Wanda Duncan just never slows down. Whether that’s in reference to her non-stop traveling life or her constant new creations with her work…Wanda Duncan is taking the world by storm.
She was a finalist for the Trailblazer Award at the 2021 Bessie Awards. Before that, she created and hosted the International Black Women Travel Jubilee, established the Black Women Travel Awards, launched the Black Women Travel Podcast, and built a thriving international community for Black women digital nomads.
And all of that has happened within the past 4 years.
She is a trailblazer, a community builder, a creator, and so much more.
Meet Wanda Duncan. I promise you’ll be inspired by her tireless efforts and extraordinary passion for uplifting those around her. She’s one woman you want within your orbit!
Digital Nomad Life Challenges and Opportunities
Wanda first tried to leave the US for long-term travel in 2010. To sum it up: she learned a lot of lessons in that first attempt.
“I traveled HEAVY in a lot of ways. I was back in the States after nine months and had lots to chew on,” she explains. But the idea stuck with her and she applied those lessons.
And now, Wanda has been a full-time digital nomad since the end of 2015.
“In the past five years, I’ve experienced personal growth and professional clarity. The two have often gone hand in hand, and it’s a process I’ve come to relish in,” she says. “It’s tested everything I thought I knew about myself and put me in situations where I could learn more. But ultimately, I’ve been able to create my dream life where I can be my whole self.”
She has some sound advice for anyone considering the digital nomad life: “I’d say, first, IT’S POSSIBLE! Once you understand that part and have conversations with yourself about your deeper fears, you give yourself the space to think through the way forward, step by step.”
Of course, there’s always a bit of a learning curve when you try a new lifestyle.
“A big question, I think, is how do you want your day-to-day to feel?” she suggests. “Understanding the feelings that are driving you can act as a guide as you experiment with the many ways to nomad, and find the best situation for you.”
Creating Community and Holding Space
After a few years on the road, Wanda created the Black Women Digital Nomad Entrepreneurs Facebook group. It was back in 2017, and she didn’t see a community dedicated to Black women digital nomads.
“I’m a gatherer of people,” she explains. “I love getting people in the same room and the magic that can happen from those interactions. So I thought it’d be nice for us to have a space to share and connect. I’d met a few Black Women nomads in my travels, asked them if they’d find a group useful, and it’s grown from there.”
Indeed it has grown. Now with over 1700 members, BWDNE is an active, supportive space for exactly the types of connections Wanda first craved and envisioned for others.
“What I love most about the group is that it’s so diverse,” she says. “There are Black women of different skin tones, body types, hair textures, cis and trans experience, ages, differently-abled, spiritual beliefs, sexual identity, mothers and wives, or purposefully single and childless, birth countries, different stages of their nomad journeys, and even with different nomad goals.”
Bringing together such a diverse group of women around the world is already an impressive feat. But while Wanda says she originally wanted to passively hold space for this group, she started seeing that the group needed more of her. She had to find more ways to actively show up.
Finding New Ways to Connect with Black Women Travelers
Creating a community space can be a labor of love. But Wanda certainly didn’t slow down after creating the Black Women Digital Nomad Entrepreneurs group. In 2019, she launched the Black Women Travel Podcast, which she says is her heart.
“I created the Black Women Travel Podcast to develop deeper conversations around who each individual Black woman is, and how she’s literally showing up in the world,” Wanda shares.
“It’s like listening in on an intimate conversation of two women sitting at the kitchen table. I think the personal nature of the podcast catches people off-guard. The title is sexy right? Black Women Travel. So I guess some people think it’s going to reflect that glossy Instagram travel culture and talk about travel hacks, destination tips, and favorite luggage brands. But I go deep with each guest to uncover her story of the world she came from, how she keeps herself, and the life and work she’s chosen through a series of decisions.”
She continues, “Representation has been the cornerstone of the podcast so that someone listening says, ‘Yeah, me too,’ or maybe has an aha moment or a sense of belonging.” She wants listeners to feel encouraged to take action in their own lives through hearing the stories of women who are figuring their lives out within a travel landscape.
“What’s been surprising for me is to hear from people who aren’t Black women who listen to and/or support the show’s Patreon,” says Wanda. “Particularly when you’re in the first years of putting a project out into the world, it’s powerful to know that it travels and transcends beyond your intended community.”
Building Bigger with the International Black Women Travel Jubilee
“Since starting the BWDNE Facebook group, I’d wanted to get together with the ladies,” Wanda says. “I called it the Gathering of Giants, but I never made it happen. After launching the Black Women Travel Podcast in 2019, and connecting every week with so many amazing Black women travelers, content creators, and digital nomads, the idea to do a conference reignited.”
The plan was to host the very first International Black Women Travel Jubilee in 2020. Unfortunately, we all know what happened next.
But Wanda just never slows down!
She shifted the gathering to a virtual event focused on actionable, digestible content that centered as much on strategy as it did on mindset.
“Organizing this event brought a lot of things into focus for me,” Wanda says. “I’m happy to continue to cultivate and learn how to better nourish Black women-only spaces. And more than ever, making room for Black women travelers to uplift other Black women travelers.”
She continues: “Black women face specific challenges to getting our work noticed and recognized by industries and algorithms that have always benefitted from our creative genius and labor, but don’t usually give us our props.”
And so, she created yet another project to support and uplift those voices: The Black Women Travel Awards.
“The awards are an effort to acknowledge that work,” Wanda explains. “It’s a message to each creator — and the world at large — that our very beings are important, and our contributions are undeniable. We’re recognizing how far we’ve come, all that we are, and that we’re publicly in support of one another individually and collectively as we’re on our paths to more.”
A Finalist for the Trailblazer Award at the Bessie Awards
In the 3rd Annual Bessie Awards, Wanda Duncan was a finalist for the Trailblazer Award. This award recognizes a woman in the travel industry as a go-getter who has thrived in the past year in building her own empire and carving out a path for future leaders in the travel space.
In sharing her news of the nomination, Wanda wrote:
“Between our Black Women Digital Nomad Facebook group, the weekly Black Women Travel Podcast, and the International Black Women Travel Jubilee annual conference, I’ve wanted to show each and every Black girl and woman traveler, that’s she’s capable of figuring it out. She can travel for as long as she chooses, make money how she wants, craft the lifestyle that she desires, and she’s not alone in that process. My work largely is about connecting dots around the globe: ideas, people, and opportunities for collaboration and income.”
Support Wanda’s Work
As with all content creators and entrepreneurs, you can help support Wanda’s efforts in a variety of ways.
Connect with Wanda and show your support by following her on social:
- BWT Podcast Twitter
- BWT Podcast Facebook
- BWT Podcast Instagram
- BWT Podcast LinkedIn
- IBWTJ Twitter
- IBWTJ Facebook
- IBWTJ Instagram
- IBWTJ LinkedIn
- If you’re a Black Woman Digital Nomad Entrepreneur, join her Facebook group.
Brands, sponsor her work through partnerships or grants. Wanda is open to speaking opportunities to connect with different communities, too.
Leave ratings and reviews for her podcast on Apple or Stitcher.
Share this story and amplify her voice in your networks and beyond.
Wanda also says, “I’m always looking for interesting stories to tell on the Black Women Travel Podcast and I love connecting! If any of this tugged on your soul, find me in the innanet streetz!”
As Always, She’s Paying it Forward
I asked Wanda who inspires her in the travel and tourism space.
“I love this question!” she shouted. “I have a strong three who are lighthouses in my world.” She says, in no particular order, they are:
We could all be more like Wanda Duncan, uplifting and amplifying each other’s work. So share names and links for women who inspire you in the comments below.
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