Design Your Life
Tragedy Inspired This Traveler To See 27 Countries In Three Years
By DeAnna Taylor
Meet Charles Harris, an American man currently residing in Toronto, Canada. He describes himself as a “man of a particular age.” Charles has been able to visit 27 countries in only 3 years. He shares with us what inspired his love for travel as well as how he plans out his destinations.
Travel Noire: What inspired your love for travel and when did it start?
Charles: My love for travel was birthed out of heart break. I moved back to Florida to care for my mom after a series of ups and downs with her health. When she passed away in February of 2016, I was devastated.
Desperate to create a new normal and to escape the depth of my sadness, I flew to Tokyo, Japan. What an incredible trip! Next was Munich, Germany….where I had a wave of sadness once I checked into my room. But, I pressed on. The love affair with travel was in full motion, and so was my new normal.
TN: What has been your favorite destination thus far?
Charles: One of my favorite destinations to date is in South America and it’s not as popular. I love Montevideo, Uruguay. I base my likes and dislikes on currents and energy of places. Montevideo felt free and liberating on a variety of fronts. The food was incredible and it was very affordable.
TN: What has been a least favorite destination?
Charles: My least favorite city is Rome. Not that I didn’t have a good time — again, I assess places on the energy they give me. Rome is too religious and stoic for my liking. After you’ve seen the Vatican, Coliseum, and a few ruins…it’s done. I won’t say that I’d never go back, but if I don’t have to…that’s ok with me.
TN: Have you faced any direct racism or challenges while traveling as a Black man?
Charles: I can’t say that I’ve experience direct racism on any of the trips. However, my experiences in Istanbul (Turkey) and Dubai were quite peculiar. In Istanbul, merchants in the markets will do what they can to garner your attention for sales. My locked hair would prompt them to yell things like “Hey Rasta man! Come here for a moment.” In Dubai, the majority of domestic and construction workers are from India and the Philippines. It was clear that a few have never encountered any Black people by the way they stare and take pictures.
TN: How do you plan and budget for trips?
Charles: When I plan for a trip, I start from the end and work my way up to the departure from my city. I’m driven by what a destination has to offer and what an itinerary would look like before I even book an accommodation. If what I want to see is cost effective, the transportation and accommodation will align. I’m a firm believer of enrolling in hotel points programs. They really add up. Thanks to points I accrued, my stay in Geneva, Switzerland was free. As expensive as Switzerland is, I was glad.
Group travel saves a ton of money. Gathering a good group of friends to share the cost of an apartment that’s centrally located is great. This way, you can save your food budget on late dinners, but grocery shop and cook breakfast collectively in the apartment. You will always remember cooking together in another part of the world.
Also, I avoid dining in high traffic tourist areas. Normally they’re money pits and can see you coming. Find the restaurants off the beaten path and where locals eat. It will be cheaper and more authentic.
TN: Do you have any secrets or tips to help our readers travel more?
Charles: I do Facebook lives and call them “Just The Tip.” I know, a little play on words.
This is where I give travel tips from my experiences. For those that are aspiring to travel more, talk to other that have been to the destinations that you’re possible interested in exploring. Join social media forums so that you’re exposed to places and possible shortcuts to get you going. If you’re ever trying to see the world, it’s always helpful to be globally minded first!
TN: Where can you be reached on social media?
Charles: For those that are interested in my travel and tips on social media, I can be found here:
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.