Women’s History Month Interview Five: En Root Travel with Tyshana Richard and Nicole Sahbaee

Hello! Thanks for joining me!

Here is my fifth interview for Women’s History Month! Tyshana Richard is an alumna of Howard University. She is currently based in Los Angeles, CA pursuing a career in Film/TV Directing & Editing as she majored in Film/TV while at Howard. Nicole Sahbaee is an alumna of Howard University. She is graduating with her M.Ed. in High Incidence Special Education in a few months. One interesting fact about Tyshana and Nicole is that we met each other at the Audacity Travel Festival in Memphis, Tennessee last year.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about yourselves and why you chose to create en root travel?

A: TYSHANA: During our freshman year, Nicole and I participated in Alternative Spring Break (ASB) and our friendship began on the bus ride to Ferguson, MO. We were very adamant about traveling and helping the community in any way we could as we both had volunteer backgrounds from middle & high school. After that trip, we were ready to dedicate all of our breaks to community service and traveling which allowed us to experience the various cultures in St. Croix, USVI, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and Detroit, MI with each other, through ASB.

In addition to those trips we visited Panama, Cuba, and South Africa together on other school-related trips. On our first trip to South Africa in 2016, we were having a discussion about how traveling would slow down for us once we graduated. We were considering the typical routine of dealing with strict job schedules, moving to new places, earning time off and most likely making low wages but what if we didn’t need to stop traveling? What if there was a space for HBCU alumni to travel? What if there was a space to have the same type of dialogue you’d have in class or on the yard at your HBCU? That’s when the idea of En Root Travel came to fruition. It was a solution, a solution that we were able to identify and put into action.

A: NICOLE: Education and travel are two of my passions in life and I love that I get to combine them on service projects with En Root Travel. During our undergrad experience at Howard University, Tyshana and I traveled to 5 or 6 countries together. We became friends through international service trips and we saw a need to continue giving back and traveling post-graduation. We wanted to create a space where HBCU alumni could continue to connect and would be encouraged to travel the African Diaspora once the luxury of having study abroad trips was no longer available. The HBCU community is so valuable to all of us and we are so happy to have a space where we can continue to learn, love, and laugh together.

Q: How has travel impacted your life and how has it changed you?

A: TYSHANA: Travel has impacted my life by allowing me to see past the bubble that most people are stuck in on a daily basis. In a capitalistic society, making ends meet is what your life tends to revolve around. Traveling motivates me to indulge in new experiences whether I’m exploring in my city or traveling abroad. (It’s fun to be a tourist in your own city too!) When I’m traveling I feel free! It gives me a strong feeling of rejuvenation when I wake up somewhere new ready to live life with no pressure, no obligations, and no reservations. For me personally, traveling provides a sense of bliss that I haven’t been able to experience regularly in my daily life.

A: NICOLE: Travel has opened my eyes to so many different people and cultures! As I continue to travel throughout the African Diaspora I learn how different we all are but how many similarities we have as Black people. I get so much joy out of connecting with people that I meet when I travel, and staying in touch with everyone enriches my life even when I am in the states. Besides my mindset, travel has changed the way I cook and eat. I am so much more adventurous when I cook because I love to incorporate food from different cultures and spices into my kitchen.

Q:Where was your most recent travel experience and what did it teach you?

A: TYSHANA: Most recently I traveled to South Africa (JoBurg & Cape Town) on En Root Travel’s launch trip this past December. The trip was everything Nicole and I could’ve asked for. We worked very hard putting this experience together to launch our business while being in school, working full-time jobs and often working overtime hours.

It took us about 1.5 years to arrange the trip between solidifying details with our trip vendors, seeking to support as many Black owned businesses as possible and making sure we included culturally relevant and fun activities throughout the itinerary. From this experience, I think the biggest lesson I learned was that great things take time.

There were points in time where Nicole and I were worried about not releasing a trip soon enough and that traction for our business would die down but once we were ready to open the trip and get participants on board everything
else seemed to fall into place. This also applies to the amount of time and effort we put into organizing the trip. By double, triple and even sometimes quadruple checking over details we ran into very few obstacles while we were on the trip.

A: NICOLE: My most recent travel experience was to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa on our first trip with En Root Travel! It was such a great experience that Tyshana and I spent over a year planning. Experiencing South Africa through our participants eyes gave us so much joy because they were overjoyed about EVERYTHING we had planned. It taught me that traveling is meaningful for everyone in their own way. One of our participants cherished the souvenirs he brought back and put his pictures and wooden hippopotamus up as memorabilia.

Another participant loved going to Afropunk in Johannesburg and expressing their style with hair jewelry on their locs and an all linen fit. One participant woke up every day and said, “We’re in South Africa!” amazed at just being in the motherland. It taught me that even though we hold different experiences with us as special, travel positively enriches all our lives in different, amazing ways.

Q: What has been your most favorite travel experience and why?

A: TYSHANA: My favorite travel experience was our launch trip to South Africa because I was able to watch our vision come to life. Nicole and I started discussing the idea of En Root Travel during our junior year at Howard. Now we’re two years post grad and after many stressful days and sleepless nights we were able to bring our vision to life. We also had the pleasure of being able to experience it with our participants and constantly see how each activity sparked a conversation or ignited visible excitement and intrigue.

A: NICOLE: One of my favorite travel experiences was going to Cuba! Learning about Cuba from the Cuban perspective as opposed to the American perspective gave me a new understanding and appreciation of the country. Everyone loves the colorful Cuban taxis and the old timey feeling the country has, but getting to speak with professors, security guards, lawyers, teachers and people of all different professions allowed me to see the heart of Cuba through the people. (The taxi rides were an added bonus!)

On En Root Travel trips, we prioritize supporting Black businesses and going beyond the tourist experience to really understand people. Our experience connecting with Afro-Cubans in Cuba helped push us to create that experience in all the countries we travel to.

Q: Do you have any tips or advice for people who want to travel more?

A: TYSHANA: If fear is preventing you, stop thinking about everything that could go wrong and just go do it! If money is preventing you, choose an amount of money to set aside each month and stick to it! Treat it like it’s a real payment for a bill or whatever’s most important to you. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to watch some videos about packing light (I’m working on that too! lol)

A: NICOLE: Don’t keep waiting! If you wait on other people or the perfect time to go you will never travel. Pick a location you want to go to and commit to it in 2020. I personally make it a goal to take AT LEAST 1 international trip and 1 domestic trip a year. Money is always a barrier but travel is so important to me that I prioritize like I do with paying rent or buying groceries. It’s not something I might do, it is something that I must do so I figure out how to fit it in my budget throughout the year (even if that means cutting back on shopping).

Q: What are the must have items in your packing list?

A: TYSHANA: My camera (film & digital, a go-pro if I’m going to be really adventurous on the trip), my beats headphones, and a neck pillow for the flight, a comfy sweater/pair of sneakers, and hand sanitizer!

A: NICOLE: Shea butter, sunglasses, headphones, and a bunch of HBCU t-shirts!

Q: Where can people follow your travel journeys?

A: TYSHANA: People can follow our travel journeys on our Instagram page @enroottravel and they can visit our trip photo archives at our website http://www.enroottravel.com/archives.

A: NICOLE: People can follow our travel journeys and interact with us on our social media pages! Follow us @enroottravel on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. They can also check out photos from our past trips at http://www.enroottravel.com/archives!

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