Traveler Of The Week: How Travel Humbled Bianca
By Travel Noire
Travel Noire has always been devoted to showcasing black travelers that inspire others to see more of the world. Bianca Maxwell (@biancamaxwell) is a world-traveler and a young black woman in tech who splits her time between managing global digital projects for brands and traveling around the world. She captures her adventures on her travel and lifestyle blog, BMadeWell.com.
Travel Noire: Where are you originally from and where do you currently live?
Bianca: I’m originally from the Southside of Chicago, 81st and Cottage. I was born in Chicago, spent my childhood in California and came back as a teen. Now I live in Boston, after being in New York for close to five years.
Travel Noire: How do you save money for your trips?
Binaca: For starters, I set it aside a portion of my paycheck for travel in a separate account. If I don’t see it, then I don’t think about it until I’m ready to book a trip.
To make traveling a priority, you will need to identify the areas where money is being spent unnecessarily.
For my day-to-day, I am more mindful of where and how I spend. Before most purchases, I think to myself “Do I want this more than a trip?” Traveling always wins.
Travel Noire: What are your favorite domestic destinations?
Bianca: I love going back home to the places I’ve lived over the years – Cali, New York and Chicago – all for very different reasons.
I love going to Southern California: Malibu, Venice, Santa Monica, LA, Lotus Park. There are lots of areas that have different cultures so it’s nice to explore and soak it all in. I also love that I can be gluten and dairy-free there without a problem.
Chicago is my hometown, so I go back for the culture, the food, and my family. There is something about Midwest manners that I get homesick for, and Chi-town is a foodie haven. You have to get pizza from Leona’s, wings with mild sauce from Harold’s and watch the fireworks at the Pier. Also, my grandmother’s poundcake is worth the roundtrip flight.
New York is where a lot of my favorite people live, and I love the vibrant community of young black professionals there. It’s the only place I know that is an oasis for the black creatives, professionals, wanderers and trend-setters. There is always something going on, someone doing something worth celebrating and great vibes to be surrounded by. I miss New York all the time just because of the people.
Travel Noire: What are your favorite destinations to travel internationally?
Bianca: I love Morocco, Peru and Colombia. I have had the most fun in all of these countries, either as a solo traveler or with friends.
Morocco is my favorite place in the world because it was such a positive experience for me. I was warned not to go alone, but I went anyway and felt the most taken care of and the safest I have in any other country. I highly suggest if you ever travel there stay in a Riad and not a hotel. The food is more authentic, the rooms are more beautiful and they are all in the Old Medina which is where all your favorite Marrakech pictures are taken. For activities take a cooking class, trek Atlas Mountain, go on a Sahara overnight trip and do a hot-air-balloon ride for sunrise.
Peru is making the list because I just finished 10 days traveling throughout the country. There is a rich history of the Incas, color in everything they do and the food is fantastic and properly seasoned. You must go to Lima for Barranco, Cusco for Rainbow Mountain, Urubamba for Moray and Salineros, Aguas Calientes for Machu Picchu, and Puno for Lake Titicaca. Also, be ready to spend a lot of money if you are into interior decorating. I arrived with a carryon and am returning home with two enormous duffles full of textiles and alpaca blankets.
Lastly, Colombia is a must see. I’ve been to Medellin and Cartagena. Cartagena is a favorite destination of mine because it’s a quiet beach town to go to alone or with friends. It’s full of color, the ceviche is amazing and you can do a day trip to the Rosario Islands to get your beach time in. At night you can go to Cafe Havana for live music, salsa and mojitos then walk home in the warm night air.
Travel Noire: How did traveling change your perspective on life?
Bianca: Traveling both humbled me and made me want to take more risks.
Traveling is a humbling experience because not everyone you know can, or will want to, travel. My grandmother has the URL to my Instagram account bookmarked on her computer. It’s her way of following me around the world. I try to keep everything as descriptive as possible for her because I’m seeing a lot of things she may not have the chance to enjoy.
As far as risk-taking, I’ve traveled internationally alone and often. I once did 7 countries, in 14 days, alone with only a carry-on, in the winter (#
Travel Noire: What has been your most inspiring travel moment?
Bianca: I woke up at 3am while in Marrakech to watch the sunrise on a hot air-ballon, alone. When we got to the peak height, and the sun was rising across the desert, I started to tear up because I had an immense amount of gratitude hit me for being able to be in that moment.
I knew right then and there, that traveling was going to be a huge part of my life…and that I needed to live in Africa at some point.
Travel Noire: What’s one item that you always have in your carry-on?
Bianca: Sunscreen. Premature Aging is not on my bucket-list.
Travel Noire: What advice do you have for black travelers traveling abroad?
Bianca: Do your research before you arrive in a country. I do this a lot as a black woman traveling alone. It’s helpful to know if any area has an issue with petty theft, harassment, known racism or isn’t progressive with women’s rights.
Be polite, but be clear. When issues arise while traveling – a bill being incorrect, a room not properly booked, food not being how you like – be polite, but be clear about what you need and how they can help you.
Lastly, speak to the locals. Since seeing young black people traveling may not be a norm for them, use this as an opportunity to engage and educate them about us. I enjoy taking part in conversations with locals and politely challenge their thinking of how Americans, especially black Americans, really are.
Travel Noire: Where are you off to next?
Bianca: I am headed to Nicaragua for a Yoga and Surf Camp!
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