“One of our big mottos is book now, plan later,” Evita Robinson, founder of the Nomadness Travel Tribe gleefully admits. Even though we were chatting on the phone, I felt like I could see her fingering the pages of her passport with a smile stretched across her lips. Robinson’s got every right to be proud of herself and the way she moves around the world. The 30-year-old travel buff wanted to do more than collect brag-worthy Instagram snapshots; she wanted to spark a movement and she did. Nomadness is a collective of globe trotters, artists, entrepreneurs and diverse vacationers alike.
Nomadness is bigger than a travel group. “It’s really about the humanistic connection while we’re abroad in these places.” What started as a web series while Evita was living in Japan. She lived there for a year as a teacher and bartender. “None of my family, friends or even my boyfriend at the time came out to visit me,” Evita recalls. So that’s when she decided that she would start video taping her experiences to share with friends and family members.
“I decided to use Facebook as the vehicle to do that. I already had editing software on my computer. I had a really sh*tty camera. But I made due with it and I was still able to put these pretty cool vignettes together of what it was like living and backpacking in Asia. So that was really where Nomadness TV started.”
So where is Nomadness going? We chatted with Evita and she gave us all the tea about where Nomadness is going, why the world feels like Black people don’t travel, what she’s doing with Issa Rae and more!
HelloBeautiful: How did you get Nomadness where it is now?
ER: When I couldn’t find a diverse group of people in an online platform to be able to talk about these things to and build with, I decided I was going to create it. The first 100 people for Nomadness were from my friends list that qualified with the prerequisite of having at least one passport stamp. It grew literally through word of mouth and it just grew and grew and grew from there. To this day, Nomadness hasn’t paid not one cent for PR. It’s all been growth from word of mouth and people that are extremely loyal to the movement.
HB: Is every member created equal?
ER: The real hierarchy (I’m kind of sensitive to that word because it’s not like anyone is above one another) is more like they’re my business team that helps me keep stuff together. And when we came up with our nickname of what we wanted to be called, we kept with the whole tribal theme and high council came up and everybody got a good vibe like alright, we’re running with it. But high council is really kind of like the heartbeat and the inner workings of the group. These are the people that you know we have our meetings, we make the executive decisions on stuff, we have all the administrative abilities. We’re the ones that get the praise, we’re also the ones that get the flack.
So with me being kind of like front and center as the face and the personality that created Nomadness, these are the people to my right and my left and that’s Jason Francis, Macario James, Kali Blocker and Keith Swingle and we make up the Nomadness high council.
HB: Do other people travel with people outside of Nomadness as well?
ER: This is the thing about Nomadness–it’s a monster. It can be all-consuming. Like we laugh on the inside like now all of our regular Facebook feeds you can’t tell if it’s the feed of just the tribe. You end up friending a majority of your network after you get inside Nomadness.
People travel with friends, they definitely do, but the one problem that is consistent with most of us that are in Nomadness is that before we got in there, our friends were the ones that would flake on us when it came to trips. You know, everybody would be hyped at first when you bring up the idea of a trip but all of a sudden, ‘oh I can’t get the time off work,’ ‘I don’t have enough money’ and the next thing you know you’re the only person left and you’re like, ‘I don’t want to go by myself.’
Well when you go into Nomadness, one of our big mottos is book now, plan later. So if something drops that feels like a bunch of people are jumping on, you’re going to see literally in real-time dozens of real people buy into a certain trip or flight deal or whatever and you’re going to know that you’re not going to be the only person there.
The other thing with our members is that our members are not just U.S citizens. Literally of our 9,000, we’re still representative of over three dozen countries. It’s not just people going there; we have members that actually live there. I tell people all the time now, ‘I can’t go to a country and not have somebody there that isn’t a tribe member that I can’t reach out to or sleep on their couch or you know meet up for a meal.’
HB: Why do people feel like Black people don’t travel?
ER: Because they don’t see us traveling. When I started Nomadness, I was one of the people that was misconstrued. I was like I’m the only Black girl I see out here in my 20s doing it. I said to myself, ‘There’s got to be other women out here doing this. There’s got to be other people that I can relate to out here doing this.’ You just don’t see each other. And that was really the breath of Nomadness which I can create a forum where I can find those people and bring them altogether.
The truth of the matter is, we are out here. We are doing it. We’re running with the bulls. We’re in India attending Holy Festival. We’re rock climbing in Chiang Mei Thailand. We’re doing all of these things that everybody else in every other demographic does too. We’re just not given the forum to showcase that in mass media. That’s another one of the biggest things that I am trying to break with Nomadness. Everybody who knows me, knows especially with my background in media that I’ve been pushing and gunning hard for a travel show. And year by year, month by month, day by day, I inch closer and closer to that with some amazing things. What my goal is–is to be able to show and be that face of the movement, but also the idea that we are out here doing this stuff and the world needs to take notice and the market needs to take notice cause our dollars are green just like everybody else’s.
HB: Sadly, I missed the big deal to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Johannesburg that everyone and their momma purchased recently…
ER: We’re a group of avid travelers with travel as a lifestyle priority, so it’s like somebody who’s addicted to shoes, and they scour the sites for shoes, cheap shoes on their lunch break–it’s the same thing, except we look for different deals that people could have at different travel destinations.
It’s something that pops up when something is really, really good or something that people would feel the tribe would jump in on. Like it’s just members finding stuff and posting it. It’s not like something that’s completely set up. We jump. This is not the first time that this has happened. This is the first time that I think it went viral particularly on Black twitter.
I’m not particularly surprised by that but Nomadness is like the underground society of like the cool kids of travel. So when we get stuff, it’s usually pretty contained. I think the price point of this glitch was still asinine and the reach of it with other social networks and influencers; I just think it was something that exploded even outside of the walls of Nomadness.
You know there were people who were posting it on their personal page by telling friends and family. We had a member that bought 17 tickets that night just by herself!
HB: Tell us more about your partnership with Issa Rae…
ER: It’s a distribution deal with Issa Rae Productions and we’ve already signed off on that. She’s going to be distributing our web series. On our Nomadness trips, we videotape our trips and turn them into a web series called “The Nomadness Project.” You can see some of them now on our Nomadness Tribe YouTube page. By Spring 2015, we’re actually re-packaging and re-shooting and also shooting new stuff with our trips like to India and things that we have coming up this year. And now the Nomadness Project webs series is now moving to the Issa Rae Productions YouTube page.
HB: What else does Nomadness have up its sleeve?
ER: The #NMDN conference in 2015. That’s going to be coming in the latter part of this year and that’s what we’re really pushing right now. The conference is the intersection of travel, diversity and creativity. Made in the same breath as Nomadness, I was tired of either getting rejected from panels or conferences or not being invited to them and seeing that there’s no real diversity represented on their panels. Black people, mixed people, everybody is a part of this conversation.
They have these international travel conferences and there’s nothing international about it. I was just like, you know what we’re going to create our own conference and that’s it. There’s going to be a lot of factors to it; international music, culinary, international fashion, even dating while you’re a world traveler which I think is going to be really popular and kind of catchy because we are all trying to get chose.
We really are! If you want to join the Nomadness Travel Tribe, first wait in line, but find out more information here!