How Kellee Edwards Is Redefining Travel As a Black Female Pilot and Journalist, Episode 13 of of Travel + Leisure’s New Podcast

Kellee Edwards shares her own incredible story with T+L editor-in-chief Jacqui Gifford.

A graphic showing portrait of Kellee Edwards with Let's Go Together logo

In the first 12 episodes of Let's Go Together, host Kellee Edwards has taken listeners on a journey around the world to meet travelers from all walks of life. She's introduced us to folks fighting to preserve their natives cultures, plus-sized travelers who aren't letting their size keep them grounded, a gay couple discovering America on an RV journey, and widowed women rediscovering the world as solo travelers.

But now we're turning the microphone around.

On this week's episode, Travel + Leisure's editor-in-chief, Jacqui Gifford, takes over as host to give Edwards, the woman who has inspired so many of the show's guests, the chance to tell her own story.

A fearless adventurer, pilot, and trailblazer, Edwards' story starts during a move from Chicago to California, where she saw mountains for the first time. Seeing that new landscape, according to Edwards, was the genesis of what would soon become her life as a professional traveler.

"You know, Let's Go Together celebrates diversity in travel, and I had no idea that the diversity of the landscapes [would] open up my eyes to learning about more of the people who also make up that land that I was passing through," Edwards recounted during the episode.

Studying broadcast journalism in college, Edwards knew she wanted to work in travel media, but after realizing that dream would take her to some very remote locations, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

"I became a pilot to take myself on my own adventures," she said. "And so that was really the start of me wanting to become a pilot, wanting to find a way to separate myself from all the aspiring travel hosts and bloggers and vloggers."

And it's safe to say that plan worked. Among many other achievements, Edwards became the first Black woman to host a TV show on the Travel Channel with her show Mysterious Islands.

"I was in an airport and when I say I was bawling, crying, people were like, are you OK? ... I was crying so hard. People might've thought someone passed, but it was like tears of joy," she recalled on getting the news the show had the green light.

But it was after Mysterious Islands premiered that Edwards realized the true significance of her show.

"The most beautiful thing for me was that I was connecting with Black people, young women, older women ... my community as a whole," Edwards said, adding that the show wasn't about her, but "young women and little girls, knowing that they could have these dreams, too."

And that's just a taste of this very special episode of our podcast.

Hear more about Edwards incredible journey on Let's Go Together, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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