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You Don’t Have to be a Privileged White Girl to Travel

This American Girl

 

I live in a world where everything is possible. I live in a world where limitations are self imposed. I live in a world where I create my reality and my destiny.

 

Though lately, some people have burst my optimism bubble. After reading my post How to Travel the World When You’ve Got Absolutely No Money (which has already had nearly one million views!!) They’ve insisted that my ability to believe in possibility comes from my white privilege. They’ve contested that the opportunities for travel and dream chasing only apply to others like me. They’ve decided that you’ve got to be a “hot white chick” to travel the world.

 

Admittedly, I don’t know what it’s like for someone who isn’t a twenty something American born white girl, to travel. The same way someone who isn’t a twenty something American born white girl can’t fully know what it’s like for me. But my wisdom tells me that though we are each born and met on the road of life with different challenges, everything, absolutely everything is possible. I have to believe that if I am to continue believing in humanity.

 

A big part of that comes from the many people I’ve met on the road who have shattered limiting beliefs I once held. I could tell you how I’ve met people from all walks of life, wearing all colors of skin, coming from all countries on this planet, doing many of the things that I’ve done to finance a life of travel, and more. But I know that it doesn’t carry as much weight coming from the lips of a “privileged” white girl. I’d rather they told you themselves.

 

So I’m turning off my microphone, and I’m shining the spotlight on some other inspiring humans instead. I’ve contacted my fellow travel blogging nomads who come from developing countries, have diverse ethnic backgrounds, and have special physical challenges, and today they’re sharing their stories with you. They’re here to tell you that no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, and no matter what may stand in your way, you can absolutely travel the world if you set your heart and your mind to it. 

 

You don’t have to be This “Privileged” White Ass American Girl to travel the world, and here is my proof:

 

olivia-christine

 

Olivia Christine, OChristine.com

 

“The past 10 years have been filled with fear, bravery, hesitation, and perseverance. When people ask me to tell my story, I often meet their invitation with confusion. What part of the story do you want to hear? That I was poor: born and raised in the inner city of the South Bronx during some of NYC’s most dangerous decades? Concrete mayhem painted with the footprints of innocent hopefuls playing doubledutch and street scully. Or is it my release from that world that is more appealing? The kid who “got out”? The girl who, though made fun of and ridiculed for even fathoming that she COULD live beyond that bubble, actually did it? At a young age, I decided the opinions of others weren’t for me. They were shackles to my dreams and food to my fears.

And I did get out. But not without pain. Not without setbacks. At 17, I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis: an autoimmune disease that almost destroyed my kidneys. My travel dreams deferred and hope shattered, I spent 180 days receiving monthly chemotherapy to save me from needing dialysis. Those six months met deep mediation and reflection. I set an intention to travel the world and pursue all that brings joy to my soul.

Fast forward 11 years: my name is Olivia Christine and I am travel blogger, digital nomad, and yoga teacher. Having lupus and being poor was a great crutch when I needed to justify my misery and explain why I couldn’t travel. Healthcare was a problem and money was a never-ending pain in my ass. So initially, I got a corporate job and traveled the country planning conferences all year round. That was travel right? But I was unhappy. I was shuffled around in planes and hotels with barely any time to see and enjoy my experiences until I burned out. Enough was enough.

As a traveler with lupus, my biggest challenge is remembering to embrace slow travel. I know that under extreme stress, my lupus could flare and destroy me. I often get excited and want to explore anything and everything, which takes a toll on my body. Now, I often do yoga to keep my stress level down and get lots of sleep. Every three days is a break day where I do nothing but drink water and rest.

As an Afro-Latina, I met the world of travel with apprehension. I felt like the world wasn’t good to people of color and I didn’t want to encounter the hate I saw so much around me and in the media. But I took the leap with an open mind and realized people around the world want knowledge, culture, and exploration just as much as I do! But because they don’t have the opportunity to travel, all they have are stereotypes portrayed by the media. I feel like it became MY JOB to travel. To show people that women of color and city dwellers travel too! That we are brave and adventurous! And yes, I CAN camp, swim and get my hair wet!

There are audiences out there hungry to feel included and connected with our work. I aim to help fill that gap. Women of color, people from less fortunate backgrounds, and those with health issues should also know that they deserve to dream beyond their wildest imaginations, because why not?

 

Inspired by Olivia and want to follow her travels? Check her out on her blog.

 

I Am Aileen

 

Aileen Adalid, IAmAileen.com

 

“I was born in a small island in the northern part of the Philippines that’s called ‘Batanes’ and given the size of my hometown, I have always pondered about what else is ‘out’ there for me to experience and see. So when I moved to the capital and acquired a stable job in a world-renowned investment bank, I had the firm belief that I finally have the chance to earn a LOT in order to travel more — but of course, such was NOT true. As a fresh graduate and as a resident of a country that hasn’t developed so much in the past years, I was ‘underpaid’ to the point that I just had about enough money every month to get by. Add the fact that my working hours were harsh so I barely had the chance to travel!

Slowly, I realized that it was not the kind of life that I wanted and when I started to meet and befriend backpackers and nomads who were passing through my city, that’s when I discovered that there was a better path for me. I found out that I had a skill (marketing) and a hobby (graphic and web design) that I both enjoy which could make me travel more and which would also give me the chance to take control of my life (and not leave it in the hands of someone else).

So right then and there, I decided to follow my true passion and dream: traveling the world while working for myself. Such was NOT an easy ordeal to start, but I persisted! At 21, I quit my job to travel the world while working as a digital nomad. This life change worked really well for me. In fact, during my travels, I was inspired to start my own company which made me a successful entrepreneur just last 2014 and thereby making me lead an even more sustainable traveling lifestyle now. Overall, given my story, I have used my blog iAmAileen.com as a platform to spread the word that a life of travel is absolutely NOT only for the rich and that it’s possible even for a person that has a limited passport (like me)!

I say this because since I’m born in a ‘third world county’ I definitely have encountered challenges during my travels. First of all, there’s the fact that my passport only allows me to visit a few number of countries without a visa — this means that for most of the world’s high-ranked destinations like those in the U.S. and Europe, I would often have to shell out a considerable sum of money for visa applications (add the hustle and bustle that comes along with it). Second of all, there’s also the issue of discrimination in immigration centers (they give me a hard time given my nationality, and more).

This is a rampant and sad reality unfortunately, but I never let it become a hindrance to my traveling lifestyle (and you shouldn’t either!) My #1 tip: first travel to the visa-free countries that are as applicable to your nationality. These countries would typically have a low cost of living; thus giving you enough spare money AND time to save up more for your traveling sprees in the future! (To note, there are tons of remote jobs that you can do while on the road, and for my case, I’ve chosen to become a digital nomad.)

As time goes on, if you want to start visiting countries that are not visa-free to you, remember to be resourceful in your visa applications and to overdeliver at all times! For instance, grab sponsors like your relatives or parents even if it’s just on paper so you can add more proof to your solvency (if ever your situation might not be enough), and then provide as many documents as you can in order to prove that you have the capability to travel and that you have good intentions for your trip (prove to them that you’re not overstaying, that you are well-traveled, etc.). All of these actions have proved to be great steps for me as I have already been traveling for almost 3 years already!

Ultimately, as you can see, a traveling lifestyle will only be a challenge if you let it become one, because there are and always will be a ton of possibilities and ways that can enable you to travel more! If I have managed to do this despite my background, then YOU can definitely do the same!

 

Read more in Aileen’s post The Five Steps I Took to Start a Life of Travel

 

Minority Nomad

 

Erick Prince, MinorityNomad.com

 

“I started traveling full time about four years ago. I’ve been traveling internationally since 2005 on holidays. In 2001 I joined the military which initially introduced me to International Travel and opened my eyes to the world which had previously been inaccessible to me. Growing up in East Cleveland, travel wasn’t high on the priority list of things to aspire to do. Now that I’ve experienced it there’s no turning back. Amazing lifestyle.

Honestly, most challenges I’ve faced are a result of programming. My own and others. My idea that people are racist and out to get me all around the world and others perceptions of what African Americans are like. To understand what travel is like for African Americans you have to understand our history first. You have a people who have been stripped of all identity, culture, and history. Then given an artificial and antiquated version of each. We are then systemically marginalized and killed regularly in OUR country where we are supposed to be safe. By basic logic why would we expect better treatment elsewhere when we’ve been programmed to fear the known and the unknown?

People around the world definitely have an idea of who African-Americans are. Sometimes that’s negative but I’ve largely found it to be positive. People are genuinely curious to meet and talk with African Americans and you would be surprised how deeply you’ll be welcomed into many cultures and communities.

My advice to any person of color is to get out there. JUST GO. And don’t start with some “How Stella Got her Groove Back” trip to the Caribbean. Go someplace you haven’t heard of. Go someplace that doesn’t have a restaurant in your city. Embrace the unknown and you’ll be shocked at how much it changes you as a person for the better.

Also seek out advice from those few of us out here. We are few but we are definitely out here traveling and exploring. The world wants to meet you. Is excited to meet you. Don’t keep them waiting. Matthew Henson, the first African-American Artic explorer , said “As I stood there on the top of the world and I thought of the hundreds of men who had lost their lives in the effort to reach it [North Pole], I felt profoundly grateful that I had the honor of representing my race.”

It’s our turn to get out there and represent.

 

Read Erick’s in depth post My Experience Traveling While Black 

 

Lois We are Sole Sisters

 

Lois Yasay, We Are Sole Sisters

 

“I was 26 years old, working aimlessly at a desk job in Manila, when it first occurred to me that I can just leave everything behind and start a new life elsewhere. I barely had any savings, had only traveled abroad twice and didn’t really know where to move. All I knew was that I had to go away or else I would waste an entire life doing the same thing over and over without having seen the world.

I saved around 2,500 USD and planned to travel indefinitely and document the trip on the travel blog We Are Sole Sisters. With that money, I managed to travel to across India and all over Southeast Asia covering 9 countries in 6 months. I documented my route, itinerary and recommendations in my ebook “Where Should I Go in Southeast Asia?” More than 4 years later, I’ve managed to escape the cubicle and I’m currently based in Europe with my husband and baby.

As a Filipino, I often find it challenging when I’m applying for a visa abroad. Like when I applied for a visa from the Spanish embassy to join a group of women travel bloggers from all over the world for a sponsored trip to run with the bulls in Pamplona. I was denied. The reason they gave me was that they could not guarantee that I would come back to the Philippines. They assumed I would overstay, At first I was incredulous, but I started to see things from their perspective. I was a single, unemployed female with no permanent job or residence. It didn’t matter to them that I had previous visa stamps from other European countries.

Once, when applying for a Canadian visa, the consul asked me: ‘Let me get this straight. You are a single Filipino woman in the US, applying for entry to Canada with no job here, no permanent address, no bank account and nothing whatsoever that ties you to your country- and you expect me to grant you a visa? I’m sure you have a nursing degree and will only try to get a job in Canada when you arrive.’

I told him, ‘You’re wrong. I only want to visit Canada to see Niagara Falls. I heard it’s more beautiful on that side.’ My answer took him aback. He didn’t expect my response. In the end, he gave me the visa.

It was difficult for me at first to accept the limits of my Philippine passport. I wanted to see the world but I knew there would be places that would not easily accept me because of the country I represent. It’s not fair but it’s not something I can change. I can only change my attitude. I can only change my mindset. And I choose to travel. I travel because it’s my way of telling the world I can.

The reality is, traveling with a Filipino passport poses a lot of challenges. We often face discrimination because sadly, a lot of Filipinos are illegal immigrants. We also need to apply for visas to  a lot of countries and that means we generally have to apply for it in the Philippines (reducing the ease of travel). As of this year, the most powerful passport in the world, Finland gets visa free access to 173 countries. Filipinos only get about 60. We also need to secure visas way in advance and spend a lot of money on application fees. But I don’t think that this should stop us from traveling. Yes, it’s more difficult. Yes, it makes travel more expensive. Yes, we feel restricted, frustrated and powerless, even. But it should not stop us from exploring the world. There are no guarantees in life and there’s nothing we can do to make sure we get a visa. But here are some suggestions on how you can increase your chances of getting approved:

1) Be meticulous and gather all the necessary documents at least a month before your interview. Carefully fill out forms and always be honest.

2) Do your research well and ask others who have recently applied for the same visa for some tips and advice.

3) If you have previous visas and entry stamps from other countries, this may increase your chances of getting approved.

4) Dress for the part by wearing something simple and professional looking. But don’t overdress- this can be seen as an act of desperation.

5) A consul will always have a main question in mind: “Is this person going to overstay in my country?” Reassure him as much as possible by showing all possible ties you have to your home country (i.e. a stable, well-paying job, assets, properties and strong relationships)

6) Be confident during the interview but stay humble. Never lie. Embassies make a thorough background check for sure. Being able to speak English fluently is a major plus.

7) Don’t give out unnecessary information or documents when it’s not asked. Keep your answers brief and straight to the point.

8) Visualize yourself as already arriving in that country. Sometimes, all it takes are positive thoughts and a dream.”

 

Find out how Lois traveled in Southeast Asia for 6 months on just $2500 in her ebook Where I Should I Go in Southeast Asia.

 

Jay on Life

 

Jay, JayOnLife.com

 

“Let’s be perfectly honest, being a “cute white girl” will get you far in life, especially when traveling. But while I am a disabled woman of color with a lust for travel, I have also found a few different ways of traveling without the pretty white girl aesthetic.

Regardless of how you look, broke is broke. Having travelled extensively while being a poor student, you need to figure out how to make your money go far. I couchsurfed as much as I could during my 2 month tour of America, Canada and Jamaica. This saved me a lot of money and meant that I made a bunch of new friends along the way.

When I couldn’t find a host, I stayed in cheap hostels and met even more people that way, including some that I am still in contact with to this day. All these new friends may also have a couch (or if you’re lucky, a bed!) free when you’re in their neck of the woods.

A large part of traveling is just throwing yourself out there and engaging with people that have lived very different lives from you. What people first notice about me is the hardware I have on my leg due to polio. While some do leap straight to the question of “so what happened to your leg?”, I am not shy about telling them. As I would like more people to know a bit about the disability and show them that, that is the least interesting thing about me.

Fully abled pretty white girl, or disabled black woman with a penchant for bad jokes, the only way to really afford a life of travel is to want it more than anything. The desire to travel will mean that you will do what it takes to see as much of the world as you possibly can, boundaries be damned.”

 

Learn more about Jay on her blog

 

Shazia Gap Year for Two

 

Shazia Chiu, Gap Year for Two

 

If you saw a few bullet points of information about me, I’d sound just like your average American girl. I was born and raised in an affluent Northern California neighborhood. My native language is English and I attended a few public schools growing up. I’m about to graduate from a respected university. But there is one small thing that sets me apart from many Americans–I am half-Pakistani, and I grew up in a mixed Muslim-Christian household. 

I am proud of and grateful for this heritage, but at times, I’ve wondered if my background would negatively impact my ability to travel safely abroad. However, several recent trips I’ve taken to European and Asian countries have taught me a valuable lesson: in this day and age people are quite accepting of diverse lifestyles and beliefs. I think it’s more possible than ever to see all that the world has to offer, no matter where you’re from. 

So far my travels have shown me that my skin color, my economic background, and my religious beliefs don’t have much of a bearing on how people treat me. I know this is definitely not the case for everyone, and that it’s important to sensitive to other people’s experiences. But I also believe that it’s important to realize that you can reach your travel dreams, no matter who you are! It’s always inspiring for me to hear stories about people who travel despite physical and mental limitations, or cultural and economic barriers. With options for working abroad in exchange for food and accommodation, the ability to create small online businesses, and the ever-shrinking nature of our planet, I think it’s easier than ever for people to experience all that the world has to offer. I’m beyond excited to meet more inspiring and open-minded people when my husband and I begin our year-long, round-the-world trip this August.

 

Read more about Shazia’s travels on her blog.

 

Man of Wonders

 

Raphael Zoren, A Journey of Wonders

 

“‘Not everyone can be a world traveler but a world traveler can come from anywhere.’ That is my motto in life and as a Mexican, I understand how difficult is for people from developing countries to achieve their dreams of traveling the world.

If achieving a life of constant travel was a videogame, then you can easily say that people from developed countries start in the easy to medium difficulty setting regardless of their skin color, ethnicity or socio-economic status.

Let’s not kid ourselves, people in developing countries start in the very hard to extremely hard difficulty setting: making a global income is hard, getting visas for developed countries is harder and well, there’s just not as many opportunities (no work holiday visas, no mile based travel hacks, no teaching English abroad even if your tests are better than those of native speakers).

But my message is not about trying to discourage you. In fact, it is the entire opposite: I am the living example that your dreams of travel are a possibility if you wish for them hard enough.

Free yourself of the chains of the local economy and start thinking globally. Yes, I know it’s scary to quit your job in order to venture into the world of traveling but believe in yourself. Anything is possible in this life and instead of complaining that you weren’t born with a silver spoon, you need to embrace it. You need to take it all in and make yourself stronger. 

As a Mexican, I have it relatively easy when it comes to visas (at least compared to travelers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East) and yet, I get questioned every single time at airports and land borders.

The reason? Border agents aren’t used to seeing a Mexican world traveller who backpacks without much money and without a return plane ticket home. And yes, there is still a lot of mistrust and questions as sometimes they assume I’m entering their country to work illegally.

Here are my tips for how other Mexicans can travel the world:

1) Freelance online during your travels so you can make money on the road.

2) Get an University degree in a sought-after area and work abroad in a developed country for a couple of years to make and save money.

3) Get a work holiday visa in New Zealand (it’s the only developed country that gives those visas to Mexicans).

4) Get an University degree in a USA University so you can apply for a Teaching English Abroad position.

5) Marry someone whose passport can allow you to have more opportunities to fund your travel (note: this last one is a joke, you should marry for love but the passport is a nice plus #joking #halfjoking.)”

 

Learn more about Raphael on his blog

 

Dream Euro Trip

 

DJ Yabis, Dream Euro Trip

 

“I’ve always believed that if you want something really badly, you will do everything to get it. There are no valid excuses for not getting what you want in life.

I’m Filipino, gay and have pretty much known since I was young that I’ve always wanted to travel the world and live in Europe. The only problem is that I need a bloody visa for pretty much all the destinations I want to visit and more importantly, I need a lot of money to be able to afford it.

So what did I do? I got creative!

European Commission has an Erasmus Mundus scholarship program for non-Europeans to study their Masters for 1 or 2 years. Since I had a great educational background as an Industrial Engineer from the best university in the Philippines, University of the Philippines, and great work experience from the biggest shipping and human resources company in Asia, Magsaysay Inc, I worked my ass off and applied for the scholarship.

It’s great because it solves two things: my visa so I can stay in Europe for 2 years and my money situation since they give monthly allowance every month even during the summer break.

I eventually got it and have lived and travelled all over Europe ever since.

You don’t have to follow my path nor think that my path is the only way. The point I’m trying to make is that you have to open yourself to the fact that there are limitless possibilities out there and there is nothing stopping you from getting what you want in life besides you and your excuses.

My tips if you want to start a life of travel:

1) Start small. Visit cities and countries near you.

2) Need a visa? Forget them for now and visit countries where you don’t need a visa. I’m sure there are loads of them as well.

3) Need money? Save and don’t spend on unimportant things in life!

4) Look for various opportunities that can help you achieve your travel dreams like scholarships, conferences, study abroad opportunities, global internships like AIESEC, volunteer programs. There are seriously a lot of ways on how to see the world. Just look around and choose which one makes more sense to you.

5) Dream! And believe in them. It’s so cliche but it’s true. But you have to truly believe in your dreams and you make conscious effort towards achieving them and you’ll see it will all come to reality!

6) If you get stuck, move on. Maybe it’s not for you. The universe is guiding you towards something else.

7) Get creative!

 

Want to learn how you can live and travel in Europe? Check out DJ’s blog.

 

Francesca

Francesca Murray, One Girl One World

 

“I always thought that I would follow a straight and narrow path: graduate college, start my career as a publicist, climb the corporate ladder, marry a nice man and by 25 begin raising our children in a cute house by the beach. But in 2009 I studied abroad in Portovenere, Italy and my life has never been the same. Since then I’ve lived in Spain, worked in France, and traveled to 15 countries and counting. I’ve traveled for so many reasons. To escape, to chase love, to teach, to party…but in general I live for discovering new cultures and languages. I’ve picked up a few things along the way, including French, Spanish, some Italian and a couple of cooking recipes.

My biggest challenge hasn’t been money (not that I’m rich, far from it actually) because I always find a way around that. Be it scholarships to study abroad, saving intensely, or finding a job abroad; the possibilities have actually been endless. Contrary to popular belief, my ethnicity hasn’t posed a great challenge either. Not that I’m blissfully unaware of racism or that there aren’t people who stare at me because I’m different, but because I choose not to let it limit my life experiences. My age and gender have not presented many challenges either. My biggest personal challenge has been breaking through the social norms of my home country. If I played the role right, I would have been married with my first child and in a managerial position at a marketing firm in some major US metropolitan city. None of those things have motivated me to work as hard as the desire to keep traveling does. Thankfully we live in a time where choosing your own path is becoming more encouraged and accepted, so I am!

I truly believe that if I can do it, you can too! My favorite saying is “do it afraid” because fear should never be an excuse not to live your dream! I come from humble beginnings and I’m all about helping and inspiring others to live their dream and travel. Once you find the courage inside you to live the life you really want, what everyone else thinks won’t matter. Let’s keep breaking the mold until there is no longer a mold to break!”

 

Read more about how Francesca affords a life of travel here

 

Globetrotter in a Wheel Chair

 

Kirsten Kester, Curious Kester

 

“Being in a wheelchair may sound like a challenge, but in my opinion it depends on how you approach life. I was born with a rare handicap called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. It affects my ability to walk and therefore I use a wheelchair. My handicap seldom affects my life in a negative way. That means I don’t let my handicap control what to do with my life but of course it will affect it. It’s not as if I can say today I will climb this mountain and forget about the wheelchair. But I can and DO say; today I want to go up that mountain and then I will figure out a way to get up there. My curiosity and will power makes me turn the next corner until there aren’t any more.

Globetrotting in a wheelchair means thinking out of the box. Everything from finding suitable accommodation to do the adventurous journeys is totally different from when my friends are traveling. Still I’ve experienced so much more than any of them.

I usually travel with my husband, whom I have known since 1991.  After so many years everything becomes a lot easier. We both know what to do in most situations. Almost, I should say because when you’re globetrotting there are seldom two situations that look alike.

I am often asked how do you travel being in a wheelchair. The short answer is, it is impossible to explain in a few words. When you travel in a wheelchair, the key is not to get frustrated or give up each time you meet an obstacle, but choose a different approach, ask for help and use your imagination.

I have always been a curious, open minded and an extrovert woman. I want see the world, and challenge myself. To me the world is a huge playground and I will rather face the hurdles and difficulties, than stay at home.”

 

To read more about Kirsten’s travels in a wheelchair, check out her blog

 

nicaragua

 

Kach Medina Umandap, Two Monkeys Travel

 

“I grew up and studied in the Philippines but after getting my University degree at the age of 20, I moved to the Middle East to find work – Kuwait and Iraq for 4 years before embarking on this long-term backpacking journey. Being a Filipino, it’s not that common for us to travel abroad for leisure, most of them thinks it’s a waste of money, expensive, or difficult due to having a Philippines passport.

I won’t deny that there are challenges, I was refused entry into  Nicaragua (land border crossing) because they don’t know what the requirements were for a Filipino citizen like me. I ended up crying in the corner when an immigration official took pity on me and helped me get the visa on arrival.  I had to pay $85 for a visa to enter Panama because that’s the cheapest route to go to South America and I couldn’t even fly to any Caribbean countries because most flights have to pass through the USA, but I don’t have a valid tourist visa.

Having a Philippines passport can be a disadvantage at times, but I will always be proud of it and will never give it up. If you just want to make your life easier then try to get a 10 year USA tourist visa so you will be able to save money while backpacking around the Caribbean and Central America (no need to pay for visa fees). However, having a Philippines passport is great if you decide to travel around Asia, where most of the countries are visa free or visa on arrival and you don’t have to pay any fees, whereas western passport holders spend a lot on their visas!

One little advantage to being an Asian traveler, particularly a Filipina, is that my Latino Asian looks seem to blend in wherever we go. In Vietnam, India, South America – people always assume I’m a local, which helps keep the ‘tourist tax’ a bit lower, until I start speaking that is!

Since leaving my life as a worker in the Middle East in April 2013, I’ve been traveling non-stop all over South East Asia, India, UK, Central and South America. Most of the places that we’re going are countries that have a bilateral agreement with my country so it will be less hassle for me – we spent 6 months in Peru, 3 months in Costa Rica, 9 months in Vietnam and even 3 months in India. My partner and I invested in skills to support our travels. We both quit our old jobs with salaries over two years ago, but our savings were just enough for less than a year of travels.

We are now TEFL certified teachers, Tantra Yoga Teachers and Ayurveda Massage therapists. We usually apply for business visas once we enter a new country so we can start earning money to fund our next travels. If there’s no opportunity for us to earn a living, we do volunteering work (mostly hostel jobs) so we can cut down on food and accommodation expenses. We were actually broke when we arrived in Peru, after a year of traveling around, but we found a job in an eco-hostel in Cuzco, Peru where we cooked, cleaned and did receptionists work. We then found a massage table and pushed around in a wheelbarrow to different hotels in the afternoon and at night to earn money to fund our next move.”

Read more about Kach’s experiences getting visas all over the world here

 

Jazzy Road Affair

 

Jazzy, Road Affair

 

A lot of black people have this misconception that black people don’t travel (only white people do), nor do they have the means to travel and if they do, they will be lynched or burned on a cross. All of this is bullsh**.

I am a long-term budget traveler, and no I am not white, nor was I born into a heap of money. Actually, I am a Haitian-American black traveler that has never had a job that has paid me more than $18,000 a year (surviving in NYC with this wage is a struggle) before I started living the nomad lifestyle.

And guess what, I wasn’t chased out of any country because of my skin color, nor was I asked to use the black’s only restroom. If anything it was the complete opposite.

I know you are probably thinking, is traveling while black difficult and will I face any challenges? My answer is, no it’s not and honestly, I haven’t faced any “challenges” traveling while black.

Yes, people will stare, touch your hair, laugh or even call you a “nigger” but if you call those challenges then you must be struggling to survive everyday because there’s people in your hometown that will do that too. But those things shouldn’t stop any black person from exploring the world or make them believe that everyone around the world treats black people like shit.

The amazingly nice and wonderful people I met throughout my journey so far and all the positive experience and adventures I have, are the things that feed my urge to travel more. F@ck the small “I don’t like you because you are black” moments. I live for the positive moments and you should too.

Honestly, if someone is uncomfortable with your presence then that’s their problem. You shouldn’t lose sleep at night because of someone else’s ignorance nor should it stop you from traveling.  And if you do, you’re giving them way too much power over you.

The world is just as much yours as it is theirs.

But I do challenge you to understand the difference between hatred, curiosity and lack of knowledge. There are people out there in the world that have never seen a black person in the flesh and their reaction will be to touch, stare and even take pictures.

But I believe if we expose them to more people of our skin tone (only way we can do this, is by traveling) the less they will stare, and the more they will know that there is more to the world then just them and white people. It’s also not just about more black people traveling but also educating people along the way. That is how you feed the curious and educate the ignorant.

Travel to learn the world and to teach the world.

To my fellow black people, here’s some advice:

1) Don’t be afraid of traveling because you fear what might happen. Fear should be a motivation not something that makes you crawl up in a corner and never come out.

2) If you want to travel, don’t think about all the reasons why you can’t travel, make traveling your priority and think about all the great experiences you will have, the amazing people you will meet and the freedom you will feel.  But most importantly, think about how you will start living for the first time in your life.

3) And you know what, if you finally do travel and end up facing some challenges while traveling as a black person, then face it, overcome it, learn from it, spread what you have learned to others and move on to the next obstacle, if there are any.

Lastly, remember traveling is not a privilege for whites only. Traveling is for anyone that wants it. If you want it, there is no reason why you can’t have it too. If there is a will there is a way!

 

Amen, thank you for that Jazzy. For more insights, read her post Traveling While Black.

 

New Moon - 11

 

So, what do you think?

Are traveling, backpacking, couch surfing, work trade, and volunteering things that only white girls with “first world” passports can do? Or is fear, be it fear of failure, fear of inadequacy, fear of rejection, or even fear of brilliance, the only thing that truly holds us back from following our dreams?

 


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Comments

  1. This article is AMAZING! So glad you put it together and I know that it will inspire sooo many people. Love what Francesca says: “Let’s keep breaking the mold until there is no longer a mold to break!”

  2. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this! I believe you have hit the nail on the head. Traveling is as unique as the person doing it, but there is something out there for everyone. People just need the courage to go!

  3. As a black man, it is great to see a nice diverse set of travel bloggers. Not that I super needed the inspiration, I am planning on travelling the world in a couple of years – if I don’t return to the U.K. or Japan. Like Francesca, I’ve never thought my race hindered my ability to travel.

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 22, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Yes, thank you, honestly I didn’t either. However it became clear in the comments that many people do. Glad to strip away another layer of illusion :)

    • Thanks for this article, for me it is great to see everyone’s individual perspectives and experiences, especially the people of colour. I wonder if you thought of including older, middle-aged people, that may be economically challenged and who also want to travel the world?

      • Camille Willemain Says: July 1, 2015 at 12:04 pm

        Hey Anita, yes! I did. Actually I reached out to a woman who I met in Thailand named Backpacker Granny, who unfortunately didn’t have time to contribute with my short deadline. But she’s 70 traveling the world on her own for years now! Cool stuff :)

  4. You nailed it! Thanks for that amazing post!

  5. What a great post! Yes. I do believe it’s easier to travel as a white person, particularly a white male, but I don’t think it should stop others from traveling. I’m a black female who loves solo travel. Have I been stared at before or had inappropriate comments said to me? Absolutely. Is that stopping me from seeing the world? No way! There is far more good than bad out there. One just has to get over their own fears to see what’s possible. Thanks for writing this and showcasing some amazing individuals!

  6. Another great post! I would love to see one like this but with people traveling with children.

  7. Thanks for writing this! I’m a black woman (also with lupus, like Olivia Christine) who has been to over 25 countries and lived abroad on a few occasions. Race has never been something that has stopped me and I don’t think it should be a reason or an excuse to stop anyone else!

    But yeah, kudos to you for addressing this concern in this way! :)

  8. This is such an amazing and gracious response to the negativity generated by the other post. Wow Camille, excellent work!

    My favorite line: “The world is just as much yours as it is theirs” from Jazzy and it applies to EVERYONE.

  9. fantastic article! A big YES!!! And… Privilidged? Who nowadays feels so? I guess only those who don’t travel but hate… As someone said world belongs to all of US!!! Big up from poooooland!

  10. I’m a Filipino and I can totally relate to the Filipinos mentioned especially Lois Yasay. I’m 28, unemployed (never been employed), and single. I do earn about $100/month from a network marketing company I joined 3 years ago.

    I hope the $11,000 in my bank account is enough to grant me visas. The reason why I have $11,000 is because 15 years ago, my father opened a bank account with $3000 in it as a grade school graduation gift to me. As soon as I turned 18, I opened my own bank account and placed $5000 (formerly $3000) in it. Now, it grew to $11,000 thanks to interests and me buying and selling random stuffs.

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 22, 2015 at 12:01 pm

      Hey Allan thank you for sharing your story! Glad to know these bloggers have inspired you :)

      • I really hope that being unemployed is not a hindrance to grant me a visa.

        • Camille Willemain Says: June 22, 2015 at 2:57 pm

          Hey Allan I’m not sure, you will have to look into the visa requirements for different places :) I know that how much you have in your bank account can affect your ability to get certain visas, however check out the advice from our bloggers here who have great tips for increasing your likelihood of getting a visa.

  11. […] For everyone else, first off, I’m sorry that the world has a system that makes it challenging for you to travel. To me, it’s a horribly messed up travesty far beyond the scope of this post. However I want you to know that there are people from developing countries all over the world who are living this lifestyle. Read what they have to say in my post: You Don’t Have to be a Privileged White Girl to Travel. […]

  12. I LOVE this post! Thank you for sharing these stories!

  13. […] — This American Girl 2015 — Wanderlust Explores 2015 — Street Trotter 2015 — True Nomads 2015 — Chasing The […]

  14. AMAZING article! Thanks for speaking your truth and for continuing to inspire, uplift, and energize! Can’t wait for my next trip XOXO

  15. This is an amazing post! So many inspiring women and men out there living their dreams and travelling the world. So glad you pulled this post together to prove your point to all the nay-sayers.

  16. This post is wonderful! You’ve introduced me to a bunch of new bloggers to follow as well!

  17. Can I share this on my blog? I am a ‘privileged-white girl’ and have been catching some heat by trying to inspire others to live their dreams. I never saw this as an issue before, but that’s because I was ignorant to the fact that being a ‘pretty, young white-girl’ can get you far in life. I really enjoyed this article and think it would back up my motivational words. My photography blog is called Foliography at folio-photo.com

  18. No, you don’t have to be white but it sure makes it easier. Like being in TBEX? Felt as if I was stuck in coleslaw– Lol.

    I love the positivity in here, especially hearing from the differently abled bloggers.

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 23, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      Hey thanks Lauren. Would love to hear more about your experience with TBEX. I could see how sponsorships is a whole nother ballgame with discrimination. This is yet another reason why I urge people to stay away from the press trips (I’ve done them and they are not a sustainable business plan at all). Keep creating YOUR own freedom path :)

  19. Gahhh!!!!! You’r killin it with your posts lately…Like every single word, every single idea, all of the emotion in your posts just has me smiling, shaking my head yes, and loving it. Thanks for another great read and more than that, another eye opener for everyone out there. Rock on, Camille!

  20. jessica Says: June 22, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    thank you for having the courage to share the opinions you received from your blog post. most would have just shrugged it off but you saw it as a teachable moment to show people that yes there are lots of other ethnicities that are following their dreams to travel and making a way financially. my daughter is one of those people and i am living through her every adventure that she experiences.

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 23, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      You’re so welcome! I believe that limitations, discrimination, and disadvantages are ALL a matter of programming. My hope is that we can deprogram anything that causes separation by empowering and uplifting one another to follow our dreams <3 Blessings to your daughter in her journey!

  21. This is the kind of article I’ve been waiting to read. I’ve only stumbled upon one kind of travellers on social media and nearly all of them are white who came from Europe, Australia or the USA. I was skeptical at first whether or not I could be a travel blogger despite coming from a third world country with one of the least powerful passports, but this really gave me hope. Thank you so much Camille, the content in your posts are so helpful and amazing. Keep up the good work :)

  22. There are challenges indeed and sometimes it makes me want to quit my travels.. But there are also advantages when you are colored and can live like a local in other countries like the ability to blend in and not get scammed.. let’s celebrate this and find ways to overcome the challenges instead

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 23, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Totally! Every challenge can be reframed as an opportunity. A friend of mine from the UK who is blonde went to Cuba and hated it because she was constantly getting hustled. A friend of mine from the UK who is of Indian descent went and had an incredible time, befriending locals, etc. It’s all your perspective right? 😉

  23. Thank you for featuring such a wide range of bloggers! I’m an Asian blogger who grew up with very little yet I’ve been traveling since I was 18, and it really frustrates me when people assume I have a trust fund or get by on anything else besides hard work! I’ve hustled to travel for the past 7 years, traveling to 25 countries and living in four, including two years in Paris!

  24. This was a great post. I could totally relate. I’m a Muslim Iranian 25 year old girl with a passport that sucks when it comes to travel. Then I’ve got the issue of all those judgmental looks when it comes to my choice of clothing or the misunderstood country I come from. And yes being a white girl would have made it a lot more easier, but I’m not going to let any of those throw away my love for travel.
    Thank you for this amazing post. It’s definitely gives me a push to see there are travel bloggers out there who go through the same rough stuff and yet move on. :)

  25. What a great article! Love to see others feeling the same as I feel. You don’t need to be rich or pivileged to travel the World. I come from Chile and I can tell the same, it’s only ourselves who believe what can or can’t do and it’s only in our hands to make our dreams and goals true! Keep all having happy travels!

  26. I’m SO glad I stumbled across this article! As a middle-class white chick from the U.S., I can’t even pretend to fully “get” the struggles that other groups have to go through when traveling, but I always want to be educated and aware of others’ realities. Knowledge leads to empathy, something the world could use more of :)

  27. As a fellow, ” “Privileged” White Ass American Girl” that travels and blogs this post absolutely makes my heart happy. No matter who you are you will face challenges when it comes to travel, but over coming them and pursuing your dreams is what it is all about.

  28. Great post, thanks for introducing us to these bloggers and their stories.I Will be sure to follow them. Gracias!

  29. Great job featuring such diverse travel bloggers!

  30. Camille, thank you for sharing my story and other inspiring travelers!! As always, another brilliant article from your website. thanks for inspiring a lot of people with your articles! Positive vibes!

  31. Hey Camille, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I’m very honored to be a part of this post! Thank you for giving me (and the others) to share our story as well.

    Hope to see you someday, somewhere on the road! ♥

  32. So grateful to be able to share my story here. And I’m so inspired by all these amazing explorers who travel despite the odds. Thank you again Camille for being the inspiration that you are!

  33. Lindsay Says: June 24, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Fantastic response Camille!

  34. This is a great article! I am a brown girl with an Indian passport so travel isn’t easy for me but it’s not impossible. I’m not going to let anything stop me from seeing the world. Traveling is definitely not just a white privilege and I’m happy to see so many others proving this as well.

  35. This is a good read! I can relate to what Raphael said. We, Mexicans, might not have it as hard as other countries, but still it’s challenging. I would add to the suggestion for Mexicans, try to land a Job in a cruise, airplane or National Park :)

  36. You and others travelers are privileged to have been born into an English speaking country or at least had the resources to be able to learn it. For someone who isn’t fluent or at least conversational in English, traveling the world indefinitely would be much more challenging.

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 26, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      A fair point, but there are many people who want to travel so they make a serious point to learn English and practice as much as they can. The message isn’t that it’s always going to be easy. The message is, if there is a will there is a way.

    • Exactly. Folks should be able to travel regardless of the language they speak. English speakers have an advantage globally

      • Camille Willemain Says: July 21, 2015 at 10:16 am

        True, but there’s nothing uplifting about that statement. Our energy is better focused on supporting and encouraging people who want to travel to get the necessary skills in order to do so. The point is not that everyone on earth is meant to travel the way that I do, the point is that where there is a will there is a way.

  37. Thank you for sharing this post and inviting all of these kickass travelers to tell his or her story. They are all so inspiring (as are you), and I do hope the world reads this!

  38. Thank you for writing this & thanks to all the contributors – so many new blogs to follow! I am on my first trip to Asia currently in Bali – and I never ever thought I would get here. I’ve travelled due to parents moving when I was younger, university abroad in Canada and accepting job positions abroad in Australia, but due to my expat background, they were challenging but familiar. I have always been afraid of Asia because it is unfamiliar! I have also always been afraid to do “proper backpacking” because I have always put the corporate career path first as that is what you do – you get a job, work your way to the top. While some of that does fulfil me, it doesn’t make me happy.

    And if you’re not living your happiest life – then what’s the point. Life is short, and you’ve only got one.

    Thanks again, super inspiring.

  39. Oh my, what a powerful collections of stories. Camille, you’ve certainly touched on something that I’ve picked up from people over the years while living abroad. People are going to shoot you down no matter what you do so it’s best to keep that optimistic spirit that you clearly possess. To answer your question, I think it’s the fear of brilliance that keeps people down. They are afraid to succeed because that leads to exposure and perhaps their own insecurities keep them from wanting the world to see.

    They are afraid to make the jump into a life abroad, and I harken back to Erick’s point of “JUST GO.” It’s so true but people think that’s a sham and fake. I don’t get it. People are so quick to put themselves down over freeing themselves to a life spent outside their comfortable box. I have a few friends from South Africa and hearing the troubles they go through when traveling really helps me appreciate the easy life I was born into.

    I’m a white American man and have gotten a bit of shtick from people about my life and “privilege” as well. I feel like privilege only goes so far, and then it’s just our personal drive and desire that kicks in. We have to make this world for ourselves, because nobody else is going to do it for you. I live in Korea and of course many people here are traveling these days, but that hasn’t always been the case. You used to need a passport to leave your city or province and acquiring those was no small task. Thankfully things have changed and people here can go just about anywhere.

    It’s part of the reason I have met so many sheltered people here who’ve never even seen a foreigner. It all leads me to think that if they are out there now and breaking off those shackles of someone telling them “No,” then I think anyone can do it. It will sometimes come back to us having some advantages that certain others in the world (some included in this post) may not enjoy. That doesn’t make it impossible for them and your wonderful collection of fine folks have detailed this.

    Thank you so much for this post, Camille. I’m not a privileged white girl but can certainly relate to the perception that I’ve got it all and didn’t have to work for this.

    Take Care.

  40. Geraldine Says: June 30, 2015 at 4:24 am

    You’ve done well travel bloggers! That is all such a great stories which I can relate.”But I’ve chosen a mountain so I climbed it and no turning back.”
    I wish I could share mine but it is almost same as yours! Bring it on travel bloggers!

  41. I would have loved to contribute, being a thirty something black man from the American south. There’s not many of me I encounter out there in the world. I actually wrote a follow up article to yours that I never published. I need to share it with others. They need to know that it is possible for them too.

    Olivia Christine brought me here from ochristine.com

  42. Hi!

    How did you stay in costa rica for so long? What kind of visa did you get? did you not need to show the airport a return flight ticket?

    Thanks :$

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 7, 2015 at 6:04 am

      Hey Steph, I typically just stay in Costa Rica for 3 months at a time, so I have the normal tourist visa. I’ll go and travel for a bit after 3 months and then come back. A lot of people do that, some just cross the border and stay in Panama or Nicaragua for a few days and then come back. You do need to show them an onward ticket to enter Costa Rica. You can get a fully refundable airline ticket and then just cancel it after you use it, or you can also buy a bus ticket online ($20) to Nicaragua or Panama and they will accept that as well.

  43. I’m so glad somebody has put this out in the world. Too often, I receive dismissals bc of the privilege I’ve been afforded that definitely helped me start a life of nonstop travel. But I agree that anything is possible, you just have to want it bad enough. It’s not an easy or comfortable decision to make, and the level of difficulty is different for everyone, but I think dismissing the courage and passion required to choose a nomadic lifestyle isn’t fair, even if you are a “privileged white girl.” People need to know that no matter what their situation, they can do it too, if they want it bad enough and have the right mindset. I love the message you’re sending with all your posts! Keep it up!

  44. I sincerely appreciate folks sharing their travel experiences, especially when the stories aren’t heard often in mainstream or “alternative” travel media.

    I find the way that this article was framed was very self serving and not a well developed dialouge. Even the need to offer up proof to disprove others experiences of oppression is a part of white supremacy culture.

    Privilege is unearned advantage in society and given the historical European domination of much of the globe, folks of this background will have more privilege and access at their disposal. Just as Men have more control in society, they experience the benefits of a system created for and by them. In the travel community, folks can present inaccurate, I’ll informed and ignorant information about a place they aren’t from and be considered a credible source. Everyone does not have the access to travel and the notion that people are making excuses ad can do whatever they want if the really try is very much part of an American/ Dominant culture value system. These attitudes are which why we have colonialism/globalization in the first place. While we benefit from travel and tourism, there are people that don’t and also the environment usually doesn’t benefit either. Hopefully one day, we can have a cross dialouge that takes much more into account than what we want to do as individuals and where we want to go. A dialouge that includes integrity,cross cultural values, anti-oppressive & anti colonialist point of view.

  45. Do you define “privileged”?

  46. This is brilliant!! I’m a fan and I also travel the world and I’m not white or privileged, Im a south american latina girl! conquering my dreams!

  47. This is a really interesting piece. I have noticed that a great number of travel bloggers are young, white, and female, and I don’t fit that category as I am a long over the 20s and the 30s mommy traveler and always travel with the kiddos in tow. The whole point of traveling in general is to see the whole and explore how we are all different and how we are all the same…to see different ways of doing things. How interesting that is harder depending upon your passport. Thanks for sharing the eye opening piece.
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist

    • Camille Willemain Says: August 16, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      You’re welcome, I’m so glad you enjoyed it Natalie, and I couldn’t agree with you more. It is all about seeing how in our differences, we are really all the same at the core. We come from one source yet we live as beautiful unique expressions of that source.

  48. Hi Camille,

    I enjoyed this post very much. I do love hearing about you, but it was also great to hear from others beyond you too. My only additional hope is to also hear from a variety of ages too. I’m 47, and my daughters are 16 and 17. Once they don’t need me (much), I aspire to travel the world. I’d love to get inspired by, and connected to, my age bracket as well. (Although, honestly, I feel like I’m 25 on the inside.) :-)

    <3 Jennifer

  49. LOVE this post! Ended up following almost everyone that was featured. Great to see more and more popular black nomads nowadays who understand the annoying stereotypes that come with them being black and traveling. Whenever I tell people I wanna move across the world, they laugh and say “oh you’re gonna have to make six figures before you can do that” me: -____- this time next hope to be officially making the move. Great post. Thanks for sharing Camille!

    • Camille Willemain Says: April 7, 2016 at 10:52 am

      Ah beautiful so nice to hear!! Keep chasing those dreams and inspiring everyone else along the way :) The Naysayers quickly become Cheerleaders you’ll see 😉 xoxo

  50. Hey lady!! I came across your blog, as I’m finally planning my first 6 month solo trip, and as a black woman I have been concerned about how I would experience things. So finding this post was extremely inspiring to me. Well done you for turning the spotlight around and showing us the myriad of diverse travellers creating adventures and the life of their choosing. As much as I’m crapping myself and trying not to let things throw me of my course, I am so excited to be a part of this group – I too believe anything is possible irrespective of your race/gender/disability and this article is proof of that, so thank you all!!. Keep Inspirartion Alive!! xx

    • Camille Willemain Says: May 15, 2016 at 11:06 am

      Hell yes thank you Cas. Go out and live it and be the one who inspires others!! We need to see your light to shine in our fullest.