*Once a month on the third Tuesday of the month, we will feature an avid traveler that inspires. This first month’s frequent flier is Kenna Williams. A true inspiration.
Name: Kenna L. Williams
Location: Oxnard, CA
Number of Countries Visited: About 20 different countries but several I have been to several times
Last Country Visited: Panama
What is your favorite country you have visited and why?
India is my favorite country. It’s a country that evokes everything out of your body…. fear, optimism, love, hate, cherish… just everything. It is a country that will calm your mind, give you supreme clarity and the answers that you were so desperately looking for.
What is your least favorite country you have visited and why?
Probably going to get into trouble for this one but Brazil…not necessarily the entire country because some areas are really beautiful and full of nature and other areas are cultural but really just one city rubbed me the wrong way…Rio De Janeiro. I have been to many places in my life but this was the only place I’ve visited where I was truly ready to go home. Every city has its ups and downs but on the level of safety, I don’t think I’ll ever return. A restaurant I went to had a shoot out prior to my arrival just ten minutes earlier, a lot of purse snatchings at gunpoint and the local people telling me to be careful. That’s a first.
What countries are on the itinerary for later this year?
Well, I just got back from Aruba just over a week ago, and on Labor Day I returned from Colombia and Panama. Later this year I have trips scheduled to the United Arab Emirates, Costa Rica and Mexico. In January, I have Panama again and in February I have Spain, Switzerland and Morocco, plus other trips throughout the year. I am turning a milestone year in 2016 so I am planning something outrageous….lol. Still in the planning phase for that trip.
You manage to travel extremely light…with only a backpack! Why? How do you do it (for an overpacker like me whose bag is CONSISTENTLY right at the weight threshold)?
I don’t like baggage weighing me down. The reality of travel is you need to be able to move freely. I learned my lesson in London when I decided to stay in a hostel and and had to lug a suitcase up four narrow flights of stairs. The truth is, you probably only need about 30% of the things you pack. Do you really need every hair product you own in a weekend? No. Do you need all of the clothes in your closet? No. Do you need every piece of jewelry? NO…which reminds me, I only wear the basics. No need for carrying such excessiveness! I am sure I can add more to this but basically, I have a small backpack for weekenders and a bigger backpack for longer trips. I get great satisfaction rolling out of the airport without having to sit at the baggage carousel for 45 minutes getting dizzy waiting for my bag…lol..I should mention that I don’t buy souvernirs so I am not pressed to bring a lot of stuff back and if I do buy something it’s small like a piece of jewelry. You won’t guilt me into a suitcase to carry back your souvenirs when I told you to book the deal but that’s another topic for another day…
Why do you travel? What is your personal reason for traveling?
I was exposed to traveling in my youth. Summers were to be spent in the back of my parents’ old Cadillac rolling down Highway 55 to my grandparents’ house. I travel for exposure and personal growth. I also travel as a way of release and reflect over life. Now…I also travel for other reasons such as I have certain foods I like and they can only be found in certain places. There is no secret I love rum. I try to get a bottle from everywhere I go. Side note: Nepal is a heavy contender in the rum world.
Why do you believe it’s important for others to travel and see the world?
It’s important to travel and see the world because you will appreciate your life so much more. I recall the first trip I had overseas. That trip inspired me so much that I came home and told everyone that there is so much to see in the world and yet people are different, essentially we are the same and have the same needs and wants. You need to know more than your own personal circle. Traveling allows for mind expansion. My life was greatly enhanced by what I saw on my first trip overseas. I felt like a new person.
What inspires you about the travel experience?
I look forward to interfacing with people. Not necessarily trying to replicate their life experience but to blend in the fold as much as I possibly can.
What do you like least about travel?
Whew…..great question…I live about 60 miles away from a major international airport and I need more time to get there. Although 60 miles sounds like an hour drive, this is Southern California so I have to allot for 2 hours or even more depending on the time of my travel. Not that this is travel related but I hate that bottled water in airports is $4….why???? Really wish we could bring water in pre-911 days but I understand why things are the way they are. I forgot to mention the visa process for certain countries….why does the Chinese government want to know who I work for on their visa application and yet the Nigerian government wants to know how much is in my bank account. Interesting…
Are there any countries that you either have no interest in visiting or that you have visited and have no interest in going back?
No interest in visiting? Umm…I can’t really say that’s a fair question but I really for whatever odd reason don’t have much desire to globetrot over Europe although I have been to England and have some trips next year to Spain and Switzerland. Maybe I need to expand my mind on that one lol but Asia/Africa is probably where it’s at for me.
You have faced quite a bit of adversity this year. How has that affected your spirit for travel?
I think many people know I was involved in a terrible vehicle accident in Panama back in January where two of my dear friends lost their lives, several friends were injured, and I of course suffered several injuries/surgery myself. After the accident I thought about quitting but I feel as if my two angels told me to stop with the foolishness and continue to do what I have been doing. In March, one of my friends went to India and I asked him to do a special prayer blessing at the Monkey Temple in Jaipur for my friends on my behalf. In doing so, I feel that their spirits are around and they continue to inspire me to continue to travel despite of what I have been through.
Have you felt yourself change in the way you travel?
Yes but only due to circumstances. I don’t have much vacation time so I am doing a lot of quick weekend trips I call Hit It and Quit It. I just did Colombia and Panama in 3 days….I know..crazy but it can be done! But my accident physically limited me for a short time period but I am back at it these days.
What recommendations do you have for someone who is looking to be more adventurous and travel?
Stop looking to be more adventurous and travel. Just do it. Talking about it is great but put it into action. Book a solo trip somewhere to an area you don’t speak the language. Give yourself a challenge: go shark diving, help build an orphanage, etc. Basically, get off the couch and Facebook! Actions speak louder than thoughts…
You travel a lot. Quite a lot. How do you manage your paid time off and what recommendations do you have for others?
I am in a unique situation considering I have been employed by my company for almost fifteen years so I have ample time off when I accrue it. I am off every other Friday so I have the benefit of flying out on Thursday nights and back in on Sunday. Many times I am off on holidays which are typically on Mondays so it’s easy to turn a trip into a Thursday night to Monday weekend deal without taking any vacation days. I also do the type of traveling most people won’t do or don’t believe they can do. A weekend getaway to Aruba..I did that. Another weekend in Colombia and Panama..I did that, too. Weekend in New York or Toronto..simple. Jet away to London on a weekend for fish and chips. I have not done that but it’s something in my plans.
Do you have any travel regrets? Either something you did and you wish you hadn’t or vice versa… or both?
Yeah. Buying frozen beef patties at the Montego Bay Airport in Jamaica will be a soggy mess by the time you reach California.
Any last tips?
You will laugh but many people know me fondly as Pusha Kee which is basically a nickname I’ve adopted because I am constantly encouraging people to book flights and see the world. My signature hashtag is #BookDatIsht ..umm, you know what it means!