Jessica Nabongo (260818)

Jessica Nabongo works for the U.N. (United Nations). And her love for traveling has also made her a popular travel blogger. Her ultimate goal: to visit every country on the planet, all part of her master plan to encourage people of color to travel. According to CNN, Nabongo was born in Detroit to parents from Uganda. After graduating from college and landing a six-figure income with a pharmaceutical company that enabled her to buy her own home in Detroit, she wasn’t satisfied. She started leasing out her condo as she began traveling. First it was a teaching job in Japan, then grad work in London, which led to a job in the United Nations. But the travel bug had infected her and thus her mission to travel the world. Since she began her quest in 2016, she’s been to 109 of the 172 countries recognized by the U.N. Nabongo supports her travel habit a few ways. She founded a company called Jet Black, which organizes custom itineraries for small group trips in Africa, plus sells travel gear such as branded T-shirts and passport covers. As an influencer, she works with hotel and hospitality brands, some of which offer up free stays in exchange for social media posts. She also accepts donations on a GoFundMe page. “Navigating the world as a woman can be very difficult,” Nabongo told CNN Travel. “I’ve had a pretty wide range of experiences. I’ve been accused of being a prostitute. I’ve had men chase me before. I’ve been assaulted on the street.” In one particularly horrible incident, a driver/fixer Nabongo had been working with and had grown to trust invited her to an “Easter orgy” just before he was due to pick her up to go to the airport. “That is something a man will never have to deal with.,” she said. Ultimately, Nabongo’s quest isn’t just about crossing countries off a list. It’s about changing the perception of female travelers, of travelers of color and of anyone who doesn’t have the option of passing for a local in a given community. “Racism is a thing. There’s nothing we can do to get around that. History has made it that way. I exist as a Black person in this world and I’m not going to let that hinder me from going anywhere I want to go. Namely, everywhere.”