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Interviews

Black is Beautiful: Interview with Catia Dombaxe

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?

I am Catia Dombaxe. I am Angolan and currently I am living in the US studying Chemistry and Forensic Sciences. I am a part-time traveler and a travel photographer. I have visited 52 countries and I use my social media platform to inspire people, mostly women and minorities, to travel without breaking the bank.

In the past seven years, I have lived in three different countries and I have learned to adapt to any situation. In fact, traveling is the reason why I am such a flexible and happy woman.

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?

I would like to see more diversity and inclusion and when I say “diversity and inclusion” I mean true diversity. Completely inclusion of minorities and mostly black women. The lack of black people and women artists in the travel and photography industry is contempt. Black people and other minorities are very neglected, and I believe that my people just want opportunities. An infinity amount of opportunity to show that we are capable of achieve and create great things. Hence, my one and only advice to brands is to stop stereotyping us and genuinely give us the opportunity to show to the world how great we are.

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

This is a question I receive all the time and it is devastating to me because I or any other Black female traveler should not be receiving this question, but this is all due to how society portray and treat black people. Along with that I can say that I have encountered many challenges and issues due to the color of my skin and because I am a woman. In many countries, I was stared at, taxis refused to ride with me, I was filmed as if I was a horrible thing, and I was treated less than an average white person because I was black.

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

My women please do not ever give up of your dreams. Be ambitious and strong minded. Be spirited and explore the world with no fears. Many times, you will encounter obstacles along the way, but learn to turn these obstacles into opportunities. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and mostly importantly please learn to accept and love change. CHANGE can be uncomfortable, but CHANGE is bold and that is what you are… You are bold and you should conquer the world.

Piece of advice to give non-black travelers.

To my non-black travelers, I would give the same encouragement/advice I give to my black female travelers. Explore beyond your roots and find the different personas inside of you. If you are given an opportunity to travel and change, please use it well, so well that you help others. Be respectful of others and do your research. Get informed and please do not get caught on the stereotypes associated with other races. Do not judge others because the system/society taught you that some are better than the others. That is not true and should treat everyone like you would like to be treated.

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

“Women should not travel alone.” This is a great myth and people should stop sharing this misconception because it only scares women from exploring the world. Women should do whatever they want, but at same time and like everything in life, do your research and be knowledgeable of what you want and the places you want to visit. Be open-minded and understand that the new country you will visit is completely different from yours and should respect their norms and traditions because you are the guest in their house.

“It is impossible to travel while in college.” Another huge misconception. It is damn possible to travel while in college. In fact, this is the best time of your life to travel. A great amount of universities offers amazing study abroad programs such as Semester at Sea and many others. Traveling while receiving school credit is very satisfying due to the fact that you are “killing two birds with one stone…” You get to travel – sometimes free of any cost – and you get to continue your education.

“Traveling is too expensive.” A completely lie instigated by, mostly, people who does not travel. Yes, traveling can be expensive if you do not do your homework or if you just like luxury and can afford it. I am not rich, I am a college student, but I have explored many countries and a great number of cities. If I did, you can do it too. All you need is to be opened to the different doors’ life opens to you. Be sociable and do not be scared to mingle with different people. Research and plan your own trip. Thankful we all have Google and internet, use it to the fullest. Follow travels who do not have a big platform and ask questions. Be curious and just do not accept the first price, learn to bargain, and buy flight in advance to get the best deals.

“Couchsurfing is dangerous.” Couchsurfing is everything, but dangerous. I have been using couchsurfing for over 3 years and I just love the Couchsurfing community. For who does not know, Couchsurfing is an online platform/community for travelers who need to find a host or wish to host travelers in their home country. Couchsurfing grows every year and the fantastic aspect of this platform is that you do not need to pay for the place you will stay. Instead of paying your host, you will provide cultural exchange and perhaps cook a warm meal from the place you come from. Couchsurfing is safe if you are responsible and you research before deciding to use of deciding to request to stay with someone. Additionally, Couchsurfing is not a perfect platform and you can find people who are not the best people. I have had my “not so happy” moment with Couchsurfing, but that did not stop me from continue to explore. Every time I visit a new city or country, I tried my very best to stay with a couchsurfer host.

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

Most of the states or countries I have been the locals were kind and very welcoming to me. I am going to list any specific place because I do not have a favorite place. Every country or city I have explored taught me something new and introduced me to one of my many personas.

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

So far, I would say that China is the only country that I felt stereotyped at all times and overall, I was not comfortable in this country. I experienced pure racism and it was a horrible experience. However, I would still advice my solo female travelers, especially black women, to still travel to China and explore it. China is an exquisite country with a rich culture and splendid traditions. One day, I would like to go back to China and hopeful have a better experience.

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

Right now, due to COVID-19, I am in Virginia and for this summer I plan to only explore this state and perhaps other states, but I am not planning to do any international travels until 2021. I spend most of my time on my Instagram: @cdombaxi, but also, I am on my website where you can find travels tips, advice, and overall ask me questions. I love to help travelers. Additionally, I have been selling my travel book and prints, in canvas, of my travel photography. Everything is available on my website: www.zungueiramundial.com

Some of Catia’s work


Interviews

Black is Beautiful: Interview with Adrienne Jordan of @ajeveryday

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?

I’ve been an adventure travel writer with a focus on health and wellness for the last 9 years. My favorite thing to do when traveling is to get my blood pumping in some way and then write about my experience for various publications. I’ve run half marathons in Philadelphia and Washington DC; swam in the Devil’s Pool in Zambia; road biked through Angkor Wat, Cambodia; and scuba dived with hammerhead sharks in Bimini, Bahamas. My work has been featured in publications such as National Geographic Traveler, The Washington Post, USA TODAY, Travel + Leisure, AFAR, Esquire, Forbes and many other outlets over the years. I also recently launched my own adventure travel blog.

Photo by @emitoms

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?

I would like more recognition and equal pay for black travel influencers so that we are given the same opportunities as other influencers in this space. I recently heard of a beauty blogger press trip to the Caribbean where white bloggers were paid, and the black women were not. I would like to see black travel writers, influencers, and photographers being recognized for their powerful influence over the multibillion-dollar spending power of the African American community. When reaching out for partnerships, I would recommend brands acknowledging the disparity and then telling the influencer how they want to bridge the pay gap for a particular opportunity.

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

Thankfully, overall, I have had a positive experience as a Black female traveler, which could be due to the structure and nature of press trips. We are hosted at the best resorts, finest restaurants, and have some of the most thrilling experiences organized for us. For example, last fall I went on a fully sponsored dive press trip to St. Lucia and it was a week of some of the best experiences, from diving, amazing local food, and block parties. I had no complaints!

Photo by @emitoms

When I travel for pleasure outside of work, there are times where I may get stares from the predominately white groups on ski slopes or at high end restaurants. However, I take that as an opportunity for learning experiences for those people to know that travel is diverse and you may see black travelers pop up at these venues.

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

For Black female travelers taking their first big trip, I would recommend reaching out to all types of travelers-female, black, LGBT-depending on the demographic in which they identify. They can use Instagram or Twitter to find people with similar backgrounds that have been to the destination they wish to travel to in order to get advice on where to stay, eat, and explore. I think this “DM” method would work well over travel guides because it would be real advice in real time by real travelers.

Piece of advice to give non-black travelers?

Say hello to someone that you may not usually speak to when traveling. Spark up a conversation with a black or Hispanic traveler, a foreigner, or someone that they would not normally be comfortable speaking to. That would allow a conversation to ensue that might just surprise them in how they connect or have more similarities than differences.

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

That we only eat one type of food or may not like to do adventurous things when we travel. I have met black divers (not as much as I would like) on dive boat excursions; at wellness spas in remote places; going to a nightclub alone; whitewater rafting; among other niche experiences.

Photo by @emitoms

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

I love New York City, being the world hub of media and publishing. I live 20 minutes outside of the city, so being hosted at new hotel and bar openings; exclusive press events; free Broadway shows; and other functions where my press pass is like gold is super enjoyable. I also loved Myanmar for its diverse landscapes; Norway for its extreme physical beauty; and Nigeria for the local food and produce markets.

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

I wouldn’t like to throw a blanket over an entire state or country. Rather, there may have been moments that I may have experienced a discriminatory encounter, but I don’t allow that to hinder my overall view of a place.

Photo by @emitoms

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

I am going to continue to grow my adventure travel blog. I also have a section of my blog that is open to guest voices to share their first-person experiences traveling. Now during the pandemic, many of those stories are about COVID-related travel. You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Interviews LGBT+

LGBT+ Travel: Interview with Kirstie & Christine of @onairplanemode__

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

We are Kirstie & Christine, an LGBTQ+ couple from New York City that left our day jobs to backpack the world. Our adventures have taken us from the streets of Southeast Asia, to beer festivals in Germany, and the deserts in Rajasthan. We are sharing our adventures through beautiful content on our Instagram @onairplanemode__to inspire our followers to find their passion for traveling, all while celebrating who they are and whom they love. We also have a blog for our travel guides, tips and experiences during our travel as well as more on our lifestyle here.

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

When we first met, we always talked about taking a long trip where we would just buy a one-way ticket and not have to worry about time. We estimated a 3-month trip but that eventually became 4 months then 5 months then 9 months and here we are. The more we traveled the longer our bucket list became. We discovered more about ourselves and found a real passion for photography and traveling. We loved learning about cultures and fully being immersed in other people’s lives. Our trip opened our mind in so many ways, we went through 13 different countries in 9 months and developed a wider view for the world. We created a deeper bond for each other throughout our experiences, we challenged ourselves to talk to people without speaking the same language, we learned how to navigate in all 13 countries. It truly has given us a new perspective on how we appreciate life and motivates us to continue learning about different ways of life.

What has been your favorite destination you experience together so far and why?

For Kirstie, Malaysia is by far her favorite and for me, the Philippines is my favorite destination. Of course, this always changes with every trip but as of now, these are places we are craving to go back to.

Malaysia had many of the same qualities: beautiful islands and generous people. However, what stood out to us the most was the food! Malaysia, especially Kuala Lumpur, is known to be Asia’s melting pot. The food has many different influences from all over Asia which makes the food some of the best we had. Another favorite about Malaysia was the wildlife encounters. Whenever you go to the island of Borneo you will find orangutans, pygmy elephants, and the endangered proboscis monkeys! This is just to name a few, but you often find them in the wild here and it is a beautiful experience being so surrounded with nature.

The Philippines was just so underestimated. There are thousands of islands to choose from that are so rich in culture. It was so interesting to see all the different dialects and culture when you jump from each island. We created a bond with the locals and it just was so freeing. We stayed on Siargao island the longest where we woke up with the locals every morning at 5am to go surfing until the sun rises then we’d go to a local eatery where it felt like our very own mom was feeding us. Afterwards, we’d go back out to surf during sunset and then dance the night away. If the people didn’t win you over, then the tropical landscape will. We saw some of the most beautiful marine life here with coral reefs that were so colorful and thriving.

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

Traveling alters our life each and every new destination we visit. From an eco-perspective, we’ve seen first hand locals struggle from global warming issues like not being able to find fish for their family or seeing stretches of bleached coral. We learn how to be more open minded, live a sustainable and healthy life, care for our environment, and most importantly to be kind. A few things we have also noticed is that even in countries less privileged than we are in America people are still so kind and generous. This is something that changes you to your deepest core. You are challenged with a new and humble way of living which you will carry on through your years even after you are settled down somewhere.

Have you ever faced any hard circumstances or issues as a traveling LGBT couple?

Being an LGBT couple, we run into hard situations even in our own country. When we first went traveling, we were definitely nervous seeing that a lot of these Southeast Asian countries it is still illegal to be gay. However, the more we traveled the more we saw there are LGBTQ+ people everywhere.

Coming from NYC where we were comfortable with public displays of affection, we found it a little hard to not be couple-y but we understood and respected the countries we traveled to. PDA generally isn’t appropriate there anyway, gay or straight, so we didn’t feel completely outcasted. Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines were the most open and receptive to our relationship. We actually went to Taiwan specifically for Gay Pride. Taiwan just had legalized same sex marriage in 2019 and was the first asian country to do so.

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

With any place you travel to, you should always do your research and be observant of your surroundings. You want to be as safe as you can and make sure you’re prepared to deal with anything that could go wrong. When you leave your comfort zone, you have to trust your instincts, be confident in your decisions and embrace opportunities that may push personal boundaries.

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

It is important for women to travel and explore the world because it is empowering. It is becoming one and finding yourself. Being a woman and traveling has helped me discover what I like and don’t like, how I plan to spend my personal time, and has given way to help me realize what I truly value most in this world. Exploring the world gives you a sense of freedom to fully embrace all that you do, and to start loving yourself more just for being you.

 

Diversity Interviews

Black is Beautiful: Interview with Dame Traveler Onyi Moss

Onyi is a self taught photographer based in Manchester, UK. Originally from Nigeria, she moved to the UK to advance her career as a chartered accountant. She later discovered her passion for photography that eventually led to the creation of her blog. We discovered Onyi years ago and instantly fell in love with her beautifully curated romantic feed. She has curated one of the most beautiful galleries on Instagram. Be warned, once you click through, you won’t be able to stop scrolling. You can also find her in our recently published hardcover book, Dame Traveler: Live the Spirit of Adventure where you can find her featured!

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?

Thanks for having me. My name is Onyi and I’m a self taught fashion, travel and lifestyle photographer and writer. I fell into photography by accident when I was unemployed and was trying to find a job as an accountant because that’s what I studied. While binge watching reality TV shows, I stumbled across one that really caught my eye called “Fashion Bloggers”. It featured a group of women who were all self taught photographers taking amazing self portraits and writing about their journey. It piqued my interest so much so that I ordered a camera with my rent money to begin teaching myself photography. Seven years later, photography remains a passion of mine and I can’t see my life without it.

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?

I’d like to see a diverse range of people given the opportunity to take part in travel experiences and getting their unique perspective on it. My advice to brands would be to become more inclusive when it comes to representation as they’ll reach a wider range of real people who connect with their story.

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

I’d say the key challenge I’ve faced is actually getting the opportunity to travel. Because I hold a Nigerian passport, it means I usually have to apply for visas to travel. This means more costs on my part and the potential of being rejected. Sometimes the visa requirements are too bureaucratic, I find myself abandoning it altogether.

Another challenge I’ve faced which doesn’t happen very often because I now do my research, is dealing with unreceptive people who don’t necessarily welcome tourists in their area.

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

My advice would be to look for shared travel experiences from black travellers. Travel Noire is a good example of a place where you can find this community. I’d suggest travelling with a group of people you trust where possible.

Piece of advice to give non-black travelers?

It’d be to also do their research on the area they’re going to so they know what’s acceptable so as not to break any laws. Researching a place can lead to finding hidden spots and truly taking part in the experience.

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

St Lucia and Barbados, Lisbon.

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

Paris.
Porto, but that was because of the treatment I received at the airport which separated me from my husband and I had to find my way back home alone. But the people in the city were kind.

View this post on Instagram

Porto after sunset ☀️ #Porto #mossonyitravels

A post shared by Onyi Moss (@mossonyi) on

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

At the moment I’m spending most of my time indoors. I hope to resume travelling once it’s safe but have no destination planned yet. In the meantime, you can find me over on my Instagram and blog.

View this post on Instagram

A Lisbon memory 📖 #Lisbon #mossonyitravels

A post shared by Onyi Moss (@mossonyi) on

Interviews

Dame Traveler Behind the Lens Interview with Erika Hobart of Erika Explores

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what you do?
Hello! I’m a Japanese-American travel photographer and writer based in London. I had a fairly nomadic upbringing that inspired my love of adventure. And I worked in journalism for several years before deciding to turn my passion project, Erika Explores, into a creative business for all things related to travel.

This is a challenging time to be running such a business, but I have come to believe it is an opportunity to reflect on my experiences and practice gratitude. Travel is a privilege, and I hope when the time is right, we return to it with more love and respect than ever before.

As we begin our new #DTBehindTheLens series, we’re aiming to spotlight female travel photographers who are not only artists in their field but also showcase more than just a female figure in a photograph.

Why do you think it’s important for women photographers to be celebrated?
About four out of five working photojournalists are male — which means that a majority of the time, we are viewing the world through the lens of a man. It is crucial in photography (and all other forms of media!) that we are inclusive of and give voices to all genders, ethnicities, races, and sexual orientations.

What change would you like to see happen in the travel industry?
I want all of us — travelers and professionals in the travel industry — to embrace an approach that is adventurous, curious, and kind. To make well-informed choices about where to eat, shop, and sleep. To support locals and small businesses. To recognize and take a stand against tourism activities that exploit animals, people, and the world’s natural resources. Now that all but essential travel has stopped, it’s become evident what a luxury any travel otherwise really is. We all need to behave in a way that reflects that.

What is one of the most enthralling experiences you’ve had while photographing the world?
I remember sitting on a rooftop terrace in Marrakech last August, looking down at the bustling main square. The call to prayer sounded at sunset and the sky turned pink. Gas lanterns were turned on and smoke from the food stalls wafted through the air. It was absolute madness and made me feel intensely alive. I was photographing the scene below me, and had to put my camera down to take it all in. I just had this overcoming urge to stop what I was doing to thank the universe for its existence (and mine).

Through your experiences, what has travel taught you? What lessons does travel bring to those who experience it?
Travel has taught me that the world is a fascinating place and I know very little about it. That is both humbling and thrilling. It motivates me to never stop learning, to always strive to become a better person. Travel reminds me that I am forever a student, and I must keep my mind and heart open. I hope that’s what we all get out of travel.

Have you ever faced any hard circumstances or issues as a female travel photographer?
In all industries, particularly male-dominated ones, women who are assertive can be perceived as “difficult.” But it’s so important to advocate for yourself, to know your worth, and to be clear about how you expect to be treated.

What piece of advice would you give to new female travel photographers?
Get to know other female photographers — they are your community, not your competition. I love connecting with creative women and sharing experiences, as well as information and inspiration. Not only is there room for us all, but there is room for us to grow together and change the landscape of travel photography for future generations.

What is your editing process like? Any helpful tips for beginners?
Photography, like all forms of art, is subjective. I gravitate toward warm, earthy tones and images that possess a nostalgic feel. But there’s no right or wrong way to edit, it’s about finding an aesthetic that looks and feels right to you. So pay attention to what inspires you. Art, movies, music, quotes — any and everything. I think finding and developing one’s editing style comes from studying the things we are drawn to. Then we bring aspects of these things we love into our own creative work.

 What is it that you aim to photograph during your travel experiences?
I want to capture moments and scenes in a way that feels like something between documentary and dreamy. Because that’s what travel feels like to me — real, but surreal at the same time. This planet is truly spectacular. I hope my photographs reflect that and do justice to the sentiment in even a small way.

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