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The Black Traveler: This Family of Four Moved from Georgia to Southeast Asia

The Black Traveler: This Family of Four Moved from Georgia to Southeast Asia

Rashan and Toya decided they no longer wanted to be in the United States, so they sold everything and took a one-way flight to Thailand, along with their son and daughter. 

We spoke to Rashan and Toya about their experience traveling the world in September of 2018. Here's what they had to say.

Melanin Is Life: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What are your hobbies? Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Rashan and Toya: We previously resided in Snellville, Georgia as a family (Rashan, Toya, Keyon and Ameena). I (Rashan) was born in Lemoore, California and raised in Montclair, New Jersey. Toya was born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Lithonia, Georgia. I enjoy photography, martial arts, dancing, and most of all, cooking. Toya enjoys yoga, arts & crafts, skateboarding and the art of hair.

Melanin Is Life: What is your philosophy of life? How has traveling and living in other countries influenced your philosophy of life?

Rashan and Toya: Never allow your gift to take you where your integrity can not hold you. Vietnam has influenced our hearts and mind on what sharing means in different cultures. The amount of care and love the people of Vietnam have is amazing. The people are very family-oriented.

Melanin Is Life: What was the “bump this” moment that made you decide to pack up and move to another country? (Please be as detailed as possible. The more raw, the better!)

Rashan and Toya: During Toya’s pregnancy, we no longer wanted to be in the United States. We felt like everything around us was designed to weaken our family. Just before Toya became pregnant with Ameena, we lost our son 5 months into Toya’s first pregnancy. Being unsure of the reason why we lost Wahji Zion Howard on May 16, 2016 at 1:48pm dragged our spirits low.

During the 9 months Ameena kicked in Toya’s belly we decided “bump this,” let's leave the country. We fell behind on our bills and struggled to maintain life in our 3 bedroom house while Toya remained on bed rest. This put me back on the road driving semi-trucks to help support the family.

Before deciding on what country we would travel to, we watched many expat YouTube videos. Our demographic research initially led us to Thailand. One year after Ameena was born, we decided it was time to go. Toya returned to her skilled trade as a barber and loctician while I returned from the road and worked an online business along with a new food service business. A couple of weeks before leaving the country on May 21, 2018, we started a huge garage sell and sold everything from our home.

Melanin Is Life: How do you determine what country you will live in?

Rashan and Toya: We determine where we will live based on the rate of currency our U.S money could accommodate our family. For example, $1 USD being equivalent to 31 Thai baht created a more sustainable life for our family during our expedition through southeast Asia.

We also sought the authentic taste of Asian food. Toya loves Asian food and her quest to taste it all has brought us to southeast Asia. Also, I love to cook and my quest to learn new recipes has brought us to southeast Asia.

Melanin Is Life: What country do you currently live in? What was your first impression when you arrived in that country?

Rashan and Toya: We currently live in Hanoi, Vietnam. Living in the Bach Dang District, our first impression wasn’t what we expected to feel or see. The weather was very rainy and it seemed like a very gloomy day as we arrived at night and our taxi pulled into a narrow alleyway. On our first night of being here, every Vietnamese person starred in shock. The streets looked filthy and the people seemed poor. The roads were very small, narrow and compact.

Melanin Is Life: Many people believe that living in another country is expensive. How do you afford to live in another country? What do you do for money?

Rashan and Toya: Living in another country is not expensive, it’s the total opposite. I can’t stress this enough. Before you leave the country, the ideal strategy would be to become an online entrepreneur. Creating small online businesses that can help you generate U.S income will determine the longevity of your travels. We started an online store, online school and many more easy to maintain endeavors that don’t require you to be stationary.

Melanin Is Life: It’s your first day in a new country. What’s the first thing you do after you’ve settled into your accommodation? Why?

Rashan and Toya: The first thing we want to do is eat. Eating food from another country really draws you into the true essence of their culture.

Melanin Is Life: What is a day in your life like?

Rashan and Toya: We wake up around 7:00 am and head out to the market for grocery shopping. A typical spending limit in the market for the day could range from 110,000 Dong, which is equivalent to about $5 USD. After shopping we return home with cabbage, greens, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, limes, onions, tofu, bean sprouts, and peppers.

We cook breakfast or lunch, work for about 2-3 hours on our personal businesses, and then head out to experience more of what the country has to offer. To get around we usually walk or use GrabTaxi. When we’re walking, Toya and I take turns backpacking Ameena with the mamago harness. If the journey is a long walk, I backpack Ameena for short walks and Toya backpacks Ameena while I carry the bags.

Melanin Is Life: Traveling can be scary for some people. Have you ever been nervous before or while traveling? If so, why were you nervous and how did you get over it? What advice would you give someone who is nervous about traveling somewhere they have never been?

Rashan and Toya: We believe being nervous in a new environment can easily be confused with the overwhelming feeling of the language barriers you might encounter. For example, the first time we got lost was in Bangkok during a taxi ride. We immediately panicked because the driver didn’t even understand our Google translate and our phone's GPS didn't work either.

After about 3 wrong turns and a dead end, Rashan began to think about how many times he'd been lost in his own country and still felt the same way. This helped us to get over our nervous feeling. As soon as we calmed down, Rashan realized we’re only around the corner. The moral of the story is your emotions never changed, only your thinking.

Melanin Is Life: While traveling and/or living in another country, what have you discovered that shocked you to the core?

Rashan and Toya: Vietnam has no driving rules! The traffic is ridiculously crazy. Crossing the street in Vietnam is a dangerous challenge every time it’s done.

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Amazing monument! We didn't expect such a huge church in Vietnam🏯 St. Joseph's Cathedral (Vietnamese: Nhà thờ Lớn Hà Nội, Nhà thờ Chính tòa Thánh Giuse; French: Cathédrale Saint-Joseph) is a church on Nha Tho (Church) Street in the Hoàn Kiếm District of Hanoi, Vietnam. Its a late 19th-century Gothic Revival (Neo-Gothic style) church that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi to nearly 4 million Catholics in the country. #blackvlogger #blacktravel #blacktraveljourney #hanoi #hanoivietnam #travel #travelblogger #saintjoseph #travelcouplegoals #couplegoals #livinglifelikeitsgolden💫 #stjoseph #cathedral #travelershat #passportready #passportsondeck #weblessed #welucky #blessed #church #blessingontopofblessings. #vietnamhat #travelling #bachdang FOLLOW RASHAN&TOYA TRAVEL ON YOUTUBE !!!

A post shared by RTtravelers (@rttravelers) on

Melanin Is Life: Tell us about your BEST travel experience.

Rashan and Toya: One of our best experiences was finding a local waterfall “Huay Kaew” in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The water was a perfect temperature, warm rays from the sun clothed our backs and the feeling of a new beginning set in to our hearts. We couldn’t believe we actually up and left everything we knew back home to explore new unknown territory.

Melanin Is Life: Tell us about your absolute WORST travel experience.

Rashan and Toya: Our absolute worst traveling experience is when we arrived to BKK international airport with no available phone service and no wifi while trying to get our visa upon arrival. The language barrier was an immediate downfall while trying to accomplish this, meanwhile we had a limited amount of time to recover our luggage through baggage claim. Fear set in and we begin to argue and all we needed to do was hand over our passports to be stamped. We laugh until this day looking back on how much experience we’ve gained since then.

Melanin Is Life: What are your top 3 travel tips for blacks living outside the US?

Rashan and Toya: 

  1. Have a open mind and welcoming heart.
  2. Forget how America has treated you.
  3. Learn how to use basic greetings and gestures. 

Melanin Is Life: How do you meet people when traveling?

Rashan and Toya: As a black family traveling abroad in southeast Asia, it isn’t very hard meeting people at all. People are usually fascinated with our 1yr old daughter or our long vibrant dread locks. When it comes to personal engagements, people are usually very welcoming. It’s not a challenge to go beyond hello.

Melanin Is Life: What would you tell your younger self about traveling?

Rashan and Toya: Many countries outside of the U.S have so much more to offer - imagination, dreams and ambitions. Traveling to California, Florida or Georgia is not even a tip of the iceberg.

Melanin Is Life: Have you ever been homesick? What motivates you to continue traveling and/or living in another country?

Rashan and Toya: Not once have we felt homesick. There are certain foods that we miss, but we learn to live without. Each country offers a wonderful conversion from USD and this gives us hope during our expedition. With each country we visit comes this bubbling excitement of adrenaline to see what the next has to offer.

Melanin Is Life: Is there anything else you think people should know? Tips, hacks, advice?

Rashan and Toya: Most countries offer a visa upon arrival that can be extended. Most visas are inexpensive and usually $200 or less can cover an entire family's visa process.

Melanin Is Life: Where can people find you? What’s your website and/or social media handles?

Rashan and Toya: 

Youtube: Rashan&Toya Travel

FB: RTtravelers

IG: @rttravelers

Patreon: Rashan & Toya Travel

Email: rashan.toyatravel@gmail.com

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