Who are you and how long have you been travelling for?
I’m Erick Prince and I’ve been travelling since 2001. To clarify, I joined the military then and served a bit over ten years. So travel was always part of my job. As a professional travel journalist I’ve been going about three and a half years straight.
How do you fund your travels?
I’m a freelance travel journalist and consultant for several different publications, travel companies, and websites. Plus I’m VERY good with money so I tend not to waste much. It’s not about what you spend, it’s about what you don’t spend.
What inspired you to start blogging?
My aim has always been to inspire low income students to travel international and develop the tools to become global citizens. Through my foundation, A World Beyond Youth Exploration, I plan to facilitate those travels. I started blogging as a way to keep in touch with the students I had already interacted with as well as fill a MASSIVE gap in the travel industry when it comes to POC (people of colour) representation. How in the world is a middle class white guy going to tell me what it’s like to travel through Eastern Europe as a black man?
Have you encountered any problems, or “weirdness” travelling as a black man?
I wouldn’t say weirdness. People are just curious. African-Americans are still an anomaly internationally. We just don’t travel very much internationally and I find it silly that some in our community are claiming the opposite. 17% of African Americans travel internationally. Sure, that’s better than 16% but it’s still crazy to think how low that number is given how much we spend on hair care vs travel.
My experience travelling as a black man has been largely positive and definitely has given me some advantages over my white counterparts. Peoples have tended to really open their homes and lives to be, particularly the poor as many feel we share a mutual struggle. It amazes me how much others know about the racism and marginalization blacks face in the US. Inspiring actually.
Which country/city has been your favourite travelling to as a black man? Why?
This is such a terrible question to ask a permanent nomad. Lol. I honestly can’t give you one but I’ll give you a quick top 5 and why.
– Romania: From my first visit to my last, I’ve met some of the warmest and kindest people anywhere in the world. Some I still consider my best friends to this day. People who don’t have much but will give you what they do have. Rare find and a stunningly beautiful country. I think it’s also multiplied by the fact western media would have us believe that Eastern Europeans are racist. Couldn’t be further from the truth.
– Thailand: Easily the world’s best travel bargain. I’m also a bit biased as I love Thai food. Also the hospitality industry in Southeast Asia is second to none. Some of the best resorts/hotels you’ll ever stay at and significantly cheaper than the west. At higher quality throughout.
– South Africa: A recent addition to my top five. SA is one of the most culturally diverse places I’ve visited and that reflects in the world class cuisine. Imagine Michelin star meals at fast food prices. It’s kind of ridiculous actually. Also the people are amazing and landscapes stunning. Still makes me laugh when I think of the baboon’s just running around freely.
– Colombia/Brazil: I combine these two because I love them both for the exact same reasons. The African influence in both countries is obvious. So I found that each celebrated that culture openly and authentically. I’m a dancer. Always have been. On a global scale I don’t think peoples dance anymore given the Kardashification of nightlife. Brazil and Colombia though?!?!?! If you don’t dance then don’t even bother going out. Such electric energy all over both places. From Rio to Medellin. From Sao Paolo to Bogota. Each country is sensory overload.
– Sweden: Sweden caught me off guard my first visit. I place a high value on logic and intelligence. Two things highly touted in Sweden. Also the tap water taste like magic rainbows. Their quality of life would make anyone jealous. And the people are extremely kind.
And which has been your least favourite? Russia and Argentina are a tie. Well St.Petersburg and Buenos Aires to be exact. I found Russians to be complete assholes and proud to be assholes which is kind of admirable. Portenos came off as very fake and manipulative. Not to mention racist in the more affluent areas like Palermo Soho and Hollywood. Like old southern white racist.
Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your past self about the world of travel?
Start ASAP. Don’t seriously date anyone. Go places others don’t talk about. Take more pictures of yourself. Sleep more while traveling. Always have a towel. ALWAYS have travel insurance.
Met any interesting people along the way that have inspired you to travel more? Or inversely, pack up and go back home?
Almost every day. Both in person and digitally. I’ve met amazing people on planes, trains, in restaurants, couch surfing, and just walking down the street. Yesterday I met a woman on my 12 hour train (supposed to be 9) who love Christopher Nolan so much she had a Batman tattoo. She loved everything American and wanted badly to visit the US but their visa process is ridiculous. Afterwards she helped me buy my train ticket for the next morning and gave me a ride to my hostel. This experience reminded me of the privilege I enjoy doing what I do for a living and how kind people are.
I also love meeting my readers. Anyone reading this don’t hesitate to email me. I answer ALL of my emails and messages personally because I feel it’s my responsibility to give as much up to date information and help as possible. Also meeting people abroad on their first international trip is always a treat. My readers keep me moving.
Do you see yourself going home any time soon?
Hell no. lol. Here’s the thing. I feel like a tourist when I go back to the US. I love my friends and family but most are doing the same thing. Over and over and over. It’s repetitive and boring to be around for me. I’m all for people living the life they choose. I just don’t want to get caught back in the cycle of boredom. Also, when you’ve travelled the places I have you quickly realize how overpriced most places in the US are.
Other than where you grew up, where else in the world could you see yourself living? Why?
All of the places I mentioned above with the exception of South Africa. Maybe add Germany, Barcelona, Tokyo, and Kuala Lumpur to the list. I need affordable and modern housing, fast wifi, street food, good public transportation, and an international hub airport. You have all of those and you’re in contention.
What have you learned during your travels?
I’m a completely different person and could write a book (actually planning to) on everything I’ve learned. For the sake of brevity I can list a couple big ones.
– People around the world are very similar. Most just want the freedom to be who they are, take care of their family, worship how they want, and die happy. Although these can at times come into conflict with others beliefs, most people don’t wish ill on others and aren’t violent. – Food quality in the US sucks. When you do a simple taste test of fruits and vegetables you’ll easily see the difference. – Many of the anti-western rhetoric we see on tv is BS. People don’t hate Americans, Brits, French etc etc etc. They hate western governments trying to control them. And most people’s understand the distinction between a people and its government/spiritual leaders. Something we don’t seem to understand back home. – Racism was far worse in my head. I really haven’t experienced a fraction of the racism I thought I would and as blacks we need to seriously be careful before labeling a country/people racist. I’ve gotten into some heated debates with my fellow black travelers on this point. What has been your most lasting memory throughout your travels? Good or bad. Too many to count at this point. Seeing the Hagia Sofia in person was huge for me personally and professionally. Honestly, just visiting Istanbul was one of my best memories. Learning to ski in Chile is also up there.
Where is your next destination?
I’m currently on a train to Belgrade. Then I visit Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, and Greece for three days each before heading to Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus to do the same. That will take me through mid-August when I’ll visit Copenhagen for a gay pride event then fly to Thailand for a few assignments I have there Vietnam and Malaysia.
Erick is an adventurer with an amazing story to tell, from his first taste of travel through working in the military, to being exposed to different people around the world. Especially his amazing tour of different gay pride parades and how it helped change his outlook.