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How Travel Influencer Francesca Murray Gained a Global Perspective

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Have you ever dreamt of spending your days traveling the world, tasting new cuisines, and meeting new people? For travel content creators like Francesca Murray, this isn’t a fantasy—it’s just a day on the job. And while it may not always be as glamorous as it seems (airport security is a drag no matter where in the world you are), Francesca wants creators of all backgrounds to know that a life full of travel could be their reality, too.

We caught up with Francesca for everything from travel beauty hacks to must-see destinations. Keep reading to learn how one girl’s wanderlust led to a lifestyle of adventure and, unexpectedly, a new appreciation for her own beauty.

Growing up Global

Today, Francesca is a travel and beauty expert with an astute eye on the travel industry. But before living a life exploring the world and gaining a loyal following on Instagram, Francesca had already developed a global perspective as an Afro-Latina girl growing up in Los Angeles.

“Growing up in LA was amazing, but it was not the version of LA that you get on TV shows, like The Hills,” says Francesca. “It was very diverse. I always went to schools with a majority Black, Asian, and Latinx demographic. My environment exposed me to different cultures early on, which sparked my interest in traveling and meeting people from different walks of life.”

As a child, Francesca spent time at friends’ houses eating mole prepared by their abuelas and in Filipino households where the food and culture were totally different. She learned to appreciate her eclectic and diverse environment, even in her own family.

“My grandmother was Garifuna from Honduras,” she says. “She was very proud and ensured that we knew where we came from, our culture, and our heritage. On the other side, my grandparents on my father's side were from Boston and had a vibrant Black American culture, and they had a strong identity and their traditions—just as much as the Latino side of my family.”

Beauty Without Boundaries

Francesca has that sort of carefree swagger that you’d expect from a well-traveled woman, and like the global perspective she learned at home, her family also fostered her confidence. “I feel like I’m tapping into my grandma, who always wore her signature scent and was never seen without red lipstick,” says Francesca. “As a teenager, though, it was harder [to feel confident]. Despite having those influences at home, society didn’t reflect that back to me. Even if my mom did her best to tell me that I was beautiful regardless of my skin tone, I’d still go to school and see the posters of the girls on a boy's locker and realize I didn’t look like that. Even watching music videos on BET or MTV—I didn’t look like any of those girls. It's been a long journey of constantly redefining what I find to be beautiful, and many of my self-confidence and views on beauty today have been shaped by my travel experiences.”

For Francesca, it took immersing herself in another culture to appreciate her natural hair: “When I was growing up, we all hit an age where it was either time to get a relaxer or start getting your hair pressed. It was a right of passage, and at that time, natural hair wasn’t celebrated unless you had very loose curls. So I started getting my hair pressed straight every two weeks for years until I moved to Martinique to teach English. The humidity would not allow my hair to be straight, and curly textured hair is the norm there. It’s a majority-Black nation, and it allowed me to learn how to manage my hair and experiment with it in a new environment. So my natural hair journey started from necessity, but it was great to see a place where the beauty standard influenced me to embrace my hair.”

One Girl, One World

Francesca started her beauty, travel, and lifestyle blog, One Girl One World, in 2014, but her journey began sometime before that. “I started another blog in 2011 before I launched One Girl One World, but nobody was being paid to travel at that point,” she says. “It seemed so outlandish, and my mentors were encouraging me to get a real job [in my degree field of journalism and public relations]. So I got a job doing celebrity PR, but I kept blogging on the side because I had a desire to share my stories. It took years for it to start to look like something I could really do, but I was just so passionate back then. In today's creator economy, everyone feels like they can become a sensation overnight, but my passion for storytelling fueled me.”

Francesca was also fueled by her desire to change the travel conversation for Black people, so when an opportunity came to live abroad, she quit her celebrity public relations job to pursue a more nomadic life. For generations, travel was viewed as a luxury by the Black community, only to enjoy after reaching other landmarks in life. “There was no large-scale Black travel movement like you see now,” Francesca explains. “I desperately wanted to see more black people traveling—and I wanted to use myself as an example.”

“I wanted to show other Black American women that you can go and move to France for a year, and you'll be just fine,” she says. “I also wanted to prove to women that they could go solo traveling somewhere and have a great experience. It sounds silly to say, ‘be the change you want to see in the world,’ but I really did want to see that change. I’m so happy and proud now to see thousands of Black people traveling. If you look at #BlackTravel, it is full of so many movements and platforms now that didn’t even exist 10 years ago.”

Life on the Go

Overpackers, take a sigh of relief. According to Francesca, you don’t have to be Team Carry-On to travel well. “Carry-on bags were fine until I became a skincare girly,” she says. “When I hit 30, I didn’t want to compromise my four- or five-step routine, so it all has to come with me. Sometimes I’ll use travel sizes, depending on how long I’m traveling. The checked bag is worth the sacrifice because the last thing you want as a traveler is to run out of your go-to skincare or hair care—especially with natural hair.”

Francesca never travels without her FELICIA LEATHERWOOD Detangler Brush and CAMILLE ROSE Coconut Water Leave-In Conditioner. She’s also a huge fan of the ORIBE Moisture & Control collection for curls and coils. When it comes to skincare, Francesca has taken a tip from the French and calls micellar water her holy grail. “It's a game changer, and it washes your face without soap and water. I was initially skeptical, but I was shocked at how well it worked for my skin. I always carry micellar water just in case I have a lazy night.”

She also swears by BIOSSANCE Squalane + Zinc Mineral Sunscreen. “This sunscreen had me shook because you know how it goes—nine times out of 10 there is a white cast. This mineral sunscreen is the closest I’ve seen to achieving full transparency, and if you wear foundation over it, it's undetectable.” Her final suggestion: FENTY BEAUTY Butta Drop Whipped Oil Body Cream. “It's a bit expensive, but the consistency is something I’ve never seen before. It’s so hydrating and leaves a glow without being greasy.”

Travel Influencing 101

Becoming a travel influencer sounds like a lofty goal, especially if you’re starting with a new platform. Still, Francesca found a few ways to make travel accessible to her before the partnerships came rolling in. “After college, I decided to take a year abroad and taught English in a town in France,” she says. “They paid a small stipend that was enough to pay rent and travel on weekends”

Some influence for fun, but in order to deliver content that we love, many choose to influence as their full-time careers. Francesca is one of them. While many influencers partner with brands, restaurants, and hotels (which are still on the table for Francesca), her primary partnerships come from tourism boards.

“There are many revenue streams and business plans for travel creators,” she says. “Some sell e-books, courses, or plan trips. In my case, I work with tourism boards. Every city, state, and most countries have boards responsible for bringing tourists and managing those efforts in the city, and many work with influencers like myself. They’ll hire me to come for a few days and give me an itinerary of properties, museums, or activities they want to highlight. I always try to get in a few activities my audience will appreciate. Like a natural hair event that I recently attended in Paris.”

Francesca has been all over the world and credits Paris as her favorite city, but there’s an overlooked country that is high on her list: the Cook Islands. “It’s so beautiful,” she says. “It has a stunning Polynesian culture, and the native people have ownership of the island. Unlike other places in the Caribbean, you won’t see everything bought and controlled by foreigners. They’re still very connected to their roots, and it was a great experience for me.”

For anyone debating if they should book the flight, Francesca wants you to go for it! “We see travel as a luxury used for escape and all of these flashy things on social media, but I want people to understand how transformative it can be—especially for Black women. It can change you as a person for the better when you take the time to talk to the locals, maybe watch TV or a film where you are, and discover a favorite musician in the area. Allowing myself to be inspired and influenced by different cultures expanded my perception of what it means to be Black. So often, we’re placed in boxes, but meeting people from all over the Black diaspora with different interests and backgrounds shows how diverse we are. We are not a monolith. It’s beautiful, and it’s inspiring.”

Interested in learning from more inspiring people? Check out more Beauty Through The Black Lens and read how Hannah Harris is redefining inclusion online, how makeup artist Danessa Myricks created such a coveted brand, and learn about the creator behind @themelaninchemist on Instagram. Ready to take your beauty game to the next level? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get in on the IPSY Glam Bag fun! Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
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Kindra Moné
Kindra Moné is a writer and content creator who works with brands and magazines to create culturally relevant fashion and beauty content. She is also the founder of The Moné Edit: a community and podcast at the intersection of style and wellness.
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Article Last Updated July 20, 2022 12:00 AM