We caught up with Black-owned multi-platform travel and lifestyle company, Black & Abroad, to help our readers prepare for their summer travels. The award-winning platform is transforming travel with these easy travel tips and their newly-launched first-of-its-kind Black Elevation Map.
The award-winning platform curates and empowers international, culturally conscious luxury and adventure travel moments for Black travelers. The Black community spent an estimated $101.9B on leisure travel pre-pandemic. With travel numbers projected to trend upward during a post-pandemic travel boom, Black & Abroad co-founders Kent Johnson and Eric Martin discuss how to better prepare for vacation and offer resources to guide you on your journey.
Black & Abroad is known for their award-winning “Go Back to Africa” campaign. Now, the Black Elevation Map is taking it up a notch, providing an interactive community sourced and aggregated online guide that showcases Black-owned businesses across the country to spark further inter-community support, discovery and connection.
Learn more about how to prepare for your next vacation below.
1. Research & Tips On How To PlanSource:Black & Abroad
Eric: When choosing a destination there’s only one thing you need to remember—keep an open mind! I always say that when planning travel there are 5 seasons to consider: spring, summer, fall, winter, and last but not least, shoulder season. Shoulder season is the time between a destination’s high and low visitation periods. During these times flight & hotel prices are way less expensive than usual making it ideal for someone looking to kick back & chill without the hassle of the usual large crowds. Not to mention, it’s a perfect way to travel during a pandemic.
Not sure where to start? Say less. For good flight deals I usually hit up at least four sites: theflightdeal.com, faredealalert.com, skyscanner.com, and skiplagged.com. For good deals on top tier hotels & Airbnbs, remember it’s shoulder season, so prices usually fall anyway due to the decrease in demand.
2. Destinations That Champion & Celebrate the Black Experience and CultureSource:Black & Abroad
Kent: Weekends are perfect for quick getaways in locations that thrive in the summer heat. For example, foodies should make their way to cities like New Orleans for restaurants at every corner that feature Creole & Southern cooking. Even your more popular destinations like Miami can be havens for food from the diaspora. Not far from the shores of Miami Beach you’ll find Little Haiti with its bevy of restaurants to choose from, as well as restaurants throughout the city that are steeped in Afro-Cuban & island influence due the city’s close ties to the Caribbean.
For longer summer trips, you can’t go wrong with visiting cities in Colombia (which has the 3rd largest population of Black people outside of Africa), like Cartagena or Cali. These two cities are full of cultural experiences that speak to the many facets of the Black experience.
There are also many island destinations that host Carnivals in the summer, like Bermuda. Although it’s one of the younger Carnivals, it’s also the fastest growing one in the world, and everyone’s beginning to take notice. But don’t worry, Bermuda’s Carnival is a perfect place to begin your Carnival journey as a newbie, as it’s not as intimidating as the ultimate experience in Trinidad & Tobago, but just as fun & inclusive as any other Carnival experience. This week-long experience is a great way to experience the island, which also has plenty of opportunities for taking in the island’s Black history and its relaxing atmosphere.
3. Building An ItinerarySource:Black & Abroad
Eric: The most lit itinerary has three elements: variety, flexibility, balance. Whether you’re tripping solo, or with a group, an equal mix of these ingredients into your journey can afford you more time enjoying yourself and taking in the experience. Variety is very important because it introduces you to so many cultural intersections. Take a map of the city, divide it into four quadrants and make it a point to visit a restaurant, museum, historic site, beach, or club in each quadrant over the course of your trip.
Ensure that your dates and times are flexible by keeping the itinerary loose. Weather, commute times, and most importantly jet lag can be unpredictable at times, so always build time into the itinerary for those instances—especially if traveling with your squad! Speaking of jetlag, it’s important to also build a few hours/days of rest into said itinerary. There’s nothing worse than not being able to remember much from the trip because you were sleepwalking throughout the entire experience. That’s where the concept of balance enters the picture. You want to return home feeling energized & refreshed, not like you just ran a marathon.
4. Airbnb vs. HotelSource:Black & Abroad
Eric: Of course, it all depends on the circumstances, but I’m generally team both. If I’m traveling with a group of good friends or family, I’m always down for a [Air]BNB. It makes the group experience much easier. Now for solo travels on the other hand, I’m team hotel for a few reasons. I once rented a BNB on a solo trip to a small European island and instantly realized from the neighbors’ reactions that I was the only melanated brother that small town had seen in a long time. I ended up canceling after a few days and booked a hotel a few miles away where the guests were much more diverse. I also like the fact that hotels have common areas where you can eat, have a drink, and socialize with others.
5. Resources Once You’ve ArrivedSource:Black & Abroad
Kent: If you decide to vacation stateside, using our Black Elevation Map (blackelevationmap.com) is a great way to identify things to see, eat, and experience in a city. The website takes cultural data, such as Black population data, historical markers, Black-owned businesses, and social media activity, and visualizes points of interest on a searchable elevation map of the United States, city by city. The platform allow you to bookmark and save any places you find, to create an itinerary you can send to yourself or anyone joining your trip!
Wherever you venture, a great way to discover great places in a city is by searching hashtags on social media (ie, #bestfoodinAtlanta #BlackownedChicago, etc.). We all love to share our experiences, so social media can be a great place to see how others have experienced a city as a way to prep for your own visit. Platforms like Pinterest, YouTube & Instagram are perfect for spotting trendy or local favorites.
6. Approaching The Locals & Understanding The CultureSource:Black & Abroad
Eric: I would always recommend doing your research on the cultural differences beforehand. For example, here in the US a firm handshake coupled with eye contact is a sign of respect. Do that in Japan and you’re going to have a major problem where a bow is a much greater sign of respect. You also want to do some digging into the language of the people beforehand. You don’t have to be fluent, but I’ve found that it’s always a great way to spark conversation with the locals to learn more. It’s also a sign of respect to them that you’re willing to make an attempt to communicate with them in their native tongue.
One other thing to always remember is how and when to use your camera, particularly with the locals. When taking pics of/with them, you always want to ask for permission. It might not be a big deal here in the US or Europe, but in some parts of Africa, I’ve witnessed people walk up to groups of children and use them as props for an IG moment. Before taking that pic always ask yourself, would this be ok in Europe or America? It’ll really help put things in perspective.
7. WFV (Work From Vacay)Source:Black & Abroad
Kent: Remote work has jumped significantly in the last two years, and for the Black community, the number of professionals switching the cubicle for the cabana has seen a spike as well. Airbnb recently did a survey on remote work and vacationing and found that 72% of Black remote professionals who were surveyed have lived in at least one different location since 2020 and were actively planning to take better advantage of workplace location flexibility in the near future.
When considering where to stay for a “workcation,” Black professionals are most drawn to beach towns and major cities over mountains or rural areas, and according to survey data, the Caribbean was the top location choice for Black professionals looking to work remotely.
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