To know Carlton Johnson is to love him and to see him experience the world is to see it in the best way possible.
He is such a ball of energy and travels everywhere with style; it was imperative that we ask him how he does it and how can we all live our best lives on the road.
Has traveling been a window or a mirror for you? Explain. Traveling has, over time, become both a window to the world and a reflection of how I have evolved from each destination I’ve experienced. I began traveling at an early age (five), and during those earliest years of my travel, I was most intrigued by the spectacle of the journey, what was around me. My first domestic trips to Washington, DC, and Los Angeles taught me nothing other than airplanes make my ears hurt on the aircraft. I was so young when I first traveled to Europe at the fourteen and discovered that Black people were literally everywhere, and we speak many languages; is when I began to “see” myself in the experiences of my travel.
What’s one thing you’ve learned while traveling the world that no one could have prepared you for until it happened? It wasn’t until I visited Morocco that I discovered Native Africans are the same as African-Americans. My month in Morocco shook me to my core, because I learned the extensive similarities between us, and also began to witness the beauty in our differences. No matter where I travel, now, I realize we are all one people, sharing in one humanity, on this vast planet of ours.
What’s one misconception that people have about traveling abroad while Black? It always confuses me when Black people assume places are dangerous/racist only because of what they have seen on TV or heard by word of mouth. Granted everyone will not have the same experiences I’ve had; generally speaking, I, a Black American man, have felt welcomed wherever I’ve traveled. I’ve visited thirty-seven countries, five of which I visited alone; and I’ve never had an overt prejudice, oppressive, or threatening experience. I am, however, not ignorant of the fact that these types of situations do occur. I have effectively steered clear of them by always educating myself on, and being aware of what’s taking place around me in whatever travel destination beforehand: But we good wherever we go!
When on vacation are you a planner or a free spirit? I thought about this question for a while because I’m a free spirit. Still, I know in my heart, no matter where I go, I’ll always have something planned. The exciting part about traveling is no matter how many times you visit a place; there’s still something you didn’t do the time before. There is always a new experience to be had. I’ve visited Dubai three times already, and I always say that the next time I go, I want to relax on the Palm and take in the views. In that particular city, I’ve done plenty, but there’s still more to do; so I couldn’t just relax on the Palm! I have to plan accordingly. Now, if plans change suddenly, I always have an idea of what’s going to be the next move, and what options I have.
Would you travel with a group? How many is the max number you would travel? I would definitely travel with a group: That is an experience all it’s own! For now, the max is eight people (myself included). Traveling in groups is difficult if everyone isn’t on the same mindset; so establishing this dynamic is paramount.
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to someone that wants to inquire more about traveling abroad? Research! Don’t wait for anyone to create the experiences of your dreams. Research and do the work necessary to build these experiences for yourself.
What is your one MUST HAVE while traveling? A tripod for my camera and iPhone. Everyone asks who takes my pictures and now my secret is out – I do!
The most memorable experience in your favorite city? My most memorable experience would have to be when I celebrated my birthday in Capri circa 2017! My friends and I rented a private boat to sail the island, popping bottles of Moët, and blasting Beyoncé (of course). It was, quite literately, a dream come true.
Where should everyone see Italy before they finish traveling? Everyone must see the world! More specifically, though, everyone should visit Italy. I’ve never visited a country I’ve loved as much as I have in Italy. The entire country is so gorgeous. I cannot find anything negative to say about the places I’ve visited there.
Hotel or Airbnb? When I’m traveling alone, I’ll always choose a hotel. There are a comfortability and security in being surrounded by people, and having access to certain amenities. My travel has also afforded me status with Marriott, so there is added incentive for hotel lodging. Airbnb’s are fun with groups of people and can be more economical depending on the location.