Travel Noire has always been devoted to showcasing black travelers that inspire others to see more of the world. Rahiem (@radiorahiem0319) shares how travel opened his heart and allowed him to see the world through a new lens.
Travel Noire: Where are you originally from and where do you currently live?
Rahiem: Born and raised in Philadelphia and I currently live in Houston.
Travel Noire: How do you save money for your trips?
Rahiem: I truly live by the quote “Work, Travel, Save, Repeat.” I currently work in the field of Mental/Behavioral Health. About four years ago I began to better manage my finances and my spending. That included saving an allotted amount of money per paycheck, prioritizing, and putting traveling at the top of my list. That also meant having to cut back on unnecessary spending on things like eating out, buying clothes and things I not only didn’t need that would later leave me asking myself “Where did my money go?”
Travel Noire: What are your favorite domestic destinations?
Rahiem: Definitely would have to say New York City. There’s always something new to see and do. Whether it’s catching a Broadway show, having lunch in Central Park, people watching, festivals, concerts, museums, restaurants, the options are endless. I also really enjoy Houston and Atlanta They are a great blend of that southern hospitality country life with a big city feel. Not to mention all three cities are listed as top cities for young black professionals.
Travel Noire: What are your favorite destinations to travel internationally?
Rahiem: Each country and experience offer something different and new so there are so many places I can choose for many different reasons, but I’ll give you my top three. My first favorite international destination has been Bali, Indonesia. I’m still trying to find the words to describe how amazing that place is. It truly was something straight out of a Disney movie. It’s a beautiful, magical, captivating, fantasy place with this happy and serene aura. Next would have to be Johannesburg, South Africa. It’s a marriage of culture, history, beauty, wildlife, and city life. From their Neighbourgood Market to the Lion and Safari Park, to being able to witness the Zulu people of South Africa perform to the fun energetic, vibrant and lively nightlife, it’s definitely a must-see place. My last place would be Havana, Cuba. When people ask me what’s it like to go there, I say “The flight you take to Cuba is actually a time machine.” That’s the best way to describe it. You are literally traveling back in time to the 1950s once you touch down in Havana, Cuba. The cars, the fashion, the housing, the vibe, the culture, and it didn’t hurt that the beaches and food were great, too.
Travel Noire: What are three travel secrets that black travelers should know?
Rahiem: 1). When planning international trips try to see at least 2-3 destinations, especially if you’re traveling in Asia and Europe. While traveling in Asia, flights are really cheap to country-hop within the continent, and in Europe, you can catch a train and be in another country in less than 2 hours.
2). Before traveling to a country, look into what is required to enter that country. I had a friend who purposely booked a flight with a long layover in Turkey so he could visit Turkey, but wasn’t aware you needed a visa to enter Turkey. Therefore, he had to spend 8+ hours sitting in an airport.
3). Do A LOT of research, especially when you’re not used to traveling internationally. One of the main factors that contribute to bad travel experiences internationally is being ripped off. So to avoid it, you must be knowledgeable. It sounds cliché but knowledge is power. Look into currency exchange rates, see how much a taxi from the airport to your hotel/home should cost you and most importantly look into how much each excursion/activity you plan to do should cost. Although I like to think I’m pretty knowledgeable and detailed when it comes to international travels while visiting Cairo, Egypt I was charged $120 USD to see the pyramids, not to mention the tour company made it seem like I was getting a deal. I eventually looked on Google during the tour, while I was riding a camel, and read the max amount I should have paid was between $15-$30 USD. So although I got back $90 from the tour company once I made a big deal about it, it was unnecessary time, hassle, and stress that could have been avoided had I did thorough research.
Travel Noire: How did traveling change your perspective on life?
Rahiem: With social media being really popular, we sometimes have this false sense of reality and tend to believe that everyone knows everyone and the world is super small, but in reality the world is vast and there’s so much to see, do, wonder, and explore. I think one of the greatest things that can happen when you begin to travel is as you travel to these unfamiliar places you begin to learn new and unknown things about yourself. I once read a quote which read “Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself”.
Traveling has opened my mind, heart, and eyes on so many levels. I realize before I started traveling I was living life without my glasses. I wasn’t functioning with the clearest vision and wasn’t seeing the world or myself clearly. Traveling has opened my eyes and gave me a new outlook and vision of life. It has taught me some valuable life lessons. I’ve learned to look at the world outside of my perspective, my views, my beliefs, my lens, and learned to look at the world through the lens God looked at it once he created it. Understanding that it has flaws and imperfections, but also realizing and understanding all those things, flaws and all, add to its beauty, mystery, and wonderfulness.
Travel Noire: What has been your most inspiring travel moment?
Rahiem: I would have to say visiting Soweto. Soweto is a township of Johannesburg, South Africa. While there I visited Kliptown Youth Program, a program that provides educational support and after-school activities for disadvantaged children of the township. I felt so many emotions during that visit. It has been one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences of my travels thus far.
Travel Noire: What’s one item that you always have in your carry-on?
Rahiem: I always have a composition book or notepad in my carry-on. I’m somewhat every old school, so I still do handwritten documentation first rather than type or text. My mind appears to be most creative while flying. I tend to block out everything that’s happening around me and my full attention is on my thoughts, dreams, vision, and ideas which I jot down.
Travel Noire: What advice do you have for black travelers traveling abroad?
Rahiem: “What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create.” Don’t travel with negative thoughts and fears. Don’t allow other people’s stories or experiences to alter, hinder or stop you from visiting a certain place. Write your own story. Create your own experiences. Immerse yourself in the culture. Be spontaneous without being gullible. Be open-minded without being naive. Do things you can’t do at home. Eat foods you can’t eat at home. In everything we do in life, whether family, work, friendships or relationships, it all has good and bad experiences. Whether your travel experience to a certain place is a positive or negative one, accept it, embrace it, and use it as a learning tool. Let it shape you rather than letting it stop you.
Travel Noire: Where are you off to next?
Rahiem: My travels for the rest of 2018, if all goes as planned, will consist of India, Dubai, Kenya, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia.