A couple of Southern sisters are turning their love for the Caribbean into a travel business, creating trips to Jamaica that go beyond your typical tours.
When I started this blog, I set out with the goal of inspiring more black Americans to travel. More and more, though, I’m running into brothers and sisters who inspire me.
Meet Deloria Pride Chubbs and Radiah Fletcher.
Deloria came up in a family that didn’t travel a lot. Radiah’s family had her traveling practically from birth. When these two met in grade school, they became life-long friends — and travel partners. And they both fell in love with the Caribbean, especially Jamaica.
Between them, they’ve been back to the island so many times, they could be forgiven for feeling like expats. And having caught the travel bug themselves, they eagerly infected others with the same wanderlust.
“We’ve been traveling together with a group of about seven or eight ladies,” Radiah says. “Some of them are my family members and some are friends. We’ve been traveling together for 12 years.”
Now, Deloria and Radiah are teaming up to create tours of their own. And both want to share their love of and familiarity with Jamaica with travelers.
The result is the PluPerfect Travel Boutique, which Deloria launched last spring in Atlanta.
“I’ve been planning trips for people over the last decade, simply as a hobby,” she tells IBIT. “No pay involved, just something I enjoyed doing, all the ins and outs, from initiation to closure. I had friends telling me, ‘I don’t know why you don’t have a business.’ ”
Well, now she does, as a home-based travel agent affiliated with the KHM Travel Group.
The name she chose for her agency, the PluPerfect Travel Boutique, is a carefully chosen expression of her approach.
“I wanted the name to reflect a small, intimate, personalized service, so that’s where I got ’boutique.’ I stumbled on a definition of pluperfect that said ‘better than perfect.’ That’s what I want my agency to be. I want to go the extra mile so I can provide true, personalized service.”
She prides herself on really getting to know her clients and going beyond their expectations. Little things like setting up email trivia contests keying on the theme of a tour or the destination, complete with prizes, “to keep them engaged and excited even before their trip.”
“I want to know my clients inside and out. I try to inject something fun for my clients into the planning process itself, before they even get to their vacation.”
Both Deloria and Radiah are on the same mission I am, to get more African-Americans to start traveling.
“It’s a good idea to broaden your horizons and know what’s going on in other places,” Radiah says. “We both know lots and lots of people who have never left home.”
As important as it is for black folks to know the world, however, she thinks it may be equally or even more important for the world to get to know “us.” The real “us,” which goes far beyond the image projected via television, movies and music videos.
“When you have a presence in the world, people get to know you,” she says. “The myths about who we are start to disappear.”
To that end, Deloria is putting together group tours to Jamaica, a place she has come to know well.
“We’re going to be promoting opportunities for people to get into the cultural life outside the resorts,” she says.
One of the hallmarks of the tours she designs is giving travelers a chance to connect with local people and the culture of the destination, an idea that began with her first Jamaican visit years ago, when she stayed at a villa with a group of friends in Montego Bay:
“What really stuck out in my mind was that we had a chef in the house with us. She allowed us to go to the market with her to pick out the fruits and vegetables we wanted for the week. When we decided we wanted to have fish for dinner, didn’t just buy the red snapper. We were able to meet the guy who caught the red snapper for the day. We got exposed to the culture in ways you don’t get in the United States
“I was able to meet people there and make friends there, and I still have those friends now.”
The Jamaica tours Deloria designs are broad enough and flexible enough to appeal to a wide age range. The travelers she brought to Jamaica last year ranged in age from 20-somethings to 70. Visitors could stay with the group or break off to explore on their own.
She also offers some activities one doesn’t usually associate with Jamaica visits. You know about the Jamaican resorts created exclusively for singles, couples, newlyweds, and so on. How many times have you heard of American visitors hooking up with a Jamaican church?
Deloria tells how it came about.
“My father-in-law, Dr. Howard A. Chubbs, who is the pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC, developed a working relationship with our tour bus driver during the Taste of Jamaica Tour 2011. Our tour bus driver, Edward Givons (simply known as “Jr”), is pastor of the “Montpelier House of Prayer For All People Church- International Apostolic Ministries.”
“Rev. Givons mentioned to Dr. Chubbs that he dreamed that one day his church will be able to have music equipment for their worship services. With the help of Providence Baptist Church, his dream became a reality. From the pictures, it is amazing to see the very modern music equipment in what we could consider to be a very rustic, unmodern church.”
Am I the only one who gets the feeling that if Jesus Christ were to return to Earth today, he might feel more at home in that “rustic, unmodern church” than all the Crystal Cathedrals in the world?
Deloria and Radiah are currently putting together a group tour for Jamaica in November, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about that here on IBIT in the coming days.
If you’d rather not wait, send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and make the subject “JAMAICA.” I’ll be sure to get you the details. Or give Deloria’s agency a shout at:
PluPerfect Travel Boutique
And when they ask where you heard about it, you know who to mention, right? It could be worth a discount.
Edited by P.A.Rice