Women of color travel. And not only do we travel, we have inspiring talks and panel discussions about the importance of our travel narratives being represented in mainstream media and come up with solutions to break down barriers to ensure our perspectives are represented. See, because for women of color who make a life-long commitment to travel, we know this is just the beginning of a very colorful journey.
This past Tuesday, I had the privilege to participate in the very first Women of Color Travel event at the Park Hyatt Washington. Examiner.com, contributor, Priya Konings, did a great job recapping the evening. Get a glimpse inside!
D.C. is always full of exciting international events, especially in the context of media. Recently, such an event took place highlighting multicultural female writers who focus on travel. The event was held at the Park Hyatt Washington on November 17th, and was called the Women of Color Travel: Changing the Narrative in Travel Media. The event featured a panel of female travel writers discussing both diversity in travel as well as diversity amongst travel writers. The event was organized by Jessica van Dop DeJesus, travel writer and creator of the Dining Traveler website, a great travel website with an emphasis on food.
The event began at 7:00 p.m. with complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres provided by the epic Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt Washington. This was followed by an opening from keynote speaker Norie Quintos, who is the editor at large at National Geographic Travel Media. Next was an introduction by the organizer, Jessica van Dop DeJesus. The main event was the panel, which included panel speakers Bethany Manimbo of Visit Montgomery County, Ashlee Tuck of Will Drink for Travel, Metanoya Z. Webb of Globetrotting Stiletto, Robin Bennefield of Marriott Traveler, and Tanvi Rastogi of Tanvii. The panel was moderated by Jummy Olabanji of ABC 7 News.
The panel provided a lively discussion of what it is like to travel as a woman of color in other countries, and what it means to be a non-traditional travel writer. The women of the panel shared how their experiences bring a unique perspective to the writing they do, in that they can address safety, hospitality, discrimination, and social interactions from a different viewpoint than the average traveler. They also discussed multicultural family travel, and the changes they have seen in the advertising of destinations, brands, and travel media outlets to address the growing number of non-traditional travelling individuals and groups. Finally, they discussed how to promote travel, especially amongst their readers, who often follow them and read their work because of their gender, cultural or ethnic background, and their ability to discuss travel from their perspective.
The attendees asked a number of questions and expressed a great deal of enthusiasm and respect for the panel speakers, who undoubtedly are a group of charismatic and adventurous young women. Their insights can be helpful to anyone who is travelling outside of their comfort zone, whether it be because of their gender, race or something as simple as a dietary restriction. As noted by these women, travelling is in some ways supposed to be outside of your comfort zone; a way to help continue to grow and learn and have new experiences. Their insight can help insure that such experiences are positive experiences.
The event was free, and guests, which included travel writers, media, and those who have a passion for travel, received a complimentary gift bag with goodies from Soul Amenities, Yuk-B-Gone travel antibacterial sprays, US Virgin Islands Tourism, Miami CVB, Roam Right Travel Insurance, Visit Maryland, Brand USA, and NatGeo Traveler Magazine. Most valuable though was the opportunity to meet and talk with the members of the panel.