[EXCLUSIVE] Black Women Changing The Face Of Travel
Las Morenas de España was created with the objective of “redefining the Black experience in Spain.”Source:
Las Morenas de España was created with the objective of “redefining the Black experience in Spain.”Source:
Oneika the Traveller has been killing it in the travel blogging game, ever since she started her colorful, insightful blog in 2008.Source:
Evita created the Nomadness Travel Tribe in order to represent the emerging demographic of urban, underrepresented millennial travelers of color.Source:
This stunning Nigerian native runs a style and travel blog by her own name, Asiyami Gold, on which you will find numerous photos of Asiyami modeling her impeccable styles throughout her travels.Source:
In a time when the internet is heavily saturated with travel blogs and media, the ones that stand out the most for their ingenuity and depth are platforms created by black women travelers. Travel websites such as Travel Noire and Nomadness Travel Tribe consistently publish excellent visual content and articles that delve deep into the experiences of black travelers, touching on subjects such as race, history and womanhood. They provide substance and personal connection to travelers rather than vapid and hackneyed reiterations about wanderlust. They show the world how diverse today’s travelers are and provide a new face for the well-heeled global jetsetter.
Rather than giving readers a sense of FOMO, these platforms give their audience a sense of empowerment and community, as we explore how to celebrate our identities while traveling through different cultural spaces and contexts. As a woman of color who travels, I’m always thankful for the platforms these women have created as I often look to them for validation and support whenever I feel unsure of how to deal with racial difference and transgressions during my travels.
We had the privilege of speaking with the following brilliant women, who have created wildly successful travel platforms and are changing the face of global travel today.
Photo: Sienna Brown
We’ve already featured Sienna Brown and her blog, Las Morenas de España, in “9 Most Inspirational Travel Bloggers to Follow,” but as her platform also provides so much awesome support for travelers and expats of color, we decided to feature her again!
Las Morenas de España was created with the objective of “redefining the Black experience in Spain,” and it’s a gorgeous, friendly platform where a team of knowledgeable travelers and expats of color in Spain share great travel recommendations, lifestyle tips and personal experiences while traveling in Spain. The team also organizes official LMDES get-togethers and events in Madrid and Barcelona, and there are also personalized travel guides and packages that are customized according to each person’s preferences and budget.
Sienna herself is a super sweet and friendly person which clearly shines through in her work, and she was nice enough to answer some more questions from us about her platform.
LMDES offers community, knowledge and a voice to travelers of color. It is a space where one can go to learn real experiences from open minded and diverse individuals. The majority of our work has a focus on creating authentic experiences that encourages our readers to truly immerse themselves in local culture.
LMDES offers TravelExperiences, which are curated itineraries for travelers who are looking to come to Spain and have an off-the-beaten-path type of experience. They share their personal interests and desires with us and then we create personalized itineraries for them based on knowledge from the long-term expats in our community.
We also have “Live Like a Local” city guides, where we share the hidden gems of a city as opposed to just the tourist spots.
Representation and connection. It’s so essential for people of color to experience a new place and see others that look like them. Having a travel community allows for real insights + tips about a place before they go. People of color are living, traveling and thriving all over the world and if there is a possibility to connect with someone during your travels, it can make an experience that much better.
Something that I’ve noticed living in Spain and traveling throughout Europe is that many Europeans have an interest in Black American culture. Many get their ideologies through mainstream American media, which doesn’t always shed the most positive light on our community. Something that I have learned during my time here is that more often than not, people are just genuinely curious. They might not have ever met a Black American before, so when they ask questions that might seem ridiculous to us, it truly might be just because they have no previous context.
I appreciate the fact that through my travels I can meet others and shed light on what life is like as a black woman and break down any stereotypes that one might have, showing others that people of color are so much more diverse than one might think.
Since starting LMDES in 2014, it has opened doors to relationships with an endless number of amazing people of color who are living here in Spain and going after their dreams. From individuals who have been here for over 10 years to others who have just made the move and diving right into expat life. It’s beautiful to see the diversity of interests and passions that the community of color living in Spain has. Artists, singers, entrepreneurs, wine aficionados, bloggers, marketers, linguistic geniuses, the list goes on. It’s inspiring to see the communities growing as the days pass and more people taking the steps to make the move!
Photo: Asiyami Gold
If you haven’t already discovered Asiyami Gold on Instagram, you’re welcome. Asiyami can only be described as a goddess who possesses the ultimate level of style and grace, which cannot be replicated. She lives and embodies self-love and acceptance, and pushes people, especially women of color, to strive for the life they dream of living. This stunning Nigerian native runs a style and travel blog by her own name, Asiyami Gold, on which you will find numerous photos of Asiyami modeling her impeccable styles throughout her travels along with beautifully written articles about lifestyle, travel and inspiration. Everything on her site is absolutely breathtaking and on point, and fills you with inspiration and awe just by looking at it.
I would describe my style as comfortable. The older I get, the less thought I put into what I wear. I dress according to how I’m feeling at the moment.
I get my inspiration from a number of social media outlets including Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. Life itself is another source of inspiration as well as my yearning for where I could be. I’m inspired by my connection to what’s within, when I’m not aligned with my spirit I fumble. I lose balance and my life is a shit show.
The joys of traveling as a black woman come from the people I meet, the memories I build with them and the ability to share my experiences with others. I get the chance to inspire others by showing them that traveling is a lifestyle that is attainable for women of color. I enjoy living authentically and sharing my true experiences with others. Being away fuels and inspires me.
I wouldn’t consider this a challenge, but I’m always stared at by others when I travel. People often ask me to touch my hair or take pictures with me because they’re fascinated by my looks. I don’t see it as a negative thing per se. I’m also a huge believer in energy, you attract what you give off to the universe. When I’m in a different country, I get to be in my element and that energy oozes out of me and attracts the right people.
Traveling back home for the first time in 12 years was surreal. I got to see my hometown from a different perspective. I could barely remember anything because so much had changed, including the people I grew up with. I also changed, my perspective as someone living in the west was completely different from my cousins’ my age living back home. For a majority of my stay there, I discussed issues with my cousins about how life in port-Harcourt could change for them. I also made sure to encourage them to open their minds to different ways that they could make a living outside of having a profession. It was a challenge adjusting to the weather, the people, and the food but overall I enjoyed being with my family and building memories with them in my adulthood.
For any woman (specifically young black women) who thinks being able to travel is an unattainable lifestyle, I want to encourage them to dream and see greater things for their lives. When I started blogging years ago, the only women I looked up to who live the jetsetter lifestyle and told beautiful stories with their images were either Caucasian women or Asian women. I felt that I had to have a lot of money in my bank account in order to travel. When I turned 19, I decided to take my first trip outside of the country and that changed my life. Every year I save up enough money to at least go somewhere that I’ve never been before.
I want young black women to know that the life they envision can be actualized, regardless of how much you have. Sometimes you can trade your talents/services for an experience until you get to the point where you can completely live in your vision. I grew up in Henry County and often times when I run into friends from high school, they tell me how they wish they could do what I do. I say that it’s a choice. Make sacrifices for the future that you want for yourself. Also learn to live within your means. When I first started my Instagram/blog my pictures were not that amazing. When I realized that I couldn’t afford the tools people who I aspire to be like used for their pictures, I learned how to make the pictures I take on my iPhone work for me. They may not be the quality of a Mark III, but they still tell a story. I say all this to say living a beautiful life is not this obscure, impalpable, herculean mystery that only the special among us will attain. We are all capable of living beautifully, whether we choose to share it with the world or not. Decide what the perfect life looks like and go after it despite the challenges, learn to improvise and work around them.
Photo: Evita Robinson
Evita Robinson created the Nomadness Travel Tribe in order to represent the emerging demographic of urban, underrepresented millennial travelers of color. The Tribe came about through the success of the Nomad-ness TV web series which follows Evita’s dope travel experiences around the world. The Nomadness Travel Tribe is a community of diverse, edgy travelers, 85% of whom are African- American and 80% of whom are female, in which they share stories, experiences and also travel together through official Nomadness events. The Tribe is an invitation-only platform to which newbies must apply.
I was living in Niigata, Japan and started videotaping my life as a way to introduce my family back home to what it was like living in Asia. It started to pick up with my friends and professional network as well. It was cool because even though the production was shitty, people really resonated with the content and they fact that I was a Black 20-something year ole woman just backpacking alone and living around the world. No one had seen that in mainstream at the time, and I created the vehicle to bring it to them. About a year and a half later, after living in Asia, I came back home with travel withdrawal, reverse culture shock, and healing from Dengue Fever, and I didn’t have a community to turn to that understood my lifestyle. From that moment on, I created it.
Head to nomadnesstv.com and click on the ‘Newbie Bootcamp’ tab. That’s the entry way into the Tribe. Just make sure you have at least one passport stamp before applying!
It means that you are a part of an international travel network that is full of people of different ethnicities that have an urban lifestyle and travel stylistic in common.
Authentic stories of what it’s like for my members who live in these various countries, particularly as a person of color, as well as our honest experiences on Nomadnessx trips around the world, as visitors.
Photo: Oneika Raymond
Oneika the Traveller has been killing it in the travel blogging game, ever since she started her colorful, insightful blog in 2008. Despite her super impressive, never-ending list of countries she’s lived in and visited, Oneika is incredibly down-to-earth about her extensive travel experiences. You can tell by watching her videos in which she gives genuinely helpful tips (my favorite is “What to Expect When Travelling While Black”) and makes you want to be her best friend. She also keeps it real by writing articles about important topics such as “The Lack of Black in Travel Blogging and Travel Media” and “Stop Pretending Everyone Can Travel” by saying what many people refuse to acknowledge and telling it like it is. Oneika has been featured in countless media platforms and publications, including Buzzfeed, BBC Radio, CNN, and continues to be an unstoppable force in sharing the joys and challenges of traveling as a woman of color while motivating everyone to do it in the most positive and inspiring way.
I love being a black woman who travels and blogs because I have the opportunity to share my experiences with other black women who are curious and/or fearful about traveling internationally. I feel like representation is so important for us because the travel media sphere has been devoid of diverse faces and voices until very recently. The challenges of traveling as a black woman are rooted in negative attention and racial discrimination for me. It galls me that I am sometimes racially profiled when traveling through airports, for example.
I take a deep breath and tell myself that it’s not about me! I refuse to make other people’s ignorance my problem; I also refuse to let racial transgressions and discrimination keep me from seeing the world. I try to remain calm and logical in the face of adversity and always try to ask poignant questions without being confrontational (i.e. “why are you making me do a secondary inspection?” when going through customs at the airport). Above all else, I try to “keep it moving” and not let this sort of negative behavior put a damper on my trip.
Photo: Oneika Raymond
In my eyes, people of color have *always* travelled (hello, Africa Diaspora)! That said, for a long time, I don’t think a ton of us necessarily travelled for fun or for education; I think of my grandfather, for example, who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica primarily for work and for the chance to have a better life. As such, the fact that I have travelled extensively for fun/leisure is often met with surprise because black people supposedly “don’t do that”. Well, now we totally do! More of us are backpacking through Europe, doing study abroad in Africa, etc. than ever before, especially with the explosion of the “Black Travel Movement” and resources geared towards black travelers.
While my blog is filled with anecdotes, photos, videos, and how-to guides for travelers, I make it a point to produce content with travelers of color in mind. For example, I recently made a video entitled “5 Things to Expect When Traveling While Black” — the aim was to paint a funny, yet realistic picture of what it’s like to travel to foreign lands as a black person. Another recent post of mine, “5 Black-Owned Travel Groups You Should Know About”, was another attempt on my part to provide resources for travelers who look like me. I try to discuss topics that affect people of color because “mainstream” travel blogs, vlogs, and websites often cater to a Caucasian demographic… and don’t realize or care that people of color have unique needs/ face certain issues.
What do you think of these women changing the face of travel? Let us know in the comments.
Nadia reps Team JST traveling the world in search of exclusive features and online via JST's social media platforms. You can find her exploring metropolitan cities or lounging on tropical beaches.