Be it the LGBTQ community faced with discrimination, the Black community confronted with white nationalism and police brutality, the American President telling Hispanics he’ll build a wall to keep them out, or Muslims being greeted with Islamophobia, the way minorities now travel has changed dramatically under the current Trump administration.
Let’s take the LGBTQ community, for example. According to a 2017 study from the International Gay and Lesbian Association (IGLTA), small businesses are now proving key in the planning of same-sex couple trips. IGLTA offers a trip planning tool that highlights LGBTQ-owned or friendly properties around the world, which can offer peace of mind for a community that is often refused service by virtue of their sexual identity.
Travel guides, such as Damron’s Men’s and Women’s guides, speak to the specific concerns of LGBTQ travelers.
“There is a real fear among same-sex couples and transgender people of interrogation at the U.S. border,” President and CEO of IGLTA told Skift writer, Sarah Enelow. “The rhetoric of the White House certainly puts fear into [LGBTQ] travelers.”
To combat these growing anxieties, minorities are turning towards their communities for travel resources that specifically address their safety concerns.
Looking at the Muslim community, technology is a big asset in the planning of trips. “We are definitely seeing the influence of a new breed of young travelers combining technology with a real desire to explore the world while still adhering to their faith-based needs,” said CEO of CrescentRating and HalalTrip, Fazal Bahardeen.
Muslim travelers are turning to companies like Book Halal Homes—a home sharing website similar to Airbnb—which caters exclusively to the Muslim community. An accommodation website for Muslims, by Muslims, helps foster a sense of camaraderie and community for travelers who fear Islamophobia.
For Black travelers, safety while traveling—particularly in the United States—is a major concern. There was a spike in targeted police brutality in 2017, with an estimated 987 people shot and killed by police, according to The Washington Post. One in five of these people were Black. This—in conjunction with an unprecedented 2017 NAACP travel ban for the state of Missouri—has created a palpable sense of fear among the Black community.
“I have members who have children who say: ‘I’m raising a young Black boy in America. Where can I travel to or potentially move to where I don’t feel like I have to fear for his life every time he wants to go outside and play?’” said the founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe, Evita Robinson. Nomadness Travel Tribe is made up of more than 22,000 members— the majority of which are Black women—and organizes trips and events geared specifically towards Black travelers.
Discrimination within travel impacts female travelers too, who are turning towards grassroots activism to achieve gender equality in this post-apocalyptic Trump-run world. Laura Mandala, the founder of Women in Travel & Tourism, encouraged women to boycott sexist businesses they come across in their travels with the unifying hashtag: #grabyourpurse.
“Every time we see an organization or an entity where women are not being treated equitably, we can point it out, we can send [the hashtag] out,” Mandala told Skift. “We’re encouraging women: Grab your bag, work somewhere else, grab your bag, go travel somewhere else.”
Women, who make up more than half of the travel consumer base, are not only changing the way they travel but are in turn reshaping the travel industry as a whole. Companies—such as Intrepid Travel and REI—are responding to the surge in female travelers with women-only group trips.
In the age of Trump, discrimination is invariably impacting all facets of life, including the way we travel. Minorities are ultimately leveraging technology and turning towards friends to help plan their trips. What Skift has dubbed ‘the Friend Economy,’ points to a larger trend of companies—such as Overnight—that is taking the current ‘sharing economy’ (Airbnb, HomeAway, etc.) and layering in a user’s personal network. With the future of travel being overshadowed by fear and anxiety, trust is swiftly becoming the most important currency travelers and travel companies have.
As a Jewish, female American/Israeli traveler I have always had to be mindful of where I travel. I am not allowed to visit most Arab countries because of my Israeli citizenship. Even if I held only American citizenship I would be fearful to travel as an observant and identifiable Jew. I am even hesitant to travel to Egypt and Jordan despite a peace treaty with them. When abroad and someone asks me where I’m from, I always hesitate before answering Israel, afraid that I will become the victim of anti-semitism. Thankfully I personally have not experienced any but I have friends that have.
Another side to planning a trip abroad is figuring out what I’ll eat. Similar to Muslims we have strict dietary laws which often means needing to bring food with us or manage only on fresh produce or whatever kosher products we’ve can find. Sometimes I miss not being able to taste local cuisine.
Despite this I love to travel and learn about other cultures and meet people from all walks of life regardless of race, religion, or orientation. At the end of the day I have found that we have a lot more in common then it would seem on the surface.
Thank you for your important article and the work that you do.