Current Location: Texas, USA
Tell us about you. Who is Donna S?
I am a single mom from South Carolina who has had experiences far beyond anything I'd ever imagined. I am a gypsy who has survived a lot of things and come out stronger, smarter, healthier. I have degrees in Psychology and Mental Health Counseling but I am still a free spirit. My core belief is that this world is too small and life is too short; so travel is everything to me. I am engaged to a wonderful person who grounds me without clipping my butterfly wings. Our lives are one adventure after another.
Why do you travel? Who/what inspires you to travel?
I love to travel because I cherish experiences and knowledge. I have learned so much and become more open because of my travels. My grandmother inspired me to travel. She taught me to be fearless and to embrace any opportunities without hesitation.
How did you become a part of Olivia Travel?
Back in 2003 or so, I was approached by Olivia Travel to improve their visibility in other cultures. They wanted inclusion and realized that they did not have a clue as to how to change their landscape. They asked me to help, for some reason lol. I had no idea but together we created a program that not only increased their visibility in communities of color but also let women of color know that they were wanted. I believe that is strong. We are often tolerated but the owner of Olivia wanted everyone to know how it feels to be totally free. Now, though the program is sustaining itself without any help from me, I still travel with them as often as possible as part of their travel team.
How often do you travel for business?
For pleasure? I travel for business at least once every two months but for pleasure at least monthly. I am a huge fan of mini-cations as well as fabulous trips.
What determines your traveling destinations/plans? Cost? Time?
Mainly time determines my destinations. I try to keep a job and taking off too much does not work well lol. I am so lucky to work for Olivia because I can vacation/work whenever I want to. When I am traveling with my fiancee, of course cost comes into play but she is excellent at planning and budgeting.
Is there such a thing as a favorite vacation spot for you or a place you will easily revisit?
I have a couple of favorite vacation spots. I love Austin, TX. I go there and enjoy the music scene as often as I can. I loved Tahiti above all other trips. We are going back for our honeymoon. I really loved Alaska. It was beautiful and wild. Honestly, each place has something different and wonderful to offer. I love all of my trips.
Do you have a habit/routine that you stick to when when traveling?
Absolutely! I make a grid of the days of the trip and I lay out day/evening wear for each day. I write out everything from shoes to jewelry to drawz. That way I have the right amount of clothes without over packing. I also have a countdown planner to make sure that I contact my credit card company, have copies of my passport and ID, and take care of other small details prior to my trip.
How have your experiences been traveling as a black woman? How about as a gay black woman? Is there a noticeable difference?
I have to say that most of my major travel has been with Olivia. Being a gay black woman is no big deal with them. Travel is always safe and we have our own little community where the playing field is a bit more level. When I travel with only my partner, I am more aware of our "usness" and I am less likely to be overtly loving. I hate that part of it but I love the overall experience so it evens out.
What have you learned about yourself from traveling solo? With a group such as Olivia?
You know, I LOVE traveling alone to an extent. I've learned that I am capable of navigating this world, capable of figuring stuff out. I am my Grandmother's baby and I am fearless, just as she was. Traveling with Olivia has taught me that women of all shapes, sizes, and colors are amazing. We have stories that are unbelievable. We are strong and we can do anything. I have met incredible women over the years. They inspired me to get my degrees, to be more open, and that living my life on my own terms is the only way to exist.
Any words of wisdom for folks who want to travel?
Words of wisdom-Just do it. Don't let your friends hold you back. We try to go in groups or packs but often others don't have the same passion. Just do it. Save money. Start small. Oh and don't try to book expensive azz rooms. Get the smaller rooms because you will not be in them very long at all. Spend the money on higher quality cruise lines or resorts or flights. It is definitely worth it. Also, with any trip try to meet someone who does not look like you. Try a new food. When I host my event on Olivia, I always tell the group to pass on eating baked chicken. You can get that crap anytime. You planned this whole experience. Experience it. Try new everything.