This I Do For Me is a Black-owned travel company that provides international travel and cultural opportunities to African American women over 50. Owned by the Chicago-based entrepreneur Robin Joyce Tillotson, this Black-owned travel company intends to make a difference in the lives of many Black women in their prime.

“We use the trips to help us identify what we want to manifest in our ‘second act’ of life,” Tillotson said. “For some that has translated into encore careers, starting new businesses or writing a book.”

Travel Noire had the chance to catch up with Tillotson to learn more about her company’s activities and how it is helping women over 50 get more confidence in many aspects of their lives. 

Travel Noire: How did you come up with the idea of creating this Black-owned travel company?

Tillotson: I decided to start the business because I was noticing that women age 50+ were doing for everyone else— grandchildren, aging parents, community organizations, spouses, etc. But, they were not doing anything that was just for them. Many would say continuously that they wanted to travel, and when I would talk to them a year later, they still hadn’t taken any steps to do so.  

A couple of women said they always wanted to go to Australia, and TIDFM’s inaugural trip was to Sydney, Australia. Now these same women who kept putting off travel now say, “when is the next trip? “

TN: What’s the story behind the company’s name?

Tillotson: The name of the company comes from a saying my mother would use when she would finally do something for herself after sacrificing her own desires.  Whenever she would buy something for herself, she would then say, “now, this I do for me.”

TN: What are the main profiles of your clients?

Tillotson: My clients range from ages 50 through 78. Many of my clients are still actively engaged in the workforce – either through owning their own businesses or serving as administrators in government settings, as clinical therapists, attorneys and professional artists.  Many have left lucrative careers to start small businesses that line up more with their values as they continue to evolve. Only a small portion of them are retired, and even they don’t see retirement as a time to sit in rocking chairs. But, they have used this new phase as a way to retool, RE-FIRE (versus retire) and rebrand themselves for the second act of their lives.  

 TN: How many people have already used your services since you started? 

Tillotson: TIDFM has two practice areas; the travel side and the travel consultation side.  Since starting the business in 2015, I have escorted approximately 55 women in small groups of 8-12 to various destinations internationally. On the travel consultation side, I have worked with over 100 women to help them navigate through planning their initial overseas trips. This involves educating them on securing flights, selection of accommodations, identifying culturally unique restaurants, securing of passports/visas, making recommendations on the daily excursions and sight-seeing, how to secure foreign currency and appropriate packing and other travel wisdom.

TN: How many countries have you visited so far?  

Tillotson: We have visited 15 countries on all continents except Antarctica. Most of those excursions have taken place on the continents of Europe and Asia.

TN: What were the countries that had the most successful experience among the groups who traveled with you?

Tillotson: It would be a toss up between Vietnam and Bangkok. My clients have raved about how uniquely designed the itineraries are and that we are not just traveling to a country and sightseeing, but are providing tailor-made experiences that they won’t forget. My clients have been exposed to lantern making, along with having custom designed clothing made in Vietnam. They have played the game of Tejo in Colombia, have taken custom designed cooking classes in Bangkok and worked with business people in Spain to improve their conversational Spanish.  

TN: You mentioned that “we use the trip to further our self-exploration, which often springboards into identifying what we want to manifest in our second act of life.” How is this done?  

Tillotson: Many of those who sign up for a TIDFM excursion have not traveled overseas. There is often anxiety about going that distance, which like all anxiety comes from being faced with our comfort zones being disrupted and challenged. Even though I spend quite a bit of time over the telephone with group members coaching them on anything ranging from how to keep your passport safe to recommendations on the type of walking shoe that is best for a long trip, I can still detect a great deal of nervousness.

After having experienced walking across the Sydney Harbor Bridge, or riding in a Cyclo in super busy Hanoi, Vietnam, all the things that many of the women have said they would never do, are now a part of their travel repertoire.  I often stand back from the group. I notice that the confidence now shows up in the way they handle culturally challenging situations, their ability to explore the destination on their own, and their excitement about wanting to sign up for the next TIDFM excursion.

TN: What’s next?

Tillotson: We are going to Ghana in July 2022 ( Accra, Kumasi and Elmina/Cape Coast).  So many of my followers have been asking when we are going to Africa.  One even said to me ” Europe, Asia and Latin America are great, but when are we going home?”  So because TIDFM is also about making people’s dreams come to fruition, I made Ghana happen.

To find more info about This I Do For Me, visit the company’s official website and on Instagram.