Are you thinking about planning your next trip abroad? If so, you might want to stop by Jessica Nabongo’s blog. Nabongo is on track to be the first black woman and Ugandan to visit every country. Obtaining this record for her is more than just an accolade, though, since she hopes it inspires other people of color to travel the world as well.
Living my best Naija life with @ownbyfemme. We randomly met in Johannesburg though we are positive the universe brought us together. Since we’ve met we have explored four African countries together and she cooked me a vegan dinner in LA. With five countries under our friendship belt in four months I know this is meant to last a lifetime!! I asked if she wanted to go to my friend’s concert with me in Lagos and she said “sure,” just like that! Cheers to more new friendships that span the globe. Happy Monday! #catchmeinnigeria #tstmkrsafrica #visiterlafrique
Back in March, Nabongo made an announcement via Instagram regarding her goal and the timeline she has set for herself. According to her post, she is giving herself until May 15, 2019, to visit the remaining countries on her list and by no coincidence, that day will also be her 35th birthday.
READ THIS: A little over one year ago, while in Bali I decided to set a goal and accomplish something noteworthy. I love to travel (understatement of the century) and I have been traveling my whole life. I always knew I wanted to visit every country in the world, but now I’ve decided that I want to be the first black woman in the world to do so!! And the first Ugandan! I am giving myself the deadline of May 15, 2019, meaning I have 13.5 months to visit 90 countries. This is very difficult and expensive undertaking but I’m committed!! So please follow along with this crazy journey and tell others to join us as well! For more info on the journey, including my list of remaining countries visit my blog!! #catchmein195
With a year left in her challenge, Nabongo has 89 countries to go. However, the notable nomad shared with CNN that the traveling life is not always as easy as it seems.
"Navigating the world as a woman can be very difficult," Nabongo told CNN Travel. "I've had a pretty wide range of experiences. I've been accused of being a prostitute. I've had men chase me before. I've been assaulted on the street."
In addition to considering safety factors while solo-traveling, there is also a financial component to traveling which can become a hefty load when trying to travel at the rate Nabongo is. To help with her costs, she created a GoFundMe page, sells t-shirts and passport covers; she also hopes to land sponsorships along the way. Nabongo also decided to take a step back from her full-time job as Founder/CEO of her travel company Global Jet Black. According to Forbes, the company will not be put on hold but she will not be involved in the company’s daily operations as she focuses on her incredible task.
PHOTO: Andre Perry
During her trips, Nabongo shared with CNN, she often finds herself serving as the voice of Americans. Many people she encounters may have never met an American and, although she does not consider herself an activist, her presence as a woman of color in particular countries causes her to stand out and make an impactful, unspoken statement.
"Racism is a thing. There's nothing we can do to get around that. History has made it that way. I exist as a black person in this world and I'm not going to let that hinder me from going anywhere I want to go. Namely, everywhere," Nabongo told CNN.
Many of her stops will only consist of a few days in a country but she told Forbes she wants to make meaningful connections to locals while in those place because to her, "there’s no point in going to a country taking a pictures at the biggest tourist site and then leaving. For me the biggest part of traveling is talking to the people there."
Nobango said the love and support she has received from all over has been uplifting, especially the messages from other people of color telling her that her travels have inspired them to think out of the box and explore what the world has to offer.
Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes I travel with friends! A few weeks ago 27 of us descended upon Bali for @eltonandersonjr birthday. And per usual, photo shoot shenanigans resulted in memories to last a lifetime. Even though it was sweltering hot and there was torrential downpour, we still got the shot! 😜 Check our @jrbland stories for behind the scenes before it disappears!! #baliindonegros #catchmeinbali #catchmeinindonesia
She told Forbes, "you can’t let the mere possibility of what [might] happen to deter you… I want to show that black people travel. I’m representing America and also Uganda," Nabongo said. She also shared that she wants "little black and brown girls around the world to know that they can travel."