Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Traveling While Noire-Saving Your Coins

On the last post I griped about the side eyes and juju dolls being created cause you like to catch stamps and collect sky miles. This post will walk you through some steps to make your imagination become a reality. Your pockets and your wanderlust do not have to be a mutually exclusive thing. Practical things can jump start or even restart your traveling lifestyle. 

Start somewhere. I live in Florida so there is tons to do and see right here at home. So yeah I joked about Disney World on my last post. But part of my honeymoon was spent at Universal Studios. I know Irlo Bronson Highway like I know my own street. These days Orlando seems like right around the corner. I remember when it used to seem like millions of miles away. Start close to home and venture out. You will find there will be times you need a quick weekender and nearby locations serve a great purpose for that. Tampa, Naples, Port St Lucie are all great places to visit. St. Augustine is all history. Sanibel has the best beaches. Florida can be traveled in just under 12 hours. Take the time to explore your home base. You’d be surprised in what you discover. 

Create a savings plan. If you have the discipline to save on your own, create a vacation account. Look for the deals. More on that later. Look at your budget and be realistic about what you can set aside every pay week. Travel agents also accept installment payments. My annual vacations start getting paid on the Fall before. So that’s about ten months of setting aside already in play. Tithe on your traveling budget and see how much you can save. It means one less pair of shoes. It means less Christmas gifts for the entire family. It means buckling down and remembering you have a trip to save for and some things and people will just have to wait. 

Travel with like minded people. All my girls only trips and trips with couples have generally been about spending time with people I wanted to spend time with. I’m not paying gobs of my hard earned money to travel with anyone I’m going to be grinding my teeth about the entire time. Not happening. Travel with people who enhance the experience of discovering our world. Travel with people who will split the bill evenly with no questions asked. We all gonna eat good, sleep in nice hotels and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Travel with people who vibe like you do and who understand your quirks. If you’re on Oxford Street in London and you want to drop some cash on a pair of shoes, you don’t need anyone picking up their jaws from the ground and texting the world about your adventures. Your travel buddies have to know you and accept you in all of your bad and boujee self. 

Read more. So I don’t think some would expect this to be part of the plan. You want to travel but if I say Saint Petersburg, The Vatican, Christ The Redeemer, Stonehenge, Golden Gate Bridge, The Colliseum, Kimberley Diamond Mines, The Biltmore . . . and you can’t click with at least two of those locations, you really need to read up on your geography, history, and travel landmarks. Most of my knowledge initially came from reading Danielle Steele and Norah Roberts novels. Real talk. Don’t judge me. When I buried myself in my encyclopedias as a teen it was to discover a world without borders. Imagine reading about “New York, New York” all your life and finally seeing it for yourself at age 41. Times Square was once in my mind and twice in reality. Seeing Lady Liberty across the river was like . . . yeah, no words. The novels I had read about Ellis Island all flooding back. Visiting Martha’s Vineyard and seeing the Kennedy compound and learning about The Inkwell. Yeah . . .  Tighten up on your reading. 

Step out your comfort zone. Travel with friends. Travel with a mission driven group. Travel with organizations. Travel by yourself. However way you get to pack your bags and go, don’t hesitate to make it happen. On our way to Hawaii, there was a medical emergency. So I did my due diligence to get up and inform the flight attendance that a friend in my group was a medical professional.  As I proceeded to tell her where we were seated, she quickly interjected and said “Oh, I know where you’re seated.” Puzzled by her comment I returned to my seat. While I walked back, it dawned on on me, well yeah, she would know where I and my friends were seated. We were the only MELANIN POPPIN’ ON THE WHOLE PLANE!!!  A sea of white and Asian and Hispanic and everything else. And six Haitian girls from humble beginnings interrupting the status quo. That felt hella good. 

I laugh and I cry about that though. In 2017, you can count us like odd balls on the planes, the excursions and the seats. I always say my Haitian parents didn’t travel far from their home and work so damned hard all their lives only to have me sit in some self imposed prison of fear. 

Save. Plan. Travel. 

What other tips would you leave for our traveling sistahs? Leave them in the comment section. Bon Voyage! 

Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Traveling While Noire-Unpack The Hate

The other day someone asked me if I was taking applications. Me like a dummy fell for the line of questioning only to be told that for the way I travel, they wanted to trade their job for mine. So I won’t dwell on perceptions and assumptions people have when they haven’t spent a day in your shoes (no time for the foolery on this blog) but I will gladly dig right into the myth that implies that only people of other cultures have the inalienable rights totravel without prejudice. And without side eyes. 

Last summer saw me in NC, then NYC, then PA, then HI, then NJ and then back to NYC to return then to FL. A boatload of circumstances, proper planning and plain ol’ Jehovah Jireh provided for all this galavanting across the nation. This spring saw me on a cruise, twice in GA and a fourth trip down to JA (that’s Jamaica for those who don’t know the island monikers). And I’m counting down to my trip to SC in September! Tongues can start wagging at one’s ability to pick up and go. People will volunteer to help you count your coins, just to help figure out for themselves, how in the name of ratchet and raggedy did you do all of that?!!!

What seems interesting in all of this is the acceptance that white folks can trek to Bora Bora and no one bats an eye. Someone from the Middle East can jet off on the Arab Emirates to Dubai and it’s just a regular news day. Europeans are expected to jet across the big pond and back with nary a word. But let a brotha or sistah make the same moves and folks on social media creepin’ and countin’ how many trips you have already made in less than a year! Show me this mysterious travel quota. Smh. 

Black brethrens and sistrens! We gotta do better! We simply have to do better. Anytime someone mentions “well when do you work?” or assume you don’t work, (cause remember if you’re not taking selfies at your desk on a regular, you don’t work), there is some hidden messages in those statements people. 

Where is it written that Disney World is the limit to my traveling? Where is it written that Miami Beach is the destination of the world? Side note: I’m from St. Maarten. You ain’t seen beaches until you’ve seen Simpson Bay, but I digress. Where is it written that you shouldn’t be able to endure a 12 hour flight to Hawaii. Yes your ankle will get swollen but you won’t be thinking of that while you slurping up them “scrimps” from Giovanni’s Food Truck on the side of the road. The next time you see that couple take flight to Dubai, don’t suck your teeth. Save the page and send them a text when you make your plans to take your own trip there. 
I may die tomorrow and never see the Motherland. But knowing that I know someone who did and that they shared their journey with mee will just have to do. Knowing that they can freely speak about their experience without being “travel-shamed” into submission is only fair. So instead of turning green with unreasonable envy, take notes and get your life. 
Let’s have a funeral for the hate that so controls us at the successes of others. Let’s bury the “crab in the bucket” foolery. Our experiences inform our existence and lend such a beautiful essence to ourselves. We can in turn bless others with the stories and inspire others to push their own boundaries and set aside the fears that have beset our culture for far too long. Now you won’t catch me ziplining anytime soon in the Amazon Forest but call me when you’re ready to go white water rafting (with my non-swimming self). 
Celebrate the innate wanderlust of our culture and the spirit of exploration. 
Next blog: How to save for your travel lifestyle. Cause it’s definitely not free. Unless you for a sugar daddy. And you’re selling yourself to the highest bidder. šŸ˜

Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Traveling While Noire

I’ve been traveling since I was in my mamman’s belly. Once she found out she was preggers with me, she made sure to hop from St. Maarten back to Haiti to be with her mom and aunts as they fawned over her and prepared her for mommyhood. We then went to Haiti as children and spent beautiful weeks near the capital on Rue Delma with the Palace looming over us as a huge white edifice. 

My first memory of being on a plane was as a young child vomitting and my parents having to pull down the suitcase to clean me up. Motion sickness remains the bane of my existence ever since. We traveled to Miami for what I thought was a two week vacation in 1984 and never returned. There were the silent years of traveling. After all, hard working parents could scarcely pay the mortgage and finance a vacation now could they? Thankfully school trips kept me on a bus to some school competition or other and Disney World didn’t have to worry about not getting my money. 

Thankfully, I married a wanderlusting husband who trekked the world as a missionary as his gap years experience. Our modest honeymoon spent in Bahamas was just a foretaste of things to come. His being in Romania right after the hanging  of a communist dictator (Nicolae Ceaușescu) faced a firing squad had to be interesting. Being one of two blacks on the team was too. During our second year, we traveled as missionaries (again just us two melanin popping souls) to Zacatecas, Mexico. Dead center in the country’s landscape, it was rich in culture and rich in poverty. We ate good. While our white peers searched high and low for KFC and Burger King, we ate whatever they placed in front of us. There was this green spicy pepper with cheese in the core that they grilled. Good home cooked meals. My AUTHENTIC Mexican food palate has never been the same. Nothing compares stateside. Nothing. 

Most of our traveling then became heavy on the domestic side. With trips up and down the east coast, heading as far north as Canada one winter. Saw the Niagra Falls. Experienced the brutal upstate New York winter. We’ve driven up the Smokies, straddled North Carolina and Tennessee. To this day neither of us can’t listen to Norah Jones without thinking of the winding roads in Sevierville, TN. Hiking up random hills, passing by random head stones as the crunch of leaves beneath our feet echoed in the trees. 
I’ve driven to Oklahoma for a friend’s graduation and had the pleasure of of being stopped by one of their “finest.” Definitely not one of their finest moments. We’ve flown into Chicago, driven to Indiana to collect our first new car together.  Seen why The Jacksons got the heck up outta Gary and saddened by it all. Saw snow for the first time, ran out and twirled around in it and ran right back in. The introvert in me opted to watch the Shaka Zulu marathon instead of venturing too long outside. My older me kicks my younger self for not carpeing the darn diem on that one. Drove our Honda CRV from Indiana to Florida. That was fun. We’ve heeded the call of friends moving from Minnesota and helped them make the trek back down with their newborn baby. That’s what friends did for each other. Fly up to drive back down! Lol! I’ve honored my beautiful state of Florida with the trips to the Keys, Sanibel, St. Augustine. Saw Henry Flagler’s beautiful home and dreamt of the time when men bought grand homes for their new brides. The romantic in me stays on high volume. D.C., MD, NYC, NJ, NC, CA, NV, OK, GA . . . whether it was for work or pleasure I have made the best of my travels.  From riding the rails in San Fran to dashing in DC’s museums, I have no regrets. Nearly lost my life water rafting in TN! Still no regrets. 

Island hopping trying to recreate some of childhood memories has also been a thing for me. Mexico saw me for my 33rd year. The year that Jesus died. That’s what you do right?! Go to Cozumel! Lol! Oh the irony in that one will be left at just that. Smirk. 

You have never been to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands unless you have taken a walk on their very “un-beaten paths”. Ever had curry crab from a big pot on the side of the road?  You gotta do it once. Just once. I have yet to return to my homeland of St Maarten. My mother’s passing is creating some level of urgency behind going back, for I fear it’s going to be one huge experience in exposure therapy. My mental health folks can certainly sympathize. 

Remember my wanderlusting hubster? Well he’s definitely not the jealous type and has no problem dropping me off at the airport and wishing me well. He’s always encouraged my adventurous side and it helps that he is secure in himself as my life’s partner. Really. How many husbands would send their wives off to Vegas for her 40th and say “have fun, don’t spend all our money we got bills when you get back.” How many would have their wives experience Hawaii not once but twice in five months? And text you to remind you to celebrate hard. Even helped me countdown this last time. I simply love him. Hawaii saw me once for a family wedding and once for a girlfriend’s birthday which bookends as my birthday by the way. 

As I listen to the roaring waves outside my two story rented home, I’m amazed and humbled to experience life through these eyes of mine. Being one of six Sistahs on Hawaii Air was an eye ‘popping’ opener. I had gotten up to mention something to the stewardess and before I could mention my seat number she said “Oh, I can find you when I need to.” Me-puzzled. Oh yeah… that’s right.  It’s like SIX of us Blacks, all women on this flying coffin. She could point us out blindfolded in a line up if she had to. Yeah her with the waist length Sisterlocks that kept getting caught in her face under the sleep mask. Yeah that one. 

 I think of my mom, the traveling merchant who herself island hopped the Caribbean and Latin America searching for goods and wares to return and sell in St. Maarten. She saw a need and met it. Buying beautiful things that could only be bought if only you traveled the world to search. As I wrap up this recent trip, I question my hesitancy to share where I’m going in my travels with people. Particularly other black folks. It’s less about the “they just being nosy” but more about “oh gosh, what must they be thinking of me now.” And granted I could give ZERO cares (ya’ll know I don’t cuss–but you get the gist) I’ve been known to say “I’m going out of town” before I say I’m going to Hawaii and will be celebrating my birthday in all my cuteness in four time zones before making it back to South Florida. I hesitate to say I’ll be on a cruise celebrating another 40th in a couple of months. I’ve been mum about taking a quick jaunt to ATL not once but twice this Spring to celebrate some of my babies graduating. Or that Jamaica will see my husband and I again and this time I want to try something else that can possibly cause my death. Heck. My demise may as well be in Jamaica as anywhere else. 

My next blog is going to touch on being a black traveler in foreign places but through the lense of other black traveling friends. Stay tuned for the questionnaires and phone calls wanderlusters! The perceptions of black folks on black folks who travel will also be explored. We can be some of the most savage hating meanies when it comes to celebrating each other’s ability to collect passport stamps rather than things. White man travels to Dubai. No one blinks. But let Sistah girl snap photos of her trip to the Louvre and her posts gets screen shot and shared around the world in less than sixty seconds. With words like “doing the most” and “girl bye”‘laced in the convos. 

Haters. 

Stay tuned.