In celebration of Black History Month 2015, Cultural Xplorer is continuing with the annual series of Black History Month interviews highlighting bloggers and travelers of color. This interview series was created to eradicate the long-standing myth that African-Americans and people of color do not travel.
This series features a number of interviews from both men and women of color from around the world who are passionate about traveling and sharing their stories through their writing and through travel videos.
Alyssa on Traveling
How were you exposed to traveling?
My first trip was to Jamaica – I wasn’t even 6 months old yet! It’s where my family is from so we visited there a few times when I was younger. Even though we didn’t always have the money, my mom made it a priority to show my brother and me new places, so I give her full credit for giving me the travel bug! She always encouraged me to learn languages (and put me in French Immersion school as a result) and do language exchanges and take school trips.
What motivated you to make travel a part of your life?
I had my whole life planned out: I was going to finish my undergrad degree, do a Masters and PhD, become a professor and have fun when I was retired. Then, on the advice of my best friend (and Will Smith) I read The Alchemist. I realized that I don’t have to do something just because it’s what I think I should do or what people tell me I should. I decided to skip my grad school applications and applied to teach abroad in the French Caribbean. A few months after I graduated, I was off to Martinique and I’ve been living abroad since.
What is your most memorable travel experience to date?
I am currently having a blast in Morocco! I’ve always wanted to visit—the mix of French, Arab, and Berber culture really interested me and I just had this loud, colourful idea of what it would be like. I’ve learned so much and met a lot of interesting people.
I think what makes it so memorable is that it’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time and I’ve had to overcome a lot of challenges to do it…and it’s finally happening!
How many places have you traveled to so far?
I don’t know off the top of my head. I’ll say 12, but it could be 15! I’m not really about counting stamps. I never want to go to a place for a few days and say I’ve ‘done’ it. I prefer to live abroad and spend a long time in a place to really get to know the culture and the lifestyle. Maybe I should count visas – I’ve had 3, 2 for Martinique and one for the UK!
What is the greatest lesson you have learned on the road?
Like a lot of people travelling I would do stuff to fit in: party when I didn’t feel like it, see a hundred sites in a day, and so on. I realized I don’t have to do things abroad that I wouldn’t normally do at home. I just like hanging out at coffee shops, eating, and seeing a few interesting things. So that’s what I do. And I don’t give a damn if someone thinks I’m boring because I went to sleep at 10pm on a Friday night.
What has been your biggest challenge on the road and how did you overcome it?
I’ve just started the ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle thing so balancing work and being abroad has been quite the challenge. I’m just taking it one day at a time!
Alyssa on Blogging
When did you decide that you wanted to become a travel blogger?
I didn’t really know that travel blogging was a ‘thing’ when I first started blogging. I was just moving to the Caribbean and wanted to make my friends jealous haha!
What makes your blog unique in comparison to other travel blogs?
I often write about really small things—nuances about a place I lived or visited. I once wrote a whole post dedicated to bananas in Martinique and how they have influenced the culture.
People often tell me that my blog posts make them laugh… I rarely mean to, but I suppose that I’m funny without being insulting!
What are the top three articles that you feel everyone should read on your blog (or watch on your travel vlog site)?
It really depends what your interests are! If you want to see what I wish I did more of on my blog, this article on Spain or this one about the catcalling culture in Martinique are great. If you like narrative writing, then I wrote this great break-up letter.
For general travel inspiration, people always find kindred spirits in my What Motivates You to Travel? piece.
Who is your target audience?
People who like to read my writing! I’ve never really thought about it, but I suppose anyone who wants to live abroad.
Alyssa on Life
Favorite travel (or life) quote:
“People need to see that, far from being an obstacle, the world’s diversity of languages, religions and traditions is a great treasure, affording us precious opportunities to recognize ourselves in others.”
What is something that your readers (or viewers) do not know about you?
I can wiggle my ears. Really well. Like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals.
What do your future travel plans for 2015 include?
I’m spending 6 weeks in Morocco at the moment. I’ll be heading back to London and then I want to see a little more of the UK while I have my working holiday visa. Now that I can work and travel at the same time, I want to backpack around Europe a bit and then head to Jamaica for a month before I start my Masters (if I get in!).
I am planning to see a little more of the UK while I have my working holiday visa, maybe spend 6 weeks in Barcelona and a month in Jamaica,
Interested in finding out more about Alyssa and her travels around the world?
Website: Alyssa Writes