If you ask Black women why they don’t travel more, the answer is likely to be either fear or funds. “Those are usually the two biggest things that hold people back,” says Evita Robinson, founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe (nomadnesstv.com), an online community of more than 12,000 jetsetters who boast 50,000-plus passport stamps collectively. The popularity of urban travel groups such as Nomadness and travelnoire.com has fueled the Black Travel Movement and has done a lot to dispel the trepidation, according to Robinson. When people see their peers going to India, Nigeria or France, she says that lets them know they can do it too. When it comes to money, there’s a belief that you have to be in a certain economic bracket to take trips, “and that’s just not true.”
Last year summer vacationers set aside $1,005 per person for excursions, according to American Express. Whether you are prepared to spend significantly more—or less—we asked leaders of the Black Travel Movement to tell us how to stretch our dollars and plan a vacation (flight and hotel).
IF YOU HAVE $500 PER PERSON:
Think three- or four-night cruises, a long weekend in the Caribbean or a short domestic trip to a fun city such as New Orleans or Las Vegas. Kirstin Fuller, travel blogger and creator of passenger156.com, recommends cheapcaribbean.com for locating weekend escapes. “The one feature I love the most about this Web site is that most of the deals are all-inclusive,” she says. So you don’t have to worry about overspending on food.
Those with a smaller budget might also benefit from the fact that sometimes airlines accidentally post fares cheaper than they had intended them to be. If you catch those errors, airlines will typically still have to honor them. Theflightdeal.com publishes glitch rates and other low-cost options, Robinson says.
WHERE TO GO
On a getaway to Caye Caulker, Belize
This trip is particularly good for those in the Southwest: Houston is the U.S. hub for travel to this Central American country, and the just- under-three-hour flight is usually $200 to $300. Three days at a waterfront hotel there can keep you within budget.
—Evita Robinson, founder of nomadnesstv.com
On a short cruise to the Bahamas
Take a three-night Carnival cruise to the islands. The line leaves from a host of cities, such as Baltimore and Galveston, Texas. So “you can drive a little bit and save a lot.”
—Elizabeth Blount McCormick, owner and president of Uniglobe Travel Designers, a full-service travel management company
IF YOU HAVE $1,000 PER PERSON:
“Anywhere in Europe is pretty much a go,” says Zim Ugochukwu, founder and CEO of Travel Noire. You can find deals in Central America and South America as well, she adds. But forget about staying in a five-star hotel for a week. Instead, keep your trip short or look for less expensive lodging. Consider hostels (hostelworld.com), which are low-budget accommodations where multiple travelers may share bunk beds in a room for as little as $25 to $50 per night, or AirBnB (airbnb.com), which helps tourists rent homes. “If you’re in countries where the U.S. dollar is stronger, you can really live like a queen because the cost of living is low,” Ugochukwu says.
WHERE TO GO
Johannesburg, South Africa
On the cheap Snag a roundtrip flight from Washington, D.C., for about $800. Then book a room at Curiocity Backpackers hostel, which is in the trendy neighborhood of Maboneng, for a five-day vacay.
To a luxury resort in Mexico
If you’re looking for more amenities, make your way to Riviera Maya, Mexico, and stay three nights at the adults-only property El Dorado Royale Spa. The four-star and all-inclusive resort serves gourmet food and top-shelf liquor, says McCormick. “I’ve sent a lot of people there for a quick getaway.”
—Elizabeth Blount McCormick
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IF YOU HAVE $1,500 PER PERSON:
You can get a flight to Thailand, Korea and India and still have enough left over to pay for accommodations, Ugochukwu says. If hostels aren’t your thing, she suggests finding lodging through agoda.com because “it frequently lists discounts on area hotels.”
To determine how much airfare will cost you, check out kayak.com/explore, says Ugochukwu. “For someone who wants to explore on a cheaper budget, it allows you to see where you can go and for how much.” And don’t just look at your local airport. You may save money by driving a couple of hours to a different one, particularly if it’s a major hub.
Another site Robinson likes is skyscanner.com: “If you have inflexible travel dates but you are open to destinations, put ‘everywhere’ in the destination tab and it will list the least to most expensive destinations for your dates.”
WHERE TO GO
On an escape to Bangkok, Thailand
Airfare is approximately $1,000 out of Atlanta, and AirBnB rentals in the city run about $100 or less per night. If you desire a bit more luxury, try the Sofitel Hotel for $150 per night for three nights and you will remain within your budget.
—Nadeen White, travel blogger at thesophisticatedlife.com
To a beachfront resort for a week
uller suggests a five-night vacation in Aruba at an all-inclusive property, such as the Divi Dutch Village Beach Resort. Or fly from New York to Costa Rica and stay four days at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, says Claudine WiIliams, editor-in-chief of somewhereluxurious.com.
IF YOU HAVE $2,000 PER PERSON:
Consider destinations in Africa and other parts of Asia, Ugochukwu says. Two of her recommendations: the Canary Islands, located off the northwestern coast of Africa, and Nha Trang, Vietnam, where “you can get by so cheap you can live lavishly.”
Another option for the this price point: Spend five to seven nights in Iceland, says White. With airfare from Atlanta at about $800 and the cost of hotels only $182 to $200 per night, you can enjoy a week in Reykjavík.
If you’d prefer an excursion that’s closer to the U.S., such as in the Caribbean or Central and South America, your $2,000 can get you first-class accommodations. In the continental U.S., you can go on a trip to multiple locations.
WHERE TO GO
Grenada for six nights
Fly from Miami for approximately $750 and stay in an oceanfront villa courtesy of AirBnB. Six nights will run you about $1,300.
—Claudine Williams, editor-in-chief at somewhereluxurious.com
On a drive through New England
Rent a car for a four- day jaunt through Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine. Get a feel for the area by staying at bed-and-breakfasts in each state, and enjoy shops, restaurants and the culture. Two top B&Bs: Simsbury 1820 House in Connecticut and The Inn at English Meadows in Maine.
—Sonjia “Lioness” Mackey, travel blogger at impossibleliving.me
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FIND A ROOMMATE. Some travel companies have “Find a Roommate” forums on their Web sites to help people who want to pair up with others if they are going on a vacay alone, says Greg Geronemus, co-CEO of touring company smarTours.
PACK LIGHT. With some airlines charging $25 and up per bag, get a backpack that you can carry onto the flight. Hotels may have free laundry service, so you can wash your clothes and wear them again.
CONSIDER OFF-SEASON. Take your trips during the so-called shoulder season— the time right before or after the peak travel period. For example, you’re likely to snag deals on flights and hotels in September, when kids are back at school.
ASK THE LOCALS. Touristy restaurants and entertainment venues are typically expensive. However, residents can tell you where they frequent—which is likely to be more affordable and have an authentic flavor.
BE SAVVY ABOUT MEALS. Book a hotel that has a stove and cook, or find happy hours, where you can dine cheaply.
SEEK LOCAL DEALS. Sites like groupon.com let you find deals for various locations by entering the zip code of the place you’re visiting.
TAP YOUR UBER APP. If Uber is available, it will probably be less expensive than a cab.
Tamara E. Holmes (@tamaraeholmes) is a Washington, D.C.–based journalist who writes about health, wealth and wisdom. After penning this article, she hopes to secure many more passport stamps.