60 Seconds With….Shavaun Hairston

February 13, 2017


nubian nomad

You see these badass influencers crushing it on the gram and know they got a story to tell. Not the branded narrative promoting a product or service (no shade) but the important stuff like, why they think it’s important for women of color to travel, or how to discover the best of a destination in a short period of time. We cornered your favorite Globetrotting Stilettos and asked the burning questions we know you want answers to. 60 seconds is all you need to walk away feeling satisfied.

GTS:  You traveled to 30 countries in 2 years, how the heck did you manage to do that?

Shavaun: Well, my trips are normally extended vacays that last at least 2 months. When I travel, I backpack or stay in hostels, and sometimes crash with friends. I  prefer visiting destinations that have a lower costs of living. You can stay at a hostel in Central America for $5 to $10 a night, which I prefer over hotels and Airbnb because  they can become costly. I’m a budget traveler. That’s how I do it!

GTS: Smart gal!  How do you manage from a financial standpoint?

Shavaun: I save. I’m a freelance graphic designer, and because I go on trips for extended periods of time, I like to take on as many projects as I possible to collect what is needed for my trip, then just go! I’m usually working on location, one of the many benefits of the freelance lifestyle, or sometimes I’ll take on little projects right before I fly out.

GTS: Ahh. So you’re working abroad?

Shavaun:  No,  I do not. Occasionally, I get a hula-hoop or fire gigs while traveling for extra money. My main work is brand design for creative entrepreneurs.

GTS: What’s your ultimate travel goal?

Shavaun: I want to travel around the world, continuously, for at least a year. Right now I have my eyes set on Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia.

GTS: That’s what I’m talking about! What’s your travel story, Shavaun? How did you become a Globetrotting Stiletto?

Shavaun: Travel is ingrained in me.  From early on I was taught to be receptive to different culturesMy mom is from London, and my father is from NYC. My parents met while my dad was stationed in London, he’s a military man.  We moved around a lot, I lived with my father up until first grade. It started in Texas, where I was born. Then he was stationed in Puerto Rico, Washington D.C. and Memphis. Once I started first grade, I stayed in Maryland with my mom, and would visit my dad in the different places he was stationed. During my elementary and middle school years, I visited him in Virginia, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Tennessee. My first international trip was to Jamaica. My mom’s parents are Jamaican, so I would visit almost every year. I’ve had a passport since I was a baby, and flying on airplanes eventually became the norm for me. During my middle school years my mom took me to London. When I arrived, I fell in love. Once I got to high school I started planning trips any and every way I could. I had internships in Chicago and summer programs that allowed me travel throughout college. Literally two days after I graduated from Howard University, I planned a solo trip to Europe for two months.

GTS: That’s a great story! So, what’s the biggest life lessons you’ve learned from traveling?

Shavaun: Trusting  my resourcefulness. As a backpacker, you have to be extremely resourceful because things can just happen, unexpectedly, at any time. You have to  think on your feet so you don’t end up in crazy situations,  and pretty much learn to survive anywhere.

GTS: Good advice. Any memorable situations where you had to think on your feet while traveling?

Shavaun: Yes! I was visiting  Zurich and needed to go from Zurich to Berlin, but missed the last train, and didn’t have anywhere to sleep. After  I missed it, I panicked for 30 seconds and then turned to my train guide to see what stops were on the overnight train I  missed. I saw that my train was scheduled to stop in Basel, Switzerland and would be stationed for 10 minutes. I ran to the ticket booth to ask when was the next train to Basel was told the train would depart in two minutes. With no hesitation, I looked on the board to find the platform and immediately ran as fast as I could to make that train heading to Basel. I was so determined, I got there just in time,  as soon as I boarded the train the doors closed. When I arrived in Basel it was another race to the train. I had to then make a dash to my original train which was on the opposite side of the train station. I ran so fast, I literally  made it with about 5 seconds to spare.

GTS: Wow! You were determined. Any advice you can offer first-time travelers?

Shavaun: Don’t be scared! With all of the visibility made possible through social media, it’s a lot easier to see travel as a reality now. If you visit a destination that’s popular and easy to navigate, keep it programmed in your mind that other tourists will be visiting too and trust it’s not as scary or unsafe as you may or may not have imagined it to be.

GTS: That’s s so true! Fear can stand in the way of you having an amazing experience. So, if you had to live in one place, outside of America, for the rest of your life, where would it be?

Shavaun: London, for sure, hands down!  There’s so much culture in the city and it’s proudly showcased. London is the perfect example of cultural inclusion, and I love it! It’s my favorite city in the world.

GTS: What’s the first thing you do when you arrive to your destination?

Shavaun: The very first thing I do?  Probably try to find WiFi, *laughs*. During my travels I tend to forget to do little things like screenshot the directions to my hostel. I don’t have an international plan, so I usually don’t have a phone that works. I depend on WiFi to make those calls so finding it fast is imperative *laughs*. I’m thankful that it’s pretty accessible in most of the countries and cities that I visit.

GTS: What’s the most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten while traveling?

Shavaun: In Scotland, I had haggis, a savory pudding made with sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, lungs). It was really good! Yeh, that haggis stuffed chicken is probably the most exotic thing I’ve ever eaten. I’m usually open to trying new foods , I just have a thing with texture. I can’t eat slimy or porridge like food but anything else I’m down.

GTS: All around adventurous. I like it! What does being a Globetrotting Stiletto mean to you?

Shavaun: It  means  being a global citizen and having no limits. I don’t place limits on myself based on my surroundings, I feel that anything is possible and that includes globetrotting fearlessly. I strongly believe that travel helps you overcome personal fears. You surprise yourself a lot!

GTS: When you’re not traveling Shavaun, what are you doing?

Shavaun: Outside of my graphic designer life, I am a hula-hoop performer, so when I’m not traveling I’m probably somewhere hula-hooping. I began my hula-hooping journey on January 11, 2014. I was backpacking through Central America and I came across a girl hula-hooping on the beach in Nicaragua. I became completely  fascinated, that I asked her to show me. Hula-hooping on my waist came natural, but I never learned tricks. This talented woman taught me how to lift the hoop from my waist to my arms, around my neck and threw my legs—I became obsessed! A few days later, she asked me if I wanted to make hula-hoops, completely dumbstruck at the fact we can make our own hula-hoops, we went on a hilarious yet amazing journey through Leon, Nicaragua trying to find parts to make hula-hoops and to top it off, our Spanish was rusty. This was honestly one of the best days of my life. My love for hula-hooping has awarded me the opportunity to perform at major music festivals in the UK (Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, and Wilderness). I’ve also performed at music festivals in the U.S. including Afro Punk, SXSW,  Artscape, and Light City. In London, I performed in the 2015 Burning Man Fire Conclave with DC based Fire Troupe Revolutionary  Motion, and I also had the opportunity to teach hoop dance workshops at the international fitness retreat Destination Fit Trip in Jamaica, #NMDN Travel Conference in NYC, and the Return to Roots Gathering in New Jersey.

GTS: Love all of that! So, with all the traveling you do, how do you manage to maintain relationships?

Shavaun: I feel like everyone who knows me, knows that travel is a major part of my identity. With my family, traveling is a norm for them and my friends, sometimes they contact me to ask if I’m in the country and if I’m not here they already know catching flights is what I do!

Keep up with Shavaun and all her travels on Instagram: @nubiannomad

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