Ton travels and collects priceless memories on solo adventures
It was Saint Augustine who once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” This quote continues to resonate in the heart of Tonya Williams. Seeing the rest of the world up close and personal was always something Williams dreamed of doing one day. The fact that this wanderlust brings her vibrant personality when documenting the adventures is a worthy ‘brawta’ for her attentive audience.
Growing up, young Williams went back and forth between Jamaica and Trinidad, courtesy of her parents. These trips, which started as early as one or two years, provided the simple pleasures of checking in on flights and indulging in meals on the plane.
“I always loved it. And as I grew and travelled, I loved it even more,” she told The Gleaner. That initial taste of travel had this island girl craving more cultural experiences outside of the Caribbean.
So she did just that, setting her annual itinerary to include an unknown city or country to tour.
So how exactly did she go from flying with family and friends to becoming a solo traveller? That happened by chance, and it was a lesson that has stayed with her.
Visiting Australia with family and friends, she recounted the enjoyment she felt among the sights and the people. She even went on to attend university in the country.
While there, she planned a girls’ trip to Bali with a few of her friends, but at the last minute, they all bailed. Although disappointed, that didn’t stand in the way of ‘little miss adventure-seeker’. “They all slowly fell out, and I decided that I was going anyway. I went by myself and it was the best experience ever,” she said.
Since then, she has followed through on the promise she made to herself to travel somewhere new and exciting every year by herself.
Her all-time favourite place to visit locally is Negril, “I usually take the Knutsford Express bus and head down there. I love that there are a variety of boutique hotels and villas to stay at, restaurants to try out, and activities to do. I am absolutely obsessed with everything Negril.”
Internationally, Williams is a big fan of South-East Asia, except for Singapore. “I love Bali. On my first solo trip, I got to skybike. My favourite country is Malaysia because it feels like Jamaica. It was nice seeing a twist in the culture,” she added.
So going on solo trips was one thing. Our globetrotter wanted other Jamaicans and Caribbean nationals to experience this same thrill of exploring countries outside of the region. So she began providing travel content via social media. And this became her avenue of promotion and motivation.
Based on her findings and experience, she discovered that there was a stigma attached to travel costs. “People think that it’s outrageously expensive and they would not be able to do it,” she shared.
In her posts on Ton Travels, the content creator gives a breakdown of how much it costs and shows how to go about visiting places step by step, giving people an opportunity they didn’t know they had. “There are so many different ways to experience another country without breaking the bank,” she added.
The feedback has been amazing so far, overwhelming to the point where she is unable to sometimes keep up with her followers. But she is trying to get back into the groove of catching flights, seeing sights, and helping people discover the world this year.
Many aren’t aware that before she became an official travel content creator, she zoomed in on the ‘flora and fauna’ all across the world with her business Country Run, a company that offers local excursion planning, international travel planning, itinerary planning, and different visa services.
Budget travel was an important component to incorporate into the business because the travel entrepreneur wanted the younger generation especially to gain access to the world without feeling too bad for not making enough money to engage in luxury travel. “You can do it in such a ‘boujee’ way that people can’t tell that it’s budget travelling. It just takes a little more time, research, and planning. But it is not out of reach,” Williams declared.
Despite not being in her own country at the time, travelling gives her a sense of belonging. It gives her a greater appreciation for other cultures, as well as her own.
On her bucket list are plans to go to Peru and Tanzania this year. “I would love to go back to south-east Asia and visit Cambodia and Vietnam,” she says.
The hope is to see more young Jamaicans travelling and returning with open perspectives. Even though doing things the Jamaican way is great, there are things we can learn from other cultures that can positively impact our nation.
Outside of travelling, Williams is a digital marketer and she is currently one of the contestants on the second season of the online reality series, The Social House.