Please tell us a little something about yourself.
Well…Let’s see. I love bacon. I’m not sure how much more comprehensive I can be. That’s pretty much it.
Aside from that, I’m a proud native of Chicago’s South Side. And although I’ve been in DC for nearly 11 years (wow), I will always self-identify as a Chicagoan. I’ve been a musician for my entire life, which is partially what led me to DC. I got a music scholarship to attend Howard University and was the section leader of Howard’s Drum Line for 3 of my 4 years. We won two first place finishes at Madison Square Garden and the Apollo Theater, but I digress…After I graduated from Howard, I started a nonprofit organization, called The MusicianShip, while in my second year of law school at George Washington. The MusicianShip is a nonprofit organization that provides free music lessons, experiences, and opportunities for at-risk youth. I graduated from law school in 2011. In no particular order, I now work full-time in government contracting, am the CEO of The MusicianShip, and travel. That’s the short version!
What does travel mean to you?
Is “Everything” a sufficient answer? No? Ok. Travel, to me, is a gateway—a gateway to happiness, education, perspective, freedom, relaxation, rejuvenation, and inspiration. It opens my mind, clears out the gook, and replenishes it with possibility and joy. It means a lot to me.
What do you love the most about traveling?
I love the general idea of global citizenship. I also love observing new things and people, with which/whom I wouldn’t ordinarily come into contact.
Where have you traveled internationally?
I’ve been to Australia, Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam (kind of).
What is your favorite place to travel and why?
Australia is my favorite nature destination. It was my first time digesting God’s creation in a jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring way. The Great Ocean Road tour, featuring the Twelve Apostles made me say “Only God could have created something this beautiful.”
Rome is my favorite man-made city. It’s so old, historic, and impressive. There is, literally, something around every corner that makes you say “Are you serious? They really built this 200 years ago and its still in use?” Rome is where the heart is.
Australia and Rome are, unequivocally, my favorite two trips. There are a lot of close thirds. But, for some reason, Hawaii sticks out—maybe because I went skydiving. The island of Kauai is also supposed to be the sixth most beautiful island in the world.
What inspired you to start traveling?
It wasn’t until recently that I began to recall all the traveling I did with my parents when I was younger. My parents, both ministers, would always bring me along to church conferences across the country. There was something about being away from home, seeing something new, getting my bed made in hotel rooms, and having unfettered access to a hotel swimming pool that made me extremely excited about traveling.
I would say I had a resurgence of my travel interest in 2009 when I went to London with one of The MusicianShip’s co-founders. He is a professional musician and tours the world. I asked to tag along and he let me crash in his room. Prior to this trip, I had been to Canada, Bermuda, and the Bahamas. While I very much enjoyed those trips, I never felt like I was experiencing notably different people, cultures, food, or social mores.
My trip to London really opened my eyes. Part of what made this trip so fascinating was seeing constructs that were hundreds of years older than anything you’ll see in the United States. I really took to how they were dressed, how they spoke, and how passionate they were about their nationality. After this trip, I vowed to travel abroad at least once every other year. Since that trip to London, I’ve traveled abroad, not only once each year, but some times 2 or 3 times each year. This year, I’ll be aboard 4 times, not to mention the domestic travel I’m doing, just about, each month that I’m stateside.
The greatest challenge you’ve faced while traveling
The greatest general challenge I’ve faced is staying healthy. Up until this year (when I finally got put on to Airborne) I would always come back home with a little cough or a sniffle (totally worth it by the way). Invest in some immune boosters like Airborne or Emergen-C. It makes a difference!
The greatest single challenge I’ve faced was being denied entry to Vietnam at the boarder in Ho Chi Minh. Long story short, before you travel to a country, make sure you don’t need a Visa. Also, Visa On Arrival does not mean the same thing in every place. In Turkey, for example, you can arrive, get a visa, and enter the country. In Vietnam, for example, you must apply ahead, be approved, and receive your visa (that you’ve been approved for) on arrival. Don’t end up (like me) getting your passport confiscated, being stuck for 8 hours in the airport, and told that if you get denied from another country, you’ll be banned from Singapore. Haha!
Have you lived abroad? Tell us about your experience.
I’ve never lived abroad. In fact, not doing a study abroad program is probably my only college regret.
How do you afford to travel – are you rich?!
I afford traveling by flying cheap, by lodging with people I know in certain destinations, and by having someone else pay for it!
I should note that there is no hard and fast blueprint. There are so many different ways that one can “afford” to travel. Everyone’s story, path, and game plan is unique. Looking forward to sharing some additional travel tips with your audience soon!
What is the number one place on your bucket list?
I don’t know if I have a dream location, but my goal is to visit every continent by 30. I’m visiting Africa for the first time in August. Somehow, I’ll need to squeeze in South America and, perhaps, Antarctica before April 27th of next year. There are actually cruises from South America to Antarctica. That’ll do. Haha!
What is your travel personality?
I’m an ambitious adventurer. I’m up and out early, experiencing things and activities that I wouldn’t ordinarily experience. I have a bucket list of things I want to do in each place and I’m pretty set on making all of those things happen.
What advice would you give new travelers?
There’s so much advice I, or any regular traveler, can give new travelers, but most of it is regional, situational, or contingent advice. I would say this. “Go for it. Y.O.L.O.”
What is one thing you don’t like about traveling?
Honestly, there isn’t much I don’t like about traveling. Most people might say they don’t like layovers or long flights, but I’ve somehow managed to enjoy that as well. Those are the times when no one has access to me. I can go into a shell and enjoy uninterrupted marathons of work, in solitude, while listening to music I love.
The only thing I don’t like about traveling is returning home to see other people going through security. I’m always saying to myself “Man. I wish I were headed somewhere…” Haha!
Oh! I REALLY don’t like filling out the cards you have to complete for Customs. I’m always scrounging for a pen or for my passport because I haven’t memorized my passport number. Ha!
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while traveling?
The scope of culture shock is so broad. There are differences in every country I’ve been to, but nothing has shocked me per se. I’m normally not a controversialist, but here it goes. What’s culturally shocking is that I, as an African American male, am more warmly received and broadly accepted overseas than I am in the United States. The most prejudicial and racist experiences I’ve had were in my own country—not in Europe, Asia, Australia, or anywhere else in North America for that matter. God Bless America.
What are your travel essentials that you must have when traveling?
My travel essentials are, of course, my phone, wallet, and passport. Beyond that, I need my headphones, Beats pill, and laptop.
Where can we find you on social media or blog?