Island Girls In-Transit is a new series that features amazing Caribbean women who are pursuing their wanderlust with that signature West Indian passion and pride. We’re an underrepresented segment within the travel community but it is my hope that these stories will serve as a source of inspiration for women throughout the region who dream of traveling the world!
Meet Victoria Hawkins
This month’s Island Girl In-Transit is Victoria Hawkins, a fellow Trinbagonian blogger who’s incredibly passionate about exploring the world. Author of the blog, The Nowherian Daughter, Victoria has a knack for knocking out several destinations in one go! Having recently completed a trip to the United States that took her to Colorado and Santa Fe, she’s looking forward to her upcoming Eurotrip that will cover Paris, Iceland, London and Glasgow!
So far, she’s traveled to 12 countries, including Egypt, and she has a bucket list of destinations she intends to visit in the future. Have a read and learn all about her Island Girl travel story!
Describe your travel style:
Immersive. I love exploring history, culture and food and I enjoy interacting with locals if given the opportunity. Soft adventures are a must. I’ll also splurge on some luxuries like spas, a 5 star hotel and shopping.
What do you love most about traveling?
Honestly…the food. We Trinis love our bellies! LOL. I love trying new dishes and it’s a great way to explore the country’s culture.
One thing you absolutely can’t travel without:
My iPhone. It’s my lifeline!
When did you realize you’d been bit by the travel bug?
It was during my first plane ride ever, to our sister island of Tobago as a small child with my parents. They inculcated a love of travel within me from an early age.
Fave travel buddy:
My boyfriend! We have many common interests including a shared love for travel, food and the finer things in life. He is an excellent map reader and navigator. I’d really end up lost without him! He makes himself comfortable wherever he is and is tolerant and respectful of others. He doesn’t make anything a problem (unless necessary) while I tend to nitpick and stress over certain things. Thank you for your patience with me baby! My bf loves Trinidadian food, especially my stewed chicken, curry and hot pepper sauce!
What was the best experience you’ve ever had while traveling?
I loved serene Aswan in Egypt. That part of the country had the best food I ate there! We also enjoyed the hospitality of our guesthouse host Ali, who invited us for Iftar (evening meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan) at his home since we were the only guests there at the time! Ali took us out on Nile river cruises in the small guesthouse boat at night and during the day. During the night cruise, we saw some ancient ruins along the way lit up while we sipped on sweet lemongrass tea on the rooftop boat deck! My cousin and I also took an afternoon cruise with him, after visiting the Abu Simbel Temples. After eating our small feast, we swam to our hearts delight in the cool river water close to a sandy bank!
What’s your favorite destination so far?
Egypt! It’s my most epic travel destination to date and a childhood dream come true! Why? Do I really need to answer that? LOL! I love ancient history and there are so many fascinating historical artifacts, monuments and sites to see!!!
What’s the most challenging experience you’ve encountered while traveling?
In Egypt I had difficulty standing my ground as a female in the face of aggressive vendors and persons who demanded tips in return for the slightest courtesy. I caved in often for fear. In countries such as these, it helps to be with a group and a trusted local guide. I learned to give a firm NO and walk away as the trip progressed though!
Furthest destination you’ve ever travelled to:
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Top 5 destinations on your Travel Bucket List:
- South Africa
Why do you think its important for women from small islands/countries to travel?
Travel exposes women, especially from the third world, to different experiences, sources of information and world views. Such knowledge enables us to compare and contrast our own experiences so that we can challenge/change traditional mindsets and practices that set limits on what we can do and achieve. Third world women travelers are growing in number and are underrepresented in the industry and the blogging world. If more of us do it and band together, we could one day force the industry to diversify it’s marketing and gear it towards non-traditional audiences.
Do you think there’s a difference between our experience as ‘third world’ female travelers, as opposed to our first world counterparts?
I do believe so! Especially when your skin is brown and your passport is not that of a first world country. First world travelers are met with a smile at immigration and visa free entry in most countries. Women travelers of colour, especially solo ones from third world countries, are looked upon with suspicion, thought to be up to no good or in the country for some menial job. In Dubai, the immigration officer asked me 3 times if I was there to work, despite handing him my reservation printout for one of the city’s top hotels (he didn’t read it). In an exasperated tone I said, “I’m not here to work, I’m on vacation in Dubai, I’m staying at X, you have my hotel information in your hands”. He let me proceed after that.
Apart from differential treatment due to skin colour and first world status, MY experience was that personal appearance and accent makes a difference in how you’re treated. I’m a Caribbean-Indian female with a non-subcontinent accent. I saw visible surprise in people’s faces and saw them warm up to me after I opened my mouth. Before that I was ignored. Guess I gave them a shock and shattered their illusion of Indian people! LOL. In the UAE, when I was dressed casually with no makeup, I found myself ignored at the stores. Next time, with make up, blown out hair and nicer clothing on, store attendants in the UAE smiled and were very helpful.
The world opened up for us more than ever before, when the T&T passport gained strength in 2015. T&T nationals were granted a visa waiver allowing us to travel visa free to all EU Schengen states and it’s associated countries/territories. This grants us a great degree of privilege over the majority of our traveling sisters in third world countries, who have to pay costly fees for visa appointments per destination with no guarantee of receiving it!
What piece of advice would you give to a young Caribbean woman who wants to travel but thinks this lifestyle is beyond her reach?
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
Along with the above quote, some action and determination is required. Make some small sacrifices to save money that can be put into a travel fund! You don’t have to go to all the fetes and buy new clothes, makeup and accessories to match all the time. Cook and eat at home. Exercise via Youtube. Get creative!
Many thanks to my Sister-in-Travel, Victoria Hawkins, for sharing her Island Girl travel story! If you’d like to learn more about Victoria’s jaunts, visit her blog, The Nowherian Daughter as well as follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!