In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Rachel Hill, the travel influencer, writer, author, and public speaker behind Rachel Travels! We chat with her about what sparked her love of travel, why solo travel is so important to her, how traveling helped her fight depression, and much more! Check out her recommendations of things to do in one of her favorite destinations around the world and find out which countries are up next on her itinerary!
How did your passion for travel get started?
I grew up as an only child, so I read A LOT of books. I was always so fascinated by the beautiful and majestic places in the world. So I promised myself when I was older, I’d see all of those amazing places with my own eyes. In high school, I was in a magnet program that was focused on International Studies. My senior year in HS, I had the opportunity to travel to China for a month and Italy. I have been traveling ever since!
You’re a big proponent of solo travel. What does solo travel mean to you? What has it taught you?
As a woman, I believe it’s vital to travel solo. We have to wear so many hats that sometimes we can lose ourselves or get wrapped too deeply in things outside of ourselves. Traveling solo has always allowed me to take a step away and recalibrate. It has taught me how to trust my intuition, decide what I want out of my life and experiences, increased my confidence, and has made resilient.
You were diagnosed with depression and used travel as a way to fight it. How did traveling help?
Depression is rooted in worrying about the past. Traveling allowed me to see that despite it all, people all over the world have made mistakes or experienced traumas and are still persevering despite the circumstances. Traveling allowed me to see that there is virtually nothing you cannot work through or get over.
You’ve spent time living in South Africa but currently split your time between Mexico and your home state of Florida. What makes these locations such great travel destinations? What do you suggest people do in these places when they visit?
Florida is great because it’s warm almost the entire year! Not to mention our gorgeous beaches, amusement parks, and there’s always something to do and experience. Mexico is a wonderful country because there are also so many things to see and experience; there are beaches, big city living, deserts, and everything in between! Not to mention the proximity to my family in Florida and the inexpensive cost of living in Mexico makes it ideal for me.
However, I miss South Africa every single day. I attracted a beautiful tribe of family and friends there. The only downside is the 17+ hr (at a minimum) flights make it difficult to see my family/ friends in the States often. I was missing out on all my friends’ weddings, birthday parties, and family gatherings! I had FOMO like an MF!
How many days/weeks do you travel in any given year? What types of places do you like to visit?
Honestly, I’d say I travel about 50% of the year. I visit all types of places for personal and work reasons. Now, I am shifting to “sitting still” and building out a few projects and exploring my States in the USA.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
My audience is primarily Black American Millennial women. I aim to show my audience that it’s possible to create the life that you want. To step into our worth and have the experiences we deserve. And that traveling is a fantastic way to step into this power. I also create content on how to create an impactful and influential brands, and how to position their companies for brand partnerships.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
In no particular order, my Top 3 favorites are:
1) South Africa
2) Lapland, Finland (The Arctic Circle)
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, the best place to have lunch, the best sightseeing, etc.:
Oh! This is fun! Let’s go with South Africa. There’s so much to see and do in this beautiful country:
- In Johannesburg take a walking tour through Soweto and learn the history of Apartheid and how it has affected South Africa.
- Travel down to the Eastern Cape to a beautiful, Xhosa town called Coffee Bay! Do a gorgeous hike to Hole In The Wall. The hike is a bit tough, but if you’re lucky, you’ll see whales, pods of dolphins, meet locals along the trek, and take in beautiful authentic scenery.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, do whale shark diving in the Western Cape.
- Take a drive along the Garden Route and stay in a town called Sedgefield. It’s gorgeous. The best oysters I’ve ever had were there!
- While in Cape Town, take a day trip to Stellenbosh and taste some of the best wines in the world!
How many countries have you visited so far?
The last time I counted, I believe I was at 70!
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
My Top 3 favorite cuisines are:
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
My absolute favorite restaurant in the world is a place called “Little Addis” in the Maboneng neighborhood in Johannesburg, South Africa! The vegetarian dish is fantastic! I’m not a huge meat eater, but the stewed lamb dish is next level!
What is your favorite travel movie?
The film “Sarafina!” (warning: it’s a musical!), introduced me to some of the history of South Africa. It’s still one of my favorite movies to date. After living in South Africa for almost a year, I appreciate the film even more.
What is your favorite international airport?
Hands down… Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar! The architecture is beautiful, the wifi is fast, there are Apple Mac books areas, quiet rooms, great food options, and it’s super clean!
Which city had the friendliest people?
Honestly, people are super nice in most places in the world. I’d say some of the most loving people have been in Myanmar, Bali, South Africa, and Thailand.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
My mother! I didn’t realize how “cool” she was until we started traveling together. We make sure to make a “Mother-Daughter Trip” at least once or twice a year.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
I LOVE reading, so I’d say reading or listening to a good book is a great way to kill time while traveling.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
Hmmm. I’ve been fortunate to go to some incredible and unique destinations. I’m not sure if Mongolia would be considered “exotic,” but it was one of those places that were so different than many places I visited before. One of my favorite places I’ve visited thus far.
What are the 4 things you could never travel without?
I could never travel without:
- Activated Charcoal Powder
- Oregano Oil
- Cell phone & charger
- My Journal
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Antarctica! It’s the last continent that I need to visit.
What is your favorite travel quote?
“Enjoy the seconds!”
Where are you headed next?
I’m not sure yet, but I want to visit Portugal, Spain, and Vietnam before the end of the year.
Named one of the “11 Influential Black Women in Travel You Should Know”, by Travel Noire, Rachel Hill is a trailblazing Travelpreneur, Speaker, and Published Author. With a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing, she has merged her expertise in Digital Marketing and passion for travel into a global brand for Millennial, Women of Color.