Photo Credit: Airbnb
Here's How Marquita Harris Is Traveling The World For Free Courtesy Of Airbnb
Journalist Marquita Harris is used to reporting on newsworthy people and events. Now the writer, editor, and podcaster is making headlines herself.
Harris is one of 12 participants selected for the Live Anywhere on Airbnb program, inspired by the growing flexibility of remote work. As part of the prize, Harris and her fellow participants will live exclusively in listings on Airbnb for approximately one year.
The diverse pool — plucked from over 314,000 applicants — includes young families, entrepreneurs, a medical researcher, and a world cyclist from Argentina, Canada, UK, France, the United States, Russia, Singapore, and South Africa.
Harris is admittedly not one to sign up for promotions, but perhaps subconsciously she knew she was at a point in her life where this would be a welcome detour.
“I was furloughed from my company,” she shared with Travel Noire. “I kind of saw the writing on the wall. I knew that things were unstable in the pandemic. It’s media. But also, I made the decision because of the pandemic a month before to move back with family. I didn’t want to experience a lockdown completely solo, so in a way I started putting in motion the whole digital nomad lifestyle. I got rid of my possessions. I moved from my apartment of 10 years. I wish I could say that was a hard decision, but it was the easiest.”
Untethered to a job and apartment for the first time since she was 18, and suffering from some burnout, Harris returned to Grand Rapids, Michigan to shelter in place with family. It was there that she completed the contest’s application, the words practically pouring out onto the page.
“I was like I’m 37, and I’m in good health, thank God. I’m okay. I’m good, and I’m able to do this.”
It was also there that she received that first confirmation.
“I can’t remember the timeframe. But a little while later I got that first email, like, ‘Hi, you’ve been basically selected for the first round.’ Just knowing that what I submitted did not go into an abyss like I thought it would, I remember just feeling transformed.”
She added, “When I was [announced as] one of the finalists I can’t stress enough how much that in itself changed me. That moment was on a spiritual level.”
Save for a yearlong stint in London, where she completed her Master’s degree and a few trips to Europe and the Caribbean, Harris wouldn’t consider herself an avid traveler.
“I remember thinking then that this is it. I’m going to live in London, I’m gonna at least be there for a few years. I’m gonna travel everywhere and nope, too broke of a college student,” she laughed.
This is Harris’ opportunity to make up for lost time — within reason. The participants are allocated a budget for travel, and then there are Covid protocols and restrictions in multiple countries to contend with.
And as she starts to cobble together an itinerary, there’s the realization that there are destinations that she would like to visit with family members and loved ones as opposed to solo. On her wishlist are Barcelona, Lisbon, Marrakech, and parts of Kenya.
“I think it’s an amazing experience. But I know it’s going to be challenging because I’m going to want to connect to some people. I speak English. I’m open to learning new languages, obviously. But it can be challenging. And I’ve already been trying to figure out how to combat that and how I can immerse myself in these places when I’ll be there for only four to maybe eight weeks. I want to meet locals. I want to just really feel the place that I’m going to be in.”
As a seasoned journalist, there is always the passion for storytelling. Harris plans to pitch to publications as well as do some of her own personal writing as she immerses herself in this adventure.
“I’m hoping to just have more of the stories that are going to go a little deeper into travel and human connection.”
Follow Marquita Harris on the nomadic trip of a lifetime on Instagram.