Make it to 100 Countries and Finish a Continent
When I embarked on the mission to become the first African American to visit every country I knew it wouldn’t be easy. What I didn’t realize is how difficult it would be to coordinate with my work. You see, unlike other travel bloggers I know, this isn’t a freewheeling trip around the world. Travel is my career. A friend put it best, I’m a hired gun. I go where the money is. And that’s changed the way I travel.
Don’t take it as a complaint. I’m extremely fortunate to have enough clients to fund my travels. But it comes at a huge personal cost. One of those is my ability to travel for personal reasons. Which is why I wasn’t able to hit 100 countries this year as planned. I made it to number 87. That’s 15 new countries in 2015. If I can keep up the same pace at a minimum, I can hit my target 100.
Build Eclatist.com Into A Beast
In October, I soft launched my new men’s luxury lifestyle site, Eclatist.Com. I’m not a backpacker. I never really have been. And one of the major issues I’ve had running this site is a lack of content I’m passionate about. Eclatist allows me and my team to expand into other areas of interest while maintaining a digital presence. Travel is my job and luxury travel is where most of my clients are. Having an opportunity to build a new brand is exciting.
Now this doesn’t mean I’m stepping away from my love. Minority Nomad. My new brand actually affords me amazing opportunities in countries that I would have taken years to visit. Access to amazing events, both cultural and travel oriented. It also puts me in a professional position to help put more people of color in the international travel discourse.
More Public Speaking to Youth
My mission to help low-income students has failed. And it’s my biggest regret over the last few years. Simply put, I underestimated how difficult it would be to run a nonprofit foundation. Not to mention from the road. Low-Income students I’ve pledged to support deserve better from me and my peers. And I for one will make every attempt to deliver. I want to visit the US more often to speak at schools and community centers. Give back face to face. It’s one thing to answer an email from the other side of the planet. Another to actually stand in front of kids as an example of what is possible when you hustle as hard as you can.
Finish Photography Book
This damn book is killing me. The problem with getting better at any craft is you tend to look down on your previous work. As my skills progress, my views of previous work diminishes. Which is making it hard to actually put this book together. My photography book is meant as a thank you to those who’ve long supported me and my work. I want 2016 to be a time to give back to them/you.
Travel to Photograph
As mentioned above, a lot of my travels in 2015 were client based. Unfortunately, the images and video I captured doesn’t accurately represent my experiences from a personal standpoint. This is for several reasons but the main one was my style of travel. Since 2013, I’ve traveled to experience travel. As fast or as slow as I’ve wanted. I’ve never sought out photography opportunities nor have I gone anywhere just to photograph it. That’s changing. In 2016, I’ll be visiting places with the sole purpose of photographing them to the best of my ability.
Top of the list are Iceland, New Zealand, and South Africa since I had a hard drive crash which erased everything.
Work with an NGO
Over the years, I met some amazing people. Of the most memorable are volunteer workers. Especially Peace Corp volunteers. Although I’ve been vocally critical of the “Great White Hope” voluntourism industry, I understand there are those who are doing great things for others around the world. I want to document their work and share that with you. So many great causes, so little time.
I’m currently searching for an organization that will allow me and my camera to tag along and document the reality of their efforts. I’m open to suggestions btw.
My VLOG has been start/stop for years now. Never gaining any traction because I’ve not put the effort into it. I think video is the next major shift in travel blogging and I plan to bring some amazing content your way. From personal experiences to destination guides. And let’s be honest, I’m a bit of a ham so being in front of the camera is a natural place for me.
Visit Family More
I took a family vacation to Puerto Rico last month. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. Seeing the look on their faces when experiencing travel, something I’ve taken for granted at times, was the spark I needed to push myself to the next level. Simply put, these are the people I need to spend more time with and in 2016.
My familial relationships are unique, but they work for us. How we interact, and don’t, has made me who I am today. Some may find our makeup strange but for us, it works. If you want to laugh until you cry just come with me to hang with my family. It’s ridiculous.
Find a Place to Live
I’ve been doing this job four years. Come January 2016, I’ve been a full-time nomad since 2013. As I start to reach my goals, not having a base is actually hindering me. Especially now that I’m transitioning into the luxury space. I mean you can’t exactly backpack with a three-piece suit. So in January 2017, I plan to get an apartment someplace to put my stuff and have an address closer to where I usually am. Europe or Asia. Bangkok and Berlin and at the top of the list.
Hit 10,000 Instagram and 5,000 Youtube
I hate blogging. To be more specific, I hate writing. You may have noticed I write the way I speak. And I’ve never been on to conform to traditional ideas of what good/bad writing is. I just put my message down and hope you all get it. My goal has always, and will always be, to inspire YOU to travel. However and wherever you can. In the most efficient way possible. With social media, I find I’m better able to educate and entertain. So I’ll be focusing more of my efforts there rather than here.
These are lofty goals. And these came into focus once I realized who and what I am. I’m a photographer. Not a writer, not a blogger. I create digital content for people to consume. Imagery is the best way I know how to communicate with people. And through Instagram and YouTube, I can do that. Side note, if you aren’t following me then get on that and tell your friends how amazing I am. Geez.
Accountability in this lifestyle is an interesting thing. Having the freedom and means to come and go as I please works hand in hand with laziness and complacency. So over the years I’ve relied on you, my readers and friends, to hold me accountable for my actions. Or lack thereof. And I thank you for that. Here’s to an amazing holiday season to you and yours. I’ll see you on the other side of 2016.