As seeing the world becomes a growing priority for many African Americans, new resources are sprouting up to service those of us always ready for a passport stamp. Avid traveler Zim Ugochukwu launched TravelNoire.com last year, which provides content for Black travelers and a highly engaged social media presence with 65,000 followers on Instagram. In under a year, Ugochukwu was able to leave her consulting position and work for the lifestyle company full time. See her journey and travel tips.
NAME: Zim Ugochukwu
TITLE: Founder of Travel Noire
HOMETOWN: Mankato, Minnesota
LOCATION: San Francisco
The gig: I am the founder of Travel Noire, a digital publishing platform where the unconventional traveler can find tools, tips and other resources for their next adventure. I started in September 2013 with a vision to showcase that Black people travel and share our tips with each other. We launched with eight stories. With TravelNoire’s growth, I started saving money to make that leap to leave my job as a producer for a tech conference to develop the site full-time.
The journey: Right after college, I got an opportunity with the Henry Luce scholarship to work in India. While working there I was able to travel to other countries in Asia for as little as $50. The moment I fell in love with travel was when I was living on a train with 450 young Indians for two weeks who were passionate about changing the world.
Confessions a globetrotter: Travel changes everything. You get to see the things that you would do every day in a different way in a different place. Traveling opens you up to serve other people, and I think that everybody should have access to that.
Her biggest lesson learned: When I came back from India, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and worked in digital health. A couple years into it, I was like, “I don’t think that this is it.” I learned that it was important for me to be as authentic as possible. You have to trust yourself.
Her top packing tips: Try to limit your luggage to a carry-on. I did a video on Travel Noire TV called “How to Pack a Carry-on Like a Boss.” My method is to lay your clothes out on a flat surface, put your intimates in the middle, and then you fold everything around it like a ball. You can get 60 percent more clothes in that way.
Mantra: Always live life in crescendo.
Her theme song: “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5
Her travel fix: I don’t love flying, so I have a plane playlist of gospel and mellow music and season one of Fresh Prince of Bel Air that I watch repeatedly on flights.
Her boss accessory: I really love monochromatic suits. I have a bright pink suit I love.
Her tech must-haves: I love TripIt, Spotify, Dropbox, Instagram, Wifi Map, Sleep Cycle and Sunrise, a calendar app that breaks up the day.