Jessica Nabongo Has Seen Every Country, But a Few Really Stand Out

The travel writer and photographer looks forward to honoring past relationships and finding new perspectives in familiar places.

Author, blogger, influencer Jessica Nabongo stands on a balcony in Cuba

Jessica Nabongo says she loves the beauty of the people in Cuba.

Photo by Wes Walker

Revenge travel is out (in fact, it never really felt “in” to us). Instead, this year we’re all about reconnection travel, which is proving to be the top reason for travel postpandemic. After a tough few years, people are going out into the world again with real excitement—and purpose. So we interviewed 11 globe-trotting celebrities to find out what “reconnection” means to them, whether that’s hitting the road solo, feasting through Italy, gallivanting with old friends, paying tribute to loved ones who’ve passed, or making an all-important visit to mom.

Jessica Nabongo is the first black woman to visit every country, but as she says below, there are a few that have a special pull on her—and one where she plans to honor a special anniversary this year.

What place is calling you back?

I just came back from Cuba yesterday, and I was there for the first time since 2018. There’s just a pull for me there. It’s the beauty of the people, the beauty of the place. Japan is also calling me. I actually lived there for a year—moved there in 2008, left in 2009—so I’m really hoping to get back and be able to experience it as a completely new person. Fourteen years? Oh my God. Oh my God, I just can’t imagine—what would it be like? I’m very curious about that experience.

What place feels like home, even if it’s not where you’re from?

Recently, I’ve been feeling very energetically connected to some places—Bahia in Brazil; Havana, Cuba; Dakar, Senegal. These are places where I go and immediately feel at ease. There’s people there that feel like home. For me, home is in people.

Are you planning trips to reconnect? If so, how?

The twentieth anniversary of my father’s death is May 17th, so my mom and I are planning to go to Uganda, and I’m bringing some friends. Uganda was the last country I went to before the shutdown; I left there at the end of February 2020. Obviously it will be emotional, but I’m excited to be there with my mom and reconnect with family there, and also to show Uganda to my friends. A lot to be excited about!

Jessica Nabongo, the first Black woman to travel to every country in the world, and author of the book and blog The Catch Me if You Can (National Geographic, 2022)

Read more from our Reconnection Travel series.

Kaitlin Menza is a Taipei-based writer who covers lifestyle, politics, pop culture, and social issues. You can find her work at
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