How I Got Started
This is something I have always wanted to do.
Based on on-going questions flooding my inboxes, I have decided to do a personal blog post every month. I figure this will help my readers understand me better as a person and as a Jamaican wandering the globe.
I will first start off with what it is like travelling with a Jamaican passport.
After years of applying for visas and rejections after rejections; I’ve been denied access to countries I only wanted to travel to just for a few days or weeks.
However, I now live by the motto: “No “first world” passport, no problem.”
In 2012, I went on my very first solo trip to Ecuador(visa-free country) as a solo traveller. I am so excited to return, to relive the memories of when I was once a “newbie” to the travelling world.
The World Up Closer
If you were suppose to come across any of my close friends, they’ll tell you that travelling the world has always been something I have always wanted to do. I have always thought about doing this, but like most Jamaicans and holders of “third world“, passports I feared the restrictions in regards to visas and border controls. I speak for most Jamaicans, as I ever so often receive messages via emails, Instagram direct messages and facebook messages), stating the above.
For me personally, I doubted the fact that travelling the world would ever be possible. I felt as if it would be a “dream” that would never come alive.
Now, year 2016 my passion and strength has allowed me to bred life to The World Up Closer, in which I hope to inspire others to go beyond
and not to be afraid of rejections.
The Story Behind The World Up Closer
After my first couple stamps and now having almost completed my first passport, The World Up Closer is a way for me to share and inspire others of what it is like to travel on a “third world” passport. This is also a job that I now do full-time. Partnering with companies to travel the world as never felt so good. From airlines, to tourism boards, to hotels, to travel-related brands…. I am doing this with a Jamaican Passport and I have never felt prouder about this choice/decision.
Based on most of the messages I have received, readers/supporters really question if I am truly Jamaican.. “Are you really travelling with a Jamaican passport?”.. “Do you really get visas to travel to all these places?”
These are voices echoing in the back of my mind that my people really do think that this is impossible to do with a Jamaican passport. The answer is yes; it is always yes.
Whenever I decide to travel to a country that requires a visa, I get no special treatment. I have to book an appointment, pay the required fee and then wait for the result of the interview.. whatever that may be.
How I Travel The World with A Jamaican Passport
I will be completely truthful, and often times we do not want to hear the truth. Jamaican Nationals can travel to 77 countries visa free, including places like South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, all of which I have already visited without any issues at all, except for S.A which is coming up soon. The locals from these countries could not get over the fact that I am truly Jamaican. In fact, they are usually really interested to hear about Jamaica.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to stop limiting myself to countries that we all think are the ‘ideal’ ones to visit. I think being Jamaican myself, I can safely say that most Jamaicans only think of visiting the norms.
Here’s how it can be easier:
- Try not to be so consumed with the countries we are ‘used’ to; UK, USA, Canada for example. Other countries exist. I say “we” because these countries were once all I could think about too and probably what had fueled my decision to study in New York. I figured if I were suppose to study in a “first world’ country then that would give me some possibilities to travel more freely.
- Scan through the 77 countries, try to visit one per year. It is pretty easy to visit these countries without a hassle. All you need is your passport and a plane ticket.
- Your passport is like your resume to getting visas. If you first travel to visa-free countries, then it will be easier to get visas for countries that requires it. I no longer have ‘visa fears’. I now have over 80 visa stamps in my passport and embassies like to see that; most of which are from visa-free counties. Along with the visa stamps I also have 8 actual visas that I had to apply for in person. Soon, I will need a new passport and not because it is expired but because it is almost completely packed. I smile thinking about this.
- In the past, I’ve been turned down for visas so many times, however, I do not get discouraged; there are 191 other countries in the world. I rumble about the disappointment to my mother for 30 minutes then start planning for somewhere new. If you’ve had a visa application turned down before, flip the page and start looking at somewhere new. Also, please do not hesitate to ask for suggestions via emails.
- Good suggestions for visa free countries: the Caribbean islands, Ecuador, Colombia, Perú, Chile, Argentina.. Just to name a few.
Currently in Northern Europe
At the moment, I am currently doing a road trip around Iceland. This has been a dream country for me since I was a child.
I am so excited to share the blog posts, photos and videos I am currently preparing. In the mean time, here is a personal story before landing in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Personal story: I am currently travelling in Iceland
Iceland has always been a childhood dream. I’ve always wanted to know what the “Northern Lights” are all about, stand on a black sand beach and see it’s landscape since this country was once/still is a volcanic den.
Over the years, I have watched documentaries, read articles, looked at photos, heard other travellers/bloggers talk about it and have talked about this country like no other, ask my sister..I was fascinated.
Though, any country that requires a visa always has it’s hiccups. You know, travelling with a Jamaican passport and as a minority isn’t always the easiest; though a nationality I am absolutely proud of.
Paper work after paperwork and assumptions; it gets me every time. However, my goal is not for this to look easy, but possible.
Tonight or yesterday, (we are on different time zones depending on where you are) flying into Reykjavik I decided I would sleep my way through to rid myself of a jet lag. But, somewhere throughout the flight one of Stewardesses quickly fully turned off the lights in the cabin and I could hear the Captain telling us to look over on our left. First of all, for me, a window seat is necessary, I have to take it all in — no matter the distance, the location or the time of day…. but back to the Captain….. so we looked over to our left and it was the “Northern Lights” from 42,000ft possible from flying over Southern tip of Greenland or Northern Canada. Here, my friends, the childhood “Dream” has come alive!
Schengen Visa (EU Europe)
This is my second European (Schengen) visa that arrived 2 days before my flight and one that had the Jamaica consulate in New York. Meaning, if my fellow Jamaicans would like to visit Iceland, they would have to go and apply for a visa in New York City! (Still trying to process this). As for Jamaican citizens, we are already required to have a visa for the USA. This process can be quite tricky for travellers who would like to visit the Schengen state. Once again, my goal here is not for this to look easy, but possible. I intend to give my Jamaican passport power.
For all the lovely messages, questions in my inbox and across the board it’s quite difficult to get to everyone. Thank you though and I hope I’m able to answer your question/s via a blog/Instagram post.
For those who think I really do not apply for visas, you have no idea the work I have to put in, as well as the weight I bring upon my very concerned Mother.
Here’s to 15 days of not sleeping in Iceland, hey I do not want to miss anything. The visa didn’t come easy, neither did the chance of booking a job here. I now independently work as a travel blogger. Yes, companies actually pay me to do travel-related jobs; dream job if you ask me.
To breaking barriers, stereotypes, assumptions and beyond. Here’s to being Black, from the Caribbean and making dreams come through worldwide.
I encourage you to do the same.
See my adventures live in action on my Instagram Account