Black Heroes Who Paved the Way for the Travel Community

In honor of Black History Month, I felt it important to highlight those who made a difference for the Black travelers of today.  Travel is a privilege that hasn’t been accessible or easy for everyone, but these courageous figures fought and worked hard to overcome the struggles of racism and inequality. 

Bessie Stringfield

At just 19 years old, Bessie became the first black woman to travel cross country through the United States on a motorcycle.  This trip was in 1930, a time before the civil rights movement and WWII.  She later completed this trip 8 more times while serving the U.S. Army as a civilian courier during the war, a job left to only a few.  Despite the harsh racism she endured, she bravely kept moving forward and lead an exciting life as motorcyclist, leaving a legacy for other black and female riders to follow.

Victor Hugo Greene

Black and white headshot of Green looking directly at camera with a slight smile on his lips.
Photo from Wikipedia

Most famously known as the author of “The Negro Motorist Green Book”, a travel guide for African American travelers published from 1936-1966. This was during the Jim Crow era when Black people had to worry about what hotels, restaurants, and towns they would be accepted at. Being a Harlem native, Green’s first edition only included information for the New York Metropolitan area. After gaining popularity, later editions went on to include other regions of the United States.

Perry Young Jr.

Black and white image of a handsome Young from the waist up, wearing a shirt, tie, and weather jacket. A N979 helicopter right behind him.
Photo from blackpast.org

After graduating high school, Young decided to become a pilot and worked hard to achieve his dream, earning his private pilot license just 2 years later.  After another 3 years of fighting racial discrimination and trying to break into the industry, the U.S. Army offered Young a job as a flight instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen.  Despite being recognized for leading the squadron to greatness, he still struggled to find work as a pilot after the war ended in 1944.  Finally, in 1956, he was hired by New York Airways, becoming the first Black pilot for a U.S. commercial airline.

Eco-Friendly Travel Toiletries

A small bottle of tea tree oil, shampoo bar, and bamboo toothbrush inside of a cotton mesh pouch.

Traveling can do a lot of damage to the environment, especially when we aren’t consciously striving to make greener choices.  While there are many ways to travel sustainably, cutting back on waste is easy and makes a huge difference.  These recommendations will give you all the information on packing the best eco-friendly travel toiletries kit.  If you want more ways to travel sustainably, read my Sustainable Travel Guide for the best information.

Where to start:

There are many aspects to sustainability, so it can feel overwhelming to make changes.  By keeping these tips in mind, you can make the best choices for yourself, animals, and the planet.

Look for vegan and cruelty free brands

Many companies still test on animals despite the fact that there are better alternatives available.  In order to see this horrendous practice come to an end, we have to stop supporting these businesses.  To see what products are cruelty free, you can look for the pink or leaping bunny symbol, or do a quick web search.

Avoid plastic packaging

Plastic has become so saturated in our society, that many of us don’t even think about it when shopping.  Try to find products available in paper, tin, or glass packaging at your local grocery store, or see whats available for refill at zero waste shops if there is one in your area.

Use what you already have

Finish the items you already have at home before purchasing special products and containers.  Save all of your food jars once you’re finished and reuse them for storage at home or for carrying your toiletries.  Finish up the shampoo and other hygiene items in your medicine cabinet, and keep using your plastic items as long as possible.  This is the most sustainable thing you can do in any aspect of your life.

Make sure it’s sustainable for you

Never feel guilty about shopping within your means, many eco-friendly products are pricey and not affordable to everyone.  If anything is out of your budget, move on until you find something that’s right for you.  Keeping an eye out for online deals, coupons and products in bulk is a great way to get these items at a low price.

What to pack:

Shampoo, soap, and lotion bars

Those travel size shampoo bottles found at hotels or sold in stores only further contribute to the plastic problem our planet is facing.  By ditching the travel minis and opting for these products in solid form, you can greatly reduce plastic waste.  These bars are easy to travel with and can be carried in small tins or lightweight cotton pouches.  They can be purchased at Lush, Etsy, or a number of small businesses.

If you can’t find them at a price that is affordable to you, another option is to refill a small bottle or jar that you already have with whatever products you would like to use.

Bamboo Toothbrush & other dental products

Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and the most sustainable alternative to their plastic competitor.  When buying in bulk, you can find them at a reasonable price from Amazon or other websites.  Along with bamboo toothbrushes, some dental products you can use are silk floss and toothpaste tablets, read my post on sustainable dental care alternatives for more information.

If you can’t find an affordable zero waste toothpaste, squeeze a small amount of what you have into a small jar instead of purchasing a travel size option.  We should try to reduce our waste as much as possible, and avoiding travel size items is the best way to avoid unnecessary plastic trash.

Coconut oil

The fact that its all-natural and so versatile is precisely why I always travel with this product.  It can be used as a makeup remover, and quite frankly it works better than anything I’ve tried before, including high end options.  Just take a dime to quarter sized amount and work it in with your hands, then wash away with facial cleanser and water.

Coconut oil also proves to be a great lip balm, body moisturizer, hair treatment, and more.  I even mix it with a few drops of tea tree oil to make a natural deodorant.  It’s essentially a 5 in 1 product necessary for your eco-friendly travel toiletries kit.

Deodorant

There are many deodorants that come in compostable cardboard packaging or reusable glass jars.  These can be found at local health and beauty shops, zero waste refill shops, and online.  I’ve tried a few different brands out myself and have been happy with the results, even living in Florida’s climate. 

You can even make your own with essential oils and other natural ingredients you have at home, test out different recipes to find one that works for you. As mentioned earlier, I usually just mix a few drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil, which has anti-microbial properties and a nice scent.

Hair Removal

I can boast about the benefits of sugar waxing all day… the natural and biodegradable ingredients, how smooth it leaves your skin, and how long it lasts.  Waxing just before a trip means you won’t have to deal with body hair or shaving for up to 2 weeks.  Sugar wax can be made at home with 3 low cost ingredients or purchased from various small businesses.

If sugar waxing sounds a bit scary, safety razors are another popular and environmentally friendly option.  The handle will last forever with only the blade needing to be replaced, which not only prevents plastic waste, but can prove to be more economical than disposable plastic razors in the long run.

Sunscreen

Unfortunately, most sunscreens have ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are detrimental to our health and our coral reefs.  It’s important to look for sunscreens that are labeled reef safe.  These are mineral based and usually have zinc oxide for their main ingredient, which is safe and effective.  While ocean health is key, try to find sunscreen in plastic free packaging, there are many options online or on amazon.

7 Things to do in Seville, Spain

Spain is the one country that I always find myself returning to.  Each region has something unique to offer, Seville and the South of Spain is particularly charming.  Seville offers warm weather, beautiful Moorish architecture, and delicious orange wine.  If that’s not enough to convince you to visit, it is also home to the Palace of Dorne in Game of Thrones. This city is full of wonders and things to do.

Free Walking Tour

I always suggest taking a free walking tour on the first day in a new city, this way you can get the best information and recommendations on what to do and see.  My partner and I went with Free Tour Seville, which has a monument tour every day at 10:00 a.m. starting at Plaza Nueva. After meeting at the plaza we were fortunate to be the only two people on the English tour.  Our guide took us to Giralda Tower, explained the history of all the sights, and even told us the best way to get tickets to Alcazar.  The tour finished off at Plaza de España, where we were free to walk around and enjoy the rest of our day with a new knowledge of Seville. 

Reservations for any of their tours should be made here, on their website.

Plaza de España

Also known as the Spanish steps, this monument was built in 1929 for the Ibero-American exhibition. It represents Moorish, Baroque, and Renaissance style architecture.  In addition to being a rich spot of beauty and history, it’s also the filming location of one of the Star Wars movies.  Which one I don’t know, but I’m sure movie goers will recognize the view.  

View from the upper balcony of the Spanish Steps.  Ornate sculptures of line the curved railing and the water canal can be seen below.

It’s free to walk around to see the mosaics and design within the plaza. There are even a few museums within the structure, though most of the rooms are used as office spaces.

Hotel Alfonso XIII

Like the Plaza de España, this hotel was built in preparation for the Ibero-American exhibition of 1929.  King Alfonso commissioned architect José Espiua y Muñoz to design the structure for foreign dignitaries to stay during the event.  Since then, the hotel has hosted many important guests, including the GOT cast during filming.  Anyone is free to enter the establishment, so we wandered in to see the artwork and catch a quick break.  There is a beautiful restaurant/café passed the lobby, but it is on the pricey side, we just peaked at the exhibits and rested in one of the halls.  It should also be noted that the restrooms are extremely clean and free of charge, which can sometimes be hard to find.

Flamenco Show

I feel that this is absolutely necessary if visiting Southern Spain, Seville has a few different places to see Flamenco shows, even a Flamenco Museum.  We decided on the show offered at La Casa del Flamenco, and truly enjoyed the experience.  Around 60 chairs are lined around the small stage, giving audience members an intimate look at the performers.  Tickets should be purchased online ahead of time, as they sell out quickly.

A male and a female flamenco dancer facing each other. His hand is extended and her hands are swinging her skirt to one side with one leg forward.

Admission: €18 adults/€10 children

Giralda Tower

After the completion of this structure in 1198, it became the tallest tower in the world.  Of course, that doesn’t hold true today, but it is still of great significance.  Giralda Tower is a piece left behind from the Almohad dynasty of the Moorish empire, originally being a part of the Almohad Mosque.  The mosque was later converted to a cathedral after the city was conquered by Christians and Muslims were exiled.  Fortunately, it still holds much of the beautiful Moorish architecture of its time.

The tower consists of 35 ramps and a set of 17 steps to the top of the bell tower. Admission to the tower is included with a ticket to Seville Cathedral. Check out their website here for hours and ticket sales.

Admission: €10 General/€5 Discounted

Real Alcazar

This palace is famous for being the filming location for Dorne in GOT, but there’s so much more to it than that.  In my opinion, it’s an immaculate structure and one of the most beautiful places in the city.  The palace was constructed during the 12th century with Mudejar architecture. After the Reconquista, it was later reconstructed in Baroque and Renaissance styles  Inside the walls are lined with tiled mosaics, the walkways lead to fountains and never-ending gardens, and a tile exhibit is amongst one of the many rooms.

We learned from our guide on the first day that it’s best to plan ahead and buy tickets online the day before, as ticket lines are very long.

Admission: €12.50 general/€4 senior citizens & students/Free admission for children and disabled persons

Mercado Lonja Del Barranco

When in Spain, one must have wine and tapas to get the full experience of Spanish culture.  If you want to avoid the touristy restaurants, the markets are a nice change.  Mercado Lonja del Barranco is a gourmet food hall in the riverside, with plenty of seating and a bright atmosphere.  There are 20 different food stalls featuring cocktails, beer and wine, tapas, and desserts.  It also has a little history of it’s own, being the only iron market left in Seville.  From the time it was constructed in 1883 until 1970, it served as a wholesale fish market.  It wasn’t until 2014 that it was transformed to the market it is today.


Of course, there is so much more to do in Seville, and many reasons to include this city in your visit to Spain.  In between sightseeing, take a stroll through Park Maria Luisa, try the orange wine at a local bar, or take a walk through the Royal Tobacco Factory. But most importantly take a moment to enjoy all the riches the city has to offer.