Some travelers have opened new doors for others when it comes to diverse travel. Oneika Raymond is one of those pioneers in travel media who inspire other women of color to travel the world. In her popular blog ‘Oneika The Traveller’, she questions why travel blogging and travel media are still so white. Having traveled to over 116 countries and 6 continents, Oneika is now a well-known travel media personality and host on the Travel Channel’s “One Bag and You’re Out” and “Big City, Little Budget.” She’s also an on-air travel correspondent for NBC New York and CTV Canada.

With her blog ‘Oneika The Traveller,’ her goal is to inspire other people of color like her to travel the world. Her traveling journey started very early on in her life when she had to travel abroad to visit her family in the Caribbean and the US. However, it was only years later, during a study abroad program in France, that she discovered the joy and excitement of traveling. This marked the beginning of her career as an English teacher for expats in Mexico, London, and Hong Kong. To keep her family and friends up to date with her travel adventures, she decided to create ‘Oneika The Traveller’ in 2003.

Her blog then started to grow and many women of color, either black or Asian, became really interested in her story. “They were interested in my experience probably because there weren’t many black travelers back then.” When she moved to the US, her blog was gaining in popularity. She was being hosted on press trips, traveling for free. “I was even offered paid assignments, where they cover all your costs and offer money to produce content.”

woman traveler and st. basil's cathedralShe then went on investing time in all social media platforms including YouTube “when two awesome things happened,” explains Oneika. “A TV station in Canada, CTV Canada, reached out to me and offered me a position as a travel expert on their morning show. After six months, the Travel Channel reached out and said they loved my videos and were interested to have me as a host.”

Oneika is now “growing as a human; I am pregnant” as she laughingly explains. She currently lives in New York City where she is a host and correspondent for the New York Live travel lifestyle segment.

Traveling as a black woman is inherently more difficult according to her experiences. The most challenging experiences were “when I was stared at or racially profiled at airports. However, the positive side of getting more attention is that it can become a great conversation starter.” During her many years of traveling abroad, people have approached her because they were interested in her skin color and her hair texture. However, Oneika explains that there are now more travelers of color on the road “and you don’t get as much attention when you travel in Thailand as 10 years ago. In 2009, I could barely walk down the street without people approaching me. People were even asking if they could touch my hair. The situation has now changed a lot compared to when I was traveling ten years ago.”

Oneika says that there are still many black women writing to her and sharing how they are inspired by her travels and how it lowered their fears of traveling as a woman of color. “I get an email or a comment from a person who was inspired by my blog, almost every day. I want my blog to be a platform that supports women of color in media and encourages them to travel.”

Oneika emphasized that there are still more obstacles to traveling as a woman of color than as a white person. “The attention you get can be positive, friendly or annoying. There are times in a lot of places when I had so much attention that it became too annoying. I don’t want to educate people all the time about who I am, why my hair and skin color is like that.”

On the positive side, being different has allowed her to meet more people, when they approach her because of her skin color. She adds that she even got invited once for a free drink by someone who was interested in her skin color. “It’s like a double edge sword. It invites more connections and conversation but it can also be annoying. It makes you very noticeable.” 

Last year, she visited 20 countries and 15 this year, and her baby won’t stop her.

When asked if she will keep traveling with her kid, Oneika answers that having a child should not prevent us from traveling. “Traveling is part of my life. I look forward to giving her the opportunity to see the world at a young age.” 

Oneika still has more countries to visit on her wish list. In the years to come, she wishes to explore further the continent of Africa in countries like Nigeria, Madagascar, Seychelles, and Namibia. 

Safe travels Oneika!

To follow Oneika’s adventures, you can visit her blog.