Diversity matters. Representation matters. Black families are traveling more than ever before, but they are underrepresented in the travel and tourism industry and media. This lack of representation does not send a good message to kids and is a missed opportunity for everyone. We need greater diversity in family travel.
A study by Mandela Research reported that African American travelers spent about $63 billion in the US travel and tourism economy in 2018. This was an increase from $48 billion in 2010, and we can assume the number continues to grow. And we know Black travelers are spending significant money internationally as well.
There are increasing numbers of Black families traveling, and they might have similar or different needs, concerns, and interests with travel. A lack of representation and understanding might discourage some Black families from traveling to certain destinations. It can also fuel feelings of not belonging, perpetuate stereotypes, and cause divisiveness.
Travel provides so many opportunities for bettering our world. Gaining exposure and experience with people and cultures different from what you know helps breed acceptance and change. Travel can be a powerful transformative experience for everyone involved if they’re open to understanding and learning.
All different people from all walks of life are traveling more than ever before, but there are still stereotypes and perceptions about who can and cannot travel. Travel is for everyone, but we need to start seeing this better represented across travel media.
I asked some Black family travel friends what representation in family travel means and why it matters to them. Below you will find several Black families who love to travel and are out there showing their kids the world. Travel doesn’t always look the same for them though, and this is why representation matters and it needs to improve in the travel and tourism industry.
Read their stories and listen to their perspectives below. Consider how you may understand or be privileged to not understand some of their concerns when it comes to travel. Make sure to check out their blogs and connect with them on social media!
- Black families who love to travel discussing diversity in family travel
Black families who love to travel discussing diversity in family travel
- Home base: Virginia Beach, VA
- Favorite travel spots: Ireland, Portugal, and St. Martin / St. Maarten
Diversity in family travel means inclusion. It means that when we see destination marketing campaigns, there’s no doubt we’re the target audience because we see travelers who look like us in the campaigns.
Diversity in family travel means our hard earned dollars are regarded with as much value as a white family’s. The travel industry erroneously buys into the stereotypical single story narrative that black people don’t travel. The numbers speak for themselves: black travelers have spent several billion dollars on travel in recent years. If the travel industry wants to continue profiting from us, then we need to be represented in travel marketing, and more of our unique, varied and worthy travel stories need to be shared in the mainstream media.
Diversity in family travel means possibilities. Seeing other black families globetrotting and enjoying life to the fullest is empowering; again, it shatters the single story narrative that black people don’t travel. But it also gives our child the confidence to know that the world is hers for the taking and there are no limits to where she can go, what she can do and who she can become in life.
- Home base: California
- Favorite travel spots: Fiji, New Zealand, and South Africa
Diversity in travel is important because people identify with those who look like them and come from similar backgrounds. If only one group is constantly represented, it causes the goal to seem out of reach. Additionally, fear of unfavorable interactions around the world may cause people of color to avoid such locations until they read the account of a family who reports otherwise.
- Home base: Connecticut
- Favorite travel spots: Havana, Cuba, Oaks Bluff, Martha’s Vineyard, New York City
Diversity in family travel is important to me because we’ve been a homeschooling family for the last ten years, using hands on travel experiences to supplement our educational goals. This means that our travel has often brought us to places where black people are not often seen nor welcomed. We’re a family who skis, hikes, camps and enjoys outdoor adventure. We’re accustomed to being in situations where we are the only ones and are bold about not only access to travel, but also promoting an environment that crushes stereotypes and allows other families to experience the benefits of learning through travel.
- Home base: San Diego, CA
- Favorite travel spots: Hawaii, Mexico, and Thailand
Diversity in family travel is important to us because we represent a group of people that are oftentimes ignored. Many people do not understand representation matters. Growing up we did not see people that look like us traveling the world. We were taught that it was unattainable and unaffordable for people like us. How many times do you hear black people do not travel? We are told this so much that we start to believe it, even though it is not true.
We want to help families of color travel the world and change the negative stereotypes of people of color. We want kids to know they can reach their dreams, regardless of where they are from, their skin color, or their sexual orientation. We want our blog to be a symbol of hope and eventually change.
- Home base: Dallas, TX
- Favorite travel spots: Maui, Hawaii, Bali, Indonesia, and Cape Town, South Africa
Hi, I’m Vanessa and my 6-year-old daughter is Laila. Laila’s Luggage started as a way to encourage black families to explore the world together and also provide tips to parents traveling with kids. Diversity in family travel is something I strive to show Laila, because as of now it’s not mainstream. Even in our own world explorations, we’re often one of the few if not the only black families visible.
We started traveling when Laila was two months old, I introduced Laila to travel because I believe the best way I can teach her about the world is to show her. The cultures we have discovered together that are different from our own have been such a beautiful teaching experience that is hard to discover without immersion. At one point in my life, I traveled every weekend with Laila by plane for work and then every other weekend for the next six months.
I didn’t grow up traveling often and my first experience of realizing just how big the world was happened when I moved from Dallas, Tx to Washington, DC to attend Howard University at 18 years old. We’ve covered over 20 countries together and I’ve visited nearly 30 countries by myself. Laila learning the extent of the world early in life has been and remains a priority for me. We created products specifically for kids who look like Laila to see themselves exploring the world as our contribution to expanding the way diversity in travel is shown.
Check out Laila’s Luggage blog!
- Home base: New Orleans, LA
- Favorite travel spots: Thailand, Costa Rica, and Sedona
Imagine this- you are finally able to board your long-awaited flight. As you reach down to pick up your luggage to put it in the overhead compartment, you witness the compartment’s door slam shut in front of you. As the shock starts to wear off, it quickly returns once you realize that the flight attendant is standing in front of you with his hand on the door and a smirk on his face. He proceeds to inform you that the area that you’re standing in is for first class passengers only. In response to the insinuation that you did not belong there, you politely pull out your boarding card to confirm that you indeed, do belong. Seat 1B, it is yours.
Diverse family travel representation is paramount in not only making black families feel welcomed and comfortable to travel, but most importantly, to remind those who work in the travel industry that black families do belong. We belong in first class. We belong at the luxury hotel. We belong anywhere in the world that our heart desires.
As a family with two black boys, this is one of the greatest gifts that I can give to them. The knowledge and confidence to know that they do, indeed, belong.
Check out Marquita’s Travels blog!
- Home base: California
- Favorite travel spots: Morocco, Thailand, and Spain
I created Black Kids Do Travel and Black Families Do Travel due to the lack of diversity in the media. I wanted to share photos of Black children and Black families traveling to change the stereotype and narrative as well as highlight Black traveling families. Diversity in travel is very important to me because I want to know that Black people are well represented in the media and more. I want my son to look at travel ads and know that those are places he can travel to. I want to be able to google Black traveling families and see photos of Black families everywhere.
- Home base: Midwest, USA
- Favorite travel spots: France, Australia and China
Diversity in family travel means INCLUSIVITY to us! We don’t possess generational wealth, we are not executives, we did not win the lottery. We are a 9-5 middle class family who is able to afford traveling the world! Diversity in family travel shows that we can all enjoy it. No matter the financial status, ethnicity or age, you can enjoy traveling. Diverse representation matters to our family because it helps reduce stereotypes, bigotry and disconnections. It encourages us to be more creative, to appreciate the perspective of others. We’ve lost track of how many times people have shared negative opinions on a particular destination we were planning to visit and after our experience, it was the very opposite. Diversity in family travel is recognizing all and giving all families the ability to connect with those alike and different.
Check out The Non Rev Family blog!
- Home base: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Favorite travel spots: Hawaii, California, and Florida
Diversity in family travel to me means that we are represented and inspiring other families of color to travel as well. I have worked in the travel industry for a while now and while so many families of color are traveling on instagram and spending large amounts of money, we are never represented in the advertisements or the marketing strategies or the shows/ articles in travel networks and publications. I believe that families of color who travel are some of the most influential in the space because all it takes is someone who looks like you to encourage another family to be brave and get out and explore. Travel is the most diverse industry there is innately yet so many of us are under or misrepresented. That’s why my travel blog is so important to me.
- Home base: Houston, TX
- Favorite travel spots: Chicago, IL Valencia, Spain and Washington DC
Diversity in family travel means showcasing the reality of the family travel industry. The real story, outside of what is commonly seen in media, is that families of all ethnicities travel with their kids. As travel has continued to become more accessible, more families are getting out and seeing the world with their kids. However, travel print, ads, and media consistently showcase white families with absolutely no diversity whatsoever. By doing so, they are limiting their audience and broadcasting the message that other families don’t travel. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Having increased representation of families that look like ours in the family travel industry means that families that might be hesitant can see that they can travel too.
- Home base: Seattle, WA
- Favorite travel spots: Palm Springs, California, Phuket Thailand, anywhere we haven’t been before, near or far.
Family travel means that my children and my family are exposed to new places, cultures, people, ways of living, and existing in the world. It’s an understanding and an awareness for how others show up in the world and how they experience it. It gives us another lens for which to see things and it makes us grateful for the life and the opportunities that we have to live our life in our unique way. It’s taking the learning out of a book or a movie and making it a tangible reality for our kids to consume.
Diversity in travel matters to me because stories are important and existing in the stories are even more so. This world is full of varied experiences and ideals, but more often than not, it is the same storyteller. We need to hear about culture and lifestyle and experiences from voices that are both impacted and moved by the beauty that travel and culture provides. Highlighting diversity in travel provides a road map for others to see and believe that they too can also get out and taste and see the world too.
Check out Tash’s blog Wisdom & Courage!
- Home base: Washington, DC
- Favorite travel spots: Washington, DC, Kauai, HI, and Sydney, Australia
Family travel provides opportunities to help us teach our children invaluable lessons about flexibility and resilience, etc.
As a Black family who travels our travel narratives can vary greatly from the mainstream. Being Black can impact so many aspects of our travel experience; from which destinations we choose; where we stay, which local businesses we choose to support and so much more. Because our travel experiences can vastly differ from non-Black travelers, it’s imperative that more of our travel stories are shared.
Families come in all sizes, shapes, and colors and the travel industry needs to represent this reality. Diversity in the family travel industry will afford a variety of valuable and powerful cultural narratives that will be relevant to other Black travelers.
Diversity matters. Representation matters. Diversity and representation in family travel matter and need to improve. Black voices need to be a part of the travel industry earlier – planning, strategizing, and creating. This will lead to better understanding and better products and services for Black families. Black kids and families need to see themselves reflected back in travel media. Travel is for everyone, including Black families, and we need better representation.
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