When I lived abroad for the first time at 23, I longed for travel resources from people who understood my journey and shared my background – written guides, consistent meet-ups and well-researched info on the local community. My experiences would have been similar to theirs, I reckoned, and so carefully considered advice and counsel on how to navigate a homogenous community (where I was the minority) would have been extremely useful for me. Besides, I felt noticeably absent from the majority of mainstream travel media campaigns, which seemed to be absorbed with white saviourism/poverty porn and backpacking for the well-off: in short, diversity, where you at?
In fact, it was 2012 when I first conceived the idea of Journeys & Stories [mirroring what the greenbook for negro travellers provided for African-American tourists in 1936], but overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done I shelved it. This wasn’t a job to be half-arsed.
But a lot has changed since then, and we now have a plethora of established millennial travel influencers providing support, expert advice and down-right inspiration for folks from a variety of backgrounds to get on the open road and confidently venture into the unknown. Thank God for the evolution of social media and the world being much smaller than ever before. We must ceaselessly document our journeys & stories – grateful to be a part of it.
Check out my favourite travel influencers!
Zim Ugochukwu launched Travel Noire in 2013 after a life-changing trip to India, teaching social entrepreneurship, left her feeling ready to tackle the lack of representation of young black travellers. Travel Noire now curate bespoke travel experiences to budding explorers (with photographer and all!), serves up serious travel goals on their instagram page (#travelnoire) and offer expert travel advice on their site from guest writers.
Nomadness Travel Tribe
Evita Robinson founded travel group Nomadness Travel Tribe after living abroad for over a year. With over 10,000 members worldwide (myself included), Nomadness is a network of likeminded travellers looking to connect on a global level and gain real insight from local connects – it was a fellow tribe member who gave me the lowdown on a place to stay for my trip to Bali! Future Tribe members are instructed to follow a simple application process to join.
The Runaway Experience
To escape a brutal winter, New York couple Jeff and Kalisa temporarily packed up to the sunnier climates of Jamaica. What followed is their launching the first successfully funded B&B on Kickstarter: The Runaway Experience. They have now expanded their luxury bed-and-breakfast to Bali and Cuba, and continue to provide a culturally immersive/holistic experience to keen travellers looking to fully engage with the local community.
Divas in Paradise
Jade Whyne launched Divas in Paradise to support, uplift and inspire women to travel and connect. A typical group excursion includes cultural tours and sisterhood workshops – accommodation included. The ladies of Curlture UK will be leading a hair and beauty empowerment workshop in an upcoming Divas in Paradise trip to Trinidad & Tobago. To sign up for future trips, click here.
World Changer Life
“Artist/Producer Mikel Ameen is the leader of the World Changer Life movement. A culture brewing amongst London based creatives powered by the phrase: Be the change you wanna see.” – World Changer Life
I had the pleasure of jumping on a World Changer Life group trip to Afropunk Paris: battle of the bands, in support of Mikel Ameen competing to perform at the summer main stage. Such was the success of the trip – beautiful vibes with amazing creatives – and the massive high after Mikel’s outstanding win, that the idea of the ‘World Changer Life Experience’ was birthed in moments. They have an exciting group tour to Kenya coming up in October. Peep last year’s trip to get a taste of the World Changer Life energy. Video credit: World Changer Life
The Social Impacters
Stockholm based [Nigerian-born] Lola Akinmade Åkerström is a travel writer/photographer with 12+ years experience in Geographic Information Systems [!!!]. Niche Europe-based city guides and a plethora of publication-worthy photography are all part and parcel of her amazing portfolio, so it’s no surprise that she’s currently represented by National Geographic Creative. The ultimate baddie!
Everywhere all the time
I discovered Bani Amor after stumbling on Check yourself before you wreck yourself: A guide to responsible summer travel.
Bani is a queer travel writer, photographer and activist of Ecuadorian descent, hailing from Brooklyn. Naturally, her work centres on race/intersectionality, diasporic identities and the decolonisation of travel culture. She speaks on several issues that ring true and constantly reaffirm the idea that even as a person of colour we, too, must check ourselves. We aren’t exempt from being complicit in problematic power dynamics pertaining to the exploitation of local/indigenous people – our passports afford us significant privileges. Bani also runs a POC Travel Book Club via google hangouts. The next read will be Deer Hunting in Paris
The Tastemakers/Visual Curators
Suitcase Magazine is a multimedia mag for the savvy traveller, sitting comfortably between ‘luxury’ and ‘tourist’ travel.
And representation; images of women of colour feature heavily, despite not being a black-owned publication, setting a good example of a mainstream publication that truly appeals to diverse audiences – real. The arresting travel photography is to a high quality, editorial standard and their website clean, minimalist and easy to navigate. They also curate photo-journals, personalised city guides/itineraries and an online/print mag via their subscription service.
How I’ve only just discovered this visionary extraordinaire begs the obvious question: which piece of sand has my head been buried in? Alexandre (going by the moniker ‘creatif artiste‘) is an exceptional videographer and photographer with a thirst for travel and visual story telling. I’m beyond excited for what he has in store for us this year. Check out his India travel vlog shot entirely on GoPro HD and be sure to subscribe!
Atlanta, GA based Lee Litumbe quit her corporate job to fully dedicate herself to her greatest passion – exposing the world to the Africa she knows and loves, through her extensive travels and stunning visual storytelling. Lee, herself of Cameroonian descent, created Spirited Pursuit to inspire and educate, containing invaluable resources for the curious and explorer alike. Her platform is a space to show the Africa beyond charity appeals, and in turn help remove fears surrounding travelling within the continent. Spirited Pursuit is a space I adore. I’m now adding Senegal to my travel bucket list!
A platform exploring the global black identity.
A Facebook-based black travel blogger network to promote, highlight and support POC travel bloggers – this group has been invaluable for me.
Elisia Traveller 😉 (obvi)
Travel Noire, Nomadness Travel Tribe, Suitcase Magazine Spirited Pursuit, Divas in Paradise, Geotraveler’s niche, Everywhere all the time, Spirited Pursuit, The Runaway Experience, The Black Expat, Black Travel Bloggers, World Changer Life, Elisia Traveller