As a person of color, being seen as a “different” traveler is not a novel experience. Having “locs” (or dreadlocks as they are commonly referred to) and being able to occupy spaces where people of color are not normally seen makes me appear different to many and sparks curiosity. I’ve learned to embrace being different and to see it as a positive experience. Here are five ways you can make your presence as a different traveler a more pleasurable experience.
1.Smile. Even in the face of obvious displeasure, it throws off those who tend to see you differently. It takes less energy to smile than it takes to frown and often gives you a sense of power not expected. Most people can’t help but wonder why you are smiling when they think you should not be. Positivity wins every time.
2.Embrace being the object of attention. This is yet another way to remain positive in the face of being made to feel different. Enjoy reading or listening to a book, or watching a movie, if you prefer solitude. Sooner or later, your comfortability appearance will actually become real, and you won’t even notice the looks.
3.Be open to curiosity. I have found that being open to having conversations or answering queries that respect my boundaries to be more informative than invasive. I have had many conversations about my hair and have learned to embrace curiosity to teach my culture to people.
4.Embrace being different and love the skin you’re in. No two people are the same, and everywhere you go, whether the destination is local or international, you will be different from the people surrounding you, be it in features or culture.
5.Know that just as you seek to gain new experiences and knowledge by traveling, many others are doing the same. Traveling opens us up to new worlds, and to many, we as travelers are part of their experience. An open mind is the best luggage you can carry.
Have you experienced being a “different” traveler? Has it been a positive or negative experience? I’d like to know.
For years I have had to battle the question of my travel experiences. When it was professional, it was “how can you leave your kids?” When it was personal it was again about the kids and whether I should put their needs first. Recently the question was “what about Covid?”
There will always be questions no matter your choice. The only right choice is the inner choice you make and life is too short not to put yourself first.
I always choose me! This might seem selfish, but I cannot be a good mother, wife, or friend if I am stressed out and unhappy. I have learned that more now since becoming an empty nester than ever before. My kids are grown, and I honestly believe that they would not have me make any different choices than the ones I made. Of course, they have not always been happy with my choices, but at the end of the day, I have.
You can be replaced easily at work, marriages fail, children grow up, and tomorrow is never promised. Life is too short not to travel, not to take a vacation, not to get a massage, not to put yourself first. Choosing to travel is a gift to yourself that you can open as many times as you desire. My choice is to travel, it’s the gift I give to myself.
Have you ever been judged for your choice to travel? Let me know in the comments. I bet I’m not alone.
Having traveled both professionally and personally, I can certainly attest to the travel envy often directed to me even though unheard and unseen but very present.
As an international flight attendant, my job took me all over the world. It was not uncommon for me to fly to unique destinations such as Paris, London, Buenos Aires, Bermuda, or Madrid within the same month. At the same time, I was still a mother and a wife and had to contend with all that those roles entailed. I quickly learned when trying to establish a relationship in the community, to gloss over my job. Mentioning destinations seem to bring on the envy of travel and I would quickly say “I’m a flight attendant” and change the subject as many seemed to hear my destinations as a brag. I would get responses along the direction of “oh how nice” or “that’s wonderful.”
It was not unheard of to get responses like “what about your kids?” or “how does that work with your husband and kids?” With my explanation that it was just a job like any other, I would inevitably get the response “it must be nice!” To me, that was the code for travel envy. I quickly learned in conversations to say that I was “going to work” or “going on a work trip.” Always conscious to never say a destination.
As an ex-pat in Europe and Asia, there were plenty of opportunities to travel in those areas. Thankfully I had learned from my professional travel experience to not discuss my travel plans in depth when having conversations with family and friends. Here too, the refrain “it must be nice” was also heard.
It was an honor and privilege to be a flight attendant for over twenty years and to fly to so many unique destinations. However, it was also a job and many times after long haul flights, the only part of the city seen was the hotel room. My personal travel was quite different as destinations such as Bali or Bangkok were planned with itineraries and time to complete them all.
I can certainly empathize with the travel envy now that Covid has canceled so many travel plans for me. But I know as long as I travel, there are many others whose dream of travel is unmet. So, I am very careful in discussing my travel plans and limiting or tailoring those discussions to the audience.
Have you ever experienced travel envy? How do you handle it? Does my story strike a chord? I’d love to hear your take.