This month I’m excited to interview a new blogger friend of mine. Kiona and I were introduced on Facebook by a fellow female travel blogger. We’d both been trolled by some basics who didn’t agree with our eerily similar posts about cultural appropriation. We bonded over being hated on and the rest is history. The lady behind the blog How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch dives deep into these twenty questions! Kiona is brutally honest in this interview and gives zero fucks. She opens up about being sexually assaulted in Morocco which resulted in death threats. Shares a few Airbnb hosting horror stories and teaches us how not to travel like a basic bitch.
Annette: Tell us Five Random Facts about you?
Kiona: 1. I have a Ph.D. 2. I have my own gel machine and do my own nails. 3. I minored in African American studies, but I’m not Black at all, just woke. 4. I am a first generation American and multiracial. 5. I have 5 side-hustles to fund my travels. (I’m not too good to babysit.)
Annette: Tell us about How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch.
Kiona: How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch started off because I was sick of
recounting to friends and family on how they can travel to certain destinations,
what I did, how much I paid, where I stayed, etc. Instead, I created a one-stop shop
so I can just send them a link and be done. Well, it turned out to be something more as people started passing the blog around and complete strangers started following along and asking questions. This blog definitely was not made for people who don’t know me. So it is not politically correct at all, I just wrote in my voice as if I’m talking to a friend who already knows my background. But maybe that is what started attracting (and repulsing) people from the blog because it was like they knew me.
Annette: Your blog name is very attention grabbing. How did you come up with it?
Kiona: I came up with the name while down a bottle of wine and talking with my best
friend about how I hate basic bitches and was like, “I’m gonna start a blog
called How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch” and bought the domain name that
night. And then I didn’t touch it for 6 months.
Annette: What are 5 ways to avoid traveling like a basic bitch?
Kiona: 1. If you wear white ankle length socks with New Balance shoes, I don’t
know you. 2. If you travel to a country and expect everyone to accommodate you at all
times, don’t talk to me. 3. If all you do is go to a country to say you’ve gone without learning
anything about the culture or giving back, you’re basic as fuck. 4. If you post little black children on The Gram and portray them as poor or as a point of pity, AND you’re smiling amongst them and genuinely feel good about yourself, don’t fucking talk to me. 5. If you travel just to be plastered the entire time, seriously, just stay home.
Annette: What are your favorite Travel Apps and why?
Kiona: Does Instagram count? Don’t try to front like you don’t use it to find out about cool spots. Airbnb travel app is life. I use it almost exclusively to book my stays. Whatsapp ‘cause my mom needs to keep tabs on where I am and will write me every day and might call the U.S. Embassy if she hasn’t heard from me in a day. Maps.Me because a girl always needs a map that doesn’t require wifi to get her out of tough spots.
Annette: 5 things you can’t board a plane without?
Kiona: Cell phone, passport, money, neck pillow, and a good book.
Annette: What 5 tips/hacks would you give a new female traveler?
Kiona: 1. Keep your shoes to a minimum. Like really you only NEED 2: cute sandals and converse. I started off packing like rain boots, hiking shoes, running shoes, high heels, flip-flops, and sandals. SO extra. Not necessary. And basic AF. 2. Having sex abroad is fine, but be safe and don’t tell them where you live. Get creative outdoors. 3. Backpost on social media for safety. You never know who might be following you. 4. Bring your own feminine products. 5. Share your itinerary with at least one person back home, including addresses, so if an emergency happens, someone will know exactly where you are or where you were supposed to be so you can be extracted if need be.
Annette: Where do you prefer to vacation: beach, country, or city?
Kiona: I def prefer somewhere WARM, WITH A BEACH, and with mad culture! #IssaVibe
Annette: Favorite destination so far and why?
Kiona: MEXICO! Because everyone is so polite and it’s one of the oldest civilizations in the world with so many different cultures, landscapes, and history all in one place! Also, the streets are too colorful not to love.
Annette: You have most of your 2017 travels planned. Where will you be traveling to next?
Annette: Share your Funniest or least favorite travel experience.
Kiona: While usually my travels are always filled with laughs, one very serious experience was in Morocco where I was repeatedly sexually harassed and assaulted. I wrote a blog post on it and got death threats from more Moroccans, which was equally as traumatizing as the men touching me without permission. It’s the only destination I’ve been so far that I don’t recommend.
Annette: 5 things that traveling has taught you about the world.
Kiona: 1. I don’t know shit. 2. Colonizers ain’t shit. 3. Neo-colonizers, aka basic bitches, ain’t shit. 4. Sometimes people ain’t shit, but most of the time they’re awesome 5. Somehow, life always works out
Annette: You and I connected over Cultural Appropriation. We both wrote quite controversial posts on the subject. What’s your opinion on this hot topic?
Kiona: I think people mistake cultural appropriation with forced cultural assimilation and mislabel it. The problem is not with the sharing or adopting of cultures because that’s BEEN happening since the beginning of time, and will continue to happen, so people wanting to complain or prevent people from adopting their styles and cultures are fighting a losing battle. It also waters down the cause because there is so much racism out there that is more than just fighting over items of clothing. The problem is actually when we strip people of their culture or mock them for their identities. Not OK and basic as fuck. But what is even more basic is when people of other cultures want to speak for or “defend” a culture that they are not a part of, thereby becoming even more oppressive. For example: if I am Korean and don’t have a problem with a White girl going to Korea, renting a hanbok, taking a picture, and celebrating in culture, I don’t understand how other White/Black/Asian/etc people can have an opinion on what I feel oppresses me. People of color are sometimes more hateful and oppressive than Whites, which is hella ironic and even more unacceptable, considering people of color are already oppressed enough and we don’t need to be oppressing each other. Another thing to note is internal oppression versus external oppression. You being offended by someone wearing a piece of clothing that may belong to your culture is internal oppression. You’re choosing to feel oppressed by that. You can also choose not to feel that way. External oppression is when someone directly oppresses you. For example, Black men being murdered by police, that is external oppression and something you DON’T choose to feel. That is not a choice. So I just encourage people to eliminate as much internal oppression as possible because that’s just a waste of emotion when we have enough external oppression to juggle for a lifetime.
Annette: How do you deal with the haters and trolls?
Kiona: I used to dread them. I still get nervous every time I see I have another comment on the blog. I still get pretty heated when someone comes for me. Because this is my creation and is a direct representation of who I am, so it definitely hurts when people try to criticize my vulnerability and my character. But it just takes a deep breath and a reset to remind myself these fucks are nobodies and are either seriously mentally ill or bored. So then I use them as a source of entertainment. Because really, what kind of arrogant mother fucker is really gonna come onto my page and judge it? LEARN HOW TO CLICK OUT! UNFOLLOW! So yeah, when people are being bitches, they obviously didn’t know that I’m just better at it. Don’t take it there, cause I got a handful of petty ready. With that said, I only publish controversial posts when I’m ready to take some heat. #IssaMindset.
Annette: What are two things you’ve learned from being an Airbnb Host?
Kiona: That hospitality is a full-time job and that if you’re not an easy-going person, just get a fucking hotel.
Annette: Where are you favorite Airbnb guests from?
Annette: Any Airbnb horror stories you care to share?
Kiona: LOL where do I start? Well, first it’s important to note that I manage three listings: two in Austin, TX and one in Vinales, Cuba. Here are a few examples: For my Cuba Airbnb: Once had this couple complain about HOT water. Like that there was too much hot water. Da FUCK? Another time I had these three girls go out to a bar and start a fight. Then asked the son of my Cuban host family to jump in on their fight. When he chose not to, they cussed out his mom. HIS MOM. IN HER OWN HOME. Then wrote a review about how the son was dangerous. I ripped her a new asshole.
For my Austin Airbnb: Four girls came for New Years Eve, when I got home, they had all my furniture rearranged, couches and everything. And apparently threw a fish fry because there were Red Solo Cups and fish everywhere. Another time, a couple complained about POTENTIAL snakes in my backyard. When I asked them if they saw any snakes, they said no. PEOPLE HAVE TOO MUCH IMAGINATION, MAN! In conclusion, if you’re gonna be weird as fuck, just get a hotel. Also, you will not come into my home or any of my listings and disrespect anyone in here. Point blank. Remember that Airbnb hosts are doing YOU a favor by inviting you into their homes, not the other way around. No amount of money you’re paying is worth being disrespected.
Annette: How do you balance traveling, school, blogging, and your personal life?
Kiona: Idk if I do. If I’m beasting in one area, I’m failing in another. I juggle it all but don’t do anything particularly well. I just do enough to get by. My life is on constant fast forward and I’m sure one day I will crack. But not today, Satan.
Annette: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Kiona: Not sure if it’s advice, but it’s a quote by Glo Graphics that I’ve repeated to myself. Something along the lines of, “Don’t let my freedom offend you.” YASSSSSSSSS!! That’s exactly how I feel. Every time someone comes for me, I just know that I’m doing something right. Because people who hate themselves can’t handle me being free.
Annette: Advice for someone interested in becoming a travel blogger?
Kiona: Just start. I get so many questions about how I do it, how many followers did I have before starting, what to write about. Like I DON’T KNOW, YO! I just got drunk one night and started it and stayed true to myself. Don’t worry about all that petty shit. The only people who are ahead of you are those who tried. If you don’t start, then you’re already behind.