Travel Noire has always been devoted to showcasing black travelers that inspire others to see more of the world. Attorney-turned-travel influencer Cyn (@simplycyn) shares how she got her start.
Travel Noire: Where are you originally from and where do you currently live?
Cyn: I was born in Silver Spring Maryland, raised in Douala, Cameroon. I’m currently NYC-based.
Travel Noire: When did traveling become more than a hobby for you?
Cyn: It became a passion after I studied abroad in Paris. I just knew it was something I needed to do to fuel my spirit. It opens up my mind and it makes me see the world clearer. I appreciate people and experiences so much more because I travel. Over the past few years, I have been able to collaborate with hotels, tourism boards, travel agencies and more to share some of the places, stays, food, and experiences that I think my readers would enjoy. It’s amazing when I think about the evolution of my experiences with travel.
Travel Noire: What are your favorite domestic destinations?
Cyn: Philly and New Orleans. They are different cities but they both offer so much in terms of food, culture, music, history, shopping (fleas and boutiques), nightlife, great small hotels and so many events and festivals. For Philly, you don’t want to miss Bloktoberfest, Reading Terminal Market, Roots Picnic, walking Old City and Northern Liberties and HiCityVeg for vegan eats that even non-vegans will love. For New Orleans, you don’t want to miss walking and shopping in the French Quarter and eating at Shaya which has pita bread that’s pillowy heaven. After hours should be at Frenchmen Street and then head on a swamp tour during the day.
Travel Noire: What are your favorite international destinations?
Cyn: Paris. This city has my heart. I love so many cities, but this for me is about personal memories, and I quite literally went there with the hope to find myself or learn something about myself and I in many ways grew up there. That and the smell of fresh bread at the boulangerie on every street. I also love that I can get on a train and be in very many different countries in under five hours
Marrakech is at the intersection of Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and has such rich culture, beautiful design (my home has Moroccan accents everywhere). It’s also the best destination for Instagram pics.
Travel Noire: What are your top three travel secrets that black travelers should know?
Cyn: It’s ok if you’re the only black person. It is important to be aware of your surroundings, but don’t let lack of diversity be a deterrent to a trip.
To follow up on above, you will not be the only black person. We are everywhere, even in places you think there won’t be anyone like you. We increasingly travel more and even when I’ve been in the most remote places, I’ve spotted a brother or sister. That’s what the recognition head nod and smile is for.
You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. There will be times when you will feel the need to overcompensate for your blackness, be it in overtipping, purchasing something from a shop so you don’t seem cheap or being overly polite. Don’t. You are a valued traveler, you deserve nothing more and nothing less than anyone else and it is not your responsibility to carry that kind of burden.
Travel Noire: How has traveling change your perspective on life?
Cyn: Traveling made me realize that it’s a big world and that there are many ways to live and many choices we can take about how we choose to live. It also made me appreciate all that I have (employment, access, speaking my mind truly and freely) and all that I don’t have (free healthcare, free education, affordable cost of living). There is no perfect place in the world. They all have pros and cons and that’s ok because I can appreciate it all.
Travel Noire: What has been your most inspiring travel moment?
Cyn: My first time in Santorini was awe-inspiring. I had never been anywhere that ridiculously different from everything I was used to. The whitewashed homes on volcanic cliffs in the middle of the Aegean sea, the windy super narrow roads. It was one of my first big trips and it definitely inspired me to seek more and travel often.
Travel Noire: What advice do you have for black travelers traveling abroad?
Cyn: Push beyond your comfort zone and unless you’re really private, talk to people! It’s so great to have those conversations and you learn from others and others learn from you. It becomes a true cultural exchange when you engage with not just the country, but its people.
Travel Noire: Where are you off to next?
Cyn: Grenada. I’m so excited!