BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the remarkable Tonya Fitzpatrick, award-winning travel journalist and co-founder of World Footprints Media, to discuss all things travel including, global awareness, culture, and travel tips.
(Image: Ian Fitzpatrick)
Black Enterprise: Busy professionals don’t often prioritize travel, citing lack of time and financial considerations as deterrents. What are some reasonable ways to embrace travel with limited time and budget?
Fitzpatrick: America is a country that is rich in diversity and history. There are U.S. cities that reflect a rich cultural tapestry dating back centuries, where you can experience Old World traditions and flavors. New York and Miami are prime examples of America’s melting pot of indigenous people, early colonization, and immigration. Even in a place like Havre, Montana you can find examples of early Chinese immigration in the underground city that once housed everything from a brothel and opium dens to a saloon, barber shop, law office, and laundromat.
There are also national heritage trails in cities, like Baltimore and Birmingham, Alabama, where people can explore our nation’s history by car or on foot. So, if time is limited, one doesn’t have to venture far from their backyard to discover a piece of our interesting history. Some hotels, like the Gaylord properties, are akin to to mini cities and offer free family entertainment. Historic properties like the Mayflower (Washington, D.C.), the Grand Hotel (Michigan), and the Coronado Hotel (California) allows visitors to walk in the footsteps of history, and they provide a nice, quick getaway.
Those looking for an island adventure can travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico without needing a passport. There are also several mainland islands where people can go to unwind: Solomon’s Island (M.D.), Mackinac Island (M.I.), Catalina Island (C.A.), Martha’s Vineyard (M.A.), Jekyll Island (G.A.), to name a few.
There are cultural attractions abound in America, and every major city has a treasure trove of unique offerings.
BE: In what ways can travel add value to an otherwise healthy lifestyle?
Fitzpatrick: Travel always offers a chance to escape from the concrete jungle and recharge. When you visit a developing country and witness the generosity and kindness of people who have nothing more to offer than a smile, even the hardest of hearts will soar. Even if you just want to relax under a palm tree with a drink in your hand, that time offers a chance to compare your size to the vast ocean and realize just how small you are in the world. Relaxing poolside or on the beach also affords a time for reflection and introspection.
BE: What did you learn, and how has it shaped the way you embrace the world around you?
Fitzpatrick: Travel has opened the door to so many possibilities and my eyes to the world around us. When I interviewed Maya Angelou, she reflected what travel has reinforced for me—we have more similarities than we have differences. Traveling around the world, and even this country, is very humbling. it has taught me to value life and the opportunities that I’ve been given.
BE: What is your best advice to someone interested in becoming a global citizen?
Fitzpatrick: Leave your U.S.-centric attitude and expectations at home. Embrace cultural differences, recognize our common humanity, and be a good guest in someone else’s backyard.
Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her Website,WordSmithRapport.com.