In celebration of Black History Month, Cultural Xplorer is doing a series of interviews to eradicate the myth that African-Americans and people of color do not travel and to show you people of color who are traveling the world and making history.
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.
Thurman McKenzie is the writer of the travel blog Thurman’s Travel Blog. If his face looks familiar, you might have seen him while traveling on Air Iceland in the video ‘Air Iceland South‘. Thurman has been traveling solo part-time internationally for over 15 years. He currently works as an active duty military officer in the United States Army.
Thurman on Traveling
How were you exposed to traveling?
My first “exposure” to travel occurred when I was a little boy. My family and I lived in Ohio, and my grandparents lived in California. So, one year, my Dad loaded me and most of my siblings into the station wagon for a cross-country trip. I do believe that trip was the moment I fell in love with traveling!
What motivated you to make travel a part of your life?
Again, drawing on that family trip experience when I was a kid, there were a few things that made that trip so memorable for me. First, my family was not very well off, so taking that trip was a SIGNIFICANT investment made by my parents. Second, due to distance, visits between my grandparents and my family were very few; however, we spoke with and wrote each other quite often. In my communications with my grandparents, my grandmother in particular, we would always talk about the things I could do and see if I were there with them or vice versa. Apparently this communication awakened a pretty healthy imagination and love for experiencing new and exciting things.
What is your most memorable travel experience to date?
This may seem a bit crazy, and I CERTAINLY do not mean to diminish ANY of my travel experiences, to date, but I think my MOST MEMORABLE experience would be the planning of my Around the World trip.
In the summer of 2012, I had the TREMENDOUS fortune planning and taking a 17-countries, 26-stops, trip around the world; and, while I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the trip, the excitement from PLANNING it was EQUALLY enjoyable. I spent a solid month or more putting the whole trip together, from flights to accommodations to travel excursions, etc. It was TRULY a labor of love that I will NEVER forget!
How many places have you traveled to so far?
I have visited 6 of the 7 continents (no plans to visit Antarctica), and I’ve not counted how many countries/cities.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned on the road?
I think the greatest lesson that I have learned while traveling is that despite cultural differences, our basic humanity unites us. So, simply things like a smile, a hug, or even just a “thumbs up” can have TREMENDOUS impact! Ultimately, we are ALL connected and traveling has been the means by which I have learned this lesson.
What has been your biggest challenge on the road and how did you overcome it?
I don’t know that I have every encountered anything, necessarily, “challenging” while traveling. Fortunately, I’ve always had viable contingency plans, or God has just been good to bless me with a “way out” or “onto the next adventure”. 🙂
Thurman on Writing & Travel Blogging
When did you decide that you wanted to become a travel blogger?
The idea crystalized for me during my trip to South America in 2012. I had been fortunate to do quite a bit of traveling before this trip, and my Mom would always advise me to take plenty of pictures. (I should also say that I was pretty late to joining Facebook…didn’t establish my profile until 2009 or so.)
So, during my South America trip, I would post photos from my experiences, almost daily, on my Facebook page. The feedback that I received caused me to understand my Mom’s words, differently. It was during this trip that I realized that my experiences are NOT merely for me; rather, I can share the experiences and POTENTIALLY help others either plan a trip of their own or POSSIBLY escape their own surroundings, even if momentarily.
What makes your blog unique in comparison to other travel blogs?
I honestly, don’t KNOW whether there is anything truly “unique” about my blog; however, I can say that in my blog I aim to share the LOVE and JOY I experience from traveling. Hopefully, I am successful and conveying that.
What are the top five articles that you feel everyone should read on your blog?
So, I’m WOEFULLY delinquent in updating my blog, and I still have to document my whole “Around the World” trip. So, I’ll be writing quite a bit over the next several months. At any rate, if you’re planning to visit Brazil or Argentina, then I would highly recommend any of my current posts.
When I begin documenting my Around the World trip, I plan to provide an in depth explanation of how I planned my trip and all the resources I used. So, anyone thinking about planning a similar trip should bookmark my site and check back in a few weeks.
Additionally, assuming I am successful at getting caught up with all of my past travels, my plan is to outline a couple of future trips that I am planning. So, anyone interested in seeing how my travel plans originate and ultimately move from idea to reality will want to stay tuned for those posts.
Who is your target audience?
I have not geared my blog towards a particular audience; rather, I simply see my blog as a way to share my experiences with others. Therefore, I think anyone with an interest in traveling will find my blog useful and possibly even entertaining.
Thurman on Life
Favorite travel (or life) quote:
I ALWAYS say, “In ALL things, I have a choice.” I’m not really sure from where I got this, but it has been a TREMENDOUS guide for me through life.
What is something that your readers do not know about you?
I guess most of my readers do not know that I am an active duty, US military officer.
Where do you plan on going next?
I have a LOVE AFFAIR with Brazil that simply CANNOT be quenched, but two BIG trips that I’ve been planning are:
1.) South Pacific – New Zealand, Fiji, and Guam, and Hawaii
2.) Africa and Indian Ocean – Southern Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique), Madagascar, and Maldives
I’m not sure when the opportunity will present itself for me to take EITHER trip, as I estimate that I will need AT LEAST 30-days for each, but I remain hopeful!
Check out Thurman in Air Iceland’s Video entitled ‘Unique Iceland South‘ (around 13:00)
Want to learn more about Thurman? Check him out here:
Website: Thurman’s Travel Blog // Facebook: Thurman McKenzie
Great series idea and great interview. I totally relate to him about loving the planning stage of traveling as that’s definitely one of my favorite parts. It’s always great to come across other black people who are just as passionate about traveling as I am!
Awesome article, and I am not biased because he is my brother. But I am grateful for his opportunities to experience travel on a different level…which I believe is from a more spiritual perspective. I was in owe of my travels via the military and it has made me look deeply into his blog which I pray will be a spring board for his future travels.
Thanks for sharing,
Carla ( Thurman’s proud big Sister!)
This is the proud mother of Thurman McKenzie, and your travels are wonderful. I have been to so many places through you. They are beautiful and the people are gorgeous. the places are colorful.
Continue to travel and share so others can benefit also. Love you much Mom
Mr. Mckenzie, great article and blog. Thank you. For me, the experience of traveling is great because gives you the opportunity to explore different cultures and places to enrich yourself culturally and socially, and take advantage of this knowledge for yourself and for the people around you. Again and as you say, making the most out of this cultural experience is a choice.