People are my passion. I love hearing other’s stories an experience. And anyone that knows me will know I love to talk. About anything. But when people hear what I do for a living the conversation tends to turn to my lifestyle, as it’s surely a unique one. But sometimes the questions can be a bit intrusive and down right rude. Part of putting your life on display is fielding these question and taking into account the different moral and cultural backgrounds that people come from. And yes, answer the questions. These are some of the top questions I’ve been asked over the last three years.
You have a black president. Isn’t racism over?
This is one of the most fun AND annoying questions I get when people find out about my current project. Traveling as an African American post-Obama is interesting. Often people yell “Obama” at me with huge smiles. It’s pleasing to see such a positive response to an American president given the image of George W. Bush worldwide. I can assure you that my travel experience now is quite different than 2007. I wouldn’t say better or worse, aside from the fact Obama has made the dollar FAR more valuable, just different.
Although the international reaction to Obama is largely a positive one, it’s caused an unforeseen problem in my opinion. This idea that minorities have somehow “made it” in America and racism is over. That simply isn’t the case, and this perception also exists among Americans. A select few in America enjoy certain class privileges, the majority of the upper class being white. The issues facing poor minorities in America are similar to what they were 20 years ago. Have things gotten better? Yes, they have. But in no way are things equal in America. I point to the recent Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage and the fact young black men are still being killed at a ridiculous rate by those appointed to protect them. The reaction many people outside the U.S. have to racism in America is awe-inspiring. It reestablishes my faith in humanity because people from around the world find it as ridiculous as I do.
Why do Americans complain so much?
Because we are entitled assholes. This seriously is my typical response. When speaking with people abroad, this is possibly the number one gripe I hear about Americans abroad. I can’t deny it because it’s largely true. My least favorite people to meet on the road are other Americans. In America, many people believe that if they are upset or offended by something, then it should change to suit them because that’s what our society has become. As if somehow my opinion should dictate how you raise your children, how much sugar you eat, or how much you can tip (one of my pet peeves).
We sue because we’re too dumb to check if the coffee is hot. Now TV stations remove commercials and shows if a joke offends a small subset of people. Americans have become over sensitive and entitled. Luckily a vast majority of the world is not.
I also suspect we are just bored. Unlike other countries we don’t have revolutions, an open war on our soil, or mass poverty (aside from the 50% of U.S. children below the poverty line but that’s another article). We have a government that coddles us and a media that keeps us blind and placated to the world beyond our borders. The only real outlet is picking a fight (something we do very well) about nothing. I’m mean people are still arguing about breastfeeding in public. It’s crazy. Remember the Occupy Movement? Kony 2012? Charlie Sheen? At the time these things seemed like the most important things in the world according to social media and mainstream media in the U.S. but a year later where are we?
How do you pay for all of your travels?
I’M RICH!!!! The honest truth is I made some good choices with money. I saved and diversified my holdings. Travel isn’t as expensive as people make it appear. When you trim away the fat that is. I also recommend others find their talent and monetize it. For example, if you enjoy writing become an online editor. Lazy people like myself will pay you. Hell, this is advice for everyone. Not just those looking to travel.
My job title is Travel Journalist. Aside from what you all see on this blog and social media, I do a lot of “behind the scenes” work for brands in digital marketing, photography services, and hospitality consulting. The reason so many end up walking away from this lifestyle due to money issues is a lack of diversification. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that tell me all they do is write. Or photograph. Or Vlog. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is a recipe for disaster in this game. But that’s just me. Much has been said about focusing all of your attention on one thing. I learned early in my life, multi-stream your income.
Don’t you get lonely?
This answer is yes and no. Socially, not at all. Romantically, absolutely. I’m always surrounded by people. Hostels are often considered socializing ground zero because you WILL meet great people from around the world. I could stay in hotels, but never would long term because hostels are the secret to meeting people while traveling. I tend to be a social butterfly, so socialization isn’t a problem for me.
Romantically is another story. It’s easy to meet women/men on the road. I’m constantly surrounded by beautiful women and men from around the world. Everyone is young, energetic, and carefree. It’s easy to “hook up” if that’s what you want (and many do. trust me) but if you are looking for something real then this life is a tough one. Personally, I travel too fast. I meet people and two weeks later I’m gone. The world is too vast. If the Minority Nomad ever became Nomad(s), then it would be someone without the attachments of everyday life and have that passion for travel. Otherwise, it’s likely not happening.
Why don’t Americans travel more?
I believe it’s a combination of factors.
Firstly, we don’t need to. America is so large and diverse not only culturally but geographically. Any activity, climate, or culture you want can be found in the U.S. Fear is ingrained in us early on. Our government and media are TERRIBLE about promoting this ridiculous culture of fear. It’s insulting and subversive. What better way to control your people than keeping them blinded to the superior ways of other cultures? If you look at American history, you will see we start a fight with someone every ten or so years. Coincidence? I was back in the U.S. all of December, and it was disgusting the level of fear mongering on TV.
Money also plays a large role. Many places in America aren’t cheap to live. Many live paycheck to paycheck. The welfare system in America keeps people dependent on the government and controlled. Simply put, many can’t afford to travel. And this is something not many of these “quit my job to travel the world” advocates are saying.
And lastly, travel just isn’t promoted in America like many parts of the world. Remember how geographically segregated we are from the rest of the developed world. We have Canada to the north with is similar to us in many ways and Mexico to the south which is a war torn third world (that may be a bit harsh, but that government needs to prove me wrong). Outside of that, the effort to get anywhere means a 9-hour flight minimum and most aren’t willing to do that given the cost.
What is your favorite place so far?
This has to be my top question. This is tough to answer because I love so many places for different reasons, so here are a few.
Thailand: If I had to choose a place to live for the rest of my life this is it. The weather, food, people, and culture make it more than worth a long stay. The cost/benefits ratio is fantastic. Simply a paradise.
Stockholm: If money were no object this place would be home for a short while. I love the way their government operates and the way they take care of their people. Education and travel are huge priorities. The country is largely unspoiled and well preserved. Stockholm is fantastic and one of the greatest cities in the world.
South Africa: South Africa caught me off guard last year. I had no idea how wonderful that country was. The food, people, and landscapes are simply one of a kind. Granted, I couldn’t live there as the internet is deathly slow. lol
Romania: I’m going to take Bucharest out of the equation because I largely dislike the city. But the rest of Romania is the world’s most hidden travel destination. Too often people go to Poland, Croatia, and the Czech Republic. Skipping this diverse and vibrant country. Romania is making a huge push in Tech, Music, and Travel. Mark my words. In five years’ it’ll be tops on many people’s lists.
London: This is truly one of the most accepting and multicultural places on earth. Even more so than NYC. Delicious food and great atmosphere. London for me is one of the world’s best tourist cities.
This list depends on the context of the conversation and changes. I’m en route to New Zealand soon so I have a feeling it’ll make the list. Germany, Poland, Budapest, NYC, New Orleans, Costa Rica, and Colombia would make the list for different reasons.
What is your least favorite place?
RUSSIA. Hands down. St.Petersburg left an awful taste in my mouth. I actually hope to have another chance to visit, but my dealings with the Russian government and then the people have not gone well over the years. It really sucks to write this because I have some amazing Russian friends. Many that will tell you their country has issues.
How do people receive you?
It’s varied quite a bit, but my experiences have been positive outside of Russia. Most people approach me with curiosity. I’ve had incredible conversations with people in languages I don’t even speak. lol. My reception in Asia is always fantastic. Black men get a lot of love in Asia. Despite their preference for lighter skinned peoples in their own culture. I’ll also point out that African Americans and Africans are treated distinctly different. Socio-economics for sure.
In Scandinavia, I didn’t feel any kind of way regarding my race. Seemed like a non-issue and everyone was kind. Central and Eastern Europe shocked me with their hospitality and openness. Some of my best friends are from the region now.
South America is cool because I tend to blend in until I open my mouth. I often get mistaken for Brazilian. I will say that women are generally more open minded regarding race than men globally. Most of my issues have been with men. But I also think that’s just a man vs. man thing.
The worst interactions I’ve had were with other Americans. About half the Americans I encountered I didn’t like at all, and I saw where we got our bad reputation. Rude, disrespectful, and willfully ignorant of host countries cultures. I’ve only had real conflicts with these types. Maybe because I’m more sensitive to their actions.
Are black people like on TV?
HELL NO!!! Oh, wait. YUP. I have to explain this like any other media representation conversation. SOME black people are like those clowns on Love and Hip Hop and Real Housewives of Atlanta. Some perpetuate the stereotype, and those shows are largely dramatized for ratings. A few stereotypes are true, though. Many of us love fried chicken because it’s DELICIOUS. Family reunions are huge events. We are pretty good at sports simply because we were breed to be good athletes (slave trade. look it up). Regardless of race, I tell people not to believe western media too much. They lie and manipulate about 90% of the time. My advice to people that I find are truly curious, just ask a black person. If you come from a culture where you don’t interact with many African Americans, go online. And a message to my brothers and sisters, STOP getting offended when people ask you questions about our culture. One breath we complain about media representation, but we aren’t willing to put in the time on the ground to change it.
What do your friends and family think?
I honestly don’t know or care much. In regards to family, my grandmother is the only one whose opinion matters much to me, and she understands my passion but hates the risk.
Friends are flaky which is the nature of friendships. Some of my friends have been amazingly supportive while some haven’t. Travel shows you who your true support system is very quickly. With that said, YOU SHOULDN’T CARE. Travel is for you and you alone. It’s for you to find out who you are and where you want your life to go.
How did you get so Lucky?
“Luck” is a matter of putting yourself in a position to be successful. That’s what I’ve done. Early in my career, I took the lay of the land and realized something. This game is rigged. Even if those at the top of it, or scratching to get there, refuse to admit it. Like any other entertainment industry, things tend to skew in a certain visual direction. We can all look at travel magazines, tv shows, movies, and “top” travel blogs to see what that is. So I asked myself, how do I use this to my advantage? In what way can the industry bias benefit my goals and motives. This long game view on travel has allowed me to maintain a strong career over the last three years.
Another thing people need to realize is this lifestyle isn’t ideal for some. Personally, I don’t have strong family ties. Never have. The desire to have a pet, know my mailman’s name or hit happy hour at the same place with friends never took hold with me. I despise the idea of doing the same thing every single day for years on end. THAT’S ME!!! My lifestyle blends well with my solo ADD personality. The key is knowing yourself and refusing to allow others the power to dictate your reality. Anything worth doing will require sacrifice. Family, Friends, Sleep, Health, Love, something will take a hit. And I’ve taken my fair share.