Black Americans represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel market. You don’t have to search too deeply on Instagram to see the myriad of hashtags associated with black travel. The communities offering daily travelgrams are filled with people calling themselves jetsetters and global nomads. Internationality co-founder, Sabre questions the label in Are you really a jetsetter? While there are those who refer to us as jetsetters owing to our joint addictions to airport lounges and business class, we reject both titles as descriptors of our lives. To start with, real jetsetters fly private. All though at times, our paths may seem peripatetic—we are globalcreators.
While researching this article, I came across the website of Worldwide Nate and I thought “Hmm, he’s a global nomad.” I also landed on the sites of Erick Prince, The Minority Nomad, and Prince’s stated goal is “to be the first African American to visit every country.” To this, I say, “Ok, that’s great but what will you do there? What will you leave behind besides a carbon footprint?” Meanwhile, Atanmo makes her living giving sassy and for my taste base appraisals of life as a black woman who lives out of a suitcase. After reading one of her complaint pieces about people asking her how she can afford to travel, I thought for a minute, then realized, no one ever asks me that. It was working as a photographer on a five-month assignment to document my client’s funded field projects and to speak at several conferences, that earned me my first exposure to the African islands of the Indian Ocean, Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa. An adventure to be sure, I can’t imagine taking that trip simply to check some boxes. Raising money for a scholarship program in Northern Mozambique had me living out of my suitcase for six months as I bounced across Africa, Europe, and the Middle East clocking over 385,000 miles. Even with the positive outcome of the project, it would take a lot of cajoling to get me to return to that lifestyle. Maybe it’s a Gen-X v. millennial thing but now that extra pages have been discontinued, I find passport stamps and visas a byproduct of a global life, not an end goal.
I am less of a nomad and more a global vivant. From August 2015 to September 2016, I inadvertently spent a year living and working in Thailand. During that time, I took a vacation to Rome to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in over a decade. My sixteen other trips to an additional eight countries were all work or purpose based (i.e. getting a new visa). When I do go on vacation, it’s with maybe one person, but never more than two—like many of my friends, I seem to be allergic to group travel. On social media, people may find some of my situations amusing, but there are no misconceptions about the difference between my life as an expat and a holiday getaway. More often than not, I land in a new location solo with an established list of people and deadlines to meet. I pay rent, electricity, internet, and water. I employ local staff. I go grocery shopping. I learn some of the local language or already speak one of them. I go to the doctor to get my eyes examined and my teeth cleaned. I am a resident and a globalcreator.
A New York Times journalist and Nomadness Tribe member, explains the black millennial travel group grew out of the frustration Evita Robinson felt upon returning home from teaching English in Korea. The group found a home among Facebook users and now has over 13,000 members who travel together and share their experiences. Rewinding to the last millennium, while employed as an English teacher in Lisbon, I flew back to D.C. for the holidays. At a new year’s eve party, I was surrounded by other college educated blacks who were home from working in Japan, Benin, Russia, and a host of other exotic locales. In comparison to their transcultural experiences, my cushy 12-hour a week job and beach front apartment seemed mundane. Perhaps my quest to challenge myself to do more than collect selfies in front of notable landmarks is the result of growing up in a community where expat couples, Peace Corps workers, and diplomats, were commonplace.
Travel Noire, Oneika the Traveller, Black Girl Fly, Black Girl Travel Movement, Bucket List Beasts, Nomadness, Soul Society, Up in the Air Life, Tastemakers, Melanin Majority, Parlour Magazine and the other communities adding new voices to the travel narrative and making international vacations more accessible to upwardly mobile millennials are a great jumping off point. However, insights from older black globalcreators like John, who worked in Swaziland and studied in apartheid South Africa, are still missing from the conversation. How he and others like Alisa leveraged little-publicized opportunities to build dynamic international careers need to be showcased and mirrored. Internationality wants to help propel black travelers beyond vacations and into globalcreating lives. An alternative to expensive trips, we publish opportunities to immerse yourself in another culture by working, volunteering, or studying internationally for as short a time as two weeks. Our listings cover airfare, housing, cost of living or all three. We welcome existing expats and those just dipping a toe in international waters to our community.
The world is enormous and I want to live in it as much as I can. With an end goal in mind, a boutique retreat in Guadeloupe, I explore new locations, make new friends, and learn about other ways of life. A trained documentary photographer turned communications consultant and capacity building specialist, my work is wherever my laptop and wi-fi are. Interacting with local clients, adapting communications to local culture, building with NGOs to make a place a little better than when I arrived and maintaining my freedom from the shackles of a desk are the driving forces in my global life.