We had the good fortune of connecting with Princess Francois and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My main career is as an educator. However, over time, I have realized that being an educator does not just apply to the school setting. Education is my professional passion and travel is my personal passion. However, I find that these two interests intersect more than I would have thought, although I hope that someday they become fully intertwined. Travel IS education — it is the best education that I will ever receive! Every travel excursion has added a layer of understanding to my knowledge of people, of food, of culture, of history. Looking at it from a different perspective, I am still an educator in the travel space. It may not be through teaching a class, but it is through speaking on travel panels, it is through conversations with adults and students, it is through blogging where I literally share tips and stories to educate and inspire others about travel. It is through exposure when I hang photos of my travels pinned to a world map or display artifacts from different countries and bring back souvenirs to show my school community that a person of color born from similar beginnings has a place in this traveling space and there is so much more to see than the radius of your neighborhood or school. 

I always wonder what others have seen in me that have led me to receive lots of awards for my contributions in education, including the national Milken Educator Award. I think that I stand out because of my unwavering passion for the field of education and travel and for all whom I serve, my unwavering confidence in my life’s purpose, and my self-drive in all aspects of life. No matter what I am doing in my professional and personal life, I am all in, which not only produces positive results but also becomes truly infectious to others. Believing wholeheartedly in myself instills confidence in others. I think my passion, confidence, and self-drive has led to many opportunities and accomplishments. However, it is important to me that I lift others as I climb myself. For example, it is important for me to bring others to the table so that they can contribute as well. I have been told that I inspire others to go after their goals not only by encouraging them but by also leading by example. I think that a critical part of being able to inspire others is my ability to establish and strengthen relationships, whether that is with students, staff, parents, my own friends, or my travel followers. Passion + confidence + self drive = one unstoppable person.

I am most excited about my impact through representation. For students, that means literally being an example to them of what success looks like (coming from the community). I was able to show my students that they can do it!! There is nothing like having not just knowledge, but the full experiences that your students experience as well — from the bus route we take, the bodega we eat at, the music we dance to, and more deeply, the challenges we face. For travelers, that means motivating others to take the leap of faith to travel, who may have been inhibited by their identity of being Black, plus size and/or female. One can also show that one can work full-time and still travel part-time — there is no need to quit your job in order to live your best travel life. I share my stories, I share tips, I share guides to provide people with the tools to do so. The best way to motivate is by showing. When people see themselves in you, then they believe that they can do it too!

Considering that we are at the brinks of revolution, I do not want to miss the opportunity to speak of the challenges I have faced as a Black woman. I am a minority in almost every way: Black, Black woman, a Black bi-racial woman, a Black bi-racial plus-size woman, a Black bi-racial plus-size, left-handed woman. Notice the complexity of my identity, and as a result, the challenges that come with these identities continue to build as I add a layer. For example, I was exposed to struggles around race beginning at the age of 6 when I experienced a microaggression that continues to the present day, “You have nice hair. What are you?” followed by “Are you Dominican? Puerto Rican?” which enforces certain assumptions about Blackness with hair texture and skin color. Or fast forward 26 years and I’m followed (not the 1st time) around as I shop because I am Black. There are plenty of experiences both in my personal and professional life that I can highlight racism. It has taken a period of heightened racial injustices for people to finally realize how messed up that is and finally make an effort to finally amplify our voices and stories. Those challenges become life lessons and have built a strength that is incomparable! I do also want to unpack the added layer of being plus size. Growing up, I was always what many would consider fatter, curvier, thicker {insert your own adjective} than most people in my circle of friends. As a result, I struggled to accept my Black and curvy body, let alone exude confidence in a country such as the United States where people are often shamed for being Black and/or thick. As much as seeing Black travelers around the world gives me life, seeing thicker curvaceous travelers is still lacking comparatively. Being a Black AND plus-size traveler has brought its own unique set of experiences. Imagine sitting in a 14-hour flight to India with your hips feeling completely smooshed against the seat dividers in an exit row. Imagine also trying to request a seat with extra hip room on your way back home and getting not only pushback but also outright disrespect before being able to convince a flight attendant to switch your seat while already onboard the plane. Imagine feeling like prey as Indian men turn their heads a full 90 degrees to lustfully catch a glimpse of you as you walk the Taj Mahal. I, however, own my struggle and let it be a source of inspiration—one picture, one blog post at a time. My struggles are life lessons, they are stories of inspiration for others, they are reminders of how far I have come.

My brand evolves as I evolve and continue to find my purpose. My brand started off with me just wanting to share my travels through guides and itineraries because people would always ask me for tips about <insert place>. However, I have found a higher purpose beyond that, although I continue to do that. My purpose is to educate, my purpose is to inspire, my purpose is to raise awareness. I want to 1) help people travel more frequently while saving money through education on micro-cations 2) help Black people feel comfortable to travel in spaces they may not see themselves through explicitly showcasing my experience of “Traveling While Black & American” 3) For non-Black people, it is an opportunity to create awareness about my experience of traveling while Black in order to inspire them to be part of the fight against racism in the travel space 4) share my expertise on all things domestic travel | solo female travel | plus-size travel | Black travel.
I adjusted my logo recently to reflect the evolution of my brand. In my logo, you will find symbolism in the images and color Images: – A Black fist: representing the strength and power of traveling as a Black woman – A Crown: to represent that I am a Queen – a Black queen, a Micro-cation queen – A Map: I am spreading this Black power and #blackgirlmagic as I travel to one city, one state, one country at a time Color: – Yellow: represents feelings of happiness, positivity, and optimism from travel – Red: a color of passion, love, and adventure for all things travel – Black: a color of strength that comes from being a Black woman. I support Black all day every day — Black people, Black history & culture, Black businesses, Black creators

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Thursday 1. Grab early lunch at Taco El Carbon: The tortillas are homemade and the ingredients are fresh. Get the warm churros 2. Explore the Gaslamp Quarter: take a stroll in this neighborhood filled with many trendy restaurants, bars, and nightlife 3. Grab Dinner at Oscar Seafood (2:30-5:30 pm) for $1 fish tacos 4. Grab dessert at iDessert — extravagant ice cream dessert. Go all out and select the Vegas Bowl, which essentially comes with a smoke effect. 5. Catch a show at the San Diego Symphony

 Friday 1. Have a hearty breakfast at Richard Walker Pancake House — they have 8 different Belgian Waffle flavors and 25 different pancake flavors. I highly recommend the baked pancake. Also, arrive before 8:30 am to avoid the long lines. 2. Explore Balboa Park — there are 17 museums, a garden, and the San Diego Zoo! The zoo itself needs a full day to explore separately from the museums. 3. Grab dinner at Mitch’s Seafood: great spot because you get fresh, plentiful seafood for a decent price while getting views by the water. 4. Sing along at The Shout House (Piano Bar): The experience is very unique. I would describe it as a mix of freestyle and karaoke.
Saturday 1. Eat lunch at Salud: The tacos are made with fresh tortillas from the heart and soul of a middle-aged woman. Every taco is made to order from scratch! They also have an amazing dessert: churros with ice cream — churros so warm and filled with caramel. The ice cream is rich and soft. 2. Explore Barrio Logan Chicano Park nearby for vibrant street murals telling a story of the neighborhood’s history & culture 3. Visit La Jolla Cove and Beach: Did you really go to San Diego if you did not visit here? The views of cliffs, beaches, and animals for days will have you endlessly entertained. 4. Indulge in fresh Gelato from Bobboi Natural Gelato 5. Grab dinner at Phil’s BBQ: best to go closer to closing when there are no lines.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Mom: My mother is the biggest supporter and cheerleader in my life. There are not enough words to describe how she has supported and empowered me to be the woman that I am today. I continue to be in awe of her strength, her resiliency, her beauty, her intelligence, and her genuine heart that is exuded every day while raising me as a single mother. She is truly my rock. I think that I am a direct reflection of her, and I aim to be just even half the woman she is! I think that because it was just the two of us growing up, I have been her rock as well and we have successfully battled every challenge that has come our way. 

My Fiance: I am reminded every day that quality wins over quantity with my fiance, Andy. We have been together for over 3 years now (which will not compare to the time of my mom, haha!) but he has truly added vibrancy to my life — and I LOVE color. There is not a love that is so sweet, so pure, so genuine, so endless, so joyful than that of my fiance. He has been my biggest cheerleader in my personal and professional life. In fact, he is the one who pushed me to go forth with my blog and continue to chase my passion for traveling. He is the one who pushed me to take a leap of faith and travel solo to Morocco when I was scared. He is the one who is editing my blog posts behind the scenes in odd hours of the night. I don’t know how I could have gotten so lucky! I hope that I am that same cheerleader and foundation for him. I could not imagine life without him, my love for him is infinite.

Website: https://www.frannythetraveler.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/franny_the_traveler/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/princess-francois/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FrancoisLeads
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FrannytheTraveler
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/frannythetraveler/

Image Credits
Andy Estevez