Hello lovely people! How are you all doing? Spring has properly sprung in the UK and we’re all loving the bloom in nature and the blue skies. It also signals the start (hopefully) of our way out of lockdown 3.0 which I’m sure is a relief. Today’s post is another interview (previous one) which any fellow travel junkie will love. Without further ado, here’s another installment of my interviews with inspired people, featuring Denise Weekes.
Interviews with Inspired People, featuring Denise Weekes
I ‘met’ Denise about a year ago on Instagram by accident and quickly hit the follow button. Not only is Denise is a fellow Trini like myself but, she’s also a wanderlust junkie. When she’s on a trip, you feel like you’ve been on the trip with her and I’ve been so inspired to add a few places to my bucketlist.
When did you start travelling and realised that this was your thing?
As a child, every summer I would visit my family in the States so my love for new experiences started then but it wasn’t until a trip to China in 2007 that I really discovered a new world. It was a transformative trip that gave you everything you would want to experience – rich and immersive culture, beautiful landscapes and amazing food.
What is it about travelling that you enjoy the most?
I feel in my core the evidence and proof of God’s existence. It’s a powerful sense of connection that I feel at times when I am in church singing and I feel the Holy Spirit’s pouring out of love. The absolute pure beauty that exists makes you realize that the God of the universe has created this work of art that pales in comparison to what Heaven is supposed to be like. I enjoy seeing meeting people from other countries and how they have adapted to, in some cases, less than we have in our country. It puts things into perspective and makes you really focus on being grateful. You meet people who are happy with less.
I remember going to South Africa and taking school supplies and knic- knacks that I bought at the $ store. The way the children’s face lit up got me so emotional and I’ve vowed to continue doing this. Last is being able to take people on a journey with me and stirring up in them the possibility of living out their own desires and it’s one of the things I want to work towards making available, for people who aren’t able to afford travel – I would love to give back one day.
With the onset of covid-19, travel has taken a huge hit, are you concerned about the future of travel?
There is still some uncertainty on what the travel landscape would look like eventually but we are already seeing that shift. There is a push-pull where people are apprehensive but their desire to travel is still there. The good thing is that we are seeing the travel industry adaptation to the new norm with better airline protocols, service industries are adapting as well and undoubtedly we are changing how we think, act and travel. I don’t think travel is going anywhere, people are starting to travel more and more right now. I feel like I’m behind the 8 ball but ‘work’ is really what’s stopping me as well as other plans I am putting in place.
Also, I think some countries are welcoming the lack of crowds. I read where Venetian residents started really resenting visitors to Venice in Italy. The other way that the pandemic has changed, and back to how people’s desires have not waned – people are being creative in how they travel and are doing more road trips and a lot of domestic travel and what you are finding is that they are discovering beauty right in their own backyard and are now becoming subject matter experts on their own country.
Travel isn’t your entire life, what else makes your heart sing?
Lol, I am a woman of strong faith. I am Christian and so I would want people to know that I am passionate about Jesus and the joy and peace that comes with it☺. My bond with my family and friends – connectedness makes my heart sing and talking about singing, I love singing – and the endorphins it releases. I know this is going back to travel but I want to be able to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and travel. I have lots of ideas that I know will come to fruition later on that would accomplish that.
What are 3 things on your non-travel bucket list that you can share with us?
I look at that as ‘what do I want to see or do before I die’ so on that vein. My aim is to live the purpose and calling that God has for my life. I don’t want to die not knowing and doing that. It’s been a deep desire of mine for a while. I want to have financial freedom and to have enough money that I can in turn bless others. I’ve been a good steward with what I have been given so that wish is not one that’s entirely selfish cause I know that I would bless others if I had it.
I’ve noticed that you are a big supporter of small businesses and entrepreneurs, what motivates you to do that?
It’s ingrained in me and has become who I am as a person. I want to see others win and succeed in the dreams they’re pursuing. In this world of ‘influencing’ in particular, we depend on other people’s support and engagement. I think we all should do that for each other. With the black lives matter and the movement behind helping black business owners, it’s not just that community but I think we need a movement for Caribbean diaspora.
You’re a new fur mummy, how is that experience?
Lol, I love being a Fur Mum. He is so smart and cute. I really treat him like a baby. I grew up all my life with dogs and I’ve always wanted a house pup. However, I travel a lot and they’re very expensive in the States but the way he came into my life was truly a blessing. I wasn’t actively looking, more passively and a friend reached out to me about a guardian program and so I got him for ‘free’ basically.
What did 2020 teach you about yourself? Life? and people?
So many good lessons. The interesting thing is that so many people were worried about me – 1. Cause I was alone and 2. Asked if I was missing travel. I learned to not take anything from granted, even the simple things like breathing or connecting with people. Covid took away all of that and more, for some. The pandemic forced all of us to slow down and get quiet, to be more introspective. I, thankfully still had a job and the real lesson came from that. My work-load had quadrupled and I worked non-stop for about 7 months on a project that was truly draining me. When I took a break in October, I was at my wits end. That trip was my first solo trip (did it for a week solo) and it was so transformative.
I realized that ‘what I am currently doing as a career is no longer bringing me joy and I needed to find out what that is.’ I knew it all of 2020 but it wasn’t until I slowed down, that I realized I needed more. I know I have a bigger purpose, there is no doubt and I’m trying to find out what that is. Also, NEVER in a million years think that we wouldn’t be able to travel or go to a restaurant or the grocery store. The pandemic really shut everything down.
You were meant to be hosting a couple of group trips, what made you decide to do that?
I was approached by Luxe on a Budget. The owner of the agency reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested in being a Brand Ambassador and what that meant is that I would be co-hosting a trip. There was no way I was going to turn an opportunity like that down. At the time I was approached, she asked me for a media kit. I had no clue how to create one but needed to get one in order to ‘as she put it ‘apply officially’. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, everything got cancelled. The trip was destined to tour Switzerland. For the record, I would never turn down an invitation to host or co-host a trip because of the perks and exposure it can give in return.
What advice would you give to someone who is afraid to travel on their own?
My first solo travel experience changed me. I also was afraid to travel solo, too. I thought about safety as a solo female and how I would get my travel pictures. To address the question of fear. First off, you want to make sure you do your research on the countries you visit. You can find information on how safe it is for solo travelers. There are many. As a US citizen or national traveling abroad, there is a free service called Smart Travel Enrollment Program that keeps you connected to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate so that you always have that assurance of big brother looking out for you.
If you are traveling solo, you can opt to hire a private guide or registered taxi service that can take you around. Hotels can arrange but they tend to be more expensive. If you really aren’t adventurous to explore on your own, having someone will give you that added sense of security. I actually would recommend that because you have someone who knows the country. They will be able to take you to your desired spots without having to arrange those on your own so it’s hassle-free. They can also be your own personal photographer ☺
But in terms of the bigger picture and the benefits that solo travelling teaches you is:
- It teaches you how to become more independent and more aware of your surroundings (which everyone of us should be anyway)
- It challenges you to be more courageous which develops your self-confidence. That benefits you in other aspects of your life.
- More introspection and could help you get clarity on things you were too busy to have down time for.
- Meeting other solo travelers – if you challenge yourself to get out of your shell and meet people. It’s a win-win.
I have a bonus question for you. You’re given $10K to travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? What would you do?
Thinking outside the box here, I would invest that 10K so I can get it to double. Then I would use it to go to Maldives. I would stay in an over the water bungalow. Its a wild card because I would have extra from my investment 😛
I was inspired by Denise so we did an IGTV video expanding on some of the questions. Check out my Instagram for that video. I’d like to thank Denise for agreeing to be interviewed by me. What did you think about my Interviews with Inspired People, featuring Denise Weekes? More importantly, are you feeling inspired? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and until next time, be well! x