Travel and adventure activities remain universally agreed upon. They are things like fishing for piranhas in the Amazon, bungee jumping over the Zambezi River, and climbing active volcanos in Guatemala and Ecuador. But, there’s also a seemingly universal acceptance that these activities are performed by white men. We’re used to Alastair Humphreys, Bear Grylls, and Tom Avery representing. It’s relatively rare for a woman, much less a woman of color to assert herself in that “adventure” space.
Until now. Oneika Raymond has done every activity on the above list and dozens more. It’s no wonder why she’s been chosen as the host of two Travel Channel web series and acts as the in-house travel expert on CTV Canada’s nationally broadcast breakfast news program Your Morning.
Raymond built her travel career on the firm foundation of her award-winning travel blog — Oneika the Traveller — where she narrates her adventures and encourages women and people of color to give in to their wanderlust and thirst for adventure. In her own words, she seeks to “demystify travel for oft-marginalized groups in a disarming manner,” and she’s absolutely succeeding. Having traveled to over 100 countries on six continents, she has established herself as a travel authority, as well as a go-to speaker for issues of diversity and multiculturalism.
In between traversing the globe and adding yet another language to her impressive polyglot rep, Raymond spoke with us about her travel career and the difficult issues surrounding female representation in travel. For example, she recently examined the aesthetic forwarded by Instagram and questioned the ways in which the promotion of a narrow image proves exclusionary long-term, and she broke that down for us in a really accessible way.
Raymond is wicked brilliant and had some damn good points to make. Check them out below.
Did you grow up traveling?
I haven’t necessarily always been a traveler, but it’s been in my blood. I grew up in Toronto, Canada. I was a child of Jamaican immigrants. From a very young age, I was attuned to traveling because of these two things. Toronto is a very, very multi-cultural city, one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. And, of course, having an immigrant upbringing and background opened me up to international travel because my family traveled to the US and to the Caribbean to visit our other family members. With that said, the traveling that I was doing wasn’t necessarily for leisure. A lot of the time, the travel I was doing with my family was to see other family members, so it was a utilitarian thing.
It wasn’t until I got to university and had the opportunity to study abroad in France for a year that I really started to travel for leisure and for education and to basically find myself.