Salut, and welcome to UrbanTravelGirl, a blog featuring my thoughts on black women living globally through international travel. I’m a passionate believer in the ability of travel to not only transform the way we see the world, but ourselves. As an African-American woman, I’ve developed an even stronger sense of who I am by visiting nearly 35 countries and territories — and by living outside the United States. I spent nearly one year working as a freelance writer in Florence, Italy and most recently lived in the charming French village of Samois-sur-Seine, a 40-minute train ride south of Paris. I don’t believe in letting other folks define ME — and you shouldn’t, either!
I hope to spark conversation among African-American women who love (or WANT) to travel abroad, who are never happier than when we’re in new and challenging foreign environments. I want to hear your comments about my trips – and I want to hear about yours. Wondering whether it’s cool to travel solo to Paris, or how you’d be received as a black woman in Rome? Put it out here and we UrbanTravelGirls will jump in and give you the scoop. Looking for some fab, locals-only restaurants and boutiques in Florence, Barcelona or Buenos Aires? I’ll dish about it and hope other chicas visiting here will also share.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there, hit the road, discover your own global bliss — and let’s chat about it!
December 28, 2012
I promise I’m going to write about “Black Chicas and Hair, Part Deux,” but I thought a post I included on my other travel blog, “TCW Travel Connection” (http://bit.ly/6KTkZV) for Today’s Chicago Woman magazine (http://www.tcwmag.com) would make a good introduction to 2010. For the past couple days, I’ve been reflecting and ruminating on the year that was (and thankfully is now OVER) and the year I’m hoping to have. And one thing I’ve promised myself is that I’ll consciously take risks. That I’ll make decisions that are scary but that offer huge long-term potential. And that I’ll remember this one life is NOT a dress rehearsal, and that none of us get a “do-over.”
Maybe part of it has to do with arriving in my 40s (God willing, I’ll turn 41 in a few days) and the realization that life is short. And that I don’t want to look back as an old woman with a list of “woulda-coulda-shouldas.” Hopefully you don’t want to do that, either.
So take a look at this post on letting travel take you outside your “comfort zone,” whatever that is for you. Here’s wishing you a year full of great trips and adventures – I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. And Happy New Year!
Continue January 1, 2010
Finally in America, the decades-long debate over health care is coming to a head. Last night, President Barack Obama hosted a prime-time news conference at the White House, where he delivered his vision on health care and answered reporters’ questions about it.
As someone who’s extensively traveled abroad and marveled at the United States’ apparent unwillingness to make affordable access to medical care available to ALL its people, I’m amazed that so many politicians—and regular citizens—think that providing such care is somehow socialist. Subversive. And against the “American way of life.” Well, if having to choose between buying groceries and paying for prescribed medicine is capitalism at its best, perhaps we need to re-examine our priorities ….
Continue July 23, 2009
You know what struck me watching the post-election events unfold in Iran this week? How something as seemingly simple as the act of traveling can make SUCH a difference when it comes to intercultural understanding. Thank goodness we in the United States finally have a president who’s thoughtful and respectful of other folks in the world… but there are still some – and largely on the conservative end of the spectrum – who still see the world as “us” versus “them.” I just wonder what our country’s – and the world’s – relationships would be like if more of us traveled to “their” nation, saw how “they” lived, understood how “they” thought.
And that reminded me of a thought-provoking and in hindsight, truly prescient new book I just picked up from acclaimed travel writer (and of course, PBS television star) Rick Steves. In Travel as a Political Act, Steves explains that there’s far more travel than “good-value hotels, great art and tasty cuisine.” While he writes about travels throughout Europe (his travel business’s main focus), El Salvador, and Morocco, it’s his “Mission: Understand Iran” chapter that speaks most to me now….
Continue June 19, 2009
I’ve had this theory for a long time: While we African-Americans sometimes feel our color can be a pseudo-“liability” here in the States, it certainly can be an asset once we leave our native shores and travel abroad. I was reminded of this last week when President Barack Obama gave his potentially game-changing speech in Egypt.
It was a striking sight to see TV cameras pan across the crowd gathered inside Cairo University to hear him. Most of the faces were some shade of brown, from café au lait to cinnamon to chocolate. From just looking at them, any of ‘em could have been a cousin, aunt or uncle of Obama’s. And while few mainstream news outlets have called it as such, one HUGE reason for our president’s broad worldwide appeal is the fact that he looks like so much of the world….
Continue June 12, 2009
I don’t know about you, but I was glued to the TV and news Web sites last week, watching President Barack Obama’s (and First Lady Michelle’s) every move as they took Europe by storm. Pride swelled in me—and tears occasionally welled in my eyes—as I saw these smart, strong, self-confident African-Americans from MY South Side of Chicago interact with and YES, dazzle leaders from around the world, including the Queen of England.
How cool was this, to see these two Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the globe’s most important people and pass with flying colors? And how fabulous was it to see the reception they got from “regular folks”—Michelle with those adorable girls in that London school, the president when interacting with thoughtful young people during those town halls in Strasbourg and in Istanbul?
I wish I could have been on the streets of London; of Strasbourg, France; of Prague when the gorgeous First American Couple made their appearances last week. How heartwarming it was to see regular Europeans—and their leaders—wholeheartedly embrace these two who represent the best of what America can be.
Continue April 8, 2009