. I knew this was going to take more time and funds that I had in my current situation, so I packed up my apartment and moved back home in order to be able to spend and save more freely on this eccentric dream.
HOW I DID IT:
I was able to travel to 11 countries in 2017 because of THREE major reasons. I don’t want to promote the false narrative that everyone can quit their job on a whim and travel the world freely. The reality is that everyone has their own individual circumstances, and everyone's journey will be different. Here is my story...
I lived below my means.
I moved out of my apartment and back home to save more money. My rent was ridiculously high (for what I had) and I decided that money could be better spent helping me accomplish one of my dreams. Besides that, I rarely shop for anything besides essentials, and I now limit my trips to Target to once every three months :)
I chased “deals,” not my bucket list.
I think this might be the biggest difference maker. I absolutely have a “bucket list” of places that I want to see eventually, but when it comes down to where I actually travel, I go where I find cheap tickets. For example, in 2016, I was able to snag an error fare to Philippines for $180 usd, ROUNDTRIP. I ended up only using the outbound leg, because I found a one way from the Maldives for ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS, which also included a day layover in Dubai. I hopped around Asia and back home for a little under $600. Some folks pay that to get across the United States. I also travel cheaply in general. I do not spend much on accommodation, I take food with me, and I never buy souvenirs. Essentially, look for cheaper destinations first, opportunities to go to your bucket list will come later!
Having a job that allows it.
I say this all the time because I truly believe it. I HAVE THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD! Not only do I love what I do, but it also provides me the privilege of having some time to pursue other likes and desires. Our holiday breaks are pretty much the most expensive time to travel, BUT, I still believe that it outweighs what other people unfortunately have to deal with at their jobs. I can’t believe vacation shaming is a thing! However, I do feel times are changing and as a culture we are starting to develop a more positive mindset of self care and mental health. Breaks. Are. Good. Take breaks.
Q&A: Here are some questions I received from y'all.
What do you do for a job?
I’m a middle school teacher.
Do you plan on doing the same for the next year?
Heck no. It was exhausting and I'm tired. Lol. I do plan on doing a bunch of domestic traveling this year. I need to see more of this country!
What inspired you?
Seeing other folks do it. I didn’t take trips as a kid or even saw anyone in my family do it. Seeing other black people travel to literally every part of this world really inspired me to want to do the same.
How did I choose these places?
I didn’t get to choose the places I went, they chose me! As I mentioned earlier, I chased cheap tickets and affordable places. Most countries I visited besides Singapore and Canada are cheaper than the US. I saved so much by going to less expensive destinations.
What was your planning process?
I researched so much! Hours worth. Blogs, youtube, Instagram, Facebook travel groups, all helped me plan out each country. Next, I wrote up a general itinerary with all my information needed for that day, like flight conformations, drivers numbers, hotel names and address all together. I bought travel insurance for added protection and I also search TripAdvisor and Viator to see excursions and trips in the area. If possible, I try and find it cheaper elsewhere.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I am a great navigator and planner. I learned that I actually like being by myself a lot and that I love learning first hand about others cultures and stories.
Best place to travel as a single woman?
Thailand is literally my answer for everything. It is easy to navigate, cheap enough to be able to afford alone, the people and really nice and it’s beautiful. I had the time of my life!
What was the hardest place to travel through?
I had a really rough time in the Philippines, but was mostly my fault. I still had a great time after the fact!
What were the people like?
For the most part, everyone in every country I have visited was nice, kind and welcoming. I have yet to have a negative experience. I do recognize that this could be American privilege and I do know that some parts of the world are not as welcoming to dark and brown skin. Everyone will have their own valid experience, that's what makes traveling so special!
If you read all this, you are the real MVP! Thank you for letting me share my journey with you!
I have always wanted to travel and after years of aspiring, I am finally able to see the world! Join me as I explore, learn, discover and most importantly, LIVE!