When Phil Calvert hopped on a flight to play basketball overseas, he had no idea that it would change his life forever. He quickly took notice that a lot of Europeans were traveling casually on the weekends and holidays. Like anyone else, Calvert wondered how people were able to afford this type of luxury. “After doing research, I found out that traveling throughout Europe extremely affordable,” Calvert told Travel Noire. “So that’s how I started.”
That was almost ten years ago.
Today, Calvert is a travel influencer that goes by the name Philwaukee, a YouTube star known for his vibrant personality and videos exploring cultures from all over the world. He has taken the internet by storm, visiting over 65 countries and sharing his experiences. Philwaukee’s Youtube channel hosts a range of content from chatting with locals to flexing his chiseled physique to learning new ways of life, like how to wear a saree. “At my core, the love of culture inspires me,” Calvert said.
Although he’s a huge advocate of positivity, his international journey wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. He learned early on that he was a long way from his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Being a black man overseas is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Even with close to 40,000 followers on Instagram, Calvert has experienced his share of adversity. “I was once in Italy and mistaken for an African immigrant. They denied me access from using their bathroom,” Philwaukee remembered. “Then someone heard my American accent. They proceeded to give me the whole ‘you’re from the USA! I have family there’ speech.” Ultimately, stories like helped the former ballplayer land one of his biggest gigs yet.
Calvert is now the first black male set to host a travel show on the Matador Network, a network strictly geared toward highlighting travel. The vivid traveler says viewers can definitely expect him to be himself, still doing what he does best. Though excited, Philwaukee says it was a big change for him. His email and DMs were already booming but since the announcement, he has gotten overwhelmed with messages from people saying how he has inspired them to travel. “Travel is important and can change your life just as it did my life,” Philwaukee told TN. He also says that before the show, he was using his phone to create or smaller cameras so the production level was extremely different. With this new opportunity comes responsibility, something that he knows well and he’s ready for the challenge. “Authenticity is a very big deal to me and I didn’t want to jeopardize that. I made sure to be true to myself: a black man spreading positivity while jumping into new cultures.”
Inspiring others to travel is very important to Phil. As one of the first in his family to ever leave the states, Philwaukee is proud to change the game for black male travelers, acknowledging the fact African-Americans are treated differently overseas. “One of the first things that was said to me when I got off the plane in Europe was that ‘most people here have never seen an African-American before in person, so if they stare, don’t take it personally’,” Philwaukee told TN. “I was uncomfortable at the thought however I could see the joy I brought to some new faces as I made eye contact with them and smiled or said ‘what’s up’ in my American accent. A simple greeting can change a lot.”
This new show is just the beginning for the Milwaukee native. He continues to set goals for himself and has no plans to stop anytime soon. “As an influencer, I feel like it’s my duty to taste this-or-that or go here or there and take the epic picture that almost risked my life so that I can hashtag it #TravelNoire to attempt to get featured!”
Well, now you can erase that off your to-do-list, Philwaukee. Be sure to check out his new show, Phil Good Travel, on the Matador Network in February.