For Buffalo native Tony Stanford, Jr., traveling has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. He took his first solo flight at the age of 7 and has been seeing the world ever since.

After graduating from Alabama A&M, Tony relocated to Charlotte and kept his travel bug going. What started out as just 30 friends coming together to celebrate his 25th birthday on a cruise, has now grown into an annual travel meetup for young professionals across the nation.

Photo by Portier McCoy

Winter Xscape, as it is now known, is an annual meetup where friendships, business deals, and even marriages have formed. 

“My friend and trip roommate Cory met his now-wife, Ebony on the first trip and they have been married for 8 years now,” Tony told Travel Noire.

What makes this event stand out from the average group travel experience is that Tony and his team curate a 5-day trip to a new destination each year. The trip is filled with themed networking events and cultural experiences. Their main goal is to encourage young professionals of color to simply travel.

Photo by Kory Williams

In January, they hosted their 11th trip which was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Of the 150 attendees, 25% were return guests, and among the first-timers, 40% received their first passport stamp.

“One thing our committee is extremely proud of is that we provide an opportunity for people who usually miss out on traveling because their friends don’t or won’t travel,” Tony said. “This allows them to travel without being truly solo.”

The trips occur during Aquarius Season each year to coincide with Tony’s birthday. Next year’s trip destination will be announced on April 1st. For those that are looking for something sooner, the group will host a smaller version called WX Spring Fling, April 24-28 in Curacao. That trip is capped at 20 attendees to keep it more intimate.

Photo by Portier McCoy

Check out the website to register for the upcoming trips. You can also follow on Instagram at: @winterxscape.

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