Picture: Cape Town, South Africa
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
I’m a blogger at the cross-section of travel and weight loss. Both my success with weight loss and my experiences traveling have truly changed and shaped who I am fundamentally as a person today, as cliché as that may sound.
After graduating University in 2014 I decided that it was time to make a change with my health/weight, after a bad breakup and being obese most of my life. I started blogging about my experience trying to lose weight, as a way to publicly hold myself accountable and found that there were so many people who were like me, who wanted to lose weight but didn’t know how, and my journey became their journey. In total, I lost 80lbs in roughly 6-8 months.
My weight loss journey not only shifted my mindset and my physical appearance, but it gave me the confidence to go after my dreams of traveling and to similarly document this process to continue to be a resource and a source of encouragement and inspiration. Growing up where I did, in a lower/middle class neighborhood, with a single mother, I did not have access to people who looked like me who were traveling internationally and I also wasn’t exposed to many different cultures. But, I knew there was more out there than just Pennsylvania, and that I wanted to see it. I took my first international trip with family, on a cruise to the Bahamas, but the trip that really changed it all for me was a study abroad Maymester in Egypt in 2013. Egypt is magic. The people were so kind, the traffic crazy, the food delicious, and the culture rich. From that moment on, I knew that traveling was an education that no degree could match and freedom that I would chase for the rest of my life. I wanted to share this feeling with others and to share my process so they could too travel, so I began to blog about it.
Since that Maymester in Egypt, I’ve been to five continents, over 20 countries, and 28 states and have no plans of slowing down. My favorite trips so far (aside from Egypt) have been South Africa, Peru and Cuba, which was really hard to narrow down, but standout for their food, the experiences I had, and the friends I made! I’ve been traveling to an average of 3-4 countries a year, in addition to frequent trips around the US, all while working full-time, which I think is important to mention. I’ve also been able to maintain my weight loss, despite becoming an avid foodie throughout my many adventures.
It took a while to get my family onboard with my travels, understandably, as they didn’t see a lot of people who looked like us doing this, and they were fearful for me. As a black woman traveling throughout the world, they were nervous for how I would be perceived, how people would treat me, how safe I would be, and these fears oftentimes haunted me. But I realized, after 20+ countries, people are more alike than not, that the media typically shows you the worst of a place, and that there are more good people than bad. I also realized that I had more negative experiences in my own hometown compared to experiences while traveling abroad, though I still do my research and due diligence. When I think about what’s next for me, I see myself leaving the United States, even if only temporarily, to fully immerse myself in a new culture, learning a new language and soaking in the new experience.
Travel Advice: Lean into discomfort! Traveling can be scary, going into unknown territory, language barriers, and culture shocks, but this is good. With proper planning and an open mind, the world is literally at your hands, take advantage and stretch yourself in uncomfortable situations as much as possible! ***Also, realize there are tons of ways to travel affordably to make travel (or frequent) travel a reality, leverage the resources available to you!
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