Every time we come across the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic (typically used in context to describe a female of African descent who is pushing boundaries in her chosen field, achieving her goals and inspiring her community), there are a few women that immediately spring to mind.
One of them is Oneika Raymond, the voice behind the vibrant travel blog ‘OneikaTheTraveller’. She may not have asked for the title of ‘The Voice of Black Female Travel’. However her engaging, thoughtful and diverse content, passionate followership and rising profile have earned her that moniker and all the perks (and challenges) that come with it.
Despite her busy schedule, she found time to respond to our interview request. We covered a variety of topics including her journey to becoming a respected travel influencer, the challenges of balancing multiple careers, her increasingly vocal stand on global political issues, and industry trends. Enjoy reading.
When did you get bitten by the travel bug?
I was bitten by the travel bug in my junior year of college. I spent a year in France on a study abroad and learned so much about travelling (as well as myself). When I returned to my studies in Canada I *knew* that I had to incorporate travel into my life somehow! The rest is history…
Of your several cultural identities, is there one that you connect with the most (Canadian, Jamaican, Global Citizen, other)?
I most commonly label myself as Jamaican-Canadian. Growing up in Toronto with strong Caribbean roots has really shaped my perspective on life in general.
At what point in your journey did you embrace being coined a ‘black travel’ influencer?
Funny you mention that. I was thinking about that just recently! In the beginning, while I knew my thoughts and experiences as a black traveller heavily impacted how I processed things and how I was perceived, I was reluctant to be branded as the “black travel girl”. But soon I saw the value in being a representative for an oft-neglected segment of the travel population, and being a voice for the issues that affect us on the road. So now I wholeheartedly embrace this label!
What challenges have you faced in the process of balancing multiple careers?
Time management has been a huge issue for me in the past! I’m working on better juggling my responsibilities.
For the last decade (or more), you’ve focused on being an educator, whilst building a well known blog and brand. What tips can you give to people who desire to build a brand while working 9-5?
Be organized, strategic, and passionate about your side hustle! Organization is necessary to juggle your blogging life with your main gig. Being strategic means being efficient and effective with the time you dedicate to blogging– prioritize your work. Being passionate at what you do makes the extra time spent hustling feel worthwhile, even when there aren’t any tangible rewards.
Who’s making waves in the influencer industry that we should keep our eyes on?
If you could start all over again with your blog, is there anything you would do differently?
Hmm, that’s a tough one to answer! To be honest, probably not. I’ve been really happy with my progression– I started my blog as a hobby and now have turned it to a business and platform for other projects.
What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you started that you know now?
That’s also difficult to answer! I feel that everything has happened for me as it should. The sum total of my experiences have brought me to this point, and the learning I’ve done along the way has been wonderful.
What trends do you see now, and what changes do you foresee in the travel influencer industry?
I see a huge push for social media content– I have felt that travel blogs are going the way of the dodo. Video content (of course posted on social media platforms!) has really gotten big as well. I think brands will continue to market their products and services through travel influencers, but that these brands will become more savvy and discerning in terms of who they choose to work with.
There’s a lot of discussion in various travel groups and expat communities regarding the inevitable changes to our personal travel rights. What changes (if any) do you foresee?
While Trump’s recent Muslim Ban made waves internationally, I hope that the ripple effect will be minimal. I live in the USA on a residency visa, so am impacted directly to a degree. With that said, I don’t think any major changes will take place in the short term.
We’ve noticed that you’re making a stronger move into social and political commentary. What’s next for you?
I’ve always been fairly political but I think that because my social media statuses and blog posts have been reaching a larger audience as of late people are starting to take notice. I love discussing these issues and feel that it’s important to do so, so I’ll continue to make my voice heard.
What are your thoughts on travel being political? Is it, and can one be separated from the other?
I’ve written at great length about how travel and politics are intrinsically linked; you can’t have one without the other in my opinion.
Fast forward 3-5 years from today. What does life look like for you?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure! I’m just taking every day as it comes, and loving the adventure so far.
What is the main piece of advice that you would give to influencers who want to follow in your footsteps?
Be honest with yourself and your followers! And create like nobody’s watching.
Oneika continues to inspire us with her writing and her efforts to empower a community of confident travellers with balanced knowledge.
When she is not travelling, she is writing features for major publications such as CNN, Buzzfeed, Ebony, Condé Nast Traveler, The Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post to name a few. She’s also the upcoming keynote speaker for the Women in Travel Summit.
Oneika also regularly appears on television as the in-house travel expert on CTV Canada’s nationally broadcast breakfast news program “Your Morning”.
We are very excited to have her as our guest speaker at #DIPINTO17; our retreat for creatives and entrepreneurs taking place in Madeira, Portugal in May 2017. For more details about this event, view the details here.
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