Jamal Davis took a trip of a lifetime to Asia in Summer 2019 before heading to Harvard Business School. Let's learn a little more about Jamal and his travel journey.
Where was your most recent travel abroad destination? Why?
My most recent travel abroad destination was a trip that included Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong. I decided to go to these countries because I had not yet been to Continental Asia, and I wanted to experience a new culture. I had previously been to Europe, Africa, North America, and South America, so Asia was the natural next choice.
What was your experience of traveling growing up?
Outside of visits to Myrtle Beach, Washington, DC and a few states for travel soccer, it wasn’t something that I remember much of (though my mom did take my brother and I on a few more trips).
I was fortunate enough to go on an international trip to France and London my freshman year of High School. I remember seeing the Palace of Versailles – built by Louis XIV – and being blown away by its size and beauty. I didn’t travel again until the summer after my sophomore year of college when I went to South Africa. It was my interactions with the locals on this trip that made me fall in love with traveling.
Are you the first in your family to travel abroad?
Outside of my cousins and uncles who served in the military. Yes, I am.
What were your expectations prior to traveling abroad?
The most recent trip, I didn’t have too many expectations. I’ve been to over 15 countries, and you learn that people are people at the end of the day. There are people that will go out their way to help you and there are people who will use you to make a quick, easy dollar if you’re not paying attention. Sometimes, they’re the same people, so be careful!
Did you have any challenges abroad and how did you handle them?
No challenges, but in the day leading up to this trip, I became a little worried about language barriers. A friend recommended that I download the Google Translate app. Problem solved, talking to locals and cab drivers in Japanese was ridiculously simple using this app.
Do you prefer traveling solo or in a group? Why?
I have traveled solo, and it used to be my preferred method. Traveling solo allows you to go through the process of self-discovery and take risks in ways that you might not otherwise take. However, at this point, I’ve mostly “discovered” myself, and I now believe that it’s not where you go, it’s who you go with.
What would you say to people who are on the fence of traveling abroad?
No one has ever gone on a trip abroad and returned to say, “I regret going there.” You may decide that once is enough, but I doubt you’ll have any regrets!
Where are your next destinations domestically and/or abroad?
I am not sure. We are in the midst of coronavirus, which has forced me to cancel several of my travel plans. I was planning to go to Puerto Rico in March and West Africa (e.g. Ghana/Nigeria) in May, but those trips have both been postponed for now.
As Co-Owners of Take A Leap Travel, LLC, Sharee and I take your health seriously. As you know the travel industry is being extremely affected along with other small business owners. Here are 5 simple ways to help: 1. Stay local and support local businesses in your community. 2. Purchase flights for future travel by March 31, 2020. Airlines are offering discounts and waiving change fees, if plans change. 3. Ask around to see who in your circle has their own business (waving hand here). Support and/or refer their services/products. 4. Try something new. Many small businesses have unique services/products We’re offering virtual travel coaching - Go to our website at takealeaeaptravel.com to learn more. Prices are reasonable and can fit into your budget. 5. Keep Take A Leap Travel, LLC in mind for your future international, domestic, and staycation needs.
Traveling means the world to us. Not only personal, but also as a business with Take A Leap Travel, LLC. We love discovering new cultures and eating local dishes at the destinations we've visited. It's been a blessing to see the world with our own eyes. And we have made it our business to help others see it too.
So when everything turned upside down with the health scare of the coronavirus, we were saddened to see the stock market tumment, students return home early from their study abroad experiences, and families missing out on their year-long awaited journey. Money, Annual Leave/PTO, the built of excitement.. gone.
We plan to continue our travels and encourage others to do the same. However, we know that everyone's circumstances are different. It's helpful to be armed with the facts.
Check out this article by our friend Dr. Nadeen White of The Sophisticated Life. She's a doctor and avid traveler, as well.
Are you having to change your travel plans because of the spread of the coronavirus?
Rhonda and Sharee
This was our 6th year volunteering at Sundance Film Festival. Under a new policy, we can not blog about our volunteer experience or even share info about movies or panels we attended. So, we thought we'll share some of the pictures captured during our extended stay. We have expanded from a 4 day experience to 6 days. This gave us the opportunity to spread our volunteering hours over multiple days so that we have time to not only see movies, but also network, whether they be festival attendees, actors, filmmakers, or volunteers.
Images below- Actor Will Catlett; Sharee checking out the ski lift; Sharee and Rhonda in Atticus Coffee shop on Main Street; Actress Erika Alexander (Both Rhonda and Sharee took seperate pictures with her a few hours apart); Filmmaker and 2020 Oscar Award Winner, Matthew Cherry; Actress Daheli Hall; Actor Alano Miller; Actress Xosha Roquemore; and downtown Main Street in Park City, UT.
And finally, a special shout-out to our driver and fellow volunteer Cami, and new volunteer Cici. Cami drove us from Salt Lake City to Park City and back everyday. Our schedules just lined up like clockwork. And it made the trip much more affordable than paying for a ride-share service. Cici, a gifted photographer, took several of the pics below, and currently on an IG challenge to post one image a day for a year. Keep it up Cici!
Do you have a favorite celebrity you've taken a picture with?
Rhonda and Sharee
Introducing our brand new YouTube Channel for Take A Leap Travel, LLC, featuring Wanderlust Wednesdays, our weekly travel tips video series. We started it off at the beginning of the year, and we are 7 videos in. Each video is less than 4 min., and offer quick insights on travel tips that we frequently use. Check back weekly, and be sure to hit SUBSCRIBE so that you know when new videos are posted!!
We had an airline voucher with American Airlines we've been sitting on for 2 years that expired the first week of January 2020. Not to leave "money" on the table, we decided to take advantage of the new direct flight from Columbia, SC to Miami, FL. We included it in our Take A Leap Travel trips, and invited others to join us. We had a blast bringing in the New Year on the Wharf, and exploring Miami and it's rich culture over a period of three days. Day #1 and Day #2 were shared in previous posts.
Our final day in Miami was spent revisiting two areas in Miami that we briefly saw during Day #2, and wanted to explore more. Utilizing our hop-on hop-off bus pass, we spent our morning in Wynwood and afternoon in Little Havana.
Wynwood is known for it's colorful murals. We toured the artwork museums for half an hour, and then went to the Wynwood Diner for lunch. We had the best pasta and avocado salad, and didn't leave a thing on the plate. Simply delish. As we waited for the bus to take us to Little Havana, we met a wonderful family from Cape Town, South Africa. We shared with them about our upcoming travels there, and exchanged contact info so that we can meet up in a few months.
Once we got to Little Havana, it was as if we left United States. The Latin music, the smell of Cuban cigars, and the people of Cuba was alive. We even took a little time out to view a domino game in Domino Park, and listened to Latin music in a cafe. Since most Cuban dishes have pork in them, we settled on Cuban sherbet for dessert.
After one last visit to South Beach, we headed to the airport for our evening flight. Visiting Miami was a great way to start the New Year, and it didn't disappoint. We took in the fresh air of beach, improved our Spanish, tasted spicy foods, and enjoyed the rhythmic sights and sounds of Cuba and Latin America influences. If you're looking to "leave the USA, but not actually leave", we definitely recommend visiting Miami as a great short weekend or holiday get-a-way.
Where are your favorite short get-a-way destinations?
Rhonda and Sharee
We had an airline voucher with American Airlines we've been sitting on for 2 years that expired the first week of January 2020. Not to leave "money" on the table, we decided to take advantage of the new direct flight from Columbia, SC to Miami, FL. We included it in our Take A Leap Travel trips, and invited others to join us. We had a blast bringing in the New Year on the Wharf, and exploring Miami and it's rich culture over a period of three days. Day #1 was shared in a previous post.
We'll now share Day #2
We had a relaxing morning to take in the full view of the golf course adjacent to the hotel. It was there that we decided to go on a guided tour for the first new day of the year. After taking a ride-share to Collins Ave and walking the streets, we came upon a special deal for a 2-day Hop-on Hop-off bus pass. This allowed us to take in a full view of Miami and Miami Beach over the course of two days. Just before we hopped on the bus, we went to The Licking: Fingalicking, a popular soul-food and hip-hop music playing restaurant, on the suggestion of our ride-share driver. It' didn't disappoint, and we had a bowl of spicy rice and seafood pictured below.
Once we were aboard the bus, we took to the top of the double decker in the open air. As the commentator shared with us the history of both Miami and Miami Beach, we were able to see the full view of Miami, 360 degrees. We went to Biscayne Bay, Wynwood, and Little Havana. Some of the sights to be seen from atop the bus were the AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami Heat), the mural walls in Wynwood, and the tricked-out cars in Little Havana. At Biscayne Bay and the Bayside Marketplace, we jumped on an hour and half tour of celebrity homes. We saw the homes of Sean Combs (Puff Daddy), Ricky Martin, Shaquille O'Neal, and LeBron James. The latter two areas, Wynwood and Little Havana, would be explored on the ground on Day #3.
Have you ever explored a city using a hop-on hop off bus?
Rhonda and Sharee
We had an airline voucher with American Airlines we've been sitting on for 2 years that expired the first week of January 2020. Not to leave "money" on the table, we decided to take advantage of the new direct flight from Columbia, SC to Miami, FL. We included it in our Take A Leap Travel trips, and invited others to join us. We had a blast bringing in the New Year on the Wharf, and exploring Miami and it's rich culture over a period of three days. We'll share each day's experience over the next few weeks.
We had an early morning flight, and used a Lyft to get us to the airport to save on parking. They were offering a special promotion, and we saved 75% off the fare. Great start to our exciting mid-week trip. The flight was barely an hour and half in the air, and we arrived in sunny Miarmi with a beach themed decorative decor at the airport. Everyone wanted to be outside, including the geico we met upon arrival at our hotel. LOL!!
After a brief rest in the hotel room, we got ready for the night's festivities. Nothing elaborate. We like to be comfortable. Rhonda dressed in a bright yellow-checkered dress, and Sharee in basic black and white. We decided to go to the Wharf to bring in the New Year near the water. Free admission before 10pm ($35 after 10PM), and food on our own. There were several food trucks to choose from, and we decided to go with fish and seafood.
We met a few people at our table. Mostly young working professionals from Miami looking for a safe and fun night-life, and not sitting at home. The music was Old-School R&B/Hip-Hop from the 90s. Our soul was happy, and we found ourselves getting "Jiggy with it" and singing along to our 90s icons along the likes of New Edition, Biggie Smalls, Will Smith, and Puff Daddy.
Just before the countdown began we opted for something sweet and split two donuts. One regular glazed, and the other pink cotton candy. During this time, a few boats came alongside the pier, and we all looked to the sky as the countdown began. 10, 9, 8, .....1. The fireworks over the city was spectacular, and the mood got more festive as we blew into our noisemakers and cheered in the early hours of January 1, 2020. We didn't stay long after the fireworks, as we've been up since 4am that morning. We needed to rest up for the next two days so that we could see all Miami had to offer. And it didn't disappoint!! Check back in the coming weeks as we share the next two days of our time in Miami.
How did you spend your New Year's Eve?
Rhonda and Sharee
Over the winter break, we came across two programs that are offering young adults a trip to the African continent at little to no costs. One is specifically for high school students and the other for youths and young adults.
Age 13-30 years old
Travel and Project-based Learning
Travel to a West African Country (Ghana, Senegal, etc)
It appears to be entirely paid for by donors and more than a dozen sponsors including HBO, Essence Magazine, and Blavity
Currently accepting applications
US Citizen w/ one parent of African Diaspora (African-American, African, Caribbean, Caribbean-American, etc)
High School 9th, 10th, 11th grader...minimum age of 15 and must not have graduated before the trip commences
Current trips are to Senegal in the Summer, but may expand to other African countries
Students only pay $500, and fees associated with obtaining a passport, immunizations, and malaria pills (although Senegal is not a malaria zone, it's for precaution)
Funded by The Tunstall Foundation
Application accepted until February 29, 2020
What do you think of what these organizations are doing for youths and young adults of African descent? If you met the criteria, would you participate?
.During this past year I have experienced highs, lows; gains, loss; frustration, pure joy; and everything in between. I learned 5 Lessons in my Year of Bliss and I'll share them one by one over the next few weeks before we enter year 2020. Earlier in the month I discussed Lesson Number 1: Give Yourself Permission to Take A Break, Lesson Number 2: Flexibility, Lesson 3: Give Money A Destination, and Lesson 4: Laugh.
5. Give Generously
Give of your resources and time. Resources can be talent, skills, money, and/or time. As you can see, I did not say money first. I feel more blessed when I use my travel skill-set. Planning people's travel itineraries allows me to utilize my project management skills, and make it possible for them to save money and more time enjoying their trip.
Thank you for reading my series, Year of Bliss, as an entrepreneur. May the New Year bring to you good tidings in 2020 as you pursue your personal and entrepreneurial endeavors.
Rhonda's word for 2020 is Gratitude. Sharee's word is to be Present.
What is your One Word for the New Year?
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Rhonda & Sharee Washington