Nomadness: The Most Influential Travel Experience of My Life – 2014 in Review

“There’s been an urging in my soul lately. One that is telling me to take off, to take flight, to wander as I wonder and to simply soar to my heart’s content. 

I recall sitting in a Colorado airport as I waited for the ladies of C.R.E.A.T.E. 2011 to arrive into town. I sat taking pictures of travelers and I felt this push inside. A woman who had been observing me for quite some time approached me, “Are you boarding the flight to Frankfurt too?” she asked.

I shook my head no. I had a gathering to spearhead. The ladies would be arriving soon. However, there was a huge part of me that wanted to just get on that flight to Frankfurt without even knowing what was on the other side. I didn’t need guarantees, assurance, or answers. I just wanted to follow my curiosity. I told some of my closest friends about this. I’m at a point in my life where, within a moments notice, I just want to go, need to go and will go.  Go anywhere.

…it sets my soul free. This is ONLY the beginning.

What I do know is that when your soul calls you, when it speaks and wants and desires and yearns for something, its in your interest to listen. And when you let go and release to allow space…. your dreams come rushing in. They literally come rushing in. Living life to the fullest isn’t for the faint of heart. Its for the bold and courageous. There are NO guarantees. There are NO promises and assurances. The path won’t always be clear. Doesn’t matter to me. I am up for the adventure.”

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I wrote the above in a 2011 post titled WANDERLUST. That urging has never left me. I have always felt a special urging when it involved travel. And when I do travel….well, as stated in 10 Things I’m Thankful For, “I see god when I travel.”

For years I have called myself a Bohemian Gypsy Wanderlust Soul. From camping trips in Missouri to road trips to Tennessee or beach days in Santa Monica or artist retreats in Colorado or silent retreats in upstate New York or theater programs in South Dakota, London or Berlin….I have always felt something special when I travel and I connect in a way to spirit, myself and others. For instance there is Finding God in the Cracks of Berlin or On Gods, Chanting and Sacrifices.

Therefore, as much as I can, I travel.

Last year I had the opportunity to travel to St Martin and St Barts on a romantic little getaway. I traveled to Portland, Maine with my friend for less than 48 hours just to take a picture of the lighthouse during a storm. I traveled to Chicago to hangout with my sister before her wedding and meet up with some friends.  Because of opportunities with my day job, I was able to travel to Vegas, stay at the Bellagio and attend Virtuoso Travel Week. I also traveled to DC to attend ASTA’s Business Travel Exchange conference.

Because of a project I’m managing, I was able to sail with Crystal Cruises from Nova Scotia to Bar Harbor, Maine to Boston, Massachusetts and then back to NY in a penthouse with a butler. And travel related, I had the opportunity to participate in a business immersion program involving the Park Hyatt New York and Andaz 5th Avenue hotel. Of course, it included an overnight stay at the Park Hyatt. (review coming soon!)

So you see, my year has included some wonderful experiences both for leisure and business as it relates to travel. In each instance I either learned something about myself, about others, about business and about the world at large.


However, by far, the most influential travel related experience I had this year was becoming an ACTIVE member of the Nomadness Travel Tribe. Nomadness is an urban travel movement that spans 9,000 members and over three dozen countries. According to our website,  “We’re the edgy, under represented demo in the international travel industry, and we’ve formed our own Tribe. In the invitation-only platform, we share stories, advice, photos and conversation about our personal experiences around the world. We are the new age travel movement!”

I had been a member for over a year but it wasn’t until the 2014 Annual Anniversary Party did I become ACTIVE, INVOLVED and contributing to the culture. What I noticed about the group forum was that everyone was connected, educated, informed and offered so many resources, feedback and assistance with any travel related topics. At the party, I met so many people who were just kind, open, outgoing and talkative. Little did I know I would arrive at the party at 9pm and not see my bed until 6am the next day. From what I remember, I went to three different after parties and had the time of my life with people I had just met.

nomadness travel tribe anniversary party

What followed the Anniversary Party, was what people called “TribeWeek”. It was a week of meet ups all around New York City, since so many local NY tribe members and global tribe members were in town. I went to 100+ brunches, dinner parties, an open mic night, a speakeasy and I even hosted a pole dance meet up. (I couldn’t resist!) We then had Thai dinner afterwards at one of my go to spots! See image below.

"Nomadness Travel Travel Meet Up" - sheenalashay.com

What followed after a week of non stop meet ups was the foundation for numerous friendships. From Marion to Kamara, Tamara, Noonie, Jenny, Nneka, Veronica, Michelle, Jean, and more. I had learned travel tips. I had attended an anniversary party. I went to some brunches. And then I found my tribe. I found the other Bohemian Gypsy Wanderlust Souls gallivanting around the globe under the hashtag #NomadnessTribe.

As Nomadness, the brand and movement continued to grow with ridiculous press such as ‘We Out Here’: Inside the New Black Travel Movement on The Daily Beast or the announcement that they had partnered with Issa Rae productionsmy friendships deepened with so many people in the tribe. I realized I was foregoing pole dance events and sometimes even date nights, to attend the NY Tribe Tattoo Party, or yet another night out at Apotheke. I found that every other story I told my other friends was about some encounter, event or convo with my Tribe friends. I also was kind of late on appointments and deadlines even. I blame the tribe. Although its all my responsibility. LOL!

"Nomadness at Atlantic Antic" - sheenalashay.com

I rang in the New Years with my core group of ladies. Noonie’s crazy ass, loved our core group so much that at her party she had special designated champagne glasses for us that were different from everyone else. #BlackCups. That’s how connected we are. While planning a Hampton’s weekend getaway, we realized we’d have to adjust the numbers when just our core group would potentially take up the first 10 spots! We were like, “That’s non negotiable! Tamara has to be there and Noonie and Nneka and Tamara and Davita and….” Tribe became family. They helped me create a packing list for my first cruise. They never knew this but they also helped me during a difficult time in my personal life. A breakup between a lover and another “breakup” between a family member.

And then January 16th, 2015 happened. During one of many international meet ups, this one in Panama a group of my friends from the tribe were involved in a horrific vehicular accident that involved them veering off and crashing down a cliff. Two members died. My friends DIED! Numerous were injured. Noonie sent pictures of her face and my heart broke. People were in surgery. Shit got real and shit was crazy and my heart. My friends. I just….life changed in seconds! We lost Nigel and Nneka. Are you fucking serious? Sometimes I’m in a state of disbelief but I know this is real.

News coverage can be found here and here and here and here and here. I have no fucking clue why American news outlets are not covering this story. It angers me!

But within a moment, 3 board members of our group flew to Panama, including the founder. Within 24 hours, we raised over $30,000 to assist families in everything from flying them to Panama to assisting with the repatriation of Nigel and Nneka’s body. There are HUGE costs when you die in a foreign country. Have you ever thought about what happens if you die in a foreign country? Within 48 hours our group mobilized, organized and made shit happen for our family. Numerous conversations were started ranging from insurance resources, emergency preparedness, the importance of passports for your family members….because they can’t come get your body in a foreign country, if they don’t have a passport!!!!! I mean, the tribe came together in a way that is beyond understanding.

I know when the press article dropped on the Daily Beast, inquiries to join our 9,000+ member group skyrocketed. I heard there were 4,000 people on the waitlist. This is because along with all the amazing things the tribe is, we also post a shit ton regarding travel deals, travel hacks and more. And people wanted in. But you need to know the tribe is more than a fucking travel deal group. The tribe is more than a place to get tips on where to find a cheap place to stay in the Bahamas. The tribe is more than a business network to try to boost sales with like-minded individuals. The tribe is a cultural movement and tribe is family. Think about that. For those who want to be a part of our group.

I had business to take care of this weekend. I had personal matters to attend to. I had a hot date planned with desires of mind blowing sex to be had. And I dropped everything Friday evening and spent the next 3 days holding requiem at my friend’s home. I was supposed to buy new fabric for my couch this weekend and instead I donated money to bring Nneka and Nigel’s body home. Can you fathom doing that? If not, no….the tribe is not for you.

Use Priceline.com to find a fucking deal. Join the tribe…which is currently invite-only, if you can invest blood, sweat and tears within a community. 

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 Travel has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I found my home. In a post titled Sanctuary published on 2007, I wrote, Sanctuary. This concept restores my faith. Sitting in Paris, it hit me the hardest. Sitting in the Basilica Du Sacre Couer (of the sacred heart), the place of peace. I felt it. Years ago, they would fall through the doors, clinging to what they could, crying out sanctuary. Lord save me, mostly from my sins and myself. Sanctuary. We all need a sanctuary. That sacred place to run to where you know at least God will meet me there.”

I stated earlier that I see god when I travel. I find a safe and sacred place called Sanctuary when I wander around the world. And I find sanctuary in the Tribe. In life, I’m not looking for guarantees, promised assurances or all the answers. I understand that that doesn’t even exist. But a sense of belonging, even as a self proclaimed gypsy is what I want. A sense that every where I go, I can experience god is what I want. A sense that sacred places exists everywhere and that whether I’m in Paris, Chicago or South Africa, I can put out a #TribeBatSignal which is our version of calling out for SANCTUARY. That’s what Nomadness is. Its not a travel deal group with cool people. Its sanctuary for family. A place where you are held, supported, pushed, challenged, called out on your shit, seen and loved.


I wrote in Explore, Choose Your Own Adventure, I want to play. I want to experiment. I want to try things, even if I mess up, fall on my face and make a fool of myself. I want for more adventures. I want to make discoveries. I want to LIVE fully, completely, wholeheartedly and without abandon. I want for passionate experiences that leave coy smiles on my face. I want bruises and scrapes because when explained it may have something to do with a mountain I had just tried to climb or from something far more sadistic and pleasurable….”

Because I believe in LIVING ON PURPOSE and experiences A Life of Your Own Design and because I believe you’ve got to live your OWN LIFE and because I believe you have ALL the POWER & ALL the RESPONSIBILITY for your life and  because I believe in MAGICI have continued to craft a life of adventure.

As much as I traveled for business and pleasure in 2014, I plan to increase it this year.

For work, conferences have me in Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC and Vegas. For work, I’ll be cruising and porting in Monte Carlo, Monaco; St Tropez, France; Sanary-sur-Mer, France; Mallorca/Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Valencia, Spain and Barcelona, Spain. I hear there is a #VZWBuzz Blogger Influence Summit in Boston that I’ll get to attend. Nomadness has the annual Anniversary Party and a conference this year. I have a tentative romantic staycation in one of my favorite Bohemian hotels. We’re planning a weekend Hampton’s retreat meet up retreat with tribe members. There’s my annual artist retreat. And most of all, I’m looking forward to attending one of the upcoming NomadnessX trips. Later this year a small group of us will be going to Phuket, Thailand and Chiang Mai. I’m definitely looking forward to attending Loi Krathong.

I plan on seeing god this year. Every where I go. I plan on being present. Getting dirty. And finding sanctuary even with the understanding that all of this is subject to impermanence. I’m so grateful for the tribe. I thought the craving in my soul both defined as wanderlust (a strong desire to wander and explore the world) and fernwah (the craving for distance places; the craving for travel) was some infliction, I suffered alone with. Now I realize there are 9,000 others blessed with this innate superpower too.

This post is dedicated to Nigel Christopher and Nneka Fritz. My heart is wounded but I know it will heal.

This post is dedicated to all my friends who experienced that tragedy first hand, who have a long road to recovery and wholeness. You have my support 24/7.

This post is dedicated to Nomadness.

#NoNomadLeftBehind #FamilyByChoice

6 days before her death, Nneka was filmed in a documentary with her Grandmother. I am going to miss the sound her her voice and the way her laugh filled my soul.

For Nneka… from Sabrina Thompson on Vimeo.

Addendum: We are still collecting donations to support every person & their family affected in this accident. If you would like to donate, please send a paypal donation to NomadnessX at gmail dot come.

"nomadness" - sheenalashay.com

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About
Sheena LaShay is a Wild Magical Woman, Intellectual Sensual Shaman and Cultural Provocateur. Keeping it simple, you could say she's a Writer and an Erotic Artist.
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