A few months ago I found myself getting lost on Instagram and somehow stumbled upon a dope young black woman that immediately inspired me off of the first few pictures I saw. I followed her immediately and I am glad to say that I did. What initially drove me to Sutona's page was something that someone had said about her being a travel lover. I'm all for meeting like-minded wanderlust junkies so once I checked her out I was excited to have a new virtual friend. It was before New Years and I saw that she was extending her New Years until February around her birthday which I loved the idea of.
I saw that Sutona had traveled to a lot of places that are on my bucketlist including Greece and Cuba and I couldn't wait to talk to her about her travels and what inspired her to get out and travel.
Let's get into this Black Girl Magic..
Name & Background (for example are your parents born and raised in the U.S.)
My name is Sutona- I’m sure you want to know what it means, hell, me too. I’ve researched and all I’ve came up with is religious garment HA! So, if you find a better definition, let me know. I was born in Atlanta, GA but raised here in the Bay Area. Berkeley & Richmond to be exact.
How old are you?
I just had a birthday, I’m 32. Feeling like a fresh 25-year-old except I know exactly what I want from life.
How old were you when you took your first trip out of state? Out of the country? Where did you go?
I don’t remember how old I was when I first started traveling. I’ve been traveling all my life. My dad lived in Jersey so I was always back and forth. I have family all over the U.S. so family reunions in Chicago, Mississippi and even Michigan were lit as a kid. For sure sparked my interest in the friendly skies.
My mom took me to Mexico a few times as a kid before we needed passports. My uncle lives in San Diego, Ca so it was nothing to drive across for a day’s activity then come back home.
My first out of the country trip with friends was in like 2005. My best friend is a Delta and her and her sorority sisters were going to the Bahamas. Greek or not, there was no way I was going to let her get a stamp on her passport before me. As a matter of fact I was too late to order a passport for this trip and found out that I could still travel with my birth certificate. I had my mom overnight it to me and was on my way. We had soooo much fun.
Where all have you traveled?
Whew! I’ve been quite a few places. I’m a beach girl, so I started my travels off with Tropical destinations like Jamaica, Costa Rica, Trinidad, Dominican Republic to name a few. At one point I was over going to places like that so I went to Germany and Amsterdam and Thailand. There’s several other places I’ve experienced but I don’t want to bore you LOL.
Where is your favorite place that you've traveled to?
All my trips are my favorite. Well, all except Cuba. I could have done without that trip. But I would say, Barbados. The people, the culture, the night life. OMG the food. It was such a great time. My friends and I decided to head there one year for memorial weekend and it was literally all we needed in that sort time. Now that I’m thinking about it I’m just thankful we are alive. We met some guys at the beach who ended up being our “Uber” for the weekend. Long story short we were headed to Browns Beach and realized he had tear drops tattooed by his eyes. I don’t know if it means the same thing out there, but we were like, “what did we get ourselves into? “ he was a gentleman, though. Took us everywhere. OMG the strip club….. hahahahaha we’ll save that for another time.
Personally, I like to see how different cultures interact and that’s one of the main things I notice when I am in a new place, specifically a new country. After that, I’m all about the land/architecture. What are some things that you first notice or look for when traveling?
When I first land in a country I like to look out for mannerisms and how they treat tourist and the locals. One thing I noticed in Cuba was the love. Everyone was in love. Brothers & sisters holding hands walking to school. Moms and Pops kissing each other before they depart. Young couples sharing a bike ride on the way to work. I loved it. I truly wish we displayed love like that here in the United States. We could use more of that.
How old were you when you took your first solo trip and where did you go?
OMG!!! My first solo trip was to Cartagena, Colombia. It was my 31st birthday. Talk about culture. I had no idea 80% of the people looked like me. I was in heaven. I felt free. I felt at home.
Most meaningful/life-changing trip that you've taken thus far? Why?
I think my most meaningful trip was Greece. I made it a point to go there with no agenda and just be in the moment. Sometimes life is so busy you can’t help but make your vacations busy too. I floated around for 10 days hitting up Athens, Mykonos & Santorini like the true Berkeley girl I am. It was everything. Sometimes it’s not really the destination, it’s the intent. My intent was to relax and that’s exactly what I did. I met up with some girls from the bay area out there too. We had a much-needed Black Girls Travel Too moment and just reflected on our experiences. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. This trip changed my life and how I think about vacations. You don’t always need to be about the hustle and bustle of trying to see everything. Sometimes its ok to sleep in, eat good and lay out.
Another thing I learned on this trip was to not book with men in advance because feelings change… hahahaha girl, you may have to interview me again for that tea.
(Definitely already getting ready for another interview)
Have you ever lived out of state/country? Where?
I’ve never lived outside of the country but if Trump keep playing these games I’m buying a one-way ticket back to Costa Rica. Get me one of those fine ass men and live beach side for only 200k. The life.
Throughout your travels, have you ever experienced any culture shock? What were the people like? What was one thing that was hard for you to overcome or adjust to?
Only thing that throws me off culturally every time is hygiene. In Thailand we had to use a water hose instead of toilet paper at the market it was trip. I felt so dirty. But when I think about it that might be a cleaner way to go.
There was also this lady who ran up to my friend and I and wanted to take pics with her because they never seen a black person before. It was so interesting to witness. We just took picture and smiled. She meant no harm. Probably just needed proof that we exist to her FB friends.
Any upcoming trips that you're looking forward to?
This year I am challenging myself to take a trip once a month (pray for my PTO). But so far, I’m looking forward to Haiti and London.
Finally, What inspires you to travel?
I think waking up everyday doing the same thing over and over is the only inspiration that I need. Its bigger than just booking a ticket for me. I must step outside of routine to save my life. My mental health depends on seeing something new.
I can't wait to catch up with Sutona again and get some more tea. I see a dope trip in our future! Be sure to follow her on
Instagram : @Sutonashari
& subscribe to her site : www.Sutonashari.com
oh &&& she is also a co-creater of a dope podcast Stage30, so be sure to follow @stage30_ on IG too.