Live Be Do, a travel group, was founded by Black traveler Akeem Tolson, and there’s a lot of meaning packed into those three words. While travel is frequently a topic of discussion, other subjects arise, so interaction never gets stale.
Akeem encourages people to live life to the fullest, and it’s hard not to be inspired to do that when looking at his lively pictures and commentary.
“Live Be Do is more than a travel group,” Akeem told Travel Noire. “We welcome people with many interests. Our main objective is to encourage people to put life on the front burner. We also encourage people to network and find their tribe within our group. Many of us can relate to having friends who don’t share our interests. I’m an introvert, so I’ve always been comfortable traveling and doing things on my own. However, there are lots of people who are apprehensive about solo experiences. We provide a forum for those people to connect.”
While there is a steady Black following, Live Be Do prides itself on being an inclusive space for members of all colors, genders, and sexual orientations. Akeem isn’t the kind of moderator who sits isolated in his castle without engaging. He shares his own travel adventures and tips, and makes members feel appreciated by dedicating posts to them on their birthdays. But above all, Live Be Do is an exercise in self-care.
“It is a personal mission statement that I created to avoid burn out,” Akeem explained. “I would often work myself to the point of depression. I kept promising that I would take a break after reaching a certain goal. The goals would come and go, but I refused to take a break and enjoy my accomplishments. I became intentional about scheduling breaks. I started to plan trips and other activities as a part of my lifestyle. This resonated with people and gave birth to our community.”
For Akeem, travel adds spice to an already flavorful life. He was born and raised in The Bronx, and went to Virginia to enlist in the Navy in 1994. He was introduced to cruises in 2006 by a dear friend, and in 2017, he decided to visit Haiti after reading about its history.
Many Black travelers feel an almost spiritual connection with Haiti, and they also realize just how much misinformation about the island has been circulated.
“My travel switched from vacations to cultural immersion when I visited Haiti,” Akeem said. “I felt an irresistible urge to visit Citadelle Laferriere in North Haiti- the largest fortress in the Americas. That’s when I realized that US mainstream media was inaccurate in its depictions of Black nations. Travel has opened me up to many realities and ideas, especially as it relates to Blackness on a global scale.”
Live Be Do has something for everyone, regardless of whether you travel often or not, and that’s part of what makes it so special. It’s a private group, and you have to fill out a questionnaire to be accepted.
Coordinating trips with multiple people can be tedious, but Akeem seems to have a knack for it.
“I create international itineraries based on experiences I enjoy, and relationships I have made in other countries,” he said. “Familiarity with the host culture creates great experiences for our guests. Each itinerary includes cultural activities, adventures, and of course, time for fun.”
Akeem leads trips to the Caribbean and South America, and is quite fond of the Black culture in Colombia. Across the Atlantic, there’s an excursion to Morocco in the preliminary stages for April 2022. Announcements on additional trips are expected to follow, and for those not in the position to travel overseas, there are meetups in the United States. This past July, Live Be Do hosted a hike in historic Stone Mountain Park in Georgia.
When not juggling the responsibilities of running the group, Akeem enjoys life’s simple pleasures.
“I enjoy playing my piano when I have time,” he said. “I also like fishing, cooking, and doing small projects around my house.“
The Instagram page @live_be_do features photos and videos of Akeem’s trips to Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and various US states. Check it out and be moved to put life on the front burner.