Written by Danielle Pointdujour
I’m many things in this life. A daughter, a friend, a Brooklyn girl, a Howard woman, HR professional, a writer and more. Yet the one question I get asked the most is “Why do you travel?” I guess it’s a fair question to ask someone who has been to 77 countries and counting, but it is definitely not an easy one to answer.
Born to a Guyanese mom and a Haitian dad in Brooklyn, I had the childhood of most New Yorkers. Ice cream trucks, front porches and block parties were how I spent most of my free time. We weren’t poor, but we were far from rich, however, my dad always made time to show me what he could of the world. From trying new restaurants and museums to trips to Mexico and Florida, we were always exploring. It wasn’t too fancy and it wasn’t too far, but it was always enough to show me that there was life outside of my East Flatbush neighborhood. My dad worked two jobs to make sure I could go on the school trips to Europe or visit family in the Caribbean during the summer, anything to expose me to more than my grandparents were able to give him.
This is why I travel. Because someone worked hard to make sure I would always see the world.
From 9-5 I’m just like most of you. Working in HR wrangling personalities, benefits, payrolls and strategies all day is no easy feat. Rent is high, bills are due and money flies out of my hand faster than time in a day. I see the magazines and the blogs and lust over pictures of Rihanna in Thailand and Bey and Jay in Cuba. I eat Southern for breakfast, Mexican for lunch and Caribbean for dinner. The world is around me, but I’m not in the world. That has never been good enough for me. I love Air Max and Chanel bags like any other woman, but I love the deals I find on TheFlightDeal.com and Airfarewatchdog more. I love how the sacrifices I make in my budget to contribute to my travel fund, allow me to do more than look at pictures of places I dream of, but allow me to make my dreams come true. I love how finding travel groups like Up in the Air Life, that not only fit my travel style, but offer flexible payments, allow me to travel at my own pace and make new friends. I create my own Rihanna moments and the “Yaaaassss!” I scream at my own slayage is way more satisfying.
This is why I travel. Because travel isn’t an expensive experience only for the rich.
Life in the U.S. is a bubble. Living in NYC is a bubble within a bubble. You could never leave and experience what feels like the entire world at your fingertips. Except it’s not. Every time I land in a new country I feel every part of myself literally stretch and grow. I see the world through a new lens and learn that the world is more than newspaper clips, stylized photos, UNICEF commercials and memes. I meet people and have experiences that challenge all that I know and force me to think beyond the basics. I travel solo and learn to trust myself and trust others. I learn to open myself up to new adventures and step out of my comfort zone. I learn that the bubble has kept me ignorant to a lot of things, but that in the same breath living in the bubble has been a form of protection. I’ve learned to accept, be humbled and appreciative of both.
This is why I travel. Because travel is growth.
We all have daydreams of quitting our jobs and roaming the world free to do whatever we want. Living life in our true purpose and working for ourselves is a daily thought for many. Travel has taught me that anything is possible. From poor families making a way out of no way, to entrepreneurs building digital empires from all over the world, the limitations are only in your mind. When you travel the world and see how people live lives outside of what seems “normal,” you start to rethink the rules of your own life. My love of travel and luxury hotels has led me to rewrite my life’s rules. With my website Hotel Whisperer, I’m slowly creating a life that I don’t have to daydream about. I get to travel the world exploring amazing cities and indulging in luxurious hotels, then come home and write about it. I get to share my love and expertise in luxury hotels with friends, family and people all over the world, who look to me for where to stay on their next travel adventure. I get to help connect brands and personalities with my favorite hotels and create influence and social media campaigns targeted towards people of color that these luxury hotel brands would normally miss. I get to rethink the status quo and create my own lane. I use my PTO from my 9-5 to work on my brand from the beaches in Thailand or while drinking Krug champagne in Mexico. I may never make a million dollars from what I do (though I hope so!), but the satisfaction I get working on my brand every day keeps me going and growing.
This is why I travel. Because travel taught me to create my own lane and live life on my terms.
These days there are tons of travel clubs and brands encouraging us to see some world. Some of these clubs try to shame people for choosing shoes over flights, for going to one destination over another or for having “only” X amount of passport stamps. One thing travel has taught me is that all of that is irrelevant. You don’t travel to feel superior, you don’t travel to judge or brag (well…we all brag a little) and you don’t travel for sport. Travel is not a race to be won. Each of us are on our own path and whether you see ten countries a year or one, the most important thing is that you get up and go in the first place. The most important thing is making the decision to no longer limit yourself to your immediate surroundings, to no longer let your finances hold you back from your dreams, to challenge yourself to grow and create a lane unique to only to you. The decision you make to explore the world outside yourself is the first step in a journey that will change your life forever.
This is why I travel. Because travel is not a race, it is a journey and the key to endless possibilities if you dare to take just one flight.
See you on the road!