In your own words, tell us, who is Tiffany D. Smith?
Tiffany D. Smith is a woman who’s starting over. She’s found a new passion (travel) and she’s throwing caution to the wind and setting out to discover the world while reaching back and taking those who might be less fortunate (particularly children) along with her.
Can you tell us about your journey?
Since 2004, I’ve been a TV news journalist. About five years ago, I began to question what the rest of my life would look like and I asked God to show me what was next. My faith led me to travel. I got on a plane for the first time at 30 and got my first passport stamp around 38. I fell in love with seeing the world, the different foods, cultures, etc. But travel also taught me that as much as we are different, we’re all very much the same.
Now, I’m working as a volunteer in Chicago Public Schools, and soon, I’ll take underprivileged youth on trips domestically and internationally. I always say that if travel could transform me as an adult, surely it can do the same for children.
What or who inspired you to work in the travel industry?
As stated earlier, I believe my faith led me to travel but there are a few people that I watch religiously that inspire me. Anthony Bourdain was (and still is) a huge inspiration. The way he’d connect with people without being overly pretentious, the way his words would flow together when he wrote was just amazing to me. Kellee Edwards, a girl from the South Side of Chicago (just like me) who became a pilot and one of the few black faces on a major travel show...seeing their journeys keep me inspired and motivated.
What encouraged you to start your blog, The Love of Food and Travel?
I started The Love of Food & Travel because I’ve always been a writer and the more I traveled, I began to keep a diary of sorts about my experiences. I decided (after overcoming fear of what people might think) to share my “diary” with the world. Now, the blog includes various experiences such as friends you shouldn’t travel with to spiritual awakenings I’ve had while on vacation.
In 2020, there continues to be a lack of diversity and inclusion in travel, how has that impacted you personally or professionally?
The lack of diversity and inclusion in travel is a big issue. For me, marketing and advertising have been my pet peeves. Much of it still includes young, white men and women. I think that there is still this perception that black people don’t travel (much) or as much as our white peers. I’d like to see more diversity in travel magazines, marketing, etc.
What have been the challenges that you have experienced in the travel industry?
I’m a new travel influencer (my blog and business is only 3 years old), my main challenge has been that many brands or even other influencers don’t want to work with or collaborate with you if you don’t have a huge following. I believe that there are a ton of creatives who are “hidden” and don’t get the shine they deserve because people think that if you don’t have 5-10 thousand followers, you must not be that good at what you do. I’m looking forward to the day when great content supersedes followers.
How can we as a team, community, and the public be more supportive and amplify your voice as a Black travel expert and creator?
You can help to amplify the voices of black travel experts by tuning in to the issues that concern us. This is a difficult time for people of color. Black people especially. Education, support, and systemic change are necessary. You may not understand my experiences first hand, you can still listen and get my perspective. By support, I mean to become an ally. It is not enough to say you stand with the black community if you won’t speak up when you see an injustice occurring.
We need people who are willing to do the work, support those up and coming voices and creatives. Put more of us in the spotlight. Our stories matter. We also need mentorship. Even if you’re younger than me, if you see that I need help, reach back.
What advice would you tell your younger self?
I would tell younger self that fear is an illusion. And that no matter what you do, you’ll never make everybody happy, so you might as well be yourself.
What is your hope for the future?
I don’t have “hope” for the future. I see hope as a low vibrational word that tells the universe that I don’t completely believe that it’ll happen. I AFFIRM that The Love of Food & Travel will change the lives of millions of young people. And because of the vision that God has given me, kids who’ve never left their neighborhoods will see the world and be inspired.
Anything else you want to share?
I want people (especially kids) to know that travel is not out of their reach. Many people view it as just a luxury only afforded to rich white people. I look forward to helping to make it accessible to economically challenged youth.
Where can the audience find out more about you?