Of all the countries I’ve traveled to, South Africa is the one I could move to permanently. And as disrespectful as Winter is in New York City, I’m seriously considering living there part time! This video is a small peek into why I’m in love with Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and everywhere in between! If you’re interested in traveling to South Africa (or Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya or Seychelles) in 2018, visit Africa With Us.
Hey guys! It’s been a while since I last checked in, but believe me when I tell you I’ve been hella busy knocking out some goals that I’m pretty proud of! Honestly it felt a little awkward typing that, but sometimes we take this #behumble thing too far, and dim our light unnecessarily. So in 2017 I stopped playing it small and tiptoed into the spotlight I’ve avoided for far too long.
I spent the majority of the year following the lead of Auntie Maxine, and reclaimed my time to refocus my energy on the stuff we all neglect – our personal dreams and aspirations. Those things we really want deep down, but don’t bother pursuing because they seem selfish compared with major responsibilities like work or family.
Prior to last year my approach to everything outside of work/career was pretty passive. I would hope and wish and pray and fast and be a generally good person and expect God to just make it rain blessings. While that does happen sometimes, I think He got tired of throwing singles and wanted me to put in some work.
Wait. Did I just take God to the strip club? Let me start over.
I wise person once said, “you won’t hit if you don’t swing”. Faith without work is dead, so when I realized I wasn’t putting in the work, I (reluctantly) got off the couch and made a few things happen. Here is a short list in no particular order:
- Publicly launched my agency and built our website (Show & Tell Creative)
- Paid off my student loans in their entirety ($22,500)
- Went on some awesome dates! Well, most were awesome. Almost fell asleep on one. Touché.
- Put $60,000 in savings for my future family (house, wedding cookout, diapers, daycare, and lots of wine)
- Hired a few dope women to support my business and reduce my workload
- Went to Curacao, Panama, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, and every trip was an assignment or partnership opportunity that was partially or fully covered. Hashtag blessed.
- Launched Purpose Driven Passports, my travel nonprofit that has stolen my heart and given me purpose again.
- Met someone. Here’s my fave pic of us. #goofballs
- Redesigned the CURLFEST layout to accommodate more people with barely 6 weeks till the festival. 20,000 people showed up to fill it. If you build it, they will come.
- Raised my credit score 84 points #700club #BlackExcellent
- Planned and executed a fundraiser in less than 5 days, and lived to write about it.
- Raised over $10,000 for children in Jamaica and Kenya in less than 2 weeks.
- Won a WeWork Creator Award for Purpose Driven Passports, which includes an $18,000 grant to fund our 2018 programming.
More water poured out of my eyes in 2017 than I care to talk about, but it took me being EXTREMELY uncomfortable on multiple levels, daily, to take control of my life and see the changes I had been praying for.
So what does that mean for 2018? I get to do it all over again! I’ll keep milly rocking all up and through my discomfort zone, and finding new ways to push myself purposefully. One of them is writing more, so you’ll be hearing from me a lot more this year. And despite my comfort behind the camera, I’ll get in front of it more often. This year I’m headed back to Trinidad (because #carnivaladdict), Haiti (first time!), Jamaica (volunteering), Bali (my dream) and a mystery trip in March (#suspense). The list may grow, but as full as my life gets, this is a start!
So what does that mean for readers like you? More stories, more videos and more opportunities to get involved! Since juggling travel, a business and multiple hustles is no easy feat, here are a few ways you can help your girl out in 2018:
- Join the Purpose Driven Passports community on Facebook, and share your photos/stories from service projects abroad. If you’re shy you can DM/email them to me and I’ll share!)
- If you know of a service project abroad that needs support, please email me! Purpose Driven Passports is accepting proposals, and our community has plenty of people interested in volunteering!
- If you know of a brand or company looking for influencers/content producers let me know. And if Anthony Bourdain’s team is hiring stop reading now and call me!
- If a story I write inspires you, please share with your networks. I don’t promote my writing much, so I love when you guys pass on my stories!
- Stay in touch! Whether it’s comments on Instagram, replies to IG stories, or comments on these posts, I love hearing from you guys. It gives me life and keeps me going.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for some resources to live out your travel dreams this year, and a video from the African city I’m threatening to move to part time!
Love, Hugs and Smothered Chicken,
This story was originally written for the Huffington Post. Click here to read the original.
I first heard about Curaçao when my brother-in-law surprised my sister with a honeymoon trip to the island. I remember anxiously waiting for her to call me back at the airport:
Me: “So where did he take you?”
Her: “Cure a Sow!”
Me “Awesomeeeee! Have a blast!
Also Me: Where is that even located? What’s up with their pig situation? I hope she doesn’t eat the bacon it sounds like they have some issues.
7 years later I’ve gotten my geographical life together, found out where it is, and have visited this island oasis not once but twice since then. After one trip, you too will understand why Curacao is growing in popularity. This Caribbean gem is naturally beautiful, there’s plenty to do, but it’s not so commercialized that you feel like you’re in Touristland, America. If you’re on the fence about booking a trip, below are a few reasons to make it happen:
First of all, Curaçao is the Skittles of the candy isle. Their capital of Willemstad looks like a Crayola box of colors, with rows of colorful buildings throughout the downtown area. All of your photos will look Straight Outta Easter, and the happy energy in the air is contagious. While it’s only paint, many travelers have said the colors actually lift their mood, making an already beautiful getaway an actual stress-reliever!
You could go to a different beach in Curaçao every day for a month and still not see them all! My favorites were Cas Abao and Playa Kenepa (Knip Beach), both located on the west side of the island. While both gorgeous, I’d recommend them for different reasons.
Cas Abao was more lively, with a full bar, restaurants, a massage hut and water sports to enjoy. If you’re rolling with a crew of friends, this is your place to kick it all day and have a blast without having to bring much with you.
Playa Kenepa is unbelievably beautiful. Like, open-mouthed stare gorgeous. When I pulled up in the parking lot I spent at least 15 minutes taking pictures from the cliff overhanging the beach before I even set foot on it. If you’re traveling solo, with a good friend, or your better half, a day at Kenepa is a lovely way to spend the day relaxing and taking in the beauty of the island. The food and drink selections are a lot smaller here, so bring a cooler and snacks, and a little cash for incidentals.
Since most hotels are located on the east side of the island, definitely rent a car and take day trips to the west side to pick out your own favorite beach during your stay!
From what I hear the island recently went without rain for an entire year. While that’s no fun for farmers, it’s reassuring for those of us seeking some uninterrupted beach time. Curaçao has temperatures in the mid-80s year round, with a short rainy season between October-February. Even during rainy season the rain falls during evening hours, so barring unusual weather patterns, you’re likely to get great weather any time of the year!
If you’re not an adventurous eater, no worries, there are plenty of simpler options all over town. Either way, you’re sure to come back home a little fluffier, as you should after a vacation!
There is definitely no shortage of places to party in Curaçao. For a chic lounge vibe, hit up Saint Tropez in Pietermaii for dinner on Friday night. The place gets packed and the DJ keeps it going well into the morning hours. For casual bar-hopping, head over to Mambo Beach, which has multiple parties running simultaneously on Sunday evenings and a few other nights during the week. If you meet locals at the party, definitely find out their favorite spots to get an even more authentic experience while you’re there!
For my ladies (and men who love men), the local men in Curaçao might cause you to stare. There are so many gorgeous shades of #heyboo walking around that you’ll easily find yourself in the company of men eager to show you around.
Quick tip: For ladies traveling solo, just remember to stick to public places and keep your phone powered up, with your driver on speed dial for a quick getaway from a snoozefest (or crazy) date!
If you’re the type that prefers to be actually in the ocean instead of sailing on it, Curaçao is the place for you. While it’s absolutely breathtaking to look at, the magic lies underneath the surface. On my snorkeling trip with Ocean Encounters I saw some of the most beautiful fish and marine life I’ve ever seen, and even explored a sunken tug boat! At Playa Piskado, I swam with at least 4 huge sea turtles who let me get inches away for underwater photos. Whether you’re diving or snorkeling, treat yourself to a water excursion to hang out with Nemo and all his friends who live off the coast of Curaçao.
While there are dozens of islands in the Caribbean to explore, Curaçao truly is a gem with a happy energy that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Whether it’s a mid-Winter pick-me-up, or a Summer getaway, consider this beautiful destination when weighing your options and you might find yourself making repeat visits just like I did!
Y’all. There are no words for the level of shame I feel right now. Like, nothing compares to this. My hair literally separated itself from my head and did a backstroke next to me while I figured out what had just happened.
Now before you go calling the ambalapse, the pastor and my Momma, it wasn’t my real hair. I’m not sick, and I’ve been blessed with those 4C Motherland curls, so my fro goes nowhere without serious persuasion. But this wig I decided to wear to the beach today was SO not interested in my water sports shenanigans. Maybe because beach, wig and water sports together in a sentence make absolutely no sense. This is what I get for tryna be “Bad and Bougie” at the same time.
Allow me to explain.
You see, I have 2 sides. My Southern Belle bougie side showed up at Knip Beach here in Curacao in some curly weave action, and spent her day posing for 843 beach photos to get just the right angles and lighting for that “effortless” shot in for the ‘gram. Hashtag #nofilter. Hashtag lies.
My Brooklyn baddie side brought rum to the a beach in a plastic flask, added it to a nutcracker with unidentifiable alcohol (because that makes sense), and then jumped her tipsy ass off a cliff into the ocean.
Bad and Bougie don’t go together y’all. Follow behind these club hooks if you want to, but in real life you gotta pick one. Either whip your tracks back and forth and take cleavage selfies from your beach chair while sipping on a girly cocktails. OR, be a badass and sip on an unknown liquor combination then try to catch a lobster with your bare hands while snorkeling because you have a taste for it. But ladies, don’t be both. Lest you find yourself trying to re-attach a wig to your scalp in the middle of the Caribbean Sea while treading water and holding onto your fancy Go-Pro. Praise hands for lifeguard training, because if they had to tell my Momma I died chasing some kinky curly tracks, she might not come to the funeral.
The wig was only floating for a few seconds but I think it actually enjoyed itself! It was laying on its back all relaxed, hoping nobody would notice it chillin’ in the background of their beach photos. But as soon as I gathered myself (and my wardrobe malfunction that was also captured in The Footage The Internet Shall Never See), I snatched Le Wig out of its daydream and put it back on my head.
(Click here for video of me jumping off the aforementioned “real cliff”)
We had a nice fling, but this wig gon’ have to be my side piece that can’t come on vacation with me. Black women are known for wearing a million different hairstyles, sometimes in the same week (and confusing the hell out of our coworkers) And on vacation we’re even more likely to switch it up to avoid having 78 jars of juices and berries in our carry-on bag. But if you’re the adventurous type like me that jumps off bridges and cliffs for no good reason, make sure your hair can keep up with your activities. Literally. #notracksleftbehind
So for my adventure-seekers, go forth and be Bad! Climb mountains, go bungee jumping and reward your efforts with all the local liquor the bar will give you before they send you home. Or be Bougie! Rock that barely-there dental floss bikini and down-to-your kneecaps tracks for that perfect whip action shot in the ocean.
But for the love of Remy don’t be both! Because if I hear about you simultaneously swimming after your bikini and your weave I will laugh almost as hard at you than I did at myself in Curacao. For those who’ve never done it, I HIGHLY recommend experiencing the rush of jumping off a cliff. It’s not nearly as scary as it sounds, and might turn you onto more adventure experiences while traveling. I can’t wait to see your pictures! Click here to see more from my trip.
Have you ever had a wardrobe, hair, or other malfunction during an adventure excursion? What did you do and are there photos? If so, DM me at @bktraveladdict so we can laugh together!
If you’ve never done a cliff dive before, Knip Beach in Curacao is a great place to try it out! It’s not very high, and there are a few different heights you can choose from. The water is also insanely clear, so if you freak you can literally open your eyes and be comforted by Nemo swimming nearby.
Click here to read about the #weavegate hilarity that occurred after I hit the water!
Ya’ll. I’ve been in America for 6 months straight. Like, how did this happen? I’m outchea acting like Trump’s wall is real, and I can’t even get out this bitch, when in fact nothing about this presidency is real life, and my passport actually still works.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, I’ve been reliving some of my favorite memories with photos from India, Brazil, South and Africa. But now it’s time to make some new ones! Below is a shortlist of where I’m headed in 2017. If you’ve been to any of these places, I’d love to hear your suggestions on what to do, and most importantly, where I should eat. (Because, priorities).
Come through sunshine! Ya’ll have no idea how amped I am to get 50 Shades of Amistad on this beach. This is a solo trip where I will spend my days meditating, swimming, exploring and clearing my mind before my busiest event planning season back home. I’ll be staying at Scuba Lodge, and dabbling in scuba diving for the first time! Follow my Instagram Stories to see how awkward I look in all that gear, and find out if I’ll be adding diving to my list of adventure sports abroad!
I don’t really need another reason besides gumbo to visit NOLA, but this trip is extra special. I’ll be doing some filming in small towns outside of New Orleans, and visiting the plantation where my father grew up. This year I’m really trying to learn more about my heritage, and will be working with Ancestry.com to figure it all out! I got my kit a few weeks ago and can’t wait to get my results. Stay tuned to find out more about my family’s history, and see if I’m able to visit a country that shows up on the list!
In college when I studied abroad in Costa Rica, people often assumed I was Panamanian because I was Black. If that’s any indication of how many of your cousins ‘nem are gonna be in these Panamanian streets, then I’m here for it! This is a fun group trip with the OHPsalms crew who I’ve island-hopped with a few times before, and we’ll be staying at a brand new resort called the Dreams Delight Playa Bonita (which makes my inner bougie girl very happy!). Stay tuned to see what adventures me and my girls get into in Panama!
*puts down chicken wing*
So yeah, my crew of 20+ is back at it again this year! I know, traveling with 20 women sounds insane, but these trips have created some of the absolute best memories of my life. This is my first time at Cropover (Barbados carnival), and I’ve heard it’s the next best thing to Trinidad. As Trinidad becomes more expensive, I predict other carnivals will gain even more popularity on “off years” for frequent masqueraders, so I suspect this won’t be my last time at Cropover. If you’ve never taken a girls trip to carnival, (or a girls trip at all), check out my post on how to make it happen, then DO IT!
Ya’ll. I know I should be all excited about this skyline and being a part of the #DubaiBlackout2017 and stunting on these hoes on a sand dune, but all I can think about is this guy:
He’s everywhere! Or at least dudes who look like this. (Wait, is that racist? Father forgive me.) But on the real, the men in Abu Dhabi were open mouthed fine AF. Like don’t look directly into their eyes fine. I wanted to throw my panties at one I saw outside the airport but I was afraid of getting arrested and having to tell my Mom why I’m in some middle eastern jail begging for an attorney and some fried chicken through an Arabic translator. At any rate, I’ve been dying to get back to the U.A.E. since my epic layover in Abu Dhabi, and am pretty geeked about this trip! Follow the ‘gram for my #sanddunestuntin photos.
KENYA & TANZANIA
I’m headed back to the Motherland! It’s been 5 years since my last trip to Tanzania, and I’ve been dying to get back ever since. This time I’m traveling with wellness coach Cassandra Nuamah as a part of her Africa Retreat series, and our itinerary is insane! Everything from a safari trip and a visit to the Masai tribe, to textile making and beaching in Zanzibar, this 10-day adventure will definitely be one of my highlights of 2017. If you’re interested in visiting Africa, visit her website and sign up for one of her trips!
While many travelers rave about the beauty of Cape Town, I fell in love with Johannesburg in a matter of a few hours. The Maboneng neighborhood where I stayed felt like home in ways I’ve never experienced in any other city abroad, and I often consider living there during Winter in New York.
On this trip, also with Coach Cass, not only I get to go back to Jozi, and see Cape Town again, but we’re also visiting Durban for the first time! Plus so many other activities I didn’t do like traditional dancing with the Zulu Tribe, a safari excursion, and community service in local villages. Oh, and we’re working out every day, which will help me stay on track for my first trip of 2018!!! Hint: feathers, paint and powder! #wejamminstill
A few years ago I curled up on my couch and watched Julia Roberts pack up her shit, chuck deuces to her hubby and skip the country to figure out life in foreign lands. She spent the next few months eating her waistline away in Italy (#goals), finding peace in Bali, and meeting the love of her life. After it was over, I turned off the TV and went back to my same old job doing my same old hamster wheel routine the next day. Since then I’ve lost that job, and still haven’t met hubby, so what better time to run off to Indonesia and just breathe in silence for no reason? With the plans I have for my life in the next few years, I need to take advantage of this carefree solo time while I still have it. I don’t know the “how” or “when” behind this trip just yet, but I’m listing in here and putting it out there to see what happens. Can’t wait to share my experience with all of you!
What’s on your list for 2017? Any bucket list experiences? Have you made a list yet? If not, write it down tonight and share your list! And relax – it doesn’t have to be a blog post, or even a Facebook post. Text a friend, or group of friends letting them where you want to go and why. Speak that dream into existence. You’ll be surprised how much faster you find yourself right there where you’ve always wanted to be. Good luck!