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5 Black-Owned Companies That Will Up Your Travel Game

Travel

Your wanderlust has had you eyeing multiple travel websites for a while now and finally, you've decided on your next location, and are ready to start planning. But, with the large number of travel apps and websites out there, the process of planning your travels can seem overwhelming.


The narrative surrounding people of color and travel has started to shift towards inclusivity. However, mainstream travel spaces have been known to exclude travelers of color. The underwhelming amount of Black travelers being showcased on travel sites and destination brochures makes it that much more important to support the businesses that have people of color sitting at the table. Seeing the world is an opportunity that is open to whomever wishes to act on it. Making your travel arrangements with black owned companies gives you the space to find the proper resources that cater to your specific needs.

From securing accomodations to booking flights and reserving excursions, there's a lot of work that goes into planning the perfect getaway. To save you some time, I've rounded up some of the best black-owned travel apps and companies to help get your next trip underway as seamless as possible. From your flight to your destination to your lodging, we've got you covered every step of the way.

For Flights: Airfordable

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You know where you want to go but after checking for flights, you notice the fare isn't exactly in this month's budget. Sure, you can pick a new place but when booking with friends, I know how long it can take for the group to finally settle on one destination. Likewise, international travel often gets dismissed because of the cost of airfare. Airfordable offers a solution for when you have your heart set on a location, whether it be for a vacation or a trip to see family. Ama Marfo, CEO, launched Airfordable as a result of struggling to book travel back to Ghana while she studied at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Today, it's being used for trips all around the world.

How it works: Find your flight, submit the details to Airfordable, pay monthly installments then receive your booking once the total is paid.

Let's take a trip to Bali for example. Jessica, an Airfordable user, found a flight for a total of $820, an amount not everybody is okay dropping all at once. Airfordable allowed her to make a smaller payment of $303.40 upfront. She was then was able to pay the remaining $516.60 in installments up until her departure date. She'll receive her eTicket as soon as her last payment is processed.

For Accommodations: Innclusive

Our newly-added spot in Australia though! 👀

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Now that you've picked a location and secured the airfare, finding a place to stay might be next on the list. Innclusive lets you rent rooms and homes in an Airbnb fashion but in a way that celebrates diversity. When Rohan, the founder and CEO of Innclusive, was denied an Airbnb based on what seems to be racial profiling, he took action and created a space where people of all races would be celebrated in their quests to see the world. With that, Innclusive was born.

How it works: Search for a room or an entire home, pay online, and check-in upon arrival.

For The Squad: Travel Noire

Two common hiccups when it comes to travel is narrowing down a time and place and finding your travel squad. Travel Noire eliminated these obstacles. Zim Ugochukwu created Travel Noire after identifying the absence of people of color in the mainstream travel industry. To solve this, Zim and her team, now part of Blavity, carefully curate travel experiences that allow men and women of color to live out these lifetime experiences seeing places like Zanzibar, Bahia, Amalfi Coast, and more. TN does all the heavy lifting while your only responsibility is to pay your installments and show up. Sounds easy, right? The TN team sets you up in a charming boutique hotel, a photographer for the length of the trip, and insider access to some of the most exclusive local classes.

How it works: Sign up to receive an email when the next round of travel experiences is open for registration, select an experience, pay either in full or installments, purchase flights separately, and meet your travel tribe in the city of choice.

For Volunteering Abroad: Black Girls Travel Too

The only time you should ever look back, is to see how far you've come.⠀ ••••••••••••••••• Ms.@oneikatraveller sitting pretty in Shirley Heights, in Antigua.⠀ ••••••••••••••••• Tag @blackgirlstraveltoo to be our next featured traveler.⠀ ••••••••••••••••• #shirleyheights #antigua #caribbean #westindies #journeywithinyourself #internationaltraveler #passport #passportheavy #blackgirlstraveltoo #blackgirlstravel #blackgirlsrock #blackgirlpower #blackgirlmagic #travel #traveladdict #travelonpurpose #traveonfleek #travelgram #travellife #travelnista #wanderlust #wander #adventurous #explorer #jetsetter⠀

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What started off as a regular Instagram account in 2015 has emerged into a full-blown travel company curating experiences and giving back while doing so. Now with over 106k followers, Black Girls Travel Too shares tips and creates the tools for female travellers. A key component of their business model is voluntourism, which is volunteering while traveling. Founder Danny Rivers Mitchell has been passionate about sharing her resources ever since she was a young girl saving up her lunch money to send it to the children she learned about through infomercials on sponsoring a child for 50 cents a day. BGTT now curates trips that revolve around voluntourism in addition to travel packages to events like Crop Over in Barbados.

How it works: Pick from the travel destinations offered, select a payment option, purchase flights separately, and meet your fellow black girl travelers in the city of choice.

For Getting Around: Moovn

A black-owned ride-sharing business has been around for just about three years. Goodwin Gabriel launched Moovn in 2015, an app that operates similar to Uber and Lyft. A key difference between Moovn and the more popular rideshare apps is that it does not employ private drivers. Instead, the system taps into existing transportation services like taxis and town cars. Moovn currently has a presence in countries like Tanzania, Gabriel's native, along with American cities (Seattle, Portland, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and New York). It is also available in Dubai, UAE; Vancouver, Canada; Johannesburg, South Africa, and Nairobi, Kenya.

How it works: Request a ride (for now or at least 2 hours in advance) through the website or app, select car type, select and confirm payment options, and wait for your ride to arrive.

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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