Photo Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Mann
'Everyone Should Travel Solo At Least Once In Their Life'
Meet Daniel Mann, a 33-year-old content designer for Facebook living in Oakland, CA. Originally from Albion, MI, Daniel attained his passport in 2018 and has since visited Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, the Seychelles, Kenya, Indonesia, Thailand, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, and China.
“I was originally inspired to get a passport because many of my close friends had one, and it seemed as if I was the only one in my circle that didn’t,” he shared with Travel Noire. “I missed a work trip to Singapore early in my career at Facebook, and that missed opportunity lit a fire within me and gave me the motivation to get a passport, so that I would always have international travel as an option.”
As a child, Daniel often traveled to nearby states like Ohio and Illinois, as well as to Canada.
“My dad would often take the family to Canada during summer breaks. At the time, Americans could freely travel across the border without a passport, so we would drive to places like Windsor and Toronto.”
As an introvert, Daniel says he prefers to travel solo or with one to three others.
“I have two steady travel buddies that stay passport ready whenever I get an idea to leave the country. However, I’ve been to Kenya, Seychelles, and Thailand alone. Now that I’m an experienced traveler, I feel comfortable going solo if I need to.”
“Solo travel is an entirely different experience. I believe everyone should travel solo at least once in their life. When traveling by yourself, you are easier to approach, which enables you to meet and connect with people you otherwise wouldn’t have met, like locals and other travelers.”
“I enjoyed Kenya because I felt welcomed and experienced a sense of belonging that I didn’t feel in other countries. It felt different being a Black man traveling solo and seeing that the majority of the people in the country looked like me. I also love the diversity that Kenya has to offer. They have luxurious resorts, safaris, tribes, and beautiful beaches along the coasts.”
Although the majority of his travels have brought positivity and great memories, Daniel recalls one negative experience that ended up teaching him a valuable lesson.
“I love Spain, however, while in Madrid, someone tried to steal my backpack. I was in the Centro area of Madrid around midnight and my friend and I were taking pictures near a bus stop. There were many people around us, some waiting on the bus to come, but there was one person in particular that gave me a feeling that I needed to watch him more closely.”
“The next thing I knew, I looked and noticed that my backpack was no longer on the ground. You can imagine how I was feeling at that moment. I wasn’t confused because I knew who had it. I was specifically looking for the suspicious person I’d seen. He hadn’t made it very far and was trying to blend into the crowd on the sidewalk. He had my backpack on his arm, with a white sheet over it.”
“I approached him and, to make a long story short, I stopped him and physically took my backpack from him. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this, but at the moment I felt like the risk was low and I felt confident that I could get it back, which is why I approached him. That experience taught me to keep my belongings closer to me.”
Learning is an important part of any journey and just one of the many ways Daniel says he benefits from traveling. He also says traveling allows him the opportunity and space to regroup and recharge from his day-to-day life.
“When I travel, I never think about what’s going on in the states and I often get the mental break that I need. Aside from the relaxation aspect, I know that travel has made me a better man.”
“I feel like I have gained a deeper level of empathy and understanding of those that come from different walks of life. I grew up in an area of the country that isn’t very diverse and I feel like that has shaped a lot of the way I understand people. Traveling has definitely made me a more open-minded and empathetic person.”
Next month, Daniel will be heading to Guatemala and Dubai. You can follow him at @distinctiontravels to keep up with his travels.