PassportsTatted’s Founders On The Importance Of Black Men In International Travel
By Sharelle Burt
Black travel is on the rise. Once upon a time, all we would see on our social media timelines were Vegas backgrounds and brown feet on the sands of South Beach. Travel was primarily stateside until the basic trips got a little boring. Now, pictures are being taken in places like Thailand and Argentina, thanks to travel groups who saw the importance of black international travel.
While working in Europe, Jarveal Baker noticed that there were plenty of black women exploring but something was missing: men. After returning to the States, he was curious to know why. Raising the question to his close friend Kevin Noble, they decided to ask friends.
“The main thing we heard was we don’t want to plan or we don’t know how much it costs,” Noble told TN. “We all know how it goes, you have a plan with like 30 people and when its time to go its only 3 of y’all, so we took the common things we were hearing and said we can fill this gap.” That’s when PassportsTatted was born.
Created in 2013, PassportsTatted is a travel group inspiring men of color working in all fields and backgrounds to travel internationally. After accepting the challenge, the first trip they took was to Toronto. With just nine on board, Noble said, “this is going to be a thing.”
“We’re going to inspire men of color to travel and see the rest of the world,” Noble said. “They have no reason anymore not to travel, we can ride this platform for them.” Since then, the men have been on seven trips, crossing exotic places like Costa Rica, Brazil, and Thailand off their list. Soon after that, Kevin and Jarveal decided to take it up a notch and hosted a European trip, getting stamps from the Netherlands and Germany at the same time.
To find out where interested travelers want to go, PT sends out a survey asking them to select a country as well as how much they are willing to spend and activities they may like. What country they decide to travel to next depends on the number of votes. They do offer a payment plan, with accommodations and excursions included in the final cost. Flights and food are not included. Taking into consideration what started the group originally, they also give you a play-by-play of everything you may need, like a passport, and lists of what you can and cannot bring. Things like vaccination requirements or how to get a Visa are key reasons as to why black men weren’t traveling in the first place.
One man took his first ever international trip with the brothers and because PT was so diligent in their preparation, he hasn’t been able to get rid of the travel bug. “It’s having an impact on people that have never been on a plane before,” Noble said. “It’s been amazing.”
Word started to get out about the organization’s success, and the ladies wanted in. Earlier this year, PT opened the doors for women to travel with them, starting the Passports Tatted Too movement. The combined duo took their first trip to Jamaica together and Noble said it was an amazing experience.
“Honestly traveling with women was one of the best decisions we made because on one end when you travel with men, its a different experience. It’s not just about partying anymore,” the 28-year-old said.
“With women, it’s a completely different dynamic.” Changing the dynamic of black men and travel was the goal. Noble says it’s important for black men to travel to change the stigmas that the media has placed on them. “Every time we go overseas, they ask us what team do we play for. I think it’s our duty to go around the world and show other people that it’s not what you see on TV.”
Besides giving people the travel bug and playing cupid on trips, the Florida A&M University grads give back to their alma mater. They created the Passports Tatted Global Access Grant, a grant covering the costs of passports, which nowadays is close to $200. During homecoming this year, Tatted awarded three lucky students, giving them a chance to see the world outside of pictures.
“When I was in college, I wasn’t even thinking about traveling and I definitely didn’t have the funds,” Noble laughs. “You have access to the rest of the world to learn so much more than you can learn in the classroom. It was really important for us to be able to give back.” Noble and Baker hope to partner with other HBCUs in this effort.
The buzz around PT is getting louder as they started planning trips for outside clients. Baker and Noble also are gearing up for 2019 trips, so stay tuned for those details.