Francesca Murray is no newbie to Caribbean travel. Originally from Los Angeles, California, Francesca first visited the Caribbean on a family trip to Jamaica when she was a child. Since then, she had an interest to return and explore the rest of the Caribbean.
While attending university, Francesca came across a program offered by her school to teach English in Martinique. Not knowing much about Martinique at the time, she thought it would be a great opportunity to learn about the Caribbean’s “Island of Flowers”. Without hesitating, she jumped right on it. Her life was changed forever.
As an American freelance journalist and blogger who has lived in Martinique for almost two years, Francesca Murray continues to make her mark in on Caribbean tourism. Last year she wrote and published the world’s first English e-guidebook for travelers to Martinique.
Written from an American local’s perspective, the e-guidebook was inspired by the challenges Francesca encountered when searching for relevant travel information about Martinique in the English language. To solve that problem, she created a travel guide and made it available for others who also had the same issue. Currently available on Amazon and her blog www.onegirl-oneworld.com, her comprehensive 80-page e-guidebook contains a list of things to do in major areas, restaurant recommendations, suggested Airbnb accommodations, safety tips, as well as French and Creole phrases.
Having Martinique as a home base has given her the opportunity to further explore and fall in love with the Caribbean as she’s visited and published travel stories about Barbados, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia, Puerto Rico and Anguilla.
With her great storytelling ability, Francesca has also had her work featured in LIAT Airline’s ZING Magazine which is available in print as well as online. You can view her recently published article, The Expert’s Guide to Martinique: Where to eat, drink, play, and lime via the following link: http://ta-emags.com/V1/Zing/Z38/.
Fascinated with the work she does to promote travel to the Caribbean, we decided to interview Francesca Murray.
1. Who on earth starts their own travel blog?
I’m a writer by nature and have been blogging since I was a teenager. I decided to take the plunge and start my professional travel blog as an outlet for my travels and a way to put my journalism degree to good use, but on my own terms! That was 2014 when I started my travel blog One Girl One World in 2014, although I had been blogging long before that.
2. What kind of traveler are you?
I’m a traveler who loves to engage in local life. I tend to travel “slowly,” spending an extended period of time in a place so I can really get a feel for what life is like. I’m a culture fanatic and I love learning different languages so I can communicate with the people. While resorts and luxury are fabulous, I’ll always make time to break away and visit the local hangouts no matter where I stay.
3. What was your most recent Caribbean trip?
I spent a week in Barbados and I loved it! I was there with my partner who is also a photographer and we had a great time exploring and eating fried fish! We even did a road trip.
4. Do you have a favorite Caribbean destination and why?
I feel inclined to say Martinique because it’s the island that stole my heart and gave me so many opportunities. However, Dominica really took the cake for me. I went there not knowing what to expect because it isn’t as popular as some of the neighboring islands like Saint Lucia, but I went and it was the most unique destination I’ve ever visited – and I’ve seen over 20 countries!
5. Any extraordinary experiences during your Caribbean travels?
I’ve had so many extraordinary experiences, but since I mentioned Dominica I’ll start there. The people were so friendly and genuinely nice and didn’t want anything from us. We got picked up while walking along the road, people shared fruits with us and even gave us samples of their food – all without asking for a single penny. It was also incredible to meet some of the indigenous people of the island, the Caribs (now known as the Kalinago).
6. Is there anywhere you visited in the Caribbean that did not live up to your expectations?
I haven’t had this experience yet, but it could be because I like to travel deeper and take a country for what it is. I do my best not to hold places to my American standards or make that comparison and it usually helps. The only time I get disappointed is when it’s easier to find a burger than a local dish!
7. How do you prepare for a trip?
I try not to do too much research in advance, because I like asking around for advice once I get there. It enriches the experience and makes it more of an adventure. I do try to read a few blogs and find out what some “must do” activities are though. Something I always advise travelers to do is not expect that everyone will speak English. You have to at least have Google Translate, because it’s so important to be able to communicate!
8. You capture some stunning photos of the destinations you visit. You make it look so easy!
I’m very fortunate that my partner is a photographer, so that helps! I’m also good at taking photos because I have an eye for what people like to see on social media, so it’s a mix of professional style photos and pictures I’ve taken myself. I usually let the destination speak for itself – which means almost no selfies!
9. Your Blog is One Girl One World. Are you always on your own?
I travel with my partner, and occasionally solo.
10. What favorite picture would you like to share with us from one of your Caribbean trips?
This was taken in Anses D’arlet, Martinique. I just love this photo because it captures the joy I feel when I’m at the beach. I also think it represents how unique Martinique is as a travel destination – where else can you go directly from the church to the water? (the building behind me is a cathedral)
11. Which Caribbean country ranks highly on your bucket list?
St. Vincent and the Grenadines! It looks phenomenal. Cuba is also high up there, probably in the #1 spot!
12. Do you have any general travel tips you would like to share with us?
Don’t be afraid to travel in low season – you often get the best rates and less tourists.
13. What is your advice to others who want to work and travel around the Caribbean?
I would say expect people to be friendly, but in their own way. The less expectations you have of people the better. I’ve come across people who I automatically judged as unfriendly because they didn’t greet me with a big smile or they said hello without asking how I was doing – but then they turned out to be the kindest person! It’s all about respecting the local culture and understanding that people are not there to serve you, but usually willing to help you in any way they can if you are respectful.
14. What makes your approach to blogging different?
They say word of mouth is the best advertising money can buy – and with social media/blogging, this is amplified because each story comes with pictures and visuals. I have become a trusted resource on Caribbean travel ever since my solo trip to Puerto Rico in 2015. Many people tell me that they booked a trip because of my advice, and that I encouraged them to visit the Caribbean differently. The same is true for Martinique. I give advice the way a friend would recount their stories after an amazing getaway and it is valuable because it allows visitors to picture themselves in your destination and eventually book it.
Also, as an American woman of color, I feel that I can reach a broader audience because I can relate to a wide group of people, especially at a time like this because the Black Travel Movement is huge! (See http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/15/africa/black-travel-discriminatory/index.html)
15. Where to next?
Aside from heading back to Martinique? My goal is to visit every island in the Caribbean! We’ll see which one comes next!