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Interviews

Interview with Dame Traveler Alaa Razoky

Thanks so much for chatting with us today! Could you tell us a little about your story and what you do, for anyone who doesn’t know you yet!

Hi there, my name is Alaa Razoky. I was born in Baghdad, Iraq and before the age of five, I had already lived in three continents and four countries. Maybe my love for the world started even before I knew it. I am 44 (as of August 29th). I was a teacher for 14 years, then a real estate broker and now I do a little bit of both remotely. I wasn’t always a traveler. In my 20’s, I saved for three years to take a big international trip (about three weeks of travel). As I became more financially stable, the trips increased. The turning point was when I was 33 years old and living my best life in New York City. I told myself that if I wasn’t married by 33 and looking to start a family, I was going to truly enjoy my life and really TRAVEL THE WORLD. I left NYC, moved to CA, where my family is, and started to plan. In the fall of 2010, I went to Belize for a week, came back home for 36 hours and turned around and headed to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji for five weeks. That was the beginning of my crazy travel life. Then I decided to set a goal: seven continents before I turn 40. Even though I had hit North America, Europe and Asia already, I had to touchdown on all seven in the seven years until my 40th birthday. Let me tell you this, there hasn’t been a goal I have set that I haven’t met. Two weeks before I turned 40, I touched down in the US after spending a month in Africa. That was continent #7.

Tell us a bit more about the trip that changed your life

Africa. I love that continent so much. I spent a month in Tanzania, Zanzibar (Tanzania), Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa. Aside from the amazing safaris, it was the people and their lives that touched my heart the most. I was in the land of extreme poverty and the highest rate of disease but yet I encountered the kindest, bighearted and happiest people in all my travels. It confirmed that you don’t need much to be at peace, to be content. I know they struggle daily but they smile, they enjoy barefooted dances in the streets and small gatherings among those they love and cherish the most. The farthest thing from a spoiled society but yet they know how to find a little happiness in everything that they do. They have a special gift and I don’t think this is something you can encounter unless you step foot onto this continent.

What has been your favorite destination so far and why?

This is one of the hardest questions to answer. How about a list my favorite city and /or country in every continent? Obviously that’s hard for Antarctica but I can do the rest. Here goes:

North America-New York City, USA: I have loved this city ever since I was in high school. I’m sure a lot of people fall in love with NYC even before stepping foot so I was no different than most. However, I spent my early 30’s living in the Big Apple when I was financially stable and could truly live it up in NYC. Anything you want to do you can do in New York. Best years of my life. I would not rule out moving back there sometime in the future.

South America-Buenos Aires, Argentina, known as the Paris of South America, BA has its own charm. The food is unbelievable, the people are kind, the city is beautiful and very fun. One thing you won’t see a ton of in BA is designer stores because of a tax placed on imported goods. It makes it more authentic than most cities. c) Africa-Serengeti, Tanzania-Animals, animals, animals. The number of animals you see in the Serengeti National Park is unbelievable. What’s even more wonderful is how protected this land and its inhabitants are. It’s a different side of Africa and it is amazing!

Australia-Whitsunday Islands, Australia-Imagine sailing for three days in the Great Barrier Reef amongst the Whitsunday Islands. We saw so much daily but the most spectacular sight, other than an abundance of coral underwater, was the stop we made to Whitehaven Beach. It is the WHITEST and SOFEST sand you will ever step foot on. It was pure heaven.  

Europe-Paris, France-I mean, it’s the city of love. It oozes romance, beauty, love, style and class. Yes, the French have a reputation for being rude but they’re not all like that. I have been there three times and I never get bored or sick of it. I love the language (studied nine years when I was schooled in Canada but far from fluent), the food (escargot and beef tartare), French wine and seeing a metropolitan city light up at night. I just love everything about Paris!

Asia-Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam-It’s hard to imagine that this city in a communist country that endured such brutality in the Vietnam War is as amazing as it is (be sure to learn about the war when you’re there). The food will blow you away, the city has views that are beautiful from many directions, it’s a bustling city, lots of markets and shopping but most importantly, the kindness of the Vietnamese people just warms your heart.

Through your experiences, what has travel taught you? What lessons does travel bring to those who experience it?

Travel has taught me that we are incredibly lucky and blessed in the US. When you see how others live, how little they need to get by and how they truly survive on the necessities, it is quite amazing. It has caused me to not live lavishly and constantly purchase things I don’t necessarily need. I am more humble because of this and I have chosen to help people around the world.

Have you ever faced any hard circumstances or issues as a female traveler? 

Once I was followed by a man in Italy. It was in a busy area so initially I didn’t know if it was just a coincidence or if he was really following me. I kept looking back and he was still there. I would dip into a store and as I walked out, I saw him waiting and then continue to follow me. It wasn’t until I ran into a store and pointed the guy out that the man took off running and I never saw him again. Another time La Paz, Bolivia, I was told never to hail a taxi on the street and never to walk at night. I followed those rules. Recently in Quito, Ecuador, I knew two people who had been mugged. Having this information, I decided to get rid of my purse and put my ID, credit card and money in one pocket and my cell phone in another pocket. If they didn’t see me physically carrying anything, I wasn’t of interest to them.

 Other than that, I follow warnings and guidelines while traveling in all countries.

What piece of advice would you give to women who would like to travel but are afraid to? 

It’s one of the best things I have ever done in my life. I have met tons of friends who I see occasionally, have met men that could have been potential mates, learned so much, more than a textbook could teach me, and can do what I want when I want without having to worry about someone else. If you worry about being lonely, you won’t be. The people you meet along the way will be more than happy to do things with you.

Why do you think it’s important for women, specifically, to explore the world?

I am a very independent woman and I believe that’s an important characteristic in females. If we follow the traditional path in life such as school, marriage, kids, we get so wrapped up in working and taking care of our family that we rarely have time for ourselves. I see it a lot in women who took this path. How wonderful would it be to have the freedom to travel, see the world, experience the globe for yourself before you settle into domestic life. To me, you’ll look back and be glad you did that before you made the huge commitment to do the other life events.

Fun fact

One thing I have been doing is buying gems from locations that mine them. So far, I have a tanzanite from Tanzania, a ruby from Vietnam and an emerald from Colombia. I then have them set when I return home and the result is amazing. I will send you pictures of those as well.

Also, I take all my own photos. I don’t have any formal training. Sometimes I get lucky with great shots and sometimes I don’t. I don’t journal when I travel as I feel my photos tell the stories I want to tell. With that said, I started an Instagram account @missworldwide that showcases my photos, gives a brief description and certain posts are connected to some travel writing I do for a lifestyle magazine, Nspire Magazine, located in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t know where this will take me but I wanted to share my joy of traveling with others around the world and hopefully inspire women to travel solo to find themselves, find happiness and true contentment.

 

Interviews Mental Health

Interview with Dame Traveler Desiree Thomas on Mental Health and Travel

Thank you so much for chatting with us today! Could you tell us a little about your story and what you do, for anyone who doesn’t know you yet?

My name is Desiree Thomas. I was born and raised in Canada but my background is Jamaican/Chinese. I am an internationally published photographer, marketer, and brand strategist. Some of my work has been seen on Vogue Italia, Schon Magazine, Chloe Magazine, and more. I am also the founder of “A Desired Journey”, an inspirational designation for millennial female entrepreneurs with a bout of wanderlust.

 

We know you’re here to talk about mental health but we want to ask you, how are you right now, really?

Right now I’m in an interesting place. The last couple of months have been the most transformational, both physically and mentally. With most of Canada still closed, most time is spent with my family and most importantly myself. I think the biggest thing our generation fears is being left alone with our thoughts because we are then forced to face the reality of our lives, but the best thing about the pandemic is a lot of us had to do just that because we were left with no other choice.
 
Through my thought process I found my strengths and weaknesses, I challenged myself in ways I never thought was possible and I also broke in ways I’ve never seen myself break before. Through this process, I also sought a therapist, went back to school learned who my true circle was, learned to never take things like travelling for granted and started falling in love with me.  So that’s where I am right now.
 

What are some things that have impacted your mental health both good and bad?

I think just navigating life and wanting to be successful while meeting certain societal standards has impacted my mental health both good and bad without even really realizing. As I get older I find myself pressing the reset button on a lot of things I once thought was the “right” way, and now relearning it my way.
 

What piece of advice would you give for those who are seeking to heal themselves? And any resources you recommend?

Do not be afraid to be transparent and to admit you are not okay. Seeking help and guidance does not make you weak, it actually makes you stronger. The most powerful thing any individual can do is acknowledge their emotions, acknowledge something is wrong and address it head-on.
 
I read a lot of self-help/personal growth books. My all-time favourite is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelo, followed by, Think & Grow Rich, The Secret and As A Man Thinketh. These four books have helped me tremendously, each in their own way. I also listen to a lot of positive/valuable podcasts and use an online platform called Talkspace for therapy.
 

Piece of advice to give to travelers who experience a lot of anxiety when traveling?

One of the best ways to find yourself is through travel. Figure out what is making you anxious about travelling, seek support from your friends and don’t be afraid of what’s on the other side. Travelling is a beautiful thing. It allows you to experience worlds outside your postal code, meet new people, try new things and just see how much the world truly has to offer. Being anxious is okay, especially when entering the unknown and taking new risks. Just don’t let it stop you from going because that may be the journey you need to take.
 

What are some states or countries that have been kind to you?

Barcelona, Thailand and Atlanta were very kind to me and made me feel at home. In each of these places, I found a part of me. It was as though I had been there before and I was returning. There was no fear, or anxiousness, just peace, excitement and a feeling you’d have to experience to understand.

What are some states or countries that haven’t been so kind?

Some countries that have not been so kind, unintentionally, would have to be Morocco and China. When I travelled to Morocco, the community thought I was Moroccan and yelled at me for most of the time I spent outside because they thought I was trying to disrespect the culture by not covering my face. In China, walking on the streets was like being in a zoo. I had never had my photo taken by so many strangers; and not because I was famous but because I was black. Though both experiences were unpleasant, the unknown, the cultural differences and being seen in such a different light from what you are used to when you are home is what makes travelling so interesting.

Tell us what you’re up to next and where we can find you

I’m currently working on the relaunch of my blog A Desired Journey. I took a bit of a break in order to reset and realign my goals to ensure my journey and experience were being translated with meaning and not just seen as another form of noise. I am also working on a few new projects and creating often so follow the journey at @adesiredjourney on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and come say hello at www.desireethomas.ca

Diversity Interviews

Black is Beautiful: Interview with Dame Traveler Sophia of Sostyles Escapades

Could you tell us a little about your story and what you do, for anyone who doesn’t know you yet?

My name is Sophia, founder of Sostyles Escapades – a platform I created to curate customized trips for groups of people who are inspired by my adventures. I am a Travel Digital Content Creator who aims to educate and inspire through social media. I have been to almost 30 countries and lived in 3. As a nomad at heart, I make it a priority to immerse into foreign cultures as a way to not only raise my sense of self awareness, but also to tap into my empathy for locals from an open minded stance. Travel truly depicts how interlaced we are. It makes me appreciate the commonalities as well as the differences. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What change would you like to see change or happen in the travel and photography industries? What advice would you like to give to brands?

As a Black female creator, I would love to see more inclusivity, fairness, and diversity in the travel and photography industries. And this also includes leaders and decision makers for said company or brand. Take a look at the stats. Black people spend approximately $65 BILLION on travel annually. We contribute a great deal yet are still underrepresented. It does not add up.

Also, brands should invest in long term partnerships as opposed to only reaching out to Black creators right before Black History Month as a means to cover face and ‘amplify black voices’. Black people are not just a token to tick a box. We need systemic change that is non-performative, supportive, and effective. Representation matters, and this is why I strive to partner with brands who share the same values.

What are some challenges or issues you have faced as a Black female traveler?

First off, thank you for capitalizing the B in Black. White male dominated societies have definitely played a big role here. Especially where they have less focus on gender equality. Mostly via the internet, I have had middle-aged to older white men offer payment in return for sexual pleasures. It is usually referred to as being a ‘Sugar baby’ and sometimes they turn out to be people who have a whole family, which makes it even sicker. Makes me think- is the entire family in on this? This only goes to show that Black women are constantly hyper sexualized in the media and in return deemed gold diggers.

On one of my recent trips, I experienced a taxi driver (happened more than once) who would not let me get into his car. Even after I offered to pay double for something that was going to be maybe a 5 minute drive. I cannot make this up. I could have walked, but I was running late for an important early morning appointment, and I wore heels.

What piece of advice would you give to new Black female travelers?

Know your worth and trust your gut. Research is key. Get some credible reviews from experienced travelers. Learn how to be comfortable with uncertainty and change. Comfort zone? Never heard of her. Keep an open mind and get excited to be filled with everlasting jaw dropping knowledge. Be open to failure and chances of not always getting it right. Be prepared for some glares, but remember that the obstacles are only a set up for bigger and brighter future opportunities. I would add that it also helps to be street smart. Never appear flashy, trust me – you already stand out as is. Be curious and ask as many questions as you find necessary. Have the time of your life and journal your experience to its entirety.

Piece of advice to give non-black travelers?

Research is key. Keeping an open mind is paramount. Drop the stereotypes society has made you to believe. Seek to understand how to treat others who do not look like you without placing them in a specific category simply because of their race. You just may find that you are more alike than you are different.

What are some myths and misconceptions about traveling as a black female solo travel that you’ve found to be untrue?

‘You must be rich for all the travel that you do.’
NO. Please kill this idea that you must have tons of money to travel the world. Do your googles, there are countless blogs on how you can travel for dirt cheap. On average my flight tickets usually range in the $200s-300s (yes, international destinations included!). Personally, the most I have paid for a RT ticket was right around $600 and that is only because I waited longer than I should have since I had not quite made up my mind yet. This has only happened once.

‘Traveling alone is dangerous.’
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this, from my peers and even family. While I understand for the most part, this comes from a caring place, I wish people who often said this spoke from first hand experience. This is a horrible misconception because where are you ever really safe? If anything, living in America has taught me to exercise maximum caution anywhere I go. Plus, I hate that this idea can discourage aspiring solo travelers.

The notion that because you are Black, you are unable to do ‘white people sports/activities’. Swimming is a typical example of this. I have heard people say swimming is not a ‘Black person’s strongest suit’. As well as playing the violin, golf, snowboarding and so many others! I am not sure where this originated from but I can only speak for myself when I tell you I have checked off so many bucket list experiences in my lifetime, and there will be plenty more to come! From rappelling a 200 ft waterfall in Costa Rica, Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, to Skydiving just to name a few. I have and will always be a thrill seeker, and will continue to incorporate this in my travels so I can continue to share what IS possible to do these things regardless of your color, race or background.

What are some states or countries that have been kind to you?

Thailand, Switzerland, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama. There are so many! And this just reminds me of the fact that as many bad experiences I encounter along the road, the good experiences always outweigh the bad.

What are some states or countries that haven’t been so kind?

Spain was surprisingly not so kind. I only visited the Southern part of Spain, so I am open to giving it another try in the future. Sadly the USA, where I call home, is at the top of the list. It TRUMPS all! See what I did there?

Once again, while some of my not so kind experiences have placed a bit of damper on my travels, they certainly do not define them. For every bad experience I encounter, the universe rewards me with 50 x more treasurable moments.

Tell us what you’re up to next and where we can find you

Like the whole world, I am honestly just waiting on things to get back to normal or close. I was supposed to be heading to Jamaica the beginning of August, but that does not look like it’s happening. I am eager to travel again, and I cannot wait to travel even harder!!! I can be found via my Instagram: @sostyles or @sostylesescapades. I also have a Tiktok account and YouTube channel. Additionally, the website for my business is sostylesescapades.com where I also share free travel advice, tips and hacks.

Thanks for having me! I hope everyone reading this stays positive, hopeful, and safe 😊

Interviews

Black is Beautiful: Interview with Joy of Travel the World With Joy

1. Could you tell us a little about your story and what you do, for anyone who doesn’t know you yet?

My name is Joy Iromuanya. I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. My dad came to the United States in the late 70s from Nigeria, and my mom joined him shortly after. I always wanted to travel because I heard my parents talk about their life in Nigeria, and I had a childhood friend who spoke about her father being a sailor in the Philippines and meeting her mother. I knew there was so much more to see and learn of the world and that is what prompted me to enlist in the United States Navy in October 2010. Once a year, the Navy would send me somewhere to complete my two-week annual tour, but I realized that I wanted to travel full time. So, in January of 2018, I applied and was hired by Delta Air Lines as a flight attendant.

2. Have you ever faced any challenges or issues as a Black female traveler?

I’ve traveled to many places around the globe in the last few years, but this past year, I spent two weeks in Naples, Italy, for my two-week annual Navy tour. While there, I downloaded a dating app thinking it would be an excellent way to meet local men. However, I was surprised by the number of men who asked me if I was African or American. Initially, I wasn’t sure how to answer; I consider myself African American. Nonetheless, it became abundantly clear that I would be treated with more respect if I identified solely as American. When I answered that I was African–just to see if there was a difference–Italian men would assume I was a sex worker.

3. What piece of advice would you give to new Black female travelers?

Many Black women were taught that the world is dangerous, and we are especially vulnerable as Black women. We fear that our skin color will make us more visible. We fear that we will face racism and stigma. We fear that even when we are endorsed, it will be through dehumanizing fetishization. Despite these very legitimate concerns, I encourage you to be unapologetically black. Wear your braids, afros and locs. Do things that you might not ordinarily do. Go horseback riding, take a cooking class, go ziplining. Date men who you wouldn’t typically date. Give other men a chance. In sum, get out of your comfort zone. Do research. Join black travel social media groups. They have a wealth of knowledge. Ask other black female travelers about their experiences, both good and bad. Ask if they experienced any overt or covert racism, listen to their stories. On my website, www.traveltheworldwithjoy.com., I also provide travel guides, including a list of places I would highly recommend for Black women to experience safe and respectful travel. I also list the names of excellent professional tour guides, accommodations, restaurants to eat, and activities to do.

4. Piece of advice to give non-black travelers?

Research the country you are visiting before you arrive in the country. Learn a few phrases of the native tongue. Learn the local customs, courtesies, and traditions. Does the culture expect women to dress modestly? What is going on in the country politically? Often, I meet non-black travelers who have no idea about the culture of the country they are visiting. They don’t even know basics like the currency,

conversion rate, and on what side of the road to drive. Visit places off the beaten path. Many of my non-black traveler friends stay at resorts and refuse to leave their cruise ship when it docks, but instead of playing it safe, spend three days in a resort and then three days in an Airbnb so you can mingle with locals and experience more of the vibrant everyday life and culture.

5. What are some myths and misconceptions about traveling as a Black female solo traveler that you’ve found to be untrue?

When I first started traveling, I didn’t know how I would be received. Would I encounter racism? Would my gender make me vulnerable? Indeed, sometimes locals do touch my hair and ask me questions. But I don’t feel disrespected. Usually, they are genuinely curious and admiring the beauty of my texture and style. (Of course, I would prefer that people not touch my hair without first asking for permission.) Some of the people in the country are also proud to be an ambassador, showing me their hometown. They want to make me feel accepted, welcome, and safe.

6. What are some states or countries that have been kind to you?

During a Belgium layover, a few friends of mine decided to take a train to Brugge. We had a fantastic time touring the city and eating. On the way back to our hotel, I realized that I had left my cellphone on my train seat. I was distraught. One of my friends suggested that I text, “This is my phone that I lost. Can I please meet up with you to get it back? Please text this number.” To make a long story short, a kind man texted us back and told us to come to his workplace to retrieve my phone. Once we arrived, he handed me my phone. I tried to offer him money, but he refused. We also mentioned that we were going to eat nearby. He told us that it wasn’t the safest neighborhood, and he wouldn’t advise it. His kindness meant the world to me because it showed me that good people still exist.

7. What are some states or countries that haven’t been so kind?

As a flight attendant, when I am working on certain international flights, passengers see me as their servant. During a flight to Lagos, Nigeria a few passengers left their luggage at the boarding door. They expected me to retrieve and stow their luggage for them. It is my company’s policy that customers are solely responsible for stowing their carry-on bags in overhead bins. Carry-on bag related injuries are a top driver of flight attendant injury each year, causing approximately 25% of In-Flight’s total injuries.

8. Tell us what you’re up to next and where we can find you.

Due to the COVID-19 global health crisis, I am currently on leave from Delta Air Lines but I’m hoping to return in November and resume travel. I also plan to blog about my Annual tour trip for the Navy to Connecticut this summer. In addition, I was also selected as the LimitLes Zion giveaway winner, so I will be going on a hiking trip this fall. You will find these blogs on my website Travel the World With Joy and Instagram. I would love you hear from you. Feel free to email me at traveltheworldwithjoy@gmail.com. Thank you.

Entrepreneur Interviews

The Faces of Dame Traveler: Interview with Stephy, co-founder of Moonlit Skincare

Hi Stephanie, thanks so much for chatting with us today! Could you tell us a little about your story and what you do, for anyone who doesn’t know you yet?

Hi! I’m Stephy, co-founder of Moonlit Skincare. Born and raised in Southern California, I attended Parsons School of Design and lived in NYC for 8 years before returning back to the West Coast. I worked in the corporate ecommerce and beauty industry (Dr. Dennis Gross, Kerastase, Obliphica, Shu Uemura) prior to launching Moonlit in 2017 with my former Parsons colleague Kriszta.

Dedicated to overnight skincare and sleep wellness (think overnight facial oils, silk eyemasks, pillowcases,), Moonlit has been featured in Marie Claire, VOGUE, WWD, and is carried by over 50+ retailers in the US and Canada, including Urban Outfitters and Pop-In@Nordstrom.

We believe in bolstering communities and linking arms with production partners around the globe who align with our core values.

I’m the proudest of our genuine relationships with our partners (from import/export team, production, silk manufacturer, packaging), the fact that we remain self-funded, but above all, Kriszta and I remain best friends!

Tell us a bit more about the trip that changed your life.

Moonlit was created during a time where dreaming was a way to ride out the current pain. It was 2016, the US was buckling under the weight of a frenzied presidential election news cycle as well as a sudden emergence of rabid misogyny and racism. It did not help that my corporate 9-5 job at the time was a stone’s throw from Trump Tower.

All year, I created a space of solace (and mentally escaped for an hour or so a day) around this little indie beauty project in a folder titled ‘moonlighting gig’ which eventually contributed to the development of the name. It looked like a smattering of design doodles, mish-mosh moodboards, and lots of pricing charts; but this microcosm of sleep-focused beauty was everything that I needed in a sleepless city.

With my cortisol levels drained and the sheer, gritty stress of corporate grind, and polarizing noise around me, I booked a very spontaneous (but at the same time, long overdue) solo flight to Bali. No computer, no hotel plans, no social media, and a terribly packed carry-on.

Instead of traditional journaling, I created lists (what feels good vs. what doesn’t, travel bucket lists, my favorite foods, 10 people I treasure the most, movies I love, what my ideal morning looks like). Being alone allowed me to hear my thoughts, turn the dial down on external noise, and prioritize what I wanted to accomplish. While I was there, I was able to connect with a female-owned manufacturing lab through a friend whom I worked with during my corporate beauty years.

The lab we work with in Bali is an embodiment of everything that Kriszta and I believe in: employing and empowering women, sustainable, zero carbon emissions (handmade), a strong commitment in preserving a community and not automating away.

It felt good to invest our own funds into a place that had a strong foothold on bettering the lives of women and gave us the fuel to continue building out the brand, eventually launching mid-2017.

What has been your favorite destination so far and why?
Besides Ubud in Bali, I’ll say The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

It’s a corner of the universe that is so well-preserved and respected. There are lots of rules (the number of tourists per season is limited, a certified guide must take you on specific paths, stay 6 ft away from animals) but it was clear that’s what it takes to sustainably support its wildlife and terrain. It’s made me think differently about the way I should conduct myself back on US soil at National Parks and in nature in general.

As the writer G.K. once said: “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”

Through your experiences, what has travel taught you? What lessons does travel bring to those who experience it?

When I was 10 years old, I spent a summer in South Korea. It was difficult to connect with other kids there because I didn’t speak the language and was an outsider in the truest way. One day, I was listening to my walkman in the park, studying the CD case, and a girl my age comes over to me and asks excitedly, “Britney Spears?” It blew my mind because well, I didn’t think people knew about Britney Spears outside of the US (this is pre-internet) and certainly not in South Korea. I mean, how famous was this woman?

Totally different upbringings, languages, continents, views on governments, spice tolerances but yes, this gal and I listened to “Stronger,” bonded, and became friends. We found an overlap and were way more open with each other in accepting new ideas, trading CDs, eating Korean ice lollies, and teaching each other our homelands’ funniest words.

Just because something is different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. We can open our eyes to new methods, novel designs, and figure out what works best for us moving forward.

As a side note, I think about K-pop’s influence on the world and smile about that Britney summer.

Have you ever faced any hard circumstances or issues as a female travelever?

I’d say the most common challenge I’ve faced is not being taken seriously because I’m a solo Asian female traveler but oh boy, I’ve definitely learned to speak up for myself over the years because –heck, who’s going to?

What piece of advice would you give to new female entrepreneurs?

Protect your creativity. Nurture it because it is a valuable extension of yourself when it’s integral to your work. Be gentle and give yourself the breathing room to grow and navigate yourself. Time is a tool and you can learn how to preserve your energy, sanity, and train yourself to be as efficient for the long run.

How do you think you will view travel moving forward?

The reasons why I travel are distilled down to discovery and connection and I don’t think it’s mandatory to get on a flight to find those.

During this lockdown, I’ve been looking up flights and creating itineraries just for kicks. Destinations range from 1 hour by car to 16 hours on plane. I don’t care if it’s silly or deemed futile. Let me dream. It’s getting me through this time.

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