By now, I know you have realized that I love to travel and If I am not traveling, I am experiencing travel through other passionate travelers especially of the black community who have been gracious enough to share their travel experiences online.
One such person is Thobeka Mthembu from South Africa. Thobeka or if you want,
Since I couldn’t have her all to myself, I felt that it was only right to do an interview with her and share her thought on travel, blogging, vlogging and generally content creation for social media and share here.
Read on and make sure to check her out on social media.
Tell us something about yourself Thobeka…
My name is Thobeka Mthembu from South Africa but everyone calls me Thobi or Thobi Rose. I have always loved travel but my background is in media. I was a senior content producer for a production house called Afrokaans working on one of their productions. I love sharing amazing places in South Africa and content that resonates to me as an African. I have been “influencing” ever since University and working with some brands to create content. I am a digital content creator and Travelprenuer having started a company with my sister that focuses on connecting people within Africa. We decided to focus solely on Africa to change the narrative about traveling within Africa.
How do you afford to travel?
I afford to travel by saving most times. I have also made travel a top priority. Therefore, things like new clothes from expensive shops and lunches are limited to me. I have also been blessed to have gone on a few sponsored trip by brands and my company to create content for them. I feel that once you shift your focus and priorities then travel doesn’t seem so “expensive” anymore. Research and google is also your best friend when looking for deals.
What’s the most favorite place you’ve visited?
Recently it must be Rwanda. I fell in love with the landscape, the food, night life and the people. I didn’t expect to really feel home in Rwanda but I simply felt like I was home in all aspects which is why I have connected with it so much. Their transport system is amazing and easy to navigate even with little English from drivers while getting onto a moto “motorbike”. The food is fresh but tasty and they really do love being health conscious which I loved. I also fell in love with the people especially the youth of Rwanda who are really trying to change the story of Rwanda, their a huge part in that and many that I met are entrepreneurs in the creative field. Rwanda also makes it easy for locals to start businesses as it takes only 6 hours to do so. You can always find something to do in Rwanda – that’s for certain.
How is your typical day like when you are not
It consists of me planning my next destination or planning a content proposal for brands. I am now full time at my company owned by myself and my sister called Lived Experience Travel. I wake up, check social media and then start with doing admin after that I am working on proposals, going to meetings or creating new and exciting itineraries. I also spend lots of my time on social media and working with brands on the content side. Weekends are spent exploring the city I or shooting content for our Youtube channel, editing and packaging it for our audience.
If you are paid to do a review and you don’t approve of the product, how would you go about it?
I usually don’t work with any brands if they are not aligned with what I stand for unless I have never used a product . If I receive something and realize it’s not up to scratch I will need to be honest with my audience in a way that doesn’t cause any dispute with the brand. Luckily for me, I usually work with brands that I have used and interacted with before. I try to always go for brands that I already use or have an interest in because of referrals.
What did you study in school?
I studied Strategic communications.
When did you start creating travel content?
I have been creating travel content for over two years now. It only took
Have you been to Kenya before?
I have not visited Kenya yet but I will be in Nairobi, Mombasa and Lamu at the end of September. I am really excited about Nairobi though and some down time in Lamu.
Best places to see in South Africa?
Personally I love the known areas or over exposed places but I love sharing gems in South Africa such as rural KZN where I grew up and the place with the most beautiful night sky and culture. Mpumalanga is an incredible Gem and I have been there more than 10 times because of its amazing views and hidden waterfalls. Drakensberg is also a favourite for its mountains and beautiful scenic routes and North West is also full of many gems such as Haarties which is a few minutes away from Johannesburg and even Pilanesberg National Park where you can spot the big 5 but of course you can’t miss out on the hustle and bustle of the brewing pot of Johannesburg.
Would you travel for a living?
I certainly would and in a weird way I feel as if I am already doing that which makes me extremely happy and fulfilled.
What are some of the best brands you’ve worked with?
I have worked recently with Ford on their new Ford Everest car that is perfect for travelling long distances in any terrain. I loved how the synergy was and how it was a perfect fit. I also loved working with a big bank here called Nedbank because any solutions for Travel are exciting news for my audience who travels. I also enjoyed working with Cotton On clothing on some amazing travel looks when we travelled to Mpumalanga with a few friends. I have also worked with a few accommodation places that I got to experience and review. I love using brands that can easily fit into travel and tell a story.
Do you ever go on vacation without documenting?
Yes!!!!! Many of my family vacations are not documented because every year we go on a family trip just to reconnect. I also don’t document a few weekend always with close friends as a way to detox and connect with my family and friends when I need to.
Travel blogging or travel vlogging? Why?
I am more the Travel Vlogging type. I feel like I get to connect visually with the audience through a camera plus my personally translates really well on camera. You get to I guess “be you” and not hide behind the pen. It also makes your audience feel as if they know you even if its of what you have decided to document and share. I also don’t think we have enough black travel Vloggers so it would be great to be a part of being a pioneer in that industry. I love telling visual stories to my audience.
One person you’d like to go on a trip with?
I would love to go on a trip with ALL my amazing African tribe that I get to connect with on Instagram and twitter for a yearly get-to-gether!!! That’s my dream really and this would include Travelpreneurs, travel bloggers and Vloggers too. Imagine that? Heaven!
Worst travel experience abroad?
I don’t think I have had one yet, lucky me but I will say that taking the ferry back to Dar es Salaam from Zanzibar was not pretty, at all. I underestimated its speed and how long we were stuck on the ferry. It felt like a lifetime of pure torture and I don’t think I will ever do it again.
Would you rather have a longer layover and save money or a direct flight and spend more?
A longer layover and save money. I once had an over 8 hour layover in Doha…so I think I’m a pro now of exploring the airport and possibly getting a visa to some locations that you can use to get out there and explore.
Homestays/Airbnb or hotel stay?
I have done all 3 and I think there is a place for each depending on where you are staying. I personally thrive on finding amazing rates on Airbnb or homestays. They are way less touristy, you get to mingle with locals and it’s way more affordable than hotels.
Budget or luxury travel?
Budget! I don’t travel to stay in the room and sleep, I travel to actually get out there and experience what a destination has to offer from its food, people, activities and
Any travel tips for people who would like to start traveling but they don’t know where to start?
We are slowly finding travel to be not just a thing that “rich” or “monied” people do and finding great benefits from doing it. There seems to be a global campaign happening across countries for Black people to travel more and mostly for even Black Americans and those living in the UK to come back and explore Africa. I am excited about where we are now and that with the connections such as social media we have started to share and communicate in ways that we couldn’t before. South Africans are slow to traveling into other African countries but I think once they are educated and see that traveling Africa is as amazing as Europe and the likes they will also shift the way they think and travel.
Any travel tips for people who would like to start traveling but they don’t know where to start?
- 1. Start at home and explore your country 1st, you would be surprised at the many Africans who do not explore their countries.
- 2. Start next door – this means that start at your neighbouring country and explore especially if they do no need a VISA.
- 3. Try group trips because costs seem to be lower than you traveling solo, especially to a new country that you have not explored yet. (I wouldn’t do any group trip over 15 people though)
- 4. Save a portion of your earnings every month towards a travel savings pot and plan a trip within your means.
- 5. Read Blogs and follow people that inspire you to travel, don’t be afraid to DM and ask for simple tips because you would be surprised at how much knowledge is shared and easily accessible for anyone to access.
- 6. Don’t over plan, enjoy every minute of it and be open to new people and experiences.
Follow Thobeka on Instagram here