“Get Out”. This Mom Inspires Black Families to Travel With a Never-ending Road Trip

“Get Out”. This Mom Inspires Black Families to Travel With a Never-ending Road Trip

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Kay Apkan got a bad vibe from her family’s RV park in Galveston, Texas.
The Apkans, who have been traveling across the country since 2020, are used to being the only black people in some places, but this time it felt different.
“It was pretty scary,” she said, recalling the “interesting stares” that nearby RVs and golf carts received as they hoisted Confederate flags.

She worries about her son Aiden, who loves to explore on his bike.
“In a place like that … what if he rides somewhere and someone looks at him, thinks he said something or did something, and decides to do it himself?” Apkan said, she worries ” Emmett-Till situation.”

She knew they had to get out of there and did, but many families of color don’t always know what to expect when they travel, or where to go for help. So Apkan took it upon himself and created a community.

A safe space

Apkan, known on social media as “Mama Troy,” created the Facebook group and nonprofit Black Kids Do Travel to “encourage families to see the world and encourage Black families to get out.”

In 2020, when she and her husband first sold their home and took their son on an RV adventure, she discovered a plethora of Facebook groups for people sharing their nomadic lifestyle and love of travel.
“However, whenever I post about traveling as a family of color … whenever I’m curious about ‘will I be able to get here’ or ‘what’s going on’, people will always downplay my feel,” she said.

At first, Upkan said, she felt exasperated. “I realized in the end, it was because they had never experienced it. They didn’t know what it was to travel as a black woman,” she said.

According to MMGY Global’s 2021 research report Black Traveller, more than 70% of black travelers in the US and Canada believe that safety has a great or very big influence on choosing a destination. The report surveyed more than 2,100 black leisure travelers in both countries.

Common experience

Courtney and Justin Orgias, who shared their nomadic trips on Instagram under the name O Family Adventures, told U.S. Daily: “Traveling with kids is complicated, but when you add in being a black family, it takes more. Much thought has been given to ensure we are all safe and comfortable as we explore the world. They are one of 31,000 people in the Black Kids Travel community.

“Having a space like Black Kids Do Travel is important because it allows us to support other families who are similar to us and therefore have similar considerations/concerns when traveling,” they said. “We can get relevant feedback about places and share concerns that others might not understand.”

The Ojas, who have two young children, say the group not only provides them with travel tips and inspiration, but helps them vet potential destinations, hear from other parents and feel better prepared.

New beginning

“It’s really grown over the years, and every time I’ve been in this group and I’m always excited to see a family say, ‘Hey, this is my first time flying. This is my first time here.. …the first time I took my kids to a place I would never have done without this group,” Apkan said with a smile.

She recognizes that these might sound like small accomplishments to frequent travelers, but “in the black children’s tour group, there are some adults who never leave their hometowns, never leave their zip codes, so It’s a lot of new beginnings, and the gap is so crazy,” she said. “It’s a big problem for us.”

“Sometimes you just have to see someone else do something like you and you’re like, ‘You know what, I have this ability, I can do this,'” Apkan added.

Say yes

Her family is a living testimony.
In addition to exploring the country in their RV, they also try to travel abroad at least once a month. Some of her favorite destinations are Brazil, Colombia and Taiwan, which she loves so much that she considered moving there. Her son Aiden’s favorite country so far is El Salvador.
“I love the food and the black-sand beaches,” he said, praising the surfing, zip lining and other activities there.

“If your parents ask you if you want to travel somewhere…always say yes, because you’ll have a lot of fun,” he advises his peers. “I want other kids to know that you can learn a lot from traveling, especially more than you can read in books.”

Apkan encourages people to start small, even if it’s just attending a cultural event or trying another country’s cuisine in their own city.

“You don’t have to be on a plane or a cruise ship to travel somewhere. Just get out of your comfort zone. Get in the car,” she said. “Maybe the next time you take a road trip, maybe it’s just a short flight to another state. Just a little bit at a time so you can go further where you’re comfortable.”