This week we’re sleeping with Keshia Walker, marketing maven and event planner extraordinaire. Keshia is the President and owner of Atlanta based Insights Marketing, one of the most sought after agencies in the industry. From planning intimate and private events for Beyonce to packing a New Orleans day party for COVERGIRL during the Essence Music Festival, Insights with Keshia at the helm, goes 100 mph and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. However, Keshia’s no fool, she treasures a work – life balance and to get her yin back in sync with her yang, she uses travel as the way to center herself. Packing and talking a mile a minute on her Blackberry, we were lucky enough to catch up with Keshia to get her insight on traveling around the world before she jetted off to Vegas.
WSA: Tell us where you’ve visited internationally in the past five years.
KW: Each year, at a minimum, I take two international trips to celebrate my birthday and another trip to bring in the New Year.
So over the past five years I’ve been to:
2011- Greece- Athens, Santorini & Mykonos
2010- Shanghai, China for the World Fair and Turks and Caicos
2009- Sidney, Australia and Nassau, Bahamas for Junkanoo
2008- Dubai, UAE and San Jose, Costa Rica
2007- Florence, Naples, and Rome Italy
2006 – Rio, Brazil
WSA: 90% of the time you are traveling to these places alone. As a solo traveler how do you plan for the trip?
KW: First, I call my local AAA office and ask them for recommended tours, tips, and if a visa is required. I also call American Express Travel to discuss tours and exchange rates for currency. I may book one tour before I leave the states, but I’ve found through my experiences you get better prices and more options once you arrive at your destination.
I always stop at the airport information counter and ask the hotel concierge for recommendations. Both provide great information on tours and things to do at some reasonable prices. I’ve also found that in the majority of cities I’ve traveled to, most tour companies will give you discounts if you purchase multiple tours.
WSA: What are five things we can find in your purse for a long flight?
- Gum- Trident Tropical Twist
- My Blackberry
- Sunglasses when I need to take a nap
WSA: What can’t you leave home without?
KW: At least $100 of the country dollars in hand where I’m traveling, my camera, bathing suit, and a pair of jeans for horseback riding.
WSA: What is your hotel of choice?
KW: Hilton. I’m a Diamond member and their hotel brands and executive lounges are the BEST around the world.
WSA: Among your travels what city has impacted you the most?
KW: I can’t name just one! My top choice would be Cape Town, South Africa. The beauty, diversity and landscape remind me of Hawaii, Miami and San Francisco all wrapped up in one.
The history of Soweto, South Africa literally took my breath away. Knowing what our brothers and sisters had to deal with under apartheid made me both numb and speechless. I still feel the pain as I think about it right now!
I also had an experience of a lifetime when I visited the country of Botswana. I went to the Wild Life Reserve, let me tell you, to see live and almost touch the Big Five game – lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo, was absolutely AMAZING! It was unbelievable, I can’t put it in words.
WSA: You’ve stayed in many hotels around the world. Which one has impressed you beyond measure?
KW: The Burg Al Arab, it’s a 7 star Hotel in Dubai. The service was remarkable! I can’t compare it to anywhere else I’ve been. I also have to mention the Paradisus in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
WSA: So, where’s the next adventure?
KW: I have a few places that I’ve been planning for. Singapore is at the top of the list to visit my brother who has recently moved there. I also want to visit Accra, Ghana, I want to see and walk our history. Egypt or Nairobi, Kenya are on the list for the next year. Also, I’ve been going back and forth between Antarctica or Panama to bring in the New Year.
WSA: It’s a little known secret that you carry a portable CD player when you travel. Have you converted to a mp3 player yet?
KW: (Laughs) No. I still have the CD player and I did carry it to Greece, but with my busy schedule, I didn’t have time to use it!
WSA: Last question, PJ’s or in the buff?
KW: Cute PJ’s!