The Upgrade by SUITCASE Magazine

Freedom to Travel: Meet the First Black Woman to Travel to Every Country in the World

Episode Summary

Coinciding with Vol. 31: The Freedom Issue, Editor-in-Chief India Dowley and Content Editor Fleur Rollet-Manus catch up with trailblazer Jessica Nabongo, the first Black woman to visit every country in the world. Now she’s on a mission to change the way we travel – this is an influencer with actual influence. She shares with us her high and lows, her thoughts on diversity in the travel industry and introduces her new business venture.

Episode Notes

This week we chat to trailblazer Jessica Nabongo, an influencer with actual influence. Her following – 197,000 and counting – watched her, as we did, become the first Black woman to travel to all 195 countries in the world. She slept in a yurt in Mongolia, toured pyramids in Sudan and broke bread in Pakistan before finishing her two-and-a-half-year race around the world on the shores of the Seychelles. We couldn’t think of a better guest to have on Episode 6 of The Upgrade podcast, which coincides with the launch of our Volume 31: The Freedom Issue. 

It comes at a time when the idea of “freedom” sits awkwardly with our social, political, economic and mental realities. Nevertheless, we believe that the culture of travel, of building connections across the world and immersing yourself in other countries and communities can be incredibly freeing. 

We chat to the influencer, travel expert and businesswoman Jessica Nabongo about her thoughts on diversity in the travel industry, the highs and lows of her journeys and how we can support African artisans through her new business venture, The Catch. 

We’d love to know where you’re going next and how you think the travel landscape might change as lockdown restrictions ease. Send your voice notes to or drop us a DM on Instagram @indiadowley and @fleur_rm. For a daily dose of travel inspiration, check in with us at

Links and notes from the episode 

You can follow along with Jessica Nabongo’s 50-state US road trip here

Want to fill your home with Jessica’s well-curated selection from artisanal items from around the world? Shop The Catch.

And these are the Black-owned businesses Jessica recommends:

The Honey Pot Company

The Lip Bar (for your seven-minute full face)

AJ Crimson

Coco and Seed (for Jessica’s plant babies)

Essie Spice

This is the article about passport privilege India and Fleur urge you to read:

And these are the articles we take a look at to help you become a better ally:

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