Photo Credit: Gentamu "Jen Jen" McKinney
Author Creates Ultimate Self-Care Guide For Travelers Of Color
Oakland native Gentamu “Jen Jen” McKinney is passionate about mental health and helping her community. She is following in the footsteps of her father, Black Panther member and civil rights activist Gene Allen McKinney, by using her voice to make changes in her community and abroad. She became a mental health advocate following her mother’s battle with mental illness. Jen is a certified mental health coach and sound bath practitioner. A digital nomad, she helps other Black travelers, digital nomads, and expats create community and navigate their way through Capetown. She created the ultimate self-care guide for travelers of color.
In February 2020, she published Keep Calm Bring Your Carry On: The Ultimate Self-care Guide for Travelers of Color. The book combines her passions of mental health activism and adventure and features 50+ travel influencers and experts of color. This in-flight, table tray travel therapy book helps travelers maintain their mental health while experiencing life’s unexpected delays. Filled with therapeutic travel stories, jokes, and self-care and travel tips, the book leaves readers educated and empowered.
“The goal of the book is to raise awareness, make people of color comfortable, and help them take baby steps in prioritizing their mental health while also letting them know they do not have to suffer alone or in silence by sharing the stories of others,” said Jen.
The self-care guide was a hit, becoming an Amazon best-seller and ranking number three in the Solo Travel Guide category. Now, Jen has released a journal and workbook to accompany her guide. Keep Calm Bring Your Carry On: The Official Journal & Workbook for Travelers of Color was created to help people of color break down and process the emotions they experience during their travels.
The guided journal and workbook assists travelers of color in their pre-trip anxiety, daily emotional highs and lows, and post-trip reflections that go beyond the travel pictures and dive deep into their mental health. It serves as a portable mental health resource and tool that can be used while on the go and helps readers develop a safety plan that can be used in the event of a mental health crisis while overseas or in transit.
“The journal/workbook is divided up into trips. Safety Plan helps readers develop a plan in case of a mental health crisis. Pre-Trip Anxiety helps them get to the root of their anxiety. Daily Check-In is for the recording of emotions, intentions, and affirmations. Daily Trip Breakdown is for breaking down what happened and why. These are just a few of the sections included.”
Jen says one of the reasons books like hers are so necessary is due to the lack of diversity in travel books, with very few being written by people of color. She has made it her mission to create creative therapeutic mental wellness tools and make them more accessible to minority travelers–travel books that are for us and by us.
“Travelers of color have completely different travel experiences than our white counterparts that are layered like an onion. Due to slavery and continued racism worldwide, our journeys across the globe are filled with joyous adventures but in that same breath an overwhelming amount of anger, grief, shock, and sometimes guilt or sadness. Although there are travel books out there, there are still not a lot of travel books featuring travelers of color or helping travelers of color mentally prepare and break down their journey in a healthy manner.”
Under the Keep Calm Bring Your Carry On brand, Jen has also launched therapeutic mental health services for travelers. Her travel-inspired therapeutic telehealth coaching practice focuses on the mind, body, and spirit while using conventional, evidence-based, and other alternative therapeutic modalities to obtain optimal mental wellness.
“Our focus is helping high-functioning digital nomads, expats, travel professionals, and your everyday traveler unpack to overcome life’s journey of unexpected delays and turbulence while positively focusing on the present and future, healing, energizing, and becoming aware of their inner strengths. We achieve this by providing a neutral, safe space, listening to your concerns, and customizing a plan.”