Nailah is on her SECOND round the world trip! How did she do it? Where is she now? Check out our Flight Path interview with this globetrotter and Theres So Much To See blogger!
Where are you going on your trip? How did you decide where to go?
My trip began in Asia (Japan and S. Korea), moved to Australia, then the Middle East (Qatar, Turkey, UAE and Lebanon) then wrapping up in Europe (Cyprus, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, the UK, plus a bunch of countries I’m still deciding on). Initially the trip began with me just spending two months living in Beirut. I visited for the first time in 2010 for two weeks and knew that I wanted to return for a more significant amount of time. Then I realized I could probably get a flight that stopped in Turkey so I added that to the list. From there the trip just started snowballing as I added more stops. I practice the Brazilian Martial Art called Capoeira, so I added some stops like Hungary and Australia so I could attend events related to that sport. There were friends I hadn’t seen in a while that I wanted to reconnect with (Switzerland, the Netherlands and Japan) plus I figured why not hit up the Olympics in London. People kept putting ideas in my head for places to visit and I just kept saying, “OK, let’s do it”!
What is your mode of travel? Would you recommend it to other travelers?
Most times I’m hopping on a plane because my destinations are quite spread out. But once I get to Europe, I am going to incorporate train travel as well. When compared to the European discount airlines, I’m not sure train travel is any cheaper, but at least you get to see more of the countryside from a train and you normally end up right in the middle of the city when you arrive rather than at a far flung airport. For my plane tickets I bought a Round The World ticket with Airtreks. I had a good experience working with them and would recommend them to anyone who’s planning a similar trip. Where are you staying? (Hotels, Hostels, etc). Would you recommend it to others? I am all over the place when it comes to accommodations. I’ve stayed in hostels, boutique hotels and luxury properties. I’ve tried AirBnB, CouchSurfing (unsuccessfully) and here in Beirut I’m renting rooms in apartments which I found via the ‘Apartments in Beirut’ Facebook group. When I go to cities where I have friends, I often stay with them. I personally haven’t had much luck with CouchSurfing, but I’ve heard from many people who swear by it. I liked the experience with Air BnB in Seoul and will try them again in other cities. Of course, if you can swing it, a 5-Star property is the way to go. And although I’m not a huge fan of big hostel dorm rooms, I’ve stayed in some decent ones (Jam Hostel in Kyoto and #bunk hostel in Istanbul come to mind) and they are always a great way to meet fellow travelers if you’re going solo.
You’ve been on this epic trip, how did you make the decision to do it? What was the reaction of family and friends?
I am one of those people who is always planning my next trip. For the last few years, that trip has been limited to about 2 weeks due to work responsibilities, but last year I got the idea in my head that I needed more. Not just to have a longer vacation, but to make a big change. On a whim, I attended Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit in Portland last summer. Being surrounded by so many people who have become successful NOT doing the standard 9-5 made me realize that I had a choice in life. I could stay at a job that I complained about daily or I could make a significant change to the way I was living. The original intent was to request a leave of absence from work for 6 months and then return if I didn’t find another path, but when that leave request was denied, I knew I had to take the risk, step off the cliff and follow my passion for travel and writing. I had to break out of that mold to find a new path and I am very glad that I did. I am blessed to be surrounded by very understanding and encouraging friends and family. Though I’m sure they may have had reservations about what I was doing, I didn’t have one person tell me not to follow my dreams. They all supported me 100% which ultimately helped me get where I am to day. Plus this is my second Round the World trip so they are kind of used to it!
Did you have to save long or are you working on the road?
I did save but probably not as much as I should have. Really I just timed my departure (from work and from the US) to coincide with when I received my work bonus. That gave me a chunk of change to work with. Plus I did make more of an effort to save once I made up my mind what I was going to do. I also tried my best to cut my expenses while I was on the road (e.g. getting someone to sublet my apartment). I wish I could say I’m one of those diligent, thrifty savers who had savings for the next two years – but I’m just not that person. I also am not good at consistently doing the budget thing. I’m good for a few budget meals and a hostel stay or two, but then I need to balance that out with a nicer hotel or an excursion that will allow me to better experience wherever I’m staying. Basically for me, its all about balance.
What have been your favorite stops and why?
I found Cappadocia in Turkey to be very interesting and unique in terms of landscape. Its just a visually stunning place to go. Going back to Japan after 18 years was both amazing and emotional. I think I cried at least 4 or 5 times as I reunited with people and places I hadn’t visited in far too long. And having the chance to just “be” in Beirut is a treasure to me. Something about this city really speaks to me and I’m glad I have the two months to soak it all up and explore at my own pace.
Have you had any moments where you are looking for other Black travelers or female travelers to bond with?
I think I always look for a friendly Black face when I’m on the road. I was a little disappointed in Seoul where I saw many black faces, but none of them would ever nod or smile in my direction. I was surprised to be completely ignored by nearly each person I smiled at. In Beirut, you see plenty of Africans, but they are almost exclusively there as domestic workers or cleaning staff. It is something I definitely have to get used to. There is definitely a tone of racism here that makes me uncomfortable. Its only the Blacks that I’ve met from the US that are here as tourists, students or professionals. As for Female travelers, I feel like they are everywhere so I never really feel like I have to seek them out. In fact I wouldn’t mind meeting more (single, eligible) male travelers!
How has it been interacting with locals on some of your stops?
For the most part it has been extremely positive. People tend to be helpful, welcoming and interested to learn more about me as a single, Black, American traveler. Of course there are exceptions and people I’ve met who have been poor examples of their country’s hospitality, but luckily they are the exception rather than the norm.
What do you miss most about home?
I have to say there’s not a lot I miss on a regular basis. There are so many new things to try and new places to see and new friends to meet. But all that being said, there are definitely times when I miss seeing my friends and family and being around people who know me and “get me”. I miss my Capoeira academy back in LA which is where I spend a good part of my free time…and I miss Crystal Light Lemonade, pretzels and a good quality margarita! OK – I guess I do miss some things!
What have you learned about yourself on this journey?
So far I have learned that even though I am shy by nature, I can be outgoing when I need to be – and when you travel alone, you need to be outgoing on a regular basis. I learned that while I’m getting better, I still have some confidence issues that I need to work on – and no place like “on the road” to work on them. And just last night I learned that when I have absolutely no other option, I can get a half dead mega cockroach out of my room instead of fleeing the premises like I truly wanted to do (hopefully I won’t have to learn THAT lesson ever again).
Should you skip the Open AIr Museum in Cappadocia, Turkey… and other advice from globetrotter, Nailah Hayward of There’s So Much Too See.
Click the photos for more about Cappadocia, Turkey through Nailah’s eyes…
See more with Nailah:
New York based emcee, PremRock has been on tour almost two months and he wrote to RealTimeTravlr from Athens, Greece to tell us how he did it and what he learned about himself, the world, and Hip Hop in an international forum.
These are his words:
My trip, I guess technically began on Christmas day when I booked a flight landing in Paris on April 1st and departing from Baku, Azerbaijan on June 1st. The next three or so months I spent booking shows and searching for any possibilities of contacts overseas. The result was a journey spanning 11 countries and 17 cities in 60 days. I am currently in Athens, Greece on day 52. Here’s a bit of what I’ve experienced and how I got here.
The logistics and such:
I traveled through Aeroflot Airlines which is a Russian airline and to save money I took a really round-about way to Paris, which included a layover in Moscow. Kind of a backwards route but the price was too good to pass up. No complaints about the airline service at all they were professional, good folk. I traveled through Easy Jet as well to make a deadline I foolishly set up myself. Easy Jet, Ryan Air and a few others are terrific cheap options to fly around Europe. Don’t expect the royal treatment but definitely expect an agreeable price. Last minute bookings will be more pricey but if you book your flights in advance you could conceivably hit many countries in Europe at around 50 Euro per flight. Can’t beat that.
Well I’m pretty sure I’ve ran the gamut of places to stay. From family’s homes, to youth hostels, to even a gypsy commune in one case. Europe has overall been very accommodating and as I’ve learned from other hip-hop artists touring that pay and treatment of artists is pretty superior here to that of the states. They value you as an artist. Dinner, drinks and lodging are always on the house and at times you can stretch that courtesy over a few days, just be respectful.
Gypsy commune hoedown in the outskirts of Amsterdam.
I basically decided on France, England, Belgium and Prague through connections I’ve made and people I trust sharing their contacts. Netherlands, Greece, and Azerbaijan were connections I found myself and Berlin and Budapest just happened on a whim of positive energy. The contacts I’ve made here since arriving have been the best attribute of the trip as far as a professional standpoint goes. My next tour will be light years more organized, hopefully sponsored, better paid and all-around more efficient.
The motivation for the trip was my desire to expand not only as an artist but as a young man. I have traveled before but nowhere near this kind of scope and it wasn’t concerning music like this is. I feel I’m developed as an artist and performer much more than my recognition suggests. I think way too many people sleep on me and if promoters won’t book me I’ll book myself and get paid doing it. I figured I could run the rat race, doing the same shows and hoping the big blogs take a look at me etc. Or I could make my lane and show people worldwide who I am and why I matter. So, it was a collage of reasons born out of dreams, guts and rebellion.
My first memory of wanting to go to Paris was between the ages of 6 and 11. I know it was that time of my life because of where my family was living at the time. I was watching Babar on HBO. In the episode he was driving down the Champs Elysées at night, during Christmastime. I remember feeling that I have to do that one day. I guess that’s when this all started.
I attended the FIAF Travel Day Fair, yesterday, March 22, 2011. The first booth I visited was Call in Europe. A phone and my food are the most important things to me when traveling. Discussing the phone options in France reminded me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago at Les Enfant Terribles. A couple, who are regulars there as well, were going to Paris to get married. They were picking the brains of the staff about where to go, what to do etc. My friend, and bartender, told them about The Phone House where they could get cheap cell phones to use. I laugh thinking about the man’s quip, “It’s not Le phone house?” I added my notes to the inside of their travel guide by referring them to Real Time Travlr (the Founder, TastyKeish, is one of French connections).
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