Jessica Nabongo Wants To Be The First Known Black Woman To Visit Every Country. She's Close.
Have you been bitten by the travel bug? Dreamed of journeying all across your country, and beyond, to the wide world? One black woman has made it her mission to visit every single country on earth - and she's very close to achieving it.
Meet Jessica Nabongo, a woman with a dream. Born in Detroit to Ugandan parents, she bounced from the pharmaceutical industry, to teaching English in Japan, to the United Nations before leaving it all behind to become a travel blogger.
She has a goal to visit all 193 UN recognised countries and two 'non-observer' nations on the planet, and would become the first black woman to do so. She started traveling from an early age, and was 6 when she went on her first international excursion.
Hopping on and off planes nearly every week is no easy feat, so having the perfect travel accessories is key. I like to look sleek yet still be efficient when I’m on the go so @away new carry bag in aluminum paired with the new Everywhere Bag is a perfect addition to my travel uniform. Between the frictionless wheels rolling over any surface to the ease of the Everywhere Bag slipping onto the Bigger Carry On, this pair is perfect. If you watch #packingwithjessica you know that @away is my go to carry on bag so I’m so excited about these new additions to the line. What are your go to travel accessories? #awaytravel #catchmeonthego 📷 @breannwhlgn
Since then, Nabongo has had her passport quite heavily stamped. As of May 2018, she has visited 110 countries, and has lived in five, across four continents. She started by renting out her Detroit apartment to help fund her travels. She also works as an influencer and accepts GoFundMe donations.
I don’t know about you but I’m still on a #BlackPanther high!! One thing I loved about the movie was that so many tribes from all over the continent were represented. In this picture I’m wrapped in a Maasai blanket chilling on a tree in the Maasai Mara. In the movie the Dora Milaje’s costumes are 80% Maasai. I’ve teamed up with @cheapoair to discuss the tribes represented in the movie and I’ve shared some tips on what to do in the countries that they are from. Check it out up top!! Which country are you most excited to visit in Africa? 📷 @iamjamesanthony #catchmeinwakanda
She has since founded the company Jet Black, which "encourages travel to countries in the African diaspora". Through the company, Nabongo aims to generate greater tourism interest in countries in Africa and the Caribbean.
As a prolific traveller and black woman, Nabongo has come across some difficulties. Speaking to CNN Travel, she revealed some of the discrimination she came across while embarking on her ambitious journeys.
"Navigating the world as a woman can be very difficult. I've had a pretty wide range of experiences. I've been accused of being a prostitute. I've had men chase me before. I've been assaulted on the street," she said.
Nabongo even recalled instances of being expected to wait longer than white people at border crossings in certain African countries or pay bribes, due to her race.
"The discrimination that I faced in South Africa was ridiculous," she added, "Not only from white South Africans, which many would expect, but also from black South Africans."
She hasn't let a few bad experiences stop her, and plans to reach 172 countries by the end of this year, and complete the full 195 in 2019. Serious travel goals!
Where would you like to go? Is traveling the world a dream of yours? It would be great to hear from you! Pop up in the comments and reach out to us on Twitter.