Safety, acceptance, and security aren’t always a major concern when it comes to traveling abroad for most white and straight people. However, for BIPOC and LGBTQ + explorers, the world is not exactly their oyster.
From the early to mid-1900s, black American travelers relied on the green book which lists gas stations, restaurants, hotels, etc. across the United States that they could safely visit in a country of the Jim Crow era.
Eric Martin returned to the tradition of the green book by creating Black and abroad, a cultural collective dedicated to redefining world experiences for the modern black traveler.
“We started it because we just didn’t see a representation for the black traveler,” says Martin.
“Back when we started in 2015, black travelers were spending over $ 50 billion a year on travel. That number increased from 2015 to 2019, when it was … nearly $ 110 billion. So our market share was growing rapidly, but the representation just wasn’t there. We are talking about consumer travel images. We’re just talking about seeing ourselves reflected in part of the marketing, Google’s results. ”
Black & Abroad started out as a blog and safe space where black travelers could share their experiences from different countries. “There wasn’t a lot of information on what it would be like to travel to some of these amazing places as a person of color,” says Martin. It organically developed into a company that organized group trips, with an emphasis on trips to Africa. As DNA testing has become more popular, Martin says many of his clients have been able to trace their lineage to specific African countries. “As a result, we have experienced a business boom in group travel and Africa has become the most popular destination,” he says. “As you can imagine, you go to a country that you know you are from and experience it for the first time … breathtaking, completely breathtaking.”
While COVID-19 has temporarily halted group travel via Black & Abroad, Martin is looking forward to resuming travel in 2022. In the meantime, the company is focusing on virtual and small local events to try to bring people together. “We are governed by three important principles. Explore, embrace, empower, ”says Martin. “Explore the world, embrace other cultures and empower the community. And so far we’ve done a great job of staying true to that.
Used to adversity, blacks and LGBTQ + people have used their own travel resources for decades.
Historically, LGBTQ + travelers have also relied on texts similar to the Green Paper when it comes to travel safety. Bob Damron’s Address Book (1960) was used at a time when a majority of states prohibited same-sex relationships in both public and private life. Damron’s travel guides helped gay men find bars, bookstores, and restaurants across the United States that were discreetly geared towards gay men.
Recalling an uncomfortable stay in Barcelona with his partner, Matthieu Jost wanted to make sure his community felt welcome and safe on his trip. “[LGBTQ+ people] are […] afraid of finding a place they won’t be welcome, ”says Jost. “I want everyone in my community to feel safe. And that’s why we created misterb & b. “
Platform dedicated to travel in a secure space for LGBTQ + people, misterb & b is a travel reservation platform. “You will be able to find different types of accommodation like private rooms and entire venues, villas and hotels across the world, and we have specific features to make you feel safe, like reviews, like checking in. ‘identity,’ he says.
“We believe that our impact on the travel industry… that we were able to create a new market. We haven’t tapped into something that’s already there, but we’ve created something brand new, something super specific and exclusive. We’re offering something super strong that connects the LGBTQ community, ”he says.