With 2011 quickly coming to a close and most of us reflecting on prospects of 2012, I couldn’t think of a better person to exemplify how we should all live our lives no matter the season or place. I came across April’s blog several weeks back and immediately was drawn to her positive spirit, strong desire to experience life’s adventures on her own terms…but most of all her willingness to share those adventures so that other’s could feel inspired enough to create a path to their own journeys. A brown girl traveling cross continents is oddly treated as a rarity these days, but it’s always exciting to see those who defy those tired standards.
Where did the idea for The Absolute Travel Addict come from? How do you maintain the passion for what you do with the blog?
After deciding not to go to get an MBA, I really started to work on changing my mindset and pursing my interests and passions. I started traveling more and more. Once I got back from one trip, I was already thinking about where I would go next. I was constantly searching for great fares and how to travel for free using loyalty points and mile. It’s an addiction, hence the name Absolute Travel Addict. Every amazing experience and person I meet on the road and everyone who reaches out with questions or shares how I’ve encouraged them to do something new is motivation to keep doing this.
Tell us how you discovered your sense of self while traveling? When did it happen?
It would definitely be the 6 weeks I spent in South Africa in 2005. I was on an independent research trip and spent my time traveling around the country learning more about the impact of the Bantu Education system on students interested in engineering education and careers. In South Africa I reconnected with who I was at the core and really internalized how similar we are as a human race. It made me fully realize the power I have as an individual and potential I was yet to harness. And though it sounds cliché, this trip was another reminder of all the many things I am thankful for and often take for granted.
What’s been the reaction from foreigners while traveling? Are they surprised?
It really depends on where I travel. It’s not uncommon to get stares and photos snapped when they think you don’t see them. Thankfully I’ve never been grabbed or pulled on, which seems to happen quite frequently in some places. The worst stares for me surprisingly were in Buenos Aires, Argentina. And I don’t really know why because there were people that looked liked me that live there. Maybe it was the hair? Who knows? It’s sad that many people are surprised to find out I’m American. They assume I’m not because I’m traveling outside of the United States, a black female, usually travel alone and not afraid to connect with people.
Other than lugging around clothes and basic essentials, what of importance do you carry with you while traveling? Why?
I typically have my Flip cam, Nikon DSLR, Droid 2 Global and laptop because I’m somewhat of a tech nerd. I like to stay connected and try to share my experiences in real time. My phone’s GPS has helped me navigate foreign cities and helped me get un-lost a handful of times. I also keep a small notebook to jot down thoughts or notes about specific place I visit or person I meet.
What aspect of living this life brings you the most joy?
It absolutely warms my heart to connect with new and interesting people on a truly personal level. People not concerned with where I went to school, what care I drive, where I work or how much money I make (or don’t make). It is amazing to see how much you have in common and how easily you can connect with someone who speaks a different language and has lived a life which seems to be a complete 180 from yours.
Any advice you’d give to women who aren’t yet motivated to step out & see the world?
If you don’t have a passport, get one now! You never know when an opportunity to travel will arise and you should be ready. I recently won a trip to the Bahamas and since I had my passport, I was ready to go 2 days after notification of winning. A passport is good for 10 years, so you have plenty of time to pick a destination, plan your trip, save and go! Having a passport and getting out and exploring the world can be an amazing and life altering experience. And, given the competition in the global market place, having international experience makes you more marketable professionally.
Any favorite discoveries/revelations made while traveling?
One of the biggest revelations is that I really prefer to travel alone. It’s really difficult to find people who like to travel the same way you do. I found myself wandering off from friends to do things I wanted that others weren’t interested in. For more of my revelations while traveling, check out my list of 7 travel truths.
What’s your source of inspiration for being natural (going natural)?
I have really fine hair. It grows long, but when chemically treated it just looks a sad, flat mess. I would keep it cut short and layered to bring body and volume. I finally just decided to stop relaxing my hair and enjoy its natural state. There are so many natural woman who have inspired me to keep going, especially the natural hair bloggers and bloggers out there and amazing stylists Aliah at 2-SWAG in Atlanta and Carole at Mahogany Hair Revolution in Los Angeles.
What styles do you rely on while traveling? Favorite products?
When traveling, I typically started with some style of twists and end up rocking a twist out and wash and go if the trip is extended. On my last trip to Jamaica, I had my twists interlocked at the roots and patiently waiting for my air to loc. As of late Shea Moisture Retention shampoo and the Coconut hold and shine moisture mist are all I use on my hair when on the road.
Explain your idea of the self-defined woman today & where do you hope to be in five years?
I think Maya Angelou sums up my idea of a self-defined woman in one of my favorite quotes.
A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination, prepared to be herself and only herself. ~Maya Angelou
Fives years from now, I hope to be a woman totally in harmony with my spirit, still exploring the world and making a difference in other people’s lives.
Favorite quote that’s made an impact on your life?
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain
Any projects, collaborations you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?
I’m a huge supporter of the Passport Party Project, an initiative started by Tracey Friley of OneBrownGirl.com that gifts passports to teen girls ages 11-16. I would encourage you all to check out the site and see how you can help give girls a world view.
This year should be another great year in travel. I’m excited to spend the first quarter of the year abroad and have a few projects that I’m working on to help people set and achieve their travel dreams. For more information, you can subscribe or connect with me through the following:
- Travel Blog: AbsoluteTravelAddict.com
- Facebook: Facebook.com/AbsoluteTravelAddict
- Twitter: Twitter.com/AbsoluteADT