For us, by us: 5 black-owned travel groups you should know about | Travelling While Black

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Are you a Black traveller itching to see the world? Here are five groups shaping the Black Travel Movement and showing us how different and exciting Travelling While Black can be.

As a black traveller, I’ve been very vocal about the lack of diverse faces and voices in the travel industry as a whole (see this post for one of my more detailed rants on the issue). Western travel media in particular is rife with tourism campaigns and travel shows that are practically devoid of people of colour.  To hear them tell it, black travellers are few and far between, and “travelling while black” an anomaly.

Sad as this is to witness, it’s not altogether surprising: the quintessential globetrotter has long been depicted as white.  I mean, when a simple Google search for the term “traveler” yields these images what can you really expect?

But despite not being considered or targeted in mainstream travel marketing, people of colour *are* travelling– for fun, work, education, and spiritual growth– more than ever before.

Especially African-Americans. According to the New York Times, the Mandala Research firm found that nearly one-fifth of African-Americans take one or more international trips per year, and they spend $48 billion on travel within the United States *alone*.

And with the explosion of black travel (often referred to as the “black travel movement”) has come the much-needed creation of black-owned travel startups that provide resources and support for melanin-rich voyageurs.

The Black Travel Movement

With this in mind, I’d like to feature five of my favourite black travel groups. These companies work hard to provide experiences that are tailored to a more diverse set of travellers; they change the narrative about what travellers look like and how they travel.

These companies go further than just featuring brown skin on marketing materials– they travel to lesser known “brown” destinations, and offer itineraries designed to foster integration and appreciation (rather than just observation and appropriation).

They not only make Travelling While Black look good, they make it normal and feasible.

And if that weren’t exciting enough, these five companies are all led by fierce, fearless sistas, who are as well-versed in how to run a successful business as they are in navigating foreign territory. I’m deeply honoured to know them all personally and have gleefully watched their ventures flourish over the years.

So, without any further ado, here are five black-owned travel startups you should know about:

 Nomadness Travel Tribe & TV (for the budget-conscious black travel junkie)

The brand: One part web-series, one part online travel community, the Nomadness umbrella was one of the first of its kind. Over 15,000 members strong and anchored by a popping Facebook group, Nomadness is a one-stop shop for the urban traveller looking to see the world by any means necessary. Members can chat travel and trade tips on the forum, arrange international meetups, participate in group trips, and rock branded merchandise that identify them as part of what is affectionally known as “Tribe”. While adherents may be hardcore in their pursuit of passport stamps, they are also so close-knit that the unofficial tagline of the group has become “Family by Choice”.

The leader: Plucky Evita Turquoise Robinson is as vibrant as her middle name suggests. A native of New York, she’s a born hustler and innovator– she initially started NomadnessTV as a way to record her experiences living in Japan, France, and Thailand and show other black people that they could travel too. She is also the brainchild behind NMDN ALTERnative Travel Conference, the first ever travel conference geared towards urban travellers. (Shameless plug: I spoke at a panel about travel blogging there!)

How to join: Tribe hopefuls can apply to join the group on Facebook by searching for Nomadness Travel Tribe on the site.

Up in the Air Life (for the black traveller who enjoys the finer things in life)

The brand: A self-proclaimed “upscale travel company dedicated to social adventures”,  Up in the Air Life specializes in creating lifestyle experiences for working professionals who enjoy the finer things in life. While this travel tour company’s online forum explicitly states that it’s open to all travellers, its owners and employees are all people of colour, and its tour offerings (which boast jaunts to places like Haiti, Brazil, and Colombia) are skewed toward locations that comprise the African diaspora. Members (known as Lifers) are wanderers who not only explore the world in style but live life to the fullest.

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