Black Men Travel Series KB: Travel Increases Gratitude And Compassion
I believe traveling develops more empathy, compassion, and patience.
The Chronicles Abroad team is featuring Kelvin “KB” Brown for our Black Man Travels Series. KB is a graphic designer and photographer who’s a nomadic global citizen. He’s traveled to 21 countries. KB thoughtfully shares how travel has increased his compassion and gratitude towards life.
What’s your favorite country and why?
That’s a tough one. I’d have to say that there’s a 1a & 1b. Thailand and Spain. So close between the two.
I love Thailand for the amazing culture, food, weather, the people, Muay Thai (MMA) and the remarkably affordable cost of living.
Spain has its own magical beauty. It’s history, food, location, architecture and it’s a unique laid-back European style that I find incredibly livable and easy-going.
Siesta anyone?? Si’
What’s on your bucket list?
Being on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. Even better, being nominated.
Tell us a little about your travel journey? (i.e., how many countries have you visited, how did you start traveling, are you a solo traveler or a group traveler).
My current solo journey started last January. At last count, I’ve traveled to 21 different countries.
The last couple of months I’ve been on a bit of a tear. I’ve clocked in at over 14 different countries mostly in Europe over the previous year. I got the bug in my early 20’s. My first trip outside the USA was to Europe in the early 2000s. I had friends in France, Czechia, and Spain.
In fact, I actually taught English in Czechia and Spain but ran out of money after a couple of months and got a bit overwhelmed by not being familiar with the culture or the language, so my stint was brief.
What has been your experience traveling overseas as a Black man? Have you ever been subjected to certain stereotypes while traveling?
My experience traveling overseas has been mostly positive. You do encounter the occasional curious stares, mostly from people in more remote areas but for the most part, if you treat people with respect and kindness in their environment, you will be fine.
I do think being an African American you are treated differently. For better or for worse there are definitely built-in advantages.
Our culture is very prevalent around the world: our history, our music, our fashion, our swag. You can go to the most remote little places around the world, and they know all about Obama. (Everywhere I’ve traveled they absolutely LOVE Barack & Michelle).
They’re also listening to everything from Jay-Z, to Michael Jackson to Bruno Mars to Beyonce and Whitney Houston. I also can’t tell you how many Lebron & Steph Curry jerseys I’ve seen in SE Asia.
Women seem to dominate the travel industry, what do you think holds men back from traveling?
I think we as men are socialized to think that they have to follow a specific path in life. Go to school, get a good job, get married, buy a house, have kids, etc.
There’s so much pressure to produce for yourself and others. When you spend all of your time just trying to live a sustainable existence, it’s difficult to think about traveling.
Obviously, women in 2018 have the same pressures, but I think females are more in touch with their emotions and are more adaptable to change.
Which I believe that allows them to be a bit more open to trying different things and experiences.
Why do you think it’s important for Black men to travel?
I believe traveling develops more empathy, compassion, and patience. America is going through a difficult period right now and being an African American male makes it even that much more difficult.
When you see other places, people and things you appreciate how fortunate we are to have been raised in America; including its flaws in which there are many.
It’s important to step outside your bubble and experience all the diversity the world has to offer. It can only make you a better more thoughtful person.
With today’s social and political climate, how has venturing abroad altered your worldview?
OK. I could get very deep with this, but I’m going to keep it short and simple. I am very disappointed and disillusioned with the political climate in America today.
Personally, I think the man who was elected president is an affront to everything I hold dear about America. I have very complicated and mixed feelings about my country presently.
It’s hard to be in such a divisive environment. I truly believe if more Americans had passports and saw other parts of the world we would’ve had a different outcome than what happened in 2016.
Exposure can lead to more empathy, gratitude, and acceptance.
What have you learned about other cultures through your travels?
Every culture wants basically the same thing out of life: love, happiness, security, good health, a good job, a roof over their heads and sharing these things with loved ones.
Just the way we go about acquiring these basic things is different. But I think traveling allows you to step outside of your particular bubble and see the whole picture more clearly and have more compassion.
I feel like I’m a more well-rounded individual because of my travels and also more grateful for what I have.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone, especially a Black man who wants to travel?
Do some research. Find a country or countries that interest you. See what they have to offer you. Look at your budget. If you don’t have the funds now, start putting a little aside every week.
People don’t realize, but for the most part, traveling can be cheaper than living your everyday life. As soon as you get your plane ticket, there are many different ways to travel with whatever budget you have.
Visualize it, be proactive and persistent about your ultimate goal of traveling. You can completely do it!
The first mission to the Moon was done with the same computing power of a basic digital watch today.
Think about that…
You can do more with less, you just have to think outside of the box and have ingenuity and creativity; then you can metaphorically fly to the moon.
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