Travel and Food blogger Terri of Try Anything Once speaks with BWLW about her travel adventures, recommends countries that you should consider visiting on your next trip, breaks down the misconceptions about the costs of travel, and reveals her tips for new travelers in this edition of Black Women in the Global Village.
Most recently I was a consultant for a small start-up company. Before that I did state level legislative work. In the past, I was a real estate lawyer specializing in affordable housing development. I have a B.A. and a J.D.
I started blogging in December 2008 while planning my wedding. I got into blogging through the wedding blogging world. The first blogs that I read with any regularity were wedding blogs (waaay before I got engaged actually. Oops!). I stumbled onto Weddingbee and saw all of these really interesting women from all over the country many of whom were great writers and were chronicling their wedding planning journeys. Essentially, I was inspired to start my own blog, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to apply to blog for the site. I knew that I didn’t want to wonder what would have happened if had applied, so I applied anyway. I got accepted to blog for the site and wrote under the moniker of Mrs. Swan. After I finished recapping my wedding for the site, I decided I wanted to continue blogging and created my current blog, Try Anything Once , a food and travel blog.
What are some misconceptions about traveling?
I would say the biggest misconceptions that I have come across is the cost and safety arguments. Much of the travel that I have done was when I was younger and didn’t have much money. There are many ways to travel without having to be a millionaire (or anything remotely close to that). I have found that many people think leaving the U.S. is not safe, which I don’t think is entirely true. I’ve also come into contact with travel naysayers who believe that people in other countries dislike people living in the U.S. I have encountered so many friendly people traveling, many of whom don’t care where you’re from. I find that being open, friendly and respectful will go a long way in almost any culture.
I think my first real trip that I completely financed myself was the trip I took with my BFF to Spain. We spent about two weeks traveling to Madrid, Merida, Cordoba, and Sevilla. We stayed in small hostels/pensions and had a great time. Memorable moments include not having a place to stay in Sevilla and following this random to man to this cute, slightly run down hostel in the center of town. It was Semana Santa (Holy Week/Easter Week), and it was really hard to find places to stay. My BFF was not convinced, but I figured we could take this guy down together if he did anything suspicious on the way there. 🙂 The room was fine if not extremely worn, but it worked for a few nights. Plus, it was super cheap! Aaaahhh, the days before the Euro! 🙂
We had a nice time in Sevilla and got to experience the pasos or processions of floats with events depicting various scenes related to Jesus Christ’s trial and crucifixion. They are essentially public religious observances and are organized by cofradias, Catholic laypersons who organize the processions for Holy Week. We didn’t know when planning that we would have stumbled onto one of the biggest Catholic events in Spain. We were also a little weirded out because many of the participants in the pasos were dressed like Klansmen. They wear robes with hoods that have extremely pointy tops! I’m not even kidding. Of course that was not the intent at all! 🙂
Yes, my career choices have definitely proscribed HOW LONG I can travel at one time, but I haven’t let that stop me. I’ve used my time in grad school to live abroad for a semester in South Africa. I did an internship at a South African legal organization. That time allowed me to travel a little in southern Africa. I also did a summer abroad in Mexico and that was my first real trip abroad (without family and not to Antigua). The rest of my travel has been 1 to 2 1/2 week intervals. I don’t feel bad about that. I’m happy that I’ve even been able to go as many places as I have. I don’t think the focus necessarily should be on how long you are able to travel but just that you do.
My jobs have been primarily with small firms or the government, so as long as my work is not conflicting with a major project or an especially busy time, I have been able to go most places that I have wanted to. Also for most of my work life, I KNEW when the busy times were, so I could plan around them. Early on I picked workplaces/firms that may not have been as intense as others and might have a better work-life balance.
For me, travel is about self-discovery and continued learning. I really like learning about the history, culture, food and customs of new places. That for me is a way of broadening my knowledge of the world.
When you are in a new place, you often have to adapt to your new environment. Being able to adapt to new people and places is and important overall life skill. I think I’ve gained more confidence by traveling because I trust that I will be able to deal with any situation I encounter.
I’ve only traveled alone once, but I thought it was a lot of fun. One of the big differences is being able to control the pace of what you do without compromise. If I wanted to walk around all day, I could. I ate what I wanted to when I wanted to. Also I found that I had certain experiences because I was traveling alone. I met people and interacted with them differently. I think traveling with my husband and friends is fun, but when you’re with another person often you create your own little community. While traveling with one or more people, there is a tendency to be a bit insular. Traveling alone frees you from that.
Namibia– I really want to return here to see its red desert and the former German colonial town of Swapkopmund. It was really interesting landscape overall. If people travel to southern Africa, they tend to go to South Africa, but I think there are some interesting things to see in Namibia.
Cuba – Yes, I went legally. If there is a way to go to Cuba before the U.S. travel ban is lifted (which will hopefully be during our lifetimes), I definitely recommend it. The people are friendly, and the food and music are downright fabulous. Also the political history of the island has had a profound impact on all aspects of the culture (I guess that’s pretty obvious, right?). Definitely take advantage of the tours that are being sponsored to Cuba now.
Turkey – I went to Turkey in March, and I loved it. There is so much history dating back generations. If you are interested in religious history, there is so much to see and learn regarding early Christianity and Islam. Go to the Cappadocia region if you can because it is some of the most stunning and unique scenery you’ll see. Also I didn’t have a bad meal the entire time whether it was a local Mom & Pop place in a small town or a high-end restaurant. Turkish food is very tasty.
I WISH!!! I was going to go abroad again this fall to travel solo again, but I decided not to. I am trying to focus on sussing out my future career goals right now. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be traveling in the future though.
Definitely more travel! I’d like to take a trip with my BFF, who was my first travel partner before my husband. My husband and I will look into starting a family and see what’s in store for that part of our lives. I’d also like to be more settled on a career path that I am excited about.
Do: Research, research, research – There are so many resources online regarding travel these days. Use them to plan your trip. Having an understanding of the logistics before you get there can only help your trip.
Do: Try to read about your destination before arriving – You don’t need to read whole books, but take some time to do a few internet searches or read the general information section of your guidebook. It will give you context for what you are seeing and experiencing.
Don’t: Think you can’t travel – You can!! Be intentional about incorporating travel into your life, if that’s what you want.
Don’t: Think that your destination has to be just like home– It’s not supposed to be.
Do: Learn a phrase or two if you are going someplace where another language is spoken. Sometimes a simple hello in the local language will go a long way with the people you encounter.
Don’t: Let fear prevent you from having interesting experiences – Be aware of your surroundings, customs and cultural cues, but don’t be so paralyzed by fear that you don’t take the time to explore or experience something new.
What are your thoughts on the image and progress of black women in the US in next few years?
I feel that the images of Black women can be so schizophrenic. One the one hand you got “Basketball Wives” and other the other hand you’ve got the intelligence and grace of our First Lady Michelle Obama. Throughout my life I have often felt that people put black women in a box. They are surprised to see that we like certain things or do certain things (Like travel!). I love seeing black women achieving in areas/activities that we are not usually associated with. I was just reading about a black woman who was trying to start in a NASCAR race and another who will be the first Black woman to represent the U.S. on the Olympic fencing team. I want black women to continue to break barriers and continue to change and push people’s perceptions of who we are, what we like and what we are able to do.