3 Things I Learned about Traveling and Love

Zaakirah is a photographer, travel blogger, and survivor. She weighs in on things she learned about traveling and love, and how the two intersected for her. 


My 2-year anniversary was earlier this week on July 16, 2016. In that time, my husband and I have traveled together extensively, both domestically and internationally. There are several things I have learned in that journey, but here are the top three things that I have learned about love and traveling with my love:

  1. God’s plans are always bigger and better.

I went to West Africa summer of 2014 with the goal of improving myself as a travel and portrait photographer, teaching photography, and immersing myself into a new country. Little did I know that this trip would end up being a trip for personal discovery, personal growth and for personal relationships. Around the same time that I decided that I was going to be traveling to Senegal and Gambia, a mutual friend connected me with my husband to be on Facebook; his best friend is my close friend’s husband. We communicated every day for a few months. It was not until our first Skype call that I thought, “He could be the one; there is something so different about him.”

Once I arrived in Gambia, it was his family who took me in and gave me a place to stay during my one-month stay. It was he who helped me throughout my whole trip, taking me to the places I needed to visit to get the photos I wanted to capture and to learn about the history. We clicked the first day we met. Despite language differences (English is his second language; English was my best subject in school), we just get each other. I felt safe and comfortable with him. We knew how to have fun together and make each other laugh and smile. It was fun to go to the different touristy places with him. For someone who has lived in the country his whole life, I learned most of the places we visited, he had never been to. Understandably, we tend to get too comfortable in our hometowns, which is why it is a good idea to have more staycations.


  1. You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.

Long distance in any relationship is hard, but it is even harder with an immigrant spouse. I have witnessed the hardships of having a long distance and cross-cultural marriages but it was quickly my turn to experience it and share the knowledge. All I knew was that I wanted to be with a good man where we would also build each other to be a better version of ourselves. I never expected to marry an African man. To find him halfway across the world, in the smallest African country, was very unexpected but I’ll take it! Now he is here traveling to his first ever country outside of Africa. Witnessing him experience various capital cities within the United States is a trip in itself.


  1. Patience, communication, and respect.

There are always lessons to be learned every day. There is always room to grow. No one is perfect, but the right person is perfect for you. Every person is different in regards to their quirks, their ways of being, and how they cope with traveling. There is a reason why the one you are meant to be with is called your other half. This, however, does not mean that they will know everything that is on your mind. The keys are patience, communication, and respect, which will help to make the love everlasting and the trip a smooth one. I can attest to how hard it is…especially being used to being a solo traveler, but it is all worth it. Patience allows for further understanding of the person you are traveling with and sharing your life with. Communication allows for comfort, and with respect, that allows for a smooth trip overall.

If you don’t remember anything else from this post… Remember to be open to love, expect the unexpected, be patient and respectful. If you are truly ready for love, and you love yourself, just be prepared. When it comes to traveling with your loved one, just roll with it.


Zaakirah and Spouse BarrisTourista traveling and loveZaakirah Demba is a photographer, videographer, travel blogger, social media manager, social media consultant, and content curator. She started Illuminous Travels, to share her photography and travel experiences as well as to inspire others. As a cancer survivor, she is admirable in the eyes of others. She has traveled to 8 countries and 21 states, all by the age of 22. With 22 more countries to go, it is her goal to visit 30 countries before the age of 30. The Zaakirah Nayyar blog documents her journey.


I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

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