Introducing the World ‘Inexperienced Guide’ and Black Journey Concepts Throughout Covid-19
“I’ve had countless experiences and saw people who looked like me in places I didn’t expect to find black communities,” said Lewis, who is also the creative director of Nomadness Travel Tribe. The job enabled her to understand how the diaspora are connected: from Honduras to Ireland and the countries in between, we are everywhere and she wants black travelers to know about it.
It might sound strange to talk about travel during a pandemic, but Lewis says now is the time to plan. “My first goal is to get more black people to leave their comfort zone internationally and nationally,” she says. Where exactly can travelers go during a pandemic? Outside of road travel within the continental United States, about 43 countries are currently open to Americans. Most of the Caribbean region, including St. Lucia, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Grenada, is open for testing and self-quarantine on arrival with some restrictions. The Eastern European countries Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Serbia, North Macedonia, Croatia and Turkey are open to Americans. In Asia, Cambodia and South Korea are open, and in Central and South America, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras and Costa Rica will accept Americans. On the African continent, Zambia, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Namibia, Rwanda, and Tanzania will allow Americans with some testing requirements. The Maldives, Dubai and French Polynesia are also open to Americans.
The ABC Greenbook lists resources and social groups for most of these destinations, but Lewis suggests traveling closer to home for the time being. After all, she says, diaspora travel is a growing trend, with thousands of black American travelers visiting southern states to reconnect the family lines.
“I created this book to bring back our lost history.”
In the sense of the original green books, driving a car, as opposed to flying, is currently safer and more economical during the pandemic. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), road travel has increased 87% over the past five years compared to car journeys. You don’t have to worry about the virus being in the safety of your personal car, and there are so many travel options to nearby cities or neighboring states.
“A road trip through Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana is great. We don’t normally look at these places and people don’t even notice that there are black people, ”she says. For women traveling alone, Lewis recommends visiting black-owned spas to relax, or a tour of the black wineries and distilleries she lists in the “Quick Start Guide” section of the book. It also includes black women groups around the world like Black Women in Copenhagen and Black Women in Europe so that single travelers can get in touch with them. When Covid-19 is over and things return to normal, families might be interested in kid-friendly festivals like St Paul’s Carnival in Bristol, UK, or interactive tours like the Walking Graffiti Tour in Lisbon, Portugal. The book begins with the Quick Start Guide, which lists U.S. and international resources such as black hotels, banks, and restaurants. The rest of the book lists groups and resources by continent and country. The ABC Travel Greenbook represents the power black travelers have to distribute their dollars through black companies worldwide, but also the hard-earned freedom to explore other places, be it a neighboring state or another continent.
“My mom made sure we traveled when we were young. I have my fourth passport,” says Lewis. But it was about much more than vacation. It helped Lewis cement their legacy. “I identify as a Panamanian,” she says. “My grandma came from Panama to New York and then to Los Angeles. Family ties to another country play a big role when traveling. I asked my grandma [who is 102 and honored in the book’s dedication] where she came from before Panama and she told me she had left Jamaica to help build the Panama Canal. Knowing and connecting the roots is an important motivation to travel. “
Another key factor in traveling is safety. It is important to know the level of racism before visiting an unknown destination. It collects anecdotal information from black people who live in or visit the destinations.
“A lot of people have had bad experiences while traveling because of racism,” she says. “I was walking down a street in Italy and a man cursed me for being black. In Iceland a man with a monkey yelled at me. People react because they are not used to seeing someone who looks like you in different ways. I want blacks to be prepared and aware. “
The ABC Travel Greenbook has been in the making for two years, and this is just the beginning. “This is Volume One, Volume Two will update and add to the information,” says Lewis. “Victor Hugo Green has published a green book every year, so I want to provide new information every year as companies change. I’m also working on an app [due in December] because we are in a digital world. “
Lewis wants us to feel empowered about our story and to remember that people like Homer B. Roberts, owner of a green and black car dealership, made cars available for black families. “Blacks were explorers before we were enslaved,” she says. “We should celebrate Victor Hugo Green just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He [helped] Black people travel and stay alive. Homer B. Roberts sold cars to blacks in Kansas City and Chicago; lent them money to buy cars so they could travel. I created this book to bring back our lost history. “