Alexis Chateau quit her job in 2015 to travel and write, but her journey started long before that. She has been taking road trips with her parents since the womb, and has been travelling internationally for 20 years. Thus far, she has lived in two countries, visited six, and been to 24 U.S. states. Over the years, however, Alexis has learned that travelling is less about where you go, and more about what you do when you get there. She spends her trips kayaking, snorkelling, hiking, biking, climbing, and just generally being outdoors. Sometimes this is in the desert across the United States, and other times it is in the woods, just half an hour away from her house.
AlexisChateau.com began in 2015, when Alexis quit her payroll job to travel and write. Since then, she has used the platform to share her travel adventures. Alexis also discusses Jamaican culture, Jamaican patois, and the difficulties she faced while adjusting to life in a red state as a Black, female immigrant.
1. What is your connection to Jamaica?
I was born and raised in Jamaica. I moved to Atlanta, GA in 2015 at 25 years old. Most of my family still lives in Jamaica.
2. What is your favourite travel destination so far?
Jamaica will always be my favourite travel destination. There’s nothing like returning home after years or months of being abroad. Even so, Jamaica isn’t a really good answer for a Jamaican, so let’s go with Mexico. I went snorkelling in Cozumel and visited their Mayan Ruins in December of 2018; it was amazing. I usually try not to repeat destinations, but this is one I would go back to in a heartbeat!
3. What do you like about the food and culture?
I didn’t get to enjoy any of the food in Mexico, but the culture reminds me a lot of Montego Bay. People are very easy-going and laid-back and no one really seems to be in a hurry to get anywhere — except the taxi drivers, of course.
4. What is your top tip for budget traveling?
I started my travel adventure on a Third World salary at a Freeport job in Mo-Bay. Anyone from Jamaica knows those jobs are useless. That said, you don’t need a lot of money to travel. You just need to make travel a priority.
Most of the Americans who tell me they can’t afford to travel live lifestyles I can’t afford to waste money on. I’m referring to people who burn through $200 per month on weed and alcohol, who have $400 car payments and live in the city.
Thus, the best tip I can give for travelling is to live below your means and make strategic decisions about what you spend your disposable income on. For Jamaicans, it’s a lot harder because so many of us don’t make enough, but as we say, one one cocoa full basket.
5. What was the first trip you took as a child?
My first trip off the island was to Miami, Florida. I was nine years old and to this day, I remember watching my family count out JA $42,000 for my plane fair in cash at the airport. I think my eyes almost popped out of my head. I could not believe it was so expensive. After two weeks, I returned home and told my parents not to waste another 42k on Florida, because it was just Jamaica without the true tropical perks.
6. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?
Funny enough, that would be the importance of home. People are always surprised to know how excited I am to head back at the end of a trip. I have a happy home with my family and my cat —the cat especially! When I am away travelling, of course I enjoy all that other destinations have to share with me, but best believe I am just as excited to go home.
This year, I decided to take only one big trip as I save up money to build my own house from the ground up — Jamaican style. Because I enjoy being home anyway, as much as I would rather be on a beach, you won’t find me moping around the house. Besides, in Atlanta, you are never more than 15 minutes from a hiking trail and I love hiking and mountain biking.
7. Where are your favourite weekend getaways?
I work every weekend. That’s when most of my client orders come in. I haven’t had a weekend off since 2016. I think this year, when I go to the Maldives, I might just chance a weekend off for the first time. Wish me luck? That said, there are other days in the week one can treat like a weekend. I especially love trips to the beach and being in the woods. I am still waiting for someone to take me camping!
8. Where have you travelled that most remind you of Jamaica?
The Belize accent really caught me off guard, because they really and truly sound Jamaican to me. However, I think the place that made me feel most homesick in America was California. Something about the sound of the waves crashing on shore just really does something to me as a Mo-Bay girl who was at the beach every week. Now, I live in a land-locked city.
9. Where would you like to go that you have never been?
I really want to go to Andalucía in Spain, so that I can be an unvirtuous woman.
10. When you go away, what are your must-have items?
Because I’m a travel blogger, I always bring my camera. This used to be my Samsung Galaxy camera (an actual camera, not the phone), but these days my Pixel 2XL takes better pictures and is more convenient. I also have an action camera that I call my fake GoPro. Another must-have is a way to type easily. I work on my novels a lot when I travel, so you will either see me with a Bluetooth keyboard for my phone or a laptop. Aside from this, nothing but the bare essentials. I pack light — one half-empty carry-on bag, so I have space to bring back souvenirs and never have to check anything on.
11. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re travelling?
I don’t think I have a guilty pleasure for travelling. As far as regular pleasures, a trip has to have some kind of adventure for me. Whether it’s ocean kayaking in Alaska, getting lost in the desert before sunset in Utah, or paddle boarding in Jamaica, I need to be up and about. If you put me on vacation to relax and do nothing, I will go insane. I’m not about that life. I can do that at home for free.
Photos Courtesy: Alexis Chateau’s Facebook