Photo Credit: En Root Travel
En Root: The Black Travel Group Showing HBCU Alum The African Diaspora
Black travel group, En Root Travel, connects HBCU alumni with travel experiences throughout the African Diaspora by focusing on tourism, service, culture, and supporting Black-owned businesses. The company was founded by 25-year-old teacher Nicole Sahbaee of San Jose, CA and 24-year-old Tyshana Richard-Curry, a video editor from Rockaway, New Jersey.
The two met in 2014 while pursing their respective degrees at Howard University. Both having signed up to participate in Howard’s Alternative Spring Break community service project in St. Louis, sat next to each other during the 16-hour bus ride. They talked the whole ride and by the time they arrived in St. Louis, they had become best friends.
Both travel lovers, Nicole and Tyshana traveled to at least seven countries together before graduating from Howard.
“Our junior year at Howard,” recalls Nicole, “we were in South Africa talking about how amazing our travel experiences had been and how we wanted to continue traveling after graduation. We also noticed that some of our friends who recently graduated would tell us that the only time they really felt that sense of HBCU community after graduation was at Homecoming. We wanted to create a space where HBCU alumni could gather together and share experiences, enjoy each other’s company, and connect with Black people, and culture globally.”
Although En Root is a place for HBCU alumni, anyone of the African diaspora is welcome to join their trips. The company aims to foster a family-like community of Black travelers who explore and learn together while supporting Black-owned businesses and having a positive impact on the places they visit.
In 2019, En Root Travel took its first trip to South Africa. The group first visited Johannesburg, exploring the historic Soweto township famous for its resistance to apartheid. They toured museums and monuments and enjoyed South African cuisine, night clubs, and bars. They also attended Afropunk and a safari.
Next they traveled to Cape Town, where they visited Table Mountain and a prison that held Nelson Mandela and many other South African political prisoners.
With a goal of keeping groups small and intimate, Nicole and Tyshana aim for a 10-12 person maximum for every trip.
“With smaller groups people have a chance to really get to know each other and enjoy the trip more.”
The group also completed two service projects during the trip, an aspect En Root is intentional about fulfilling.
“On all our service projects, we will be giving our time and making monetary donations to uplift what community members are already doing to positively impact their community. This could look like anything from a beach clean up, an afternoon at a Boys & Girls Club, or painting a mural with local students. It’s these moments that are really the highlight of our trips. We get to connect with people in the community and learn each other’s cultures while discovering how similar we are.”
This is one of the facets of En Root which sets them apart from other Black travel group experiences. A company that considers itself very people-based, Nicole and Tyshana are extremely detail-oriented when planning experiences.
“We love to have a great time on trips, taking photos, going dancing, and having great drinks, but the heart of En Root Travel is our connection to people. The details we put into being intentional global travelers and being aware of our impact on the communities we visit makes all the difference. When you travel with us it’s like having two concierges with you. We have relationships with every driver, chef, tour guide, and host on our trips. Anything you need, we got you and we’ll be with you the whole way!”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, En Root Travel’s plans to visit St. Croix and Ghana last year were put on hold. However, Nicole and Tyshana were able to utilize their time at home to launch their apparel collection and blog, HBCU Traveler Voices.
This summer, the Black travel group is headed to the Bahamas for a luxury trip. Trips for next year to Ghana, St. Croix, Mexico, and South Africa will be opening for registration later this year. The company will also begin offering personal trip planning services, as well.