This last year has been one of adventure for me as my personal travels have taken me across the country and even across the globe! In looking for resources to help me in navigating my journeys, I was so delighted to stumble across BlackGirlFly.com - a blog dedicated to "women and girls who travel in color!" It is now one of my FAVORITE blogs and can boast of an amazing Facebook community that is more than 1,000 members strong! Recently, I had a chance to interview the blogstress herself, Gabrielle, to share a bit about her journeys around the world and how you can get in on the fun too!
Tell me about your blog, BlackGirlFly.com
BlackGirlFly.com is my heart and soul. I remember being in Costa Rica back in May and looking through all of my photos from my travels and thinking of how much I've changed because of my solo travels. I was sitting in my room, thinking of a way that I could share my journey, my growth. BlackGirlFly was initially a private blog focused on my solo travels abroad as a plus size black woman. It is now focused on telling the stories of black women globetrotting the world together, it's truly a sisterhood that is 1,170 members deep currently.
What inspired you to start traveling internationally?
In all honesty, waking up out of an ongoing silent battle with depression. I was bouncing from job to job, going through health issues that include a brain disorder and feeling so alone I could scream if I felt anyone would hear me. In 2012, I almost lost my mother, which made me focus on being healthy and not skinny. The end result was losing 80lbs in 8 months or so. That was my "wake-up" moment. Something about lifting weights made me lose my passiveness about life. I wanted more, I wanted to live, truly live. The day before my 28th birthday, I received my passport and I booked my first solo trip to Barcelona. I found myself in so many ways, the fear of it challenged me but conquering my fears made life at home so much more manageable.
One thing that you've addressed on your blog is the fact that you make NO apologies for "flying while fat." However, many readers of Curvy CEO still let this fear hold them back. What advice would you give them?
Sis, let that go. I spent so many years apologizing for my weight and [pullquote]I spent so many years apologizing for my weight and hiding myself. Literally avoiding mirrors. The most beautiful thing about travel is that your time is so short in these amazing locations that you stop giving energy to things that distract you. You begin to open yourself up to conversations with strangers, you laugh loudly and in the midst of all of that you realize that no one is paying attention to you.[/pullquote]hiding myself. Literally avoiding mirrors. The most beautiful thing about travel is that your time is so short in these amazing locations that you stop giving energy to things that distract you. You begin to open yourself up to conversations with strangers, you laugh loudly and in the midst of all of that you realize that no one is paying attention to you. As far as the plane ride there, avoid the middle seat and pick an aisle if you worry about infringing on personal space. When I first began my travels, I cleared the air by asking my seat neighbor if he was okay. I made a quick joke about us being a bit tight (the row was filled) and his laughter cleared the air for me.
Have you ever encountered any negativity based on your race, weight, or gender while traveling abroad? How did you handle and
overcome such incident?
*knocks on wood* Not yet, none at all. Call me crazy but I believe you attract the energy you manifest or exude. I expect to meet good hearted people, I expect to be safe and enjoy myself. In turn, I've had a cab driver in Spain buy me a cell phone when he found out I was traveling solo. I was given beautiful Venetian masks while in Italy from a shop owner. I've even held conversations at 3am in the red light district in Amsterdam with the girls who work there. I'm not saying that this protects me 100% but I do believe the law of attraction plays a major part in not just travel, but the experiences we have in life.
What tips do you have for people who are interested in traveling more but currently lack the funds to do so?
I've abandoned hotels for the moment and I've embraced AirBnB
- it's truly my BFF at this point. I live for a good flight deal! Gone are the days of buying a ticket at the first price you see. I set alerts on several websites so that the MOMENT it falls, I get a message and can buy instantly via my phone. I also plan for (most) trips six months out. That allows me to put $200-$250 a check into an account just for spending. By the time the trip comes around, I have about $1,500 to spend and possible return with some to put aside for the next trip. Another thing I suggest is to sacrifice. Take a look at your daily/weekly expenses. Do you need a Vanilla Bean Frapp daily? You've bought 3 pairs of shoes this month, why? It's far more cost effective to cook at home and bring your lunch to work than it is to eat out daily - $5 a day is $140 a month, on coffee. Add another $150, that's a flight right there!
[caption id="attachment_9697" align="alignleft" width="300"]
Gabrielle of BlackGirlFly![/caption]What has been the most meaningful lesson that you've learned through your travels?
Everyone isn't out to hurt me. I am the product of homeschooling and losing a parent while in high school. I was an extroverted introvert. I wasn't open to meeting new people, so when old friends left my life I found myself alone and scared to allow new friendships to form. Travel changed ALL OF THAT! I'm not introverted at all anymore, I love to meet new people and to maintain those relationships. Travel taught me how important it is to have those meaningful relationships, that's my ultimate goal for BlackGirlFly actually. I want us to not just be a group you pop your head in once a month but you wake up at 2am just to see what someone just said or to check on a group member who is going through a tough time.
What has been your favorite travel destination?
Barcelona! I fell so in love with that city. When I began packing to leave, I remember crying and thinking of a way to extend the trip but I was running out of money lol!
Anything else that you'd like to share?
I dare every woman who reads this to create the life she's envisioned for herself. Take a deep breath and worth through it. If you are on Facebook, search for us! It's BlackGirlFly
and subscribe to the blog, www.blackgirlfly.com
. So many thanks to Curvy CEO for interviewing me - hope to see you on a trip!
Yes, girl, you absolutely will! And, in fact, YOU can travel with BlackGirlFly, too! Gabrielle has already begun organizing group trips for 2016. Check them out here! Thank you SO much for sharing. I know I found this really motivational and inspiring - I hope you did, too!