At the age of 33, Oneika Raymond was faced with a decision. She could continue on her path as an international educator, rising through the ranks to eventually become a school principal. Or she could switch careers entirely to become a television host and travel content creator.
Not one to back away from a challenge, the Canadian decided to change her life. The fact that she was in her thirties and had recently moved to New York City only fueled her fire.
Giving herself one year to succeed, she plunged head first into the world of video. Dedicated to being available on “every screen,” she doubled down on YouTube,Instagram and Facebook, as well as gigs in more traditional media. The world was her oyster.
Getting the travel bug
Although she was new to on-camera work, Raymond has been travel blogging since 2005, when she moved to Franceto teach English in her early twenties. It was her second time living abroad and the lifestyle stuck. Earning her graduate degree in 2007, Raymond then embarked on a ten-year career that brought her to countries like Mexico, Hong Kong and England.
“I [see] the world as home. There is no one place,” explains Raymond, a serial expat. She says that the way she speaks and reacts is “infused with all these different places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and living.”
Making the leap to freelance
After ten years of working in international schools, Raymond was happily making six-figures. But she wanted more. Her husband – who she had met in Hong Kong – had recently relocated to New York. After over four years of a long-distance relationship, she decided to join him and took the opportunity to re-invent herself.
Arriving in the Big Apple in July 2016, she decided not to renew her teaching license. Using this as a catalyst, she gave herself one year to succeed.
Breaking into video
When Raymond made the jump to freelance, she had years of experience in the travel space. She had visited over 90 countries on six continents. Her blog – Oneika the Traveler – boasted more than 600 blog posts at the time. She had also written about travel for publications before. But she had never done video.
“I always felt comfortable with writing. But I wanted to learn how to shoot, edit, produce video,” says Raymond. She bought a new camera and started vlogging, posting her videos onto her YouTube channel.
Although it was new medium, she took to it naturally, producing content that was both informative and personable. Raymond credits her time as a teacher with giving her the skills to condense information into palatable bites. In order to build on her talent, she always reviewed her tapes, no matter how small the interview.
The millennial also capitalized on living in New York City, connecting with other like-minded creatives. “The frenetic energy and pace of the city is incredibly inspiring,” say Raymond.
Building a nest egg
Although many would be worried about switching careers in their thirties, Raymond had saved up a hefty nest egg of over $100,000, which helped alleviate her fears. She also knew she could always go back to her career.
In addition to establishing financial security, she says she didn’t let her age stop herself.
The black travel movement
Early on in her blogging days, Raymond realized that posts focusing on black travel resonated and that she could help others by sharing her experiences. Now Raymond devotes a whole section on her blog on traveling while black, which focuses on things from styling hair to dealing with immigration. She even just launched a new series aboutblack expats around the world,
“Normalizing black travel makes it more accessible,” says Raymond. The globetrotter frequently receives messages from her followers saying that seeing her adventures across the world makes them inspired to travel as well.
Running… around the world
In order to keep sane with her crazy travel schedule, Raymond maintains a strict road regime. She tries to eat yogurt and loves sampling tea in new countries. But most of all, running helps her feel rejuvenated. From Bahrain to Bali, Indonesia, she says that, “all you need is your shoes and the drive to get up and go.”
By August 2017, the Millennial had already landed a gig traveling around the world producing marketing content for Star Alliance. And then, while in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on a shoot, she got her second big break: an email from “Your Morning,” a morning television program in Canada. They wanted to have her on as a host of a monthly travel segment. Her bet paid off.
From there, things snowballed. By March 2017, the Travel Channel reached out to her to work on an online show together. They wanted to expand their digital presence online and were fans of her work. Now she has two Travel Channel webseries: “One Bag and You’re Out” and “Big City, Little Budget,” which takes viewers to cities and towns across America.
“I’ve been on a tour of the U.S.,” says Raymond. “This Canadian gal has been everywhere.”
Thanks to sponsorships, as well as her numerous television gigs, Raymond earns as much as she did before switching careers, making over six figures. And now she’s following her passion.
“I just hustled,” says Raymond. “I didn’t let my age stop myself.”
This post is the fifth in a series on women succeeding in the travel industry, whether it be as a solo female traveler or founder of an adventure startup. Know a woman who is killing it in the world of travel? Send an email to actalty at gmail.com to nominate them for next month’s installation of #AdventureHackingWomen.[“Source-forbes”]