Craig Kingston, also known as "The Cheap God," is a black expat who sold all his stuff and booked a one-way ticket to Asia. He's currently living his best life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
We spoke to Craig about his experience traveling the world. Here's what he had to say.
Melanin Is Life: What is your philosophy of life, now that you've traveled and realized what truly makes you happy?
Craig: My philosophy is to follow your dreams. If you feel something in your heart that says, “Hey, let's go” - chase it, because you don't want to regret it later down the road.
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!)
Craig: Getting rejected from multiple jobs. It hits you hard. It real life put me in depression and had me sitting at home with a bottle of rum, alone, wondering, what the hell am I doing. All my friends are making 6 figures and I'm wondering, what the hell, I'm struggling to pay bills. I applied to the FBI and got rejected in January. That moment I realized, nah brah, I have to go. This life isn't for me. I sold all my stuff and booked a one-way ticket.
Melanin Is Life: What was your first impression when you arrived in Vietnam and Malaysia?
Craig: Well, Vietnam was an eye-opening experience. The people were so nice, but they would stare at me and touch me, until it became uncomfortable. I got off the plane and I was literally the only person of color, period. Malaysia has been so different. I still remember when I got off the plane and saw people of color. It felt amazing. Malaysia is a unicorn, it's a country in Asia that has so much diversity and such kind people.
Melanin Is Life: Traveling solo can be scary for some people. Have you ever been nervous while traveling solo? If so, how did you get over it? What advice would you give someone who is thinking about traveling solo?
Craig: I was never nervous. Honestly, I was built for this. Thank God for such an open-minded mom, because she is the one that opened my eyes to traveling. She put the bug in my ear. I remember my first solo trip in 2013. It was to the Dominican Republic. People were like, "You are crazy. Why are you going solo?" I was like, "Solo travel is the best thing ever." You do things on your terms without worrying about someone else. My advice for anybody thinking about traveling solo - do it!!!! Trust me, it will be the best feeling ever. Just be safe, know that you are solo, and don't be stupid, point blank. One thing about black people traveling the world is that there aren't many, so nobody is trying to mess with us. The stereotype worldwide is that black people are poor and broke, so we aren't worth kidnapping. I'm not saying that is a pass to be stupid. Just be smart and you will be fine.
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?
Craig: That is the biggest lie ever. Living outside of America is so cheap, if you go to the right country. Besides Europe and some other places, the US dollar is worth more, so you will be fine. I am fortunate because I am a military veteran, so I am getting a retirement check from the US government monthly, for the rest of my life. The check isn't worth anything in America, but in Southeast Asia I'm in the top 1%. I'm not saying you can't do it too. Getting an English teaching job is so easy. And in some countries, the school pays for housing.
Melanin Is Life: In a couple of your social media posts, you have stated, “I don’t think y’all understand how good it feels to walk down the street and not be the only person of color!!!!” Why did you state that and how did it feel seeing other people of color?
Craig: People of other races argue that, as a black person, why do you want to see people that look like you so bad? Because I'm black, duh. No matter where white people go, they will see people that look like them anywhere in the world. It's a great feeling when you can walk around and not be looked at like a zoo animal.
Melanin Is Life: Who is "The Cheap God" and how did this name come about?
Craig: "The Cheap God" is me. As black people, we made the word cheap to be so negative, but white people and Asians been cheap. Why, as a people, do we always have to think about how much money we make? If you don’t like to spend on things that you don’t feel is right, why must you get looked down upon? And it's funny - I got the name from a friend because we went on a trip and I wouldn't eat the fancy food. I went to the street, to the locals, and he was like, “Bruh, you cheap god!!!!” I was like, "Wait, that's catchy." S/O to Jordan, you created a monster.
Melanin Is Life: Tell us about your BEST travel experience.
Craig: My best travel experience, honestly, is meeting so many different people, sitting and having conversations about their life, and realizing we are not that different.
Melanin Is Life: Tell us about your absolute WORST travel experience.
Craig: My worst travel experience, as a black man, is dating. As a black man, you are not at the top of the list. Most Asian women love white boys. Most Asian women are afraid of black men and only see them as checks on their bucket lists. I still remember when I had relations with a woman in Vietnam and after she was like, “Well, that checks a point off my bucket list. I always wanted to do something with a black dude.” I was shocked and felt used at the same time. I felt like Eddie Murphy in the movie Boomerang.
Melanin Is Life: How do you determine what country you will live in?
Craig: It's simple. How cheap is it and are there clubs that play hip-hop? Point blank!
Melanin Is Life: What are your top 3 travel tips for blacks living outside the US?
Melanin Is Life: How do you meet people when traveling solo?
Craig: Just going out, being friendly, and Tinder, of course, if you want to meet people of the opposite sex lol.
If you were to ask young Craig what he wanted to be when he grew up. I promise one of the choices weren’t an unemployed world traveler, oh well sh*t happens..😂😂😂#thecheapGod #thatguyCraig #worldtraveler #solotravel #nomad #solotraveler #blacktravel #thailand #kohphiphi #umeployedandhappy #travel #backpacking #backpacker #blackexcellence #travel #unemployedandlovingit #uneployed
Melanin Is Life: What would you tell your younger self, who thought being an American citizen working 9-5 was everything?
Craig: "Boy, you stupid sitting at that desk, hating life. Angela Wilson (my mama) didn’t have you travel the world young to be someone's paper pusher."
Melanin Is Life: What is a day in your life like?
Craig: I wake up when I want, google places to see in the country I'm in, hit the gym, come back, and be on my Dora the Explorer ish. I then come home and maybe go out and party a little, and I go to sleep when I want. I wake up and do it all over again. It's the best life you could ever live!
Most people get homesick quick, and you have been traveling for a while. What motivates you to continue traveling?
I MISS NOTHING ABOUT AMERICA!!! Cheap food, meeting amazing people, and learning the culture is what motivates me.
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