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 24, 2013
I know I’ve waxed poetic here about the “honeymoon phase” of my move to France and appreciating the “small stuff” about my new life in the charming village of Samois-sur-Seine and within France itself. But you UrbanTravelGirls knew THAT wasn’t going to last. Reality eventually intrudes, and all those cute-and-charming quirks about French life—you know, the midday break most businesses take, the fact that nobody but you seems to be in a hurried rush—start to get on your ever-lovin’ nerves. And I’ve encountered quite a few of those quirks over the past week, frustrating me and making me wonder WHAT in the world I was thinking to trade in a relatively easy and uneventful life back in downtown Chicago for the unpredictability of one as freelance consultant and writer overseas ….
Continue June 28, 2012
As you UrbanTravelGirl readers know, Paris is my favorite place on the planet. Someone this week asked me why I love it so, and I didn’t have to think long before responding, “The diversity.” Sure, Paris is THE quintessential French city, but a huge part of what makes it so special for me, an African-American woman, is the presence of black folks from throughout the Diaspora. You’ll meet black folks from African former French colonies including Togo, Senegal, Mali, and Côte d’Ivoire. From French Caribbean “overseas regions” such as Martinique and Guadeloupe. And black American expatriates from all over the States.
And whereas most “mainstream” travel guidebooks gloss over their presence (if they mention them at all), Chicago author Kiratiana Freelon jumps all over it in her new book, Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Black Paris: Get Lost and Get Found (http://kiratianatravels.com/). An African-American Harvard grad who’s visited more than 25 countries in her young life and spent time living in Paris, she uncovers GREAT finds all over Paris (and beyond, as well)….
Continue June 12, 2010
One of the coolest things about engaging in the blogosphere is the chance to trade thoughts, ideas and experiences with fellow black female bloggers, those of us for whom international travel isn’t a luxury, but a mindset and a lifestyle. Since I launched UrbanTravelGirl back in December 2008 from my rented flat in the south of France, I’ve loved perusing other sisters’ blogs, finding commonalities in our unique, yet shared, overseas adventures.
We blog about keeping our hair hooked up in foreign countries; struggling to learn new languages; what it’s like “traveling while black” outside America. And of COURSE, we get into the “man thing.” Which leads to today’s thought.
I wrote recently about sisters “getting their swirl on” when traveling abroad, and have been fascinated by your thoughts (“merci beaucoup” for sharing!). One of my favorite and most thought-provoking fellow bloggers, American Black Chick in Europe (http://americanblackchickinlondon.blogspot.com/) recently wrote, “Why Am I in Europe?” (http://americanblackchickinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-am-i-in-europe.html), where she shared her reasons for studying and living on the continent (she first was in London, and now is in Toulouse, France). But some disgruntled reader, going off-topic and complaining about some of the “Hot Man Candy of the Week” photos she occasionally posts, said: “Yes, there are white guys in the USA. Would US black chick feel as free to lust after them or even date them in the USA? You will probably say yes, but we all know the racial dynamics of the USA….”
Continue April 22, 2010
I recently discovered a super-cool Web site, JayTravels.net (http://www.jaytravels.net/), written by a globe-trotting African-American man whose travel tag line is “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list!” I am SO with him on that. Jay hooked me up this week and featured me in his “Traveler Spotlight” (www.bit.ly/dffuB2). Please check it out, as I reminisce about previous international trips, reveal my travel “Bucket List,” and share my philosophy on travel’s life-changing possibilities.
All this walking down memory lane makes me want to buy a plane ticket to someplace fabulous RIGHT NOW!
GRAZIE MILLE, MERCI BEAUCOUP, et MUCHAS GRACIAS, Jay!
Continue April 6, 2010
Times are tough, and even us diehard globetrotters are finding ourselves grounded these days. But there ARE ways to travel the world without leaving the borders of the United States. In a recent post for my “TCW Travel Connection” blog, which I write for a great local monthly magazine called Today’s Chicago Woman (http://www.tcwmag.com), I’ve written about “going global” by sampling fare at ethnic cafes and restaurants, checking out foreign films, soaking up the sounds from other lands, etc.
But surprisingly, you can ALSO take a trip around much of the world by visiting Vegas. YES, Las Vegas. Even this most American of cities offers something for the global traveler in you….
Continue November 12, 2009
My former newspaper colleague and friend Sharon Sanders writes a gorgeous, award-winning blog called “Simple Italy: Italian Food, Culture, Lifestyle and Travel.” Years ago, she and I developed a tight bond over our fascination with all things Italian. Today, Sharon—who spent several years living and working in beautiful Florence—was kind enough to feature me and my “Inner Italian” persona in a recent post.
She writes a periodic question-and-answer feature with “wannabe Italians or expatriate Italians –who try to ‘live Italian’ wherever they are.” I would certainly qualify, as I remain obsessed with the place, its food and wine, its beautiful people — the list goes on. So read all about my “Inner Italian” (http://www.simpleitaly.com/the-inner-italian-q-a-maureen-jenkins) and you’ll understand why, as Sharon says, “Even if we don’t live in Italy, Italy lives inside of us.”
Continue October 29, 2009
Many of us living here in Chicago were thrilled to wake up this morning and learn that President Barack Obama confirmed that he will INDEED be making that Air Force One flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, later this week to help his adopted hometown of Chicago secure the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
UrbanTravelGirl readers know I have much love for our American commander-in-chief, as well as for First Lady Michelle and their two adorable daughters Malia and Sasha. I’m beyond proud to have this beautiful black family representing what’s RIGHT about America – its opportunity and its promise. So the fact that the Chicago 2016 Olympic team is counting on Brother Barack as the “closer,” to bring home the Olympic gold to Sweet Home Chicago, is almost too much for this South Side native….
Continue September 28, 2009
Think back: Have you ever taken a trip that literally changed the trajectory of your life? Or even one that permanently altered the way you think about yourself as an African-American woman–or the world?
Besides UrbanTravelGirl, I also write a blog for Today’s Chicago Woman, a monthly magazine for smart, professional women that’s very well-known to those of us living in the Windy City. In my recent “TCW Travel Connection” post, I write about “Travel as a life-changer,” or the ways in which trips—both here in the United States and abroad—led me to make self-affirming and enriching choices. As I say in the post, “Far from being a ‘luxury,’ travel is often what we need to become more of who we really are.”
I’d love to hear from you: How has travel inspired you to make big or small changes that you know will last a lifetime?
Continue September 5, 2009