Ashlee tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.
I'm the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Will Drink For Travel, a site focused on spirits from around the world as well as other helpful travel information.
What inspired you to start your blog, Will Drink for Travel?
In January 2014, I was spending two months in Tanzania for work. I knew I'd be traveling throughout the country and wanted a way to update my family and friends on all of my adventures. I started doing research on blogging and found out that many people blogged as a way to share their travels. I thought if they did it, why can't I? I knew I needed a niche in order for it to catch on and noticed that there were tons of food-inspired blogs but not really any that focus on spirits. And I love a good cocktail. So alas, Will Drink For Travel was born!
Is blogging your full time occupation? If not, how do you balance it with your other responsibilities?
Not yet! It can be challenging managing blogging with my full-time job. I do most of my blogging at night and on weekends, and try to do social media posting occasionally throughout the day. Will Drink For Travel is my baby so I'm never NOT thinking about how to make it better. If I have an idea, I'll make a note to myself to come back to it later. Whether I'm staying up late to finish a post, going to an event after work when I'm tired, or trying to squeeze things in throughout the day, I do whatever it takes to keep content fresh and consistent on my site. However, I enjoy my job most days (ha!) and right now it pays the bills, so I never want my performance to suffer. It's hard to balance but it can be done.
What is the most exciting or significant thing that has happened for Will Drink for Travel since you began blogging?
I'd say the most exciting thing that's happened to Will Drink For Travel is my upcoming appearance on Great Day Washington on WUSA9 in DC. I will be discussing the French Caribbean island of Martinique and Martinican cocktails during their Travel Tuesday segment. I've also been invited on a few press trips to showcase various destinations, so it's always great when my work is recognized and destinations want to work with me.
What is your favorite place you have visited so far and why?
My favorite place so far has been Tanzania. The country is so vast and has such different landscapes...beautiful beaches, mountains, and plush greenery. The people were genuine and very welcoming. I went on safari, enjoyed beaching in Zanzibar, attended a Tanzanian wedding and a myriad of other activities during my trip. I was able to take in the culture over a two-month period instead of a short weeklong trip, so the country really resonated with me.
Why is it important, particularly for black women, to travel and see the world?
It's important for black women to travel because in my experience, you learn so much about yourself--what makes you happy, your wants, needs, and deal breakers. We tend to be viewed by the world as creatures of comfort, unadventurous, and attitudinal. I love when I meet someone and they have a preconceived notion about who they think I am, and I'm able to break that mold.
Travel allows us to be comfortable in our own skin. Zora Neale Hurston referred to black women as mules of the world in her book 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' and I believe that's how the world sees us. We carry the burdens for so many people in our lives. Travel gives us a sense of freedom and independence to be who we are without making excuses or apologizing for it.
Let's talk hair and beauty. What are your favorite beauty products to travel with?
I love traveling with great, inexpensive products in case they're lost or stolen, so I won't be devastated. I have eczema, so my skin is really sensitive and there are only a few products that work well with my skin. I keep it simple with Cetaphil face wash and moisturizer (with sunscreen), Aveeno eczema relief lotion, and ULTA sunscreen, which is great for Black women because it doesn't leave us looking ashy. I also always make sure I bring some kind of hair oil to spray (Olive Oil, Coconut Oil). I refuse for my hair to ever look dry and my edges will always be moisturized!
How do you manage your hair while you travel? Do you have a favorite protective hairstyle?
It depends on how long I'm going to be in the country and what look I'm going for. If I'm only going away for a long weekend, I may wear a braided updo or a curly weave that can get wet. But if I'm going somewhere for a long period of time, I almost always get box braids. I just can't be bothered with trying to figure out how to wear my hair. It's one less thing I have to worry about during travel. Braids also require that I carry less hair products, which is always a plus.
After returning home, how do you refresh your hair and skin from the effects of travel?
I definitely make sure to get a hot oil treatment and have my ends clipped. I won't wear braided styles for a while to give my scalp and edges a much-needed break. For my skin, I will add a glycolic facial pad to my regimen once or twice during the week I return to brighten my skin. I also enjoy using Black Soap because not only does it provide relief for my eczema, but it also provides moisture for my skin.
Finally, what's next for WDFT?
Aside from my appearance on Great Day Washington, I'll be spending two months in Zambia for work and mapping out the rest of my travel schedule for the year. I recently just started Will Drink For Travel's YouTube channel, so I'm excited to bring new content to that as well.
Follow Ashlee’s travels at WillDrinkforTravel.com or on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.