Friday, February 4, 2011

"Traveling is life affirming and life changing!"

A View To A Thrill
Renee King

Renee King at Eiffel Tower

1. What message do have for students who want to travel?  
I believe that traveling opens up possibilities in one's life.  I believe it makes you braver and more likely to take on challenges that you are bound to face in your lifetime.

2. What are your childhood memories of travel ?   
My earliest memories of traveling was sitting in the backseat of our family station wagon and watching my daddy drive us to visit family members up north.  We lived in Alabama, so it was always a treat to just get away and see something that was totally different from my own backyard.

3. Where did you dream of traveling when you were a child? 
I'd always wanted to travel outside of the United States.  I thought going somewhere exotic was exciting and something that I definitely wanted to experience.

4. Did you travel as a child? 
As a child, we only took road trips.  I was twenty nine years old before I ever flew on a plane.  I was a late bloomer!

5. What did you learn as a child about the expectation for black people to travel?  
The lessons were subtle.  I really didn't know anyone who traveled on a regular basis.  I think the prevailing attitude was that it was too expensive and you know black folks didn't have money to least that's what everyone was convinced of.

Moulin Rouge Paris

6. Did you admire or know of any Black people that traveled when you were a child? Quite frankly, I didn't know any black people who traveled for the sake of traveling.  Most only traveled when someone was sick or had died.  It was strictly for specific purposes, never for pleasure.

7. Why should Black people travel? 
I believe that when you limit yourself to a certain geographic area, you are cheating yourself.  There is a great big world out there waiting to be seen.  The world isn't reserved for certain people.  It belongs to all of us.  We all have the right to travel, to explore new environments, to learn about other cultures and beliefs.  I believe traveling makes you a better citizen of the world.  It allows you to see that there is so much more out there besides what you see in your neighborhood.  You are doing yourself a disservice to not explore, to not be curious about the world around you.

8. What was your first trip? 
As a child, my first trip was to New York City.  As an adult, my first independent trip was to Los Angeles, CA.

9. How did you plan for it? 
First, I searched for the best airfare that I could find.  I did research on the city and knew in advance that I would want to take a Hollywood Tour, visit Graumann's Chinese Theater, Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills.  I kept all of the information that I could find in a binder.  I can't stress enough how important it is to research your destination.  It's fun and it creates a checklist of things that you must do while you are there.  This trip marked the first time that I used Priceline to book my hotel.  I got a great deal for $60.00 per night!

10. What was your experience there?
It was magical.  I didn't get to see any Hollywood stars, although I thought I saw Tom Cruise riding his motorcycle...though I can't swear to that.

a) positive experience -
Viewing all of the celebrity homes was top on my list.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the people were very friendly too.

b) negative experience- 
I got sick on the plane ride home.  I think the food that I ate before boarding didn't agree with me.

Loire Valley, France

11. Was your travel experience what you expected? Yes!  I was really excited to see that place that I had only heard about on television all of those years.  It made the city real for me.  I was there.  I walked its sidewalks.  It was an exhilarating experience!

12. How is your travel experience as a Black traveler different from what you perceive as a White traveler?
I will admit to some reluctance when I first began to travel seriously.  I wondered if I would be viewed as suspect when I traveled.  I wondered if people would look at me in a foreign land the same way they did in my country of birth.  Let's face it.  There is a serious racial problem in the United States.  Whites make assumptions about our character on a daily basis.  I feared that I would get the same attitude from whites abroad.  I was wrong.  It was so pleasant.  I never had to focus on how I would be perceived.  I was just treated as a human being.  It was nice to go from place to place not feeling as if my race was at issue.  I'm not saying every place is perfect, but in my limited experience, I had no problems with being treated differently. 

13. What is your voice as a Black travel blogger?
I think it's important to encourage travel PERIOD.  My blog isn't really focused on any one race.  My hope is to try to inspire the gift of travel in everyone.  The gift is learning about how beautiful mother earth is and how it would be a shame to leave it without  having seen so many things that she has to offer.  I want to show everyone of all races, that everyone of all races has the RIGHT to travel.  You should never limit yourself, always try to challenge any limits placed upon you.

14. Where do you dream of traveling now? Why? 
I am planning a two week trip to China next year.  I hope to visit as many cities as I can when I get there.  We've (my daughter is my travel partner) never been to Asia, so that is the next place we plan to go.  Next up, Kenya.  I met someone who gives Safari tours there and I can't wait to go.  My ultimate goal is to visit all seven continents.  Fingers crossed!

15. Anything else you would like to add?   
Traveling is life affirming and life changing.  Get out there and see the world.  You won't regret it.