Design Your Life

Traveler Of The Week: Travel Helped Ground Kalani In Her Blackness

By Shontel Horne


Travel Noire has always been devoted to showcasing black travelers that inspire others to see more of the world. Kalani (@kalanikelly_) shares how travel helped her find a freedom she didn’t know she needed.  


Travel Noire: Where are you from and where do you currently live? 


Kalani: I’m from Antioch, CA, a small town in the Bay Area near San Francisco. I currently live in Northridge, CA.


Travel Noire: When did traveling become more than a hobby for you?


Kalani: It became a passion of mine in my early 20s when I realized, to a greater extent, the beauty of immersing myself in a new land, culture, people, and getting the chance to hear their stories and journeys.


©Kalani Kelly


Travel Noire: What are your favorite destinations to visit in the United States? 


Kalani: San Francisco because it’s the most diverse and flamboyantly bold place I’ve ever encountered (so far) with an atmosphere that demands to be felt. It offers nature and city life all in one. Others include Oregon for its jaw-dropping landscape and San Diego, for the beaches and the Latin food!


Travel Noire: What are your favorite international destinations?


Kalani: Japan because it’s so divergent from American culture and taught me a lot about respect, finding calm in the chaos, and putting your all into anything and everything you do. I also loved visiting Cancun, Mexico because the beaches are beautiful and the people are lovely.


©Kalani Kelly


Travel Noire: What are your top three travel secrets that black travelers should know? 


Kalani: 1). Stay in a hostel or Airbnb! You save so much and will get to meet like-minded travelers from all over the world!


2). Try everything as in food and activities. Embrace the culture.


3). Through other cultures, you’ll learn more about yourself and become more grounded in your blackness.


Travel Noire: How did traveling change your perspective on life?


Kalani: It broke me out of a bubble that I didn’t know I was in. It showed me that there’s so much more in this world and to this life than the town or state or even country that I’ve grown up in. Also, despite differences in language and culture, we are far more alike than we are different, which is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever felt.


Travel Noire: What has been your most inspiring travel moment so far?


Kalani: When I was in Tokyo recently, I had a conversation with a local woman who spoke very little English and I had only learned “hello” and “thank you” in Japanese. We struggled to communicate through hand motions, but despite the language barrier, her laugh was infectious and then it really didn’t matter too much that I had no idea what she was saying. It showed me that human connection and a smile speaks every language.


©Kalani Kelly


Travel Noire: What’s one item that you always have in your carry-on? 


Kalani: Hand lotion! I’m always washing my hands and they get so dry!


Travel Noire: Where are you off to next? 


Kalani: I’m off to Bali! I’m fascinated by the vibrant colors and tropical atmosphere and I also want to meet elephants

Travel Noire

Shontel Horne

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