Travel has been instrumental to the growth of Natural Hair Does Care, the lifestyle company I cofounded with my sister, Shalleen-Kaye. Fortune magazine reported in a 2015 article that black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States of America. As entrepreneurship among women of color has exploded in the last few years, more and more of us have accumulated stamps in our passports along the way. As black women’s businesses have expanded so have the opportunities to present our platforms to audiences around the globe. But non-business related travel is also an increasing part of what successful women of color routinely do. Turns out travel may just be one of the important keys to success when it comes to #blackgirlmagic, and I’ve discovered four reasons why this is so.
1. Travel Helps You Plan for Success.
Lisa Price, founder of the iconic beauty brand Carol’s Daughter has perfected this formula. She told me, “When I began to travel for business I learned how to build in time when and where I could. Get someplace a day early and just be still. Be quiet. No talking. This is so needed for me. I am an introvert who has to be very extroverted to do my job. The only way I can get back to a place of balance is tooccasionally turn it all off and go within.”
I’m a clinical psychologist who started my professional career in an urban public hospital, working with children hospitalized for psychiatric interventions. The work was tough, the children’s lives unbelievably tragic, opportunities to provide more than respite were few, and my professional self-care was poor. I was unable to separate my work from my personal life, and the children’s traumas haunted my dreams. Quite accidentally I learned that travel – even short weekend getaways – could help me be more professionally effective and also benefit my own emotional and mental wellness.
2. Travel Helps You Get Cognitively Inspired.
Travel expands your ability to create, to be cognitively and emotionally flexible, and to see things from another perspective.
Felicia Leatherwood, inspirational beauty speaker and celebrity natural hairstylist, put it well when she said to me “When you travel, you feel that there are unlimited possibilities and you have the ability to go farther in Life and in the World!”
In my own inspiring travel experiences my trip to a local market in Mazatlan, Mexico showed me economic prudence in action; while the hospitality I received in Ilishan Remo, Nigeria reconnected me to my place in history. Island-hopping with friends as part of a cruise got me the Vitamin D I needed to naturally enhance my mood and cognitive sharpness. And the Natural Hair Brunch Affair tour stops we’ve done for the past two years connected me to scores of women all over the world who prioritize supporting one and another in looking and feeling their best.
3. Travel Helps you Disconnect to Reconnect.
Travel as a tool for self-care and professional growth did not come naturally to me; I grew up in a household where people primarily traveled to fulfill family obligations (weddings, funerals, graduations, etc.). So to say that I was going away “just because” felt selfish and indulgent to me at first. But walking into work and knowing that in just a few days I would be relaxing on a beach somewhere or on a tour through a historic site actually helped me be a more effective clinician.
Carmen Blakely, founder of Lipstick Fashion Mascara hit the nail on the head: "In a world where we are constantly plugged in; travel allows us to disconnect. We are temporarily removed from our everyday demands. When I go to foreign places, I am able to be 100% present. I can gather my thoughts. I can spend hours eating lunch. I can just be. Travel is a luxury everyone must figure out how to afford."
4. Travel Has Lasting Benefits to Your Mind, Body, and Spirit.
I love looking at photos of my travels, and I don’t have to wait for #flashbackfriday either, it’s one of my favorite coping skills for stress. Because travel impacts all our senses, and memories are created in all those dimensions, the benefits of travel can last long after you’ve returned home and unpacked your suitcase.
Just ask Anu Prestonia, natural hair care pioneer, celebrity stylist, and founder and CEO of world-famous Khamit Kinks salon: “I traveled to Bali as a birthday gift to myself 9 years ago and I don't think a day goes by that I don't have a memory of that experience, it transports me. Bali was otherworldly. With the constant smell of incense in the air, the tinkling sounds of music being played as people proceed to spiritual communing, the cacophony of exotic insect singing, and a small but beautiful arrangement of rice and flower offerings to ancestors at the door of every home and business, Bali is just pure magic. It is a constant reminder for me that despite life's challenges, life is forever beautiful, magical and sacred.”<