All American bombshell and true Texas girl, and a Miss Texas at that, R’Bonney Gabriel is proudly born and raised in Houston to a Mom from Beaumont, and a Dad who came to America at age 19 on a college scholarship with $20 in his pocket. As the first Filipina-American to proudly wear the Miss USA crown, she brings her Southern charm married with her value for hard work as the foundation blocks of her career in pageantry. She recently granted me an exclusive interview about all-things-travel, discussing some of her on-the-road tips.
What was your favorite destination that you traveled to in the past year?
Belize! I love the island, driving around in golf carts, the lobster dishes, and I received my scuba diving certificate there and was able to see stingrays and a reef shark in the water.
Do you have an overall favorite hotel?
My favorite hotel I’ve ever stayed at was a villa alongside a river in Pai, a small peaceful mountain town in Northern Thailand.
Best vacation ever?
My best vacation ever is definitely the solo trip I took for two months after I graduated college to Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. I only packed a backpack with a few shirts, shoes, and swimsuits. I was able to create so many memories from attending the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, overnight camping on a volcano in Mt. Rinjani, and taking surfing lessons from a mute instructor in Lombok, Indonesia.
Best souvenir bought on a trip?
When I traveled to Mumbai, India I found the most beautiful fabrics with floral embroidery and hand beading — I had to take it all home with me! I was so inspired by all the vibrant colors of women’s clothing in India, when I returned back to the States I designed my own dresses with the gorgeous fabric.
How do you stay fit and trim in your travels — what do you eat, and how do you exercise?
I always start my day with a quick yoga session and a morning walk for cardio and hit the gym if one is available. I always look for meals that stay within my meal plan-which is oatmeal and eggs in the morning, shrimp and green beans for lunch, and salmon and asparagus for dinner. I do my best on finding meals similar to that without being too hard on myself if I am unable to stick to it. I usually allow myself to have 1-3 pieces of chocolate or caramel rice cakes in my purse to munch on anytime or anywhere.
How do you turn your hotel room into a haven?
I bring my galaxy light with me everywhere. I use it at night to project the stars and moon onto the ceiling. I drink hot tea and put on some jazz or soul music at night to wind down before bed.
Fave brand of luggage?
Briggs & Riley, they gifted me beautiful suitcases when I won Miss Texas USA and it’s definitely an upgrade from my beat-up suitcases with broken handles.
Health and wellness products that you swear by?
Tumeric wellness shot when my sinuses are acting up! If I’m starting to feel sick, I bake a whole clove of garlic and eat it quickly to boost my immune system, and I, actually, love the way it tastes. I also take a daily women’s multivitamin and vitamin D in the morning, and complete my day with magnesium citrate in the evening.
Beauty products that you swear by?
For products, I love the Ordinary Buffet Serum every night and SeneGence Tinted Sunscreen Moisturizer every day, but when I need to kick it up a notch, I turn to TempSure Envi and Potenza Microneedling treatments by Cynosure. Both of these Radiofrequency treatments have made my skin so much tighter and refreshed without major downtime, which is a huge plus for me.
What is always in your carryon bag?
My MacBook in case I need to do some work, a sketch pad to draw designs because I get very inspired when I am up in the air, and a good book. I’m currently reading Relentless by Tim Grover. Most important, I have a coffee before my flight.
United! I grew up flying United because my mother worked for them for years. I have been fortunate to travel to over 15 countries because of these benefits.
How do you pack your crown?
Very carefully! I don’t travel with my Mouawad “Power of Positivity” crown all the time, but when I do the crown has its own box lined in velvet with a lock.
Where is your next vacation trip?
I am heading to Las Vegas for a work trip. As soon as I return, I plan on focusing and preparing for Miss Universe on January 14. I have another trip planned to the Philippines with Miss USA Organization’s charity partner Smile Train. Then back to training prep!
What destinations are on your bucket list?
Anywhere in South America, I’ve never been there! I would love to visit Iceland, rent a van and explore Australia, go on a Safari in Africa and visit more islands in the Philippines.
What hotels are on your bucket list?
For more about my Wanderlust Travels, please Follow me on Instagram at @DebbiKickham.