Traveling Abroad With My Older Sister Saved Our Relationship

5 Reasons You Need to Travel Abroad with Your Sisters in Your 20s


For any younger sisters, gaps of four years or more can feel like crossing the Great Wall of China when trying to relate to your older sister as you're growing up.

When I was going through my Barbie Stage, my older sister was going through her Usher Stage. When I finally caught up and learned the popular dance moves, Usher was out and Trey Songz was in. For most of our childhood and teenage years, I felt like I was never on the same page as my sister and honestly began to resent her for it.

But, there is something remarkable about your 20s that begins to blur the lines between age and maturity. After traveling together to London, Jamaica, and the French Alps (which is surprisingly snowy year-round), I realized that I had really been missing out on a relationship with my sister. The same woman who I always thought that I had nothing in common with was… cool, really cool. There is something about leaving your day to day routine and traveling together that bonds you with your sister in a totally indescribable way. It saved our relationship.

Here are 5 reasons you absolutely must travel abroad with your sister in your 20s.

Author, right, and sister in the French Alps.

1. No one knows you like your sister

They've seen you at your best, they've seen you at your worst. For better or for worse, there's no front to put up when traveling with your sister… and it's so freeing. You can sing Beyonce in the shower, indulge in your annoying habits throughout your trip together, tell things like they really are, and there's no discussion to be had. You're family – literally.

2. Guaranteed wingwoman & shameless photographer wrapped in one

The pick-up line, "You look young enough to be sisters" actually applies when traveling together. It was so much fun consistently having someone to go out with and not having to worry about them flaking on you last minute – we all have that one friend. Even better, traveling with your sister guarantees that there's no awkwardness in asking someone to retake your picture 100 times. Traveling with your sister means you get a guaranteed plus one and a photographer all in one.

Author, right. Sister, left.

3. There is safety in numbers

International travel can seem daunting, especially if it's your first time leaving the country. But when traveling with your sister, it often comes with an unspoken sense of comfort due to familiarity. I genuinely felt like we had each other's backs because, well, we share DNA. Plus, our parents were considerably more comfortable with the idea of us traveling together opposed to other friends and SOs. If we would've known that our parents would be so on board, we would've started traveling together years ago.

4. Memories and inside jokes last a lifetime

Upon returning from our trip, everything is an inside joke or makes us think of an experience we had together. The amount of blackmail material, #tbt posts, and you-had-to-be-there stories you come back with goes unparalleled. Before our trip, my sister and I would probably talk a few times a month if we were lucky, and since returning, we communicate several times a week to reminisce or simply check-in. You get so used to talking all the time when traveling together, that it's hard to revert to old habits upon your return.

5. You keep the simple things in perspective

One evening, after a long day of running around and things finally start to settle down, you will look over at your sister and realize that in this big, crazy world, you are that all each other has. And, it doesn't seem half bad.

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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