Follow Up: This Black Family Cleared Their Debt And Now Travel  In Search Of African History
Photo Credit: FroFamilyTravels

Photo Credit: FroFamilyTravels

Follow Up: This Black Family Cleared Their Debt And Now Travel In Search Of African History

black expat , Costa Rica , Ghana , Mexico
Amara Amaryah
Amara Amaryah Jan 31, 2022

Chinique and AJ, from FroFamilyTravels, are traveling the world and offering their daughter Taji the chance to experience African history and legacies wherever they go.

Since speaking with Travel Noire about clearing their debt and creating a life on the road a few years back, they’ve been able to adapt their travel habits and live on several continents.

In this follow-up interview, learn what it means to Chinique and AJ to be a Black family traveling on their own terms, embracing their African history and heritage.

Where are you currently?

Unsplash | Aaron Huber

We’re currently living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  This is actually our third time here. We first came New Year’s Eve 2019 and fell in love with it.

When the world shut down, Mexico was one of the countries that remained easy to travel to, so it was an easy decision to keep coming back. The beaches are stunning, it’s really affordable, and we’ve made great friends here.

What has changed since we last spoke to you?

So much! Our world was flipped upside-down when AJ was hospitalized in Mexico in December 2020 which also weighed heavily on me, physically. It forced us to re-evaluate life, as these kinds of situations usually do.

Once he recovered, we decided to spend some time in Ghana, learning and experiencing more of our heritage. We’re both Jamaican, of Maroon descent and knowing that many of them were taken from Ghana, it almost felt like a pilgrimage.

I’d been before on a trip, but living there for 4 months was a completely different and life-changing experience in so many ways.

The most exciting change, however, has been that we’re expecting our second child in a few months. We had discussed having another baby, but this was a real surprise for us.

Could you share where you've explored since June 2019?

Black family travels
Courtesy: FroFamilyTravels

Since our last interview, we explored a couple more countries in Asia, including Singapore & Vietnam.  We then went back to Thailand for a few months. We were in Mexico when the pandemic started, and then we headed back to London to be with family for a few months, but we really didn’t like being there for long, so we came back to Mexico.

We have also been to Costa Rica, Ghana and Colombia before heading back to Mexico again late last year.

What have you learned about traveling the world with a child?

Photo courtesy of @frofamilytravels

It’s easier than I imagined. Not to say that we don’t experience the usual challenges parents face in their home countries, but the fact that most people really act as if travelling with children is impossible really boggles the mind. It’s a total myth. Especially before she turned 2, there’s virtually no added cost to having infants on the road. They get in free to most places. They can travel on your lap on flights, which will at most be the cost of taxes.

Airlines allow you to check in 2 free items for babies. You usually get to board first two, and people around the world generally love children. We’ve received so many free gifts along the way.

There are so many benefits to travelling with young children.

Do you feel that your daughter is exposed to Black history and culture while exploring the world at a young age?

Most definitely! We make sure of it. Ghana was the first majority Black country that we’d travel to as a family, and I remember we were in a store and the whole aisle was filled with Black dolls. She was so excited and said, “They all look like me”. It was such a precious moment, one I never got to experience as a child.

That has to be so affirming for a young Black girl. Since then, we’ve committed to ensuring that with any place we travel, we’ll always go out of our way to learn the African history of that country.

In Colombia last year, we visited San Basilio de Palenque, the first established freetown for enslaved Africans. I’d only heard a couple of things about it prior to our visit, so to know that she’s getting these experiences before she even turns five is a huge deal for us.

We didn’t get to learn much Black history until our late 20s and 30s. I’m so excited to see how these experiences will shape who she becomes.

Since being able to clear your debt and travel the world, what has been your most recent big lesson?

We had subconsciously become very attached to our ancestors’ stories of struggle and survival and because of that we thought to make the Motherland ‘home’, to reclaim what was stolen from them (us).

As Black people we’ve often learned to do as they did: get by, survive, cope and more. It’s ancestral trauma and shows up in ways like belittling our accomplishments, feeling that we’re not deserving of our desires or feeling guilty for enjoying nice things.

It meant we were always grinding it out and pressuring ourselves to go harder to reach a certain level of success.

Our time in Ghana helped us to let go of those burdens. We’re now on a journey of embracing a softer side of ourselves, truly being present and enjoying what we have already built, so focusing more on a life of ease, joy and freedom.

There’s been a lot of unlearning in this latest season and big decisions we’ve had to make, sometimes with just a couple of weeks preparation time. We’re all the better for it, though, we’re in a very good place right now. We’re happy, and we’re ready to embrace it all, wherever in the world life may take us.

I’m not sure if we’ll ever ‘settle down’ in one place. We like the idea of a base and somewhere to keep our things, but for now home is wherever we are.

How do you each make time for yourselves while traveling as a family?

Chinique: I wake up early, usually between 5 & 5.30am.  I’m selfish about my ‘me’ time. Taji wakes up around 8am so that gives me 2.5-3 hours to myself each day. My phone is on ‘do not disturb’ until then too, so I can really be alone.

Even though we love to travel, I’m actually a real homebody, so I’m grateful for the stillness. I meditate, read, visualize, do a little yoga, journal, and get some uninterrupted work done. We also offer each other a lot of support and grace.  Especially now that I’m pregnant, naps are a necessity and AJ always encourages me to take them when needed.

AJ: To be honest, this is a challenging question because I know what to do, but I have to be quite disciplined to get that me time. So in order to have me time, I have to wake up between 4 and 6 am if I want to enjoy any me time without having to think that Chinique has Taji to look after by herself.

Sometimes I go for walks, and therefore communication is imperative. I’ll check with her scheduling and what she’s doing and if she’s free then I’ll go for a walk or bicycle ride. I really got into the swing of ‘me time’ during our second time in Mexico where I was waking up at 5, riding my bike while blasting reggae music and singing my heart out to the break of dawn before reaching the beach and meditating to the sunrise, giving my mind and spirit time to just be.

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