Nasir Fleming (@nasirfleming), a recent college grad roams around the world creating travel content remotely! A former contributor to The Huffington Post and currently the Content Manager at ‘Shut Up and Go.’ Nasir is living his truth with the hope that it’ll inspire others to do so to.
Has traveling been a window or a mirror for you? Explain. Oh wow. I was honestly expecting the first question(s) to be, “What’s your name? Where are you from?” I love that we hopped right into the real stuff!
Traveling has been a bit of both. As an empathetic person, my experiences in new places have, of course, provided a more in-depth understanding of the lives of other human beings. In return, those experiences have naturally prompted a bit of self-reflection.
In general, it is sort of hard for me to connect with new people and new ideas without having them make me question myself, my existence, and everything else!
I travel to ask and answer questions, and those questions often serve as a window and a mirror.
What’s one thing you’ve learned while traveling the world that no one could have prepared you for until it happened? Next-level problem solving has become my best friend. When I’m back in the States, I very rarely have issues that can’t be quickly fixed (well, besides the current state of the U.S. government, but that’s a different conversation!)
But in our hometowns, we know where to go if our car breaks down or if we miss a bus; we have the knowledge and the essential resources. When you’re in a whole new country, stuff gets tough sometimes. When I arrived in Argentina, my first few moments being in the country, my phone was stolen. At this point, I hadn’t alerted my bank that I was going to Argentina, so money was an issue. Also, I didn’t know where my hostel was, so I had double the trouble. Anyway, I thought quickly and figured it out without a phone and with little-to-no resources. Phew!
What’s one misconception that people have about traveling abroad while Black? Ooh, tough one, because it is such a darn layered question for a paragraph response. Well, I can’t speak on behalf of anyone else, but one of my initial concerns about traveling was that other people in the world didn’t look like me. Growing up in the U.S. education system put the impression in my mind that the majority of the world is White. Most of our curriculum focused on European nations, Canada, and the USA, so individual connections weren’t made in my mind.
When I began traveling, I quickly learned that this isn’t true. Black and Brown people are everywhere in the world. Whether I’m strolling through the streets of Montpellier, France or waiting in line at a bank in Costa Rica, I’ll usually see another Black person. Sometimes that other Black person is a local, is an expat, or is a vacationer – regardless, it is always refreshing to see someone who looks like me while I’m traveling. Don’t ever feed into the idea that you’ll always stick out because of your skin color.
That said, don’t be afraid to also go to places where the majority of the people don’t look like us – you never know who you’ll connect with. Often, human connection transcends race, gender, class, and any other differences. There are dope people everywhere.
When on vacation, are you a planner or a free spirit? Since I work remotely and travel often, I am always working while exploring new places. So, I can’t think of the last time I took a proper “vacation.” That said, I’ve progressed into a free spirit over the last year or so. Now that I’m not in the university anymore and I’m always on the road, there’s not much structure to my life, so I’m just going with the flow, boo. Unplanned is the new planned.
Would you travel with a group? If so, what’s the max number you would travel? Absolutely! My first two significant travel experiences were with groups. I went to Paris and Barcelona when I was 16 with a crew of 25 high schoolers. It was a hot a** mess, but I wouldn’t change the experience. I was 18 for my second experience, and my best pal and I went with a college break group to London. Groups allow us to meet a ton of people from every crevice of the world. Sure, I’ve had some group mates who were extremely irritating with their cultural insensitivities and lack of adventure, but I’ve always met more people that I’ve liked than disliked.
So, I recommend group travel for first-time travelers. Functional groups give you the ins-and-outs, fabulous pub crawls, and sometimes you get to skip those exhausting lines. If you’re starting your adventures, go and meet some people! Also, the travel brand I work for, Shut Up and Go, has a few trips planned super soon, so I might be making an appearance on some of those and going back to my roots!
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to someone that wants to inquire more about traveling abroad? Join communities! I’ve noticed that most people are anxious to travel because they’re doing it all by themselves. Find a Facebook group or an Instagram page that resonates with you and connect with the people from it. There’s a sense of comfort when you realize that others are experiencing the same feelings as you.
Everyone must see (insert country here) before they finish traveling? Don’t sleep on Ecuador. insert 12 clapping emojis For real though, its neighboring countries (Peru and Colombia) are lovely, but they dim Ecuador’s shine in the U.S. tourism market.
I didn’t realize how much of a nature person I was. Ecuador quickly proved me wrong. One day, I was hiking around lagoons the next, I was cleansing myself in hot springs. I wasn’t particularly in love with Quito (the capital), but the country’s nature is undeniably fierce.
The most memorable experience in your favorite city? Least favorite? “Favorite city?” Dang, these are some loaded questions! I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I adore Guadalajara, Mexico.
In theory, I’m pretty simple. So, a moment that touched me was when I was sitting on the rooftop of a cafe with my best pals, with a gold and white cathedral gleaming behind us as we slurped our iced coffees. At this moment, as sweat dripped from my eyebrows onto my cheeks, I looked at my friends and thought how lucky I am to be able to travel and have simple yet bonding meaningful moments with them. Least favorite? Explosive diarrhea at a lake however we’ll save that for another interview!