Do you have wanderlust that you just can't seem to cure? Are you endlessly excited to travel, even for small work trips? If you love traveling, you have to check out these amazing communities that specialize in black travel. These groups focus on creating spaces for people of color to share their travel experiences. From Antarctica to the Arctic and everywhere in between, these communities are excellent resources for those looking for all things travel — suggestions, financial help, first-hand experiences, ideas for future trips and so much more.
“Adventuristas who happen to travel” — not to be confused with travelistas who might go on adventures — Black Adventuristas is not for the faint of heart. These brave women are going on adventures all over the world. Its creator, Veronica E. Garnett, hopes to inspire and connect black women as they pursue and conquer adventures big and small. Black Adventuristas is all about encouraging women to live their lives to the fullest, whatever that might mean to them. These adventuristas share photos as they ride camels in Egypt, skydive in Dubai and pet koala bears in Australia. From Zambia to Thailand, from Maui to Morocco and even all the way to Antarctica, Black Adventuristas follows women as they adventure to the ends of the Earth and back, literally! Check out their Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram to get in on this great community.
2. Collin Devon Events
Collin Devon events is the perfect group for black millennial intellectuals who want to turn up as they explore the world. Collin organizes events that span from happy hours and club events to international trips. His trip to Antigua last spring — officially titled “Turn Up Tour Antigua” — was a huge hit...and he’s getting ready to do it again. If you’ve ever wanted to visit the Caribbean without being stuck at a resort, completely surrounded by families with babies or couples on their honeymoon (I was just in Antigua and that was literally everyone), #TurnupTourAnu might be right for you. Collin is actually lucky enough to call Antigua home. As a dual citizen, he’s been taking friends in small groups to visit since 2012, showing them some of the best-kept secrets on the island and working with his family who lives there to give his friends the best possible vacation. Collin is good people so you’re guaranteed to be in good company. Plus the trip is all-inclusive and very reasonably priced, which means you’ll have none of the stress associated with planning a vacation. This tropical trip is certain to be filled with laughter, adventure and fun! Check out his feature in Time or the Collin Devon Events Instagram and website for more info about his Antiguan adventures.
TravelNoire is a top resource to find your inner explorer and find experiences that let you live like a local. Its founder, Zim Ugochukwu, has found herself on the 2016 edition of "Forbes 30 under 30" list for her passion and dedication to create resources for the unconventional traveler. The website boasts stunning images and first-hand experiences from hand-picked black curators across the globe. For food, fashion, nightlife and other cultural gems, you can search TravelNoire for those one-of-a-kind experiences that will leave memories for a lifetime. The black travel brand recently launched TravelNoire Experiences, a group travel package that brings together 12-14 like-minded individuals to a pocket of the world to build connections and foster friendships. Every experience comes with a licensed photographer to capture each magical moment, an itinerary of activities, travel meals and accommodations to make for a truly unconventional experience. Check out the brand's Instagram to learn more.
4. One Young Traveler
If solo travel is more your speed then this might be the resource for you. Founder and Managing Director of One Young Traveler, Aylin Young, is not new to the travel game. Her life story includes speaking three languages and living in Europe for eight years. She has devoted her website "to bring together the young generation of conscious travelers through cultural engagement." One of the ways she and her team make that happen is by providing strong visuals and a travel blog that highlights the essence of virtual travel. Their hope is that in doing so, you might feel connected to the area and take a chance on visiting it yourself. In doing their part to serve others, they also offer their Passport Campaign, which gives scholarships to budding travelers to fund the cost of a passport so that their travel journeys can soon begin.
5. Nomadness Travel Tribe
Founder Evita Robinson began her invitation-only platform, running after the success of her popular travel series Nomadness TV, executive produced by her and Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae. From 'The Tribe' you can find stories, advice, conversations and photos all dedicated to promoting black travel internationally. Since 2012, group trips have found tribe members adding stamps to their passports by throwing colorful paint with locals at Holi in India or running with bulls in Spain. In an effort to further the push for black millennials to seek traveling experiences, the #NMDN ALTERnative Travel Conference brings together travel experts beyond borders to connect, network and discuss "international art, music, food, entrepreneurship and much more." If you have at least one passport stamp you have a chance of being a part of 'The Tribe,' so what are you waiting for? Just do it!
6. Cool Young History
Full-time traveling couple Amirah and Jarrell Cook are advocates for creating and living the life you want. After finding successful careers and tying the knot, the pair made a life-changing decision to honeymoon indefinitely by leaving their fulfilling jobs and set out to "achieve greater success independently" from all corners of the globe. (#RelationshipGoals) Since 2013 they have traveled and lived on four different continents and have no plans of stopping anytime soon. On their website you can find very helpful tips for how to spend less and make money abroad, as well as tips for how the couple has afforded to travel for two years and how you can, too! If you're looking to make a permanent stamp on your passport, then look to these two for advice on how to find economic success no matter where you are.
Whether you'll be traveling next week or are saving for your dream trip, these communities are the place to go for all your travel needs. These groups have certainly inspired us to start planning our next trip.
Ready for your next trip? Tell us where you want to travel in the comments below!
READ NEXT: Satisfy your wanderlust with IT professional Libryia Jones of 'My Wander...
Just one year ago, Tallahassee, FL native and IT Project Manager Libryia Jones made the decision to breathe life into her love and desire to travel and share that passion with the world. Featured recently on Black Enterprise, her company, My Wander Year, is a developing sensation centered around travel and living the life of your dreams. Libryia indulged my curiosity with some of the steps in her newest journey, sprinkled with a bit of sage advice. Check out some of our conversation below.
Blavity: What have you accomplished (accolades/awards) for My Wander Year that you're most proud of?
Libryia Jones: I launched My Wander Year on my birthday last year. I made the decision to do this on July 7th and by September 25th I had made it public. We haven’t been around long enough to win any awards or accolades, we’re still building awareness about our program. But I’m very proud of myself for taking a passion for living abroad, which sparked a passing thought that wouldn’t leave me alone, and turning it into something real. That passing thought is changing my life and the lives of the people who are participating in the program!
B: Growing up, how did your family support/encourage the steps that would lead you to where My Wander Year is today?
LJ: It would be trite and cliché to say my mother always told me I could do anything I wanted to. Which, of course, she did. But more important, I think, is my mother invested in my talents and interests. When I showed an aptitude for writing, she put me in writing programs at Florida A&M University. When I showed an aptitude for math, she enrolled me in the Minority Introduction to Technology and Engineering (MITE) Program at FAMU. In doing so, she set an example for investing in yourself and nurturing your talents and interests. Additionally, both of my parents have always had incredible work ethic. My mother has juggled the roles of employee and entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. That type of hustle is in my blood. My dad might be the most dedicated and hardworking man I know. They both have been incredible role models and their expectation of my being successful in school and in my career was threaded into our everyday life to the point that it was treated as inevitable and I believed it to be so.
B: If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any brand/company, who would it be, and why?
LJ: I have quite a few friends who own small businesses and I would love to collaborate with them. Black & Abroad (@Blackandabroad) is a company I’m excited about partnering with for community service events that directly impact people of color all over the world. I will always seek ways to work with Nomadness Travel Tribe (@nomadnesstribe), without my tribe, I never would’ve dreamed of starting My Wander Year. I’m looking forward to working with The Grant Access, a New-York-based event planning company owned by Lauren Grant, to host our events in each stop on our journey and our kick-off party in New York. Of course, there are some major corporations that would be a complete dream to partner with. I am insistent that all of our participants have T-Mobile cell phones, given they are the only US carrier who provide free international texting and web (and I’ve been a loyal customer for over 10 years). It would be fantastic for AirBnB to be our official lodging partner as we truly want our participants to live like locals which aligns perfectly with their brand. A great partner would be eBags, their weekender bag is such a good product. We absolutely must have a major airline partner like Delta Airlines or one of the alliances.
B: Aside from traveling to the Burj Khalifa (The World’s tallest building,) what is one of your most memorable experiences thus far, and why does it mean so much to you?
LJ: I’ve had some amazing experiences abroad. One of the most memorable was visiting Fort Jesus in Mombasa. A small group of us went to the passages where they would hold the slaves and then march them down to the ships. We stood in the doorway where they last stood on their continent and looked out to the ocean where they would be loaded on boats never to return. We held a misa, where we paid homage to our ancestors. It was quite an emotional experience with no shortage of tears. I would also mention visiting one of the schools in Kibera, the poorest slum in Nairobi. I met a little girl named Yvonne there who was incredibly astute and kind. She taught me how to count to five in Swahili. My first trip to the continent of Africa will likely always be very special to me. I look forward to revisiting the continent with my daughter, we are headed for Johannesburg and Cape Town.
B: For someone who has never heard of you or My Wander Year; how would you describe it to them?
LJ: We’re a community of people creating a life we don’t have to vacation from for a full year.
B: I know My Wander Year is very important to you, so how have you handled the roadblocks along your journey? Can you give me an example of a problem you encountered, and how you went about solving it?
LJ: At the risk of sounding cheesy, I have two things to get me through challenges — faith and a great team. I’ve been blessed enough to accept that things will always work out the way they should. Whether it happens in the way I want it to or not, it always works out the way it should. I also have a great team of people who genuinely care about what we’re doing.
B: If you weren’t traveling and successfully running My Wander Year, what would you be doing?
LJ: I can’t imagine not traveling at this point, but I’d be continuing my work as an IT project manager, cheering for my daughter on the soccer field, and pursuing another passion — cooking. I’d likely be taking culinary courses in training to be a chef.
B: Being that My Wander Year encourages sharing the traveling experience, I know your daughter travels with you. How do you manage work-life balance?
LJ: Honestly, I never feel that my work and life are truly in balance. Some days I’m more focused on one aspect and some days the other. I think if I look back over a week, it typically nets out to something that resembles balance. Most of the week, I’m splitting my time between work and working on my business. Thursday nights my daughter and I get sushi. I take advantage of our rides to school in the morning to chat it up with her. Most of my Friday nights are spent hanging out with my daughter as well. I’m typically very intentional about taking time for myself and my friends. I believe happy people make great parents, employees and friends.
B: What social media platform do you find most useful, and why? Which platform would you like to be more interactive with?
LJ: Facebook, it makes it easier to passively/actively participate in the lives of people I may not otherwise have the opportunity to. Much easier to facilitate conversations and sharing of information. I’ve been beefing up my Twitter skills lately. I love Periscope. The one I can’t seem to figure out is Snapchat. I sound incredibly old but I just don’t get it. I’m going to give it a shot soon.
B: What are 5 things you absolutely cannot live without?
LJ: Freedom, love, laughter, cheese and Internet access.
B: What motto do you live by?
LJ: There are quite a few mottos I apply to certain situations. This one from Desiderata is one that has stuck with me since one of my college professors introduced it to me my Freshman year. “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
B: I know you said you’re launching a fundraiser beginning in February to sponsor one single mother and her child to travel with you, is there anything else you have going on that you would like our readers to know about?
LJ: Two things 1.) I don’t think people know or realize that I’m paying for mine and my daughter’s trip on MWY just like everyone else who is participating. I’m a customer of the program also, I believe in its value that much. 2.) We’re planning some pretty big events. We’re throwing a big kick-off party in New York at the end of July before we take off. We’re also planning to throw a big NYE party in Thailand. Additionally, we’re putting together packages for people to come and visit the group for a week or two at a time. All of those details will be coming out this summer.
B: Many of our readers are up and comings, such as myself, what advice do you have for us?
LJ: We live in a time [when] people are encouraged and rewarded for living their passions. Technology and creativity facilitate that now more than it ever has. Companies are embracing the idea that passionate people are much more creative, productive and effective. That plays out in companies providing unlimited vacation days, remote work options [and] tailoring the workspace and structure to fit the needs of employees. It must be said that these perks should be in return for great work ethic and contributions, not treated as entitlements. Millennials are in the perfect position to create the lives they dream of.
B: What are some goals you have for the rest of the year that you don’t mind letting us in on?
LJ: I want to complete a Spartan Trifecta. Spartan races are obstacle course races. In order to complete a trifecta, you have to complete three increasingly longer and tougher races within a calendar year. I’m also looking forward to learning styles of cooking in every country we go to.
Visit her website for information on program costs, and frequently asked questions. And above all.. apply!
READ NEXT: 8 Reasons Introverts Make the Best Travelers
Make yourself at home on My Wander Year and don't forget to follow Libryia on Twitter at @WanderWomanInc, and My Wander Year on...
If you've traveled abroad recently or have been dreaming of traveling abroad, you know the urge to pick up and move can be overwhelming. Instead of just planning an excursion for your PTO, you find yourself looking at residences in your prospective country of choice or Googling to learn more about the day-to-day life there. Whether it's a change that comes sooner or later, here are the five stages of knowing when it's time to move abroad.
1. You're getting frustrated with American life
You loathe the way our society overworks and if you hear another person claim that Chipotle has the best tacos on earth you’re going to scream. You know that there’s a world that’s much bigger that our materialistic, restaurant-chain-dependent country and you’re aching to see it.
2. You Google photos at work/scan Instagram every 10 minutes
Going through Travel Noire’s Instagram for the 15th time today? Trying to find new Flickr accounts that document the wonders of West Africa or Central America? Sounds like you should be booking a ticket and packing your camera right now.
3. Secretly budgeting for what “could be”
Do you find yourself turning down nights out with friends because you know you should be saving for, well, something? Are you suddenly skipping that latte from your favorite coffee shop because you know that the $5 you’d spend on the overly-sweet drink could get you a pretty fancy dinner in Indonesia? What “could be” will turn into “what will be” a lot faster than you think.
4. Searching for programs abroad instead of some store’s newest fall collection
Instead of searching for your ideal look for the season, you’re looking for programs abroad in your field abroad. Marketing? IT? Education? You had no idea that it is possible to build your career somewhere else outside of your hometown or the Tri-state area. Big cities like Chicago, D.C., and New York are amazing, but you know that they will always be here, and this opportunity to pick up and move might not.
5. Turning in that resignation letter
You did it. You quit that unfulfilling job. Maybe you have something lined up and maybe you don’t. What you do have is a sense of pride, power and confidence in the future. You know that nothing is certain and that you might have to jump through a lot of hoops to get to that dream destination, but, like anyone who’s a true Wanderluster at heart, you know every bit of the journey will be worth it. ...
For those of us addicted to travel, it can be a struggle stay in one city for longer than a few months. The desire to see, smell and and experience new aspects of another culture is a part of every travel addict’s daily life.
Luckily, the diversity of the U.S. gives us a chance to indulge in life abroad while right at home. Cities all over the country have microcosms of nations such as a Chinatown or Little Italy. These areas, although located in the U.S., give us a chance to separate from city life and indulge in the cultures we crave to know.
One of the best cities to offer such a diverse range of cultural communities is New York City. If you live in New York or are visiting anytime soon, here are five neighborhoods you should make sure to visit.
This Manhattan gem encompasses the Italian experience. Waiters stand outside to convince you to visit their classic restaurant for a lunch special. Gelato stands line almost every corner, and red, white and green are the theme colors of Mulberry Street. Although the neighborhood is no longer home to the large number of Italians that lived there during the early 20th century, shopkeepers have managed to keep the Italian charm that’ll satisfy your European wanderlust. Make sure to stop by Pellegrino’s Italian Restaurant for a filling (and inexpensive) Rigatoni alla vodka for lunch, and pop into M’O Il Gelato for a sweet gelato cone and some irreplaceable people-watching.
The hustle and bustle of Chinatown in Manhattan is not for the weak. It’s home to the highest enclave of Chinese people in the Western hemisphere, yet it only stretches a few miles. Shoppers and store owners alike are packed into tiny streets, looking for great deals on knock-off handbags and delicious Chinese food. Because of this, Chinatown is a must for those missing their Chinese abroad experience. Cantonese, Mingdong and Mandarin can be heard at every corner, and Chinese singers and performers put on traditional shows in the middle of the street for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the eight other Chinatowns in New York, which are all spread out across the boroughs.
West-African homesickness can be cured in Little Senegal. The small neighborhood is home to many of Harlem’s West African immigrants. The main streets are the blocks surrounding W. 116th Street between Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Boulevard on the east and Frederick Douglass Boulevard to the west. The smells and tastes of fish and rice stew keep visitors coming back, along with the Malcolm Shabazz Market, showcasing some of the best West African clothes and hair care products.
Although there’s a common argument within the travel community on whether “Little India” exists or not, most locals visit a small neighborhood in Queens that’s home to a large population of South Asians. For those missing the liveliness of India and other South Asian countries, 74th Street between Roosevelt Avenue and 37th Avenue and the surrounding blocks are the heart of a large group of Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. The smells of delicious Indian food are enticing, and cultural events on the weekend can be enjoyed by anyone in the area. Be sure to stop at Ayna Agra Indian Restaurant for one of the best Chicken Tikka Masala dishes in New York.
Little Dominican Republic
You can get your fix for Dominican culture in Washington Heights. The neighborhood lost a lot of its population in the '00s thanks to gentrification, but the Dominican population has steadily begun to grow again and proudly flaunts its culture on every avenue. Dominican Republic flags hang in apartment windows and Spanish is the language of choice on the block. Families and friends congregate on the streets and parks to dance, listen to music and people-watch. Between the delicious dishes offered at the various restaurants, such as camarofongo, and the music blasting from neighborhood vehicles, you’ll forget you’re in the U.S.
Where do you go to get your global fix, Domestically? LEt us know in the comments below! ...
Wanderlust doesn’t stop as soon as summer ends. Although long days at the beach and summer night concerts might no longer be an option, there are plenty of incredible places to visit across the nation during fall.
New York, NY
Central Park is picturesque during the fall, with golden-colored trees lining the area. Numerous festivals and concerts are going on in the city and the lower temps make "the city that never sleeps" a bit more relaxing than usual.
There are few places more beautiful than Boston during the fall. Their autumn foliage produces some of the most vibrant colors in the northeast, and visitors can enjoy weekend events like Oktoberfest and tours at the legendary Harpoon Brewery. Make sure to go soon, because Boston winters are notoriously brutal.
Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake City is stunning in the fall. It’s also less populated and very quiet during the colder months, making it a great weekend getaway. One-way fares are around $150 right now, the cheapest they ever are during the year. If you go toward the end of October, you might even catch some snow and be able to ski.
While going to Denver at any time is a treat, going in October makes for a truly unique experience. Be sure to hike along the High Line Canal or rent a bike and explore the bustling town. Also, make sure not to miss the Great American Beer Festival, which features 3,500 different beers from more than 700 brewers.
What are your favorite cities to visit ;? Let us know in the comments below! achat lingerie pas cher ...
With an all-year forecast of warm, sunny weather, alluring saltwater beaches and serene sunsets, Jamaica is undeniably one of the most beautiful countries in the Caribbean. But aside from the white sand beaches, irie vibes and palm trees, the island’s beauty transcends well beyond its aesthetic appeal.
As the indigenous land of the Taíno peoples, and birthplace of Black revolutionist Marcus Garvey and reggae music icon Beres Hammond, it is Jamaica’s riveting history and affluent culture that captures the true essence of this distinct Caribbean nation.
Whether you visit a local museum, climb Dunns River Falls or experience first-hand the unparalleled hospitality of a local resident, Jamaica is an exceptionally ideal destination for inquisitive Black millennials who are interested in expanding their African diasporic knowledge.
If you’re planning to visit this exquisite island (hopefully in the near future), here are some captivating historic landmarks to visit during your stay.
32 Market Street
Located on the north coast of the island in St. Ann’s Bay, this historic site is the birthplace of the Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero.
Accompong Maroon Village
Accompong Maroon Village, named after the esteemed Maroon leader, is a historical village located in the southwestern parish of St. Elizabeth. In 1739, runaway slaves forced African migrants signed a peace treaty with British settlers to gain sovereignty over the land, where they originally settled with the indigenous Taíno peoples of Jamaica. The treaty still stands today. Current residents of Accompong share similar cultural practices as their African ancestors, which are believed to have originated 200-300 years ago.
Bamboo Avenue is one of the most unique and majestic sites in the parish of St. Elizabeth. Established in the 17th century, this two and a half mile stretch of road is lined with giant bamboo plants on both sides which tower above the street, creating a natural shady tunnel.
Bob Marley Museum
Six years after Bob Marley’s death in 1981, wife Rita Marley transformed their house into a museum, inviting residents and tourists to explore the life of the late reggae music paragon right in his own home. The property features some of Marley’s personal belongings, an 80-person theatre, photo gallery, gift shop and a restaurant.
Blue Mountain Peak
Standing at 7,402 feet, Blue Mountain Peak is the highest mountain in Jamaica. Located on the border of the parishes of Portland and St. Thomas, is it known as a great destination for hiking and camping, and is also the only place where Jamaica’s famed Blue Mountain Coffee can be grown.
Devon House Heritage Site
Built in 1881, the Devon House mansion is the former home of Jamaica’s first Black millionaire and philanthropist, George Stiebel. In 1990 the Jamaica National Heritage Trust declared the property a national monument.
Dunns River Falls
Located in the popular tourist destination of Ocho Rios, St Ann, Dunns River Falls has a deep history ranging back to the 15th century. It is believed that near this site in 1657 the battle of “Las Chorreras” took place, where the British claimed victory over the land. Today, Dunns River Falls has become a popular tourist destination. Visitors enjoy climbing the falls and lounging in one of the several nearby lagoons and pools.
Kingston’s Emancipation Park is best known for it’s 11-foot bronze sculpture created by Jamaican artist Laura Facey-Cooper. Unveiled in July 2003, this captivating sculpture symbolizes the Jamaican people’s jubilant rise from slavery.
Green Grotto Caves
The Green Grotto Caves were first discovered by the Taíno peoples of Jamaica, where fragments of their pottery and artifacts have been uncovered over time. During the 17th century, the Spanish used these caves as a hideout when the English invaded Jamaica.
Located in the country’s capital of Kingston, Liberty Hall was the former international headquarters for Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. Today, the building has been converted into a library, multimedia museum and educational center, focusing on the legacy of Garvey.
Emerging where the mountains of Santa Cruz come to an abrupt end, Lover’s Leap is believed to have been named after two 18th century lovers Mizzy and Tunkey. Word is their British master kidnapper took a liking to Mizzy and threatened to bid off Tunkey. The couple was simply not having that and instead chose end their lives by jumping off the cliff together.
Milk River Bath
Milk River Bath is a natural mineral spa in the parish of Clarendon. It is believed that during the 17th century, a slave, badly beaten by a slave master European settler, bathed in the natural waters and later returned fully healed.
National Gallery of Jamaica
Established in 1974, the National Gallery of Jamaica is the oldest and largest public art museum in the English-speaking Caribbean. This gallery features a collection of early, modern and contemporary art from Jamaica and other Caribbean nations.
National Heroes Park
The National Heroes Park, located in Kingston, houses several astounding monuments honoring the National Heroes of Jamaica.
Located in the Kingston Harbour, Port Royal, first known as Caguay or Caguaya, was originally used by the Taínos during their fishing expeditions. European settlers later renamed the area Port Royal and it became the center of shopping commerce in the Caribbean sea towards the end of the 17th century.
Rosie and ‘har fambilly’s yawd’
Royal Palm Reserve
This tranquil forest is one of Jamaica’s famed eco-tourism attractions. Here, visitors can discover 114 plant species, over 300 various bird, butterfly and reptile species and also the Morass Royal Palms, which are exclusive to Jamaica.
Sam Sharpe Square
Located in downtown Montego Bay, Sam Sharpe Square honors the Jamaican National Hero and resilient slave leader, Samuel Sharpe. In 1831 Sharpe organized the Christmas Abolition, where he urged other slaves African migrants to resist work on Christmas Day. This act of peaceful resilience later turned violent when several fires broke out days later, which resulted in hundreds of deaths. Sharpe was hung on May 23, 1832. Prior to his death he stated, “I would rather die upon yonder gallows than live in slavery.”
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It’s weird, the things that make you question who you are. It is often the simplest of things that pushes a multitude of thoughts and feelings to the forefront of your mind.
That is what happened to me in India.
Let me start at the beginning; I had always wanted to travel across India. The sights and the smells swirled through my dreams and I pictured myself finding my Zen amongst like-minded souls. I dreamt of food so delicious and sunrises that blinded and dazzled.
I was so excited when I made the decision to finally just go. It was freeing and I was excited. I was finally making it happen. I prepared myself as much as possible, but not nearly enough, and set off into the wild unknown.
One car ride, two plane trips, a five-hour coach ride, and finally I was there. It was as incredible as I had imagined. It was a cacophony of sounds, sights and smells. It was overwhelming. India didn’t do half measures. It was chaos and light and it was brilliant.
Then a few things became apparent. I had always imagined that being in India, I would just blend in. Not so much that people would assume that I am Indian but enough that it wasn’t glaringly obvious that I was a tourist. That did not happen.
I was travelling with a group and it became glaringly obvious that the white members of our group were being looked at. However, over time they came to be admired. On one occasion, a woman cried whilst she cradled a girl's face in her hands.
Similar things occurred throughout my two-month trip. I had always assumed that once in India, I would bond with people over slightly similar traditions such as marriage and a cultural love of tea.
How wrong I was.
It was the little things, like walking into a shop plastered with posters touting skin-whitening remedies and filled with tubs of whitening cream. I no longer noticed the cows slowly making their way through insane Indian traffic or the beautiful melding of saris as we flew by in a tuck-tuck.
I noticed how the women who graciously allowed me into their homes disliked their natural beauty. I noticed how husbands would tell their wives that they didn’t like how dark they were.
I was baffled. I had assumed that just getting onto a plane would eliminate conventional beauty standards. I assumed that a culture built on spirituality would be more accepting.
It was painful to watch as these women conformed, but had I asked myself a question:
How do you conform to society?
How do you dilute your identity so as to not cause waves?
How do you live?
There, halfway around the world, I knew I had no right to judge.
I would not go to an interview with my hair unruly because of a fear that the interviewer would assume that I hadn’t brushed it. I had struggled with years of body issues trying to conform to the accepted standard of beauty. I had dulled down opinions and deeply-held beliefs so as to not look domineering or weird.
I had cut away little pieces of my identity until I lived behind a mask of my own creation.
I was a person who never spoke too loudly or freely, who did not dress in a way that spoke of her true essence.
I was a cardboard cut out of everyone else. India made me realise a lot of hard truths about identity and how often it is shaped and moulded by unseen outside forces.
It helped me realize that I should take a very good look at me before I start criticizing others.
India helped me realize that I am a smart, capable, beautiful black woman.
For that, I will be forever grateful.
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Black Americans have been bitten by the travel bug, and it's not just those old and retired ones who have time and money on their hands who do so anymore. The younger generation have taken to traveling to quench their wanderlust.
If you think about it, traveling before you reach the age of 30 is a great decision. Traveling young widens your perspective and view of the world and plays a big role in shaping the way you will live the rest of your life. So why not travel now before big life decisions (marriage, kids, career, and all that other serious stuff) happen and take away the perfect time and opportunity to do so?
If you're looking for several places to start, here's a bucket list of places you should definitely go to before your time runs out!
1. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
2. Elmina Castle, Ghana
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
4. The Inca Trail to Machu Pichu, Peru
5. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
6. International Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico
7. Blyde River Canyon and the Panorama Route, South Africa
8. Kruger National Park, South Africa
9. Old Havana, Cuba
10. Jerusalem, Israel
11. Carnival at Trinidad & Tobago
12. Cape Peninsula in Cape Town, South Africa
13. Hanuman's Temple in Jaipur, India
14. Montgomery, Alabama
15. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri
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