I Am 32 And Have Traveled To 70 Countries

After travelling to over 70 countries and counting, a 32-year-old world traveler shares her story and excellent travel tips.

Life & Travel

One of the biggest concerns for people who haven't had the opportunity to travel abroad is that they don't think they can afford to, and Oneika who has traveled to over 70 countries has advice that is simple:  Sacrifice a few pricey items and materialistic things so that you can experience moments and memories that will last a lifetime.

Playing Mas in the Caribana parade, Toronto, Canada

Dear Necole,

My name is Oneika and my not-so-secret secret is that I'm a travel addict. At the ripe old age of 32 I have traveled to 70 countries on 6 different continents and have lived and worked in France, England, Mexico, and Hong Kong. For too long people have thought that Black folks don't travel. We are out here! Thank you for using your platform to show our people that they can and should go out and see the world.

To be honest, the travel bug bit me a bit late. As a bookworm-ish kid growing up in Toronto, Canada, travel was the furthest thing from my mind. Not to say that I didn't travel at all-- my parents are Jamaican, so we made trips back to the island and also visited family living in various cities in the U.S. But I always felt like trips to faraway destinations like China, Argentina, and South Africa were largely out of my reach. After all, I never saw or heard of anyone who looked like me doing stuff like that, and the books I devoured in my youth rarely featured characters- never mind travelers- who were Black .

Luckily, things changed when I got to college. I remember making friends with two very nice Black girls and discovering that they were heading to Spain and Morocco for Spring Break. I was like, "What?! You can do that?" Flabbergasted, I was immediately forced to challenge my foolish subconscious belief that "we" couldn't travel to places like that. After doing away with such a foolish notion, I applied for, and was accepted to, a year-long study abroad in Nantes, France during my junior year.

It was a life-altering experience: I met people in my dorm who came from countries I never knew existed (Comoros and Chad and Algeria-- former French colonies), and backpacked in Spain and Morocco, just like my two girlfriends had done during Spring Break the year before. A seed had been planted and I was hooked on travel.

The rest, they say, is history. After my study abroad, I knew I was destined for a life on the road. I plotted and schemed and realized that I could sustain myself by teaching abroad. The first year, I moved back to France and taught English as a Foreign Language on the French Riviera; after that, I got a elementary/secondary state teaching credential that allowed me to teach high school English Lit and French in private schools in Mexico, London, England, and Hong Kong, where I am currently working and writing this email from.

#BitchieTravel Running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

#bitchietravel At the Atacama Desert in Chile

At the Atacama Desert in Chile

#bitchietravel The Atacama Desert, Chile


The Atacama Desert, Chile

Travel has been transformative for me and has helped me to learn so much about the world and myself. As a teacher I have over three months of paid vacation every year and I travel during every single break! I have gone on safari in Tanzania, seen the pyramids in Egypt, and taken selfies before majestic sights like Machu Picchu in Peru and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

I have been to the Taj Mahal at dawn, eaten with locals in Guatemala, and walked along a stretch of the Great Wall of China. I've gone to a dancehall reggae club in Tokyo and run with the bulls in Spain; I've traveled with my mom to Rome and Berlin (she is always up for globetrotting with me!) and even met my husband while teaching in Hong Kong. I have also travelled solo in Chile and Mexico and Belgium, amongst other places. All in all, I have gone through 5 passports and have an infinite amount of memories (and pictures) from these years of travel.



A few of my tips:

  • Prioritize your spending. You say you can't afford to travel internationally, but those Louboutins you just bought could have scored you a plane ticket to London. That night out at the club popping bottles? Equivalent to a week of accommodation in Brazil. Point is, you probably *do* have the money for travel, you're just spending it on other things. Monitor your outgoings and allocate savings for your dream trip.

  • Travel for less and on someone else's dime. Websites like ThePointsGuy.com help you to accrue and use air miles so you can travel smarter and cheaper. Programs like Vaughn Town and Pueblo Ingles provide free room and board in Spain in exchange for conversing in English with Spaniards eager to learn. There are many ways to make travel more affordable, you just have to look and get creative!

    Hanging with Buddhist monks in Bagan, Myanmar

  • Seek opportunities to live abroad. If you're still in school, study abroad programs are a great way to facilitate your first international experience, and many of them offer scholarships. If you're finished school, look into programs like the Peace Corps -- they have 3-24 month volunteer opportunities worldwide. Need to make money? Think about getting into teaching. If you're not already a primary or secondary teacher in the U.S., consider getting a TEFL/TESL certification that will allow you to teach English abroad. Already comfortable in your career and hate teaching? Ask your job for a short-term international transfer.

  • Just go. Don't let the opportunity to travel pass you by. Don't wait for friends to jump on that plane, train, or automobile with you. Solo travel is sexy: you can do what you want, when you want, and on your own terms. Web-based forums like Couchsurfing have also made it easier to connect with locals when you get to your destination as well. So you're never really alone unless you want to be.

Anyway, I've rambled enough. Bottom line: getting hooked on travel is hands down the best thing that ever happened to me. I can't imagine life without it now!

Thanks again for allowing me to share my story! I've attached some photos of my travels. I write a blog called Oneika the Traveller (www.oneika-the-traveller.com) that chronicles my adventures abroad as well as my tips and tricks for travel. :-)



#bitchietravel Bali, Indonesia

 Bali, Indonesia

#Bitchietravel - Machu Picchu, Peru


Machu Picchu, Peru



ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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