Maroon Bells, Colorado
Reflections

Why Start a “Travel Blog” in 2020?

I’m a planner.

That means before I board a plane or hop in the car, I research the location, gear, route, and everything else into oblivion. I’ve been down the rabbit holes of everything from “is it better to use a gas stove or make one out of an empty can of cat food?” to “where are the best places to spend a twelve hour layover in Cincinnati?” I’ve had plenty of surprising adventures, but I’ve never been the type of person to roll up to a hostel with a shrug and no reservation. What I’m trying to say is–I’ve read a ton of travel blogs.

These blogs have helped me piece together spreadsheet plans and envision a place before arriving. But there’s always been something missing. For years I’ve twisted through Google acrobatics looking for “solo+female+black+backpackers.” Last time I tried I had to filter out the results that included “black backpacks” instead of travelers. While I found some inspiration in places like Melanin Base Camp, a collective of black and brown outdoors-enthusiasts and a handful of other POC travel blogs, I found many more blogs featuring sexy white women tousling their blonde hair on the beaches of Bali or rugged, manly, ultralight-types debating whether to cut holes in their camp sandals to trim grams from their packs. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with these blogs, and I’ve learned so much about traveling and hiking from bloggers who don’t look like me. But dozens of women have also confided to me that they could never travel alone, and in fact would never consider it.

Reality compounds this lonely online experience. On my last hike, though the trails were fairly crowded, I didn’t see another black person all week. I only saw one other solo woman (who was smiling and humming to herself down the trail, which I loved deeply). Of course, not everyone wants to hike or travel, and more critically, not everyone can afford to go on a trip or take time away from work or families. However, the sheer racial and gender imbalance combined with the fact that white men dominate so much of the travel and outdoor community, suggests that there might be something else at play.

So why start a “travel blog” in 2020 when I know just how many thousands are already out there? From my own experience, people want and need to see themselves represented in spaces. They need to see someone else in that space thriving and enjoying themselves before they’ll put themselves at risk (and did and I do!). With this blog, I’m carving out a space on the vast internet to write for other black and brown women and non-binary travelers to find inspiration and picture themselves “out-there.”

I’m just getting started, so check back for more!

3 Comments

  1. Heidi Haines

    July 27, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Well done – this blog is so fun to read and truly fills a need to encourage and inspire others like you…..and well everybody! Thanks for doing this!

  2. Evie Slater

    August 2, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    This is some Black Girl Magic! Much needed representation

    1. theresa elyea

      August 2, 2020 at 7:43 pm

      agreed <3

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