Frederick Benjamin Interview

Editor's Note: Naiquan Dimetrius of Frederick Benjamin recently reached out to CP Travels for an interview about the black male perspective of traveling while black. The full interview is below and can also be accessed on their website here.

There are so many things that stop individuals from traveling abroad. Speaking as a New Yorker who’s also employed in New York, most times we live to work instead of working to live. This most often causes us hesitation to take trips. To further compound our hesitation we may believe we can’t afford to travel because of bills or other expenses. Then soars in a service that supports persons who want to see different cultures but never deemed it financially possible.

CP Travels commits themselves to making travel for people of all walks of life tangible and void of setbacks. Founded in 2014 by two African-American men from the Midwest, Carl Hill and Patrick Springer are on a mission to “create unique travel experiences” for everyone. The dynamic duo helps each of their clients through one of the toughest aspects of traveling. Taking a leap and deciding to do so.

We got a chance to talk to one half of the dynamic duo, St. Louis native Patrick Springer. The nomad told us about everything from how he and Hill created the company, all the things he’s learned as Black man voyaging to numerous places and the one place he’ll never travel to again.


Frederick Benjamin: What was the moment that you and Carl decided to create CP Travels?

Patrick Springer of CP Travels: I think that CP Travels was something that was long in the making. Carl and I had been traveling internationally for a while and we'd had this idea with no name or real concept for a long time. If I had to pinpoint a specific moment, we decided to create CP Travels in 2014 while traveling through Vietnam for Chinese New Year. We had been living abroad for about 4yrs at that point and for whatever reason, during that trip it hit us that we hadn't seen that many people who looked like us who were traveling internationally and we wanted to change [that]. CP Travels began as a shared blog amongst travelers of color, but soon we realized that we could shift our focus to actually helping people plan their trips abroad and teaching them how to travel affordably.

When did you all become passionate about travel? Helping others afford travel?

My passion for travel happened fairly late in the game. My college, DePauw University, was very big on international travel but I was never able to take advantage of it. Once I graduated I was offered a job in Taiwan and I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Within the first few months of being there I had booked a 6 week trip to India and I think that's when the travel bug really hit me. For the longest time international travel seemed like something that I couldn't do and then suddenly I was one of "those people." India opened my eyes to a completely different world and I was instantly hooked.

I didn't really become passionate about helping others afford to travel until I did my Eurotrip during the 2012 Olympics. I was running low on money with 10 more days left in London and I wished that I'd known more about being financially savvy while traveling. That passion grew over the years as I traveled to more places and learned how far $1 could stretch overseas.

Name three ways your perspective on travel has changed for the better/for the worse?

My perspective on travel has changed in several ways so if I had to narrow it down to only 3 things I'd say:

1) You don't need as much as you think you do to be happy. Travel to Thailand or India or Laos and you'll be surprised at how happy people are with seemingly very little.

2) There are more people willing to help you than those who want to take advantage of you.

3) International travel isn't just for white folks anymore. There are people who are curious about us and are excited to meet us and NEED to know that we exist outside of gangster movies and rap music.

Name three things you've learned as a Black man traveling to various countries.

I've learned a lot about myself as a black man living and traveling abroad. I wrote an article about it, but if I had to pick just 3 things it's this:

1) You are not a criminal despite how the media portrays you. You and other men who look like you have so much potential and it's a shame that you're not always given the chance to live up to your potential.

2) It's ok to feel. In other cultures men are allowed to expressed their full range of emotions and you can do that too.

3) You are important. There are thousands upon thousands of people who are looking up to you and are inspired by what you're doing.

Name one place you'll never travel to again. Why?

One place I don't have any plans of ever going back to is Paris, France. I went there with this very Harlem Renaissance view of it (all of my favorite black leaders went there and came back so inspired) and it just let me down. To me, it's just like every other regular city.

What's the next trip you'll be taking?

Currently I'm finishing up a road trip through the United States. Once I return to Taiwan, the next trip we'll be taking is to Australia. We'll be visiting Melbourne, Cairns and the Northwestern Territory. Next year, however, we have another full year of travel planned that's focused on festivals. 

What's two keys things (mentally) everyone can take with them no matter where they travel?

1) Don't confuse genuine ignorance with blatant racism. Some people have never seen people like us and are a lot more open with their curiosity than we're comfortable with.

2) Everything will be ok.

What's one place that you've been dying to go to, but you haven't yet traveled to?

I've been DYING to get to Pulau. It's a small island in the middle of the Pacific but it's famous for Jellyfish lake. It's a lake full of jellyfish that you can swim in. Since they don't have any natural predators on the island their stingers have lost their potency. The other place is Papua New Guinea and Antarctica. Both just seem like really fun trips.

Name your personal five must have travel items.

I travel light so this is easy: a blanket (airports and airplanes get cold), a good cheap stainless steel water bottle w/a carabiner  (easy to clean and clip on to any bag and you can fill it up after immigration), a credit card (preferably with miles rewards, but it's clutch in emergencies), a good unlined notebook (store all of your tickets, maps and travel notes to look back on), a pen (you always need one and when that cute person in the immigration line needs one, you'll be prepared).

What do you want CP Travels' legacy to be?

I want CP Travels to be something that inspires other people to travel and to constantly push their own boundaries. I recently became an uncle and I'm even more motivated to create a world where my nephew is able to feel comfortable moving within. When he travels somewhere I want for him to see people who look like him doing the same thing. I want for him and for other young men and women who look like him and me and my brother and sister and my parents to know that they are welcome and accepted and allowed to go anywhere that they want.

Patrick SpringerComment