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Using travel – and an RV – as vehicles to break down stereotypes

A bit different than your typical family summer road trip, eight working adults and travel enthusiasts recently packed themselves in a recreational vehicle for a cross-country journey with the goal of inspiring today’s millennials to explore the world, discover their own identities and comprehend and change cultural stereotypes. The message: Only by actually experiencing other cultures do you truly understand their lifestyle and appreciate the behaviors that perpetuate negative labels such as “poor drivers,” “unhygienic” and “cheap,” along with other more offensive stereotypes.

Who would tackle such a difficult and emotionally charged conversation? The leaders of the Nomadness Travel Tribe. The group started on Facebook in 2011, after founder Evita Robinson returned to New York from living in Asia for more than a year and found herself in travel withdrawal and lacking a network of like-minded travelers. She decided to form an online group that would bridge her travel interests and cultural background.

Nomadness Travel Tribe has quickly amassed a following of nearly 5,000 global members (mostly African American and Latino) and serves as a private forum to discuss anything travel-related: where to go, what to do; navigating other countries’ customs/traditions; handling misconceptions members encounter about their own cultures or racial backgrounds; and everything in between.

The invite-only group is a vocal and active sounding board full of travel allies. The only requirement to join is at least one passport stamp. And the group definitely has that covered – as of last count, there are only 11 places in the world a tribe member has not visited. We’re talking real adventurers and wanderlusters here!

Robinson took the passion of the group and cultivated it to raise more than $25,000 via crowd-sourcing and corporate sponsorships to embark on a three-week, cross-country RV tour to seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The tour’s purpose was for Robinson to lead the charge and share her knowledge and advice with students not unlike herself less than a decade ago – some may say naive, but she says “inquisitive and no doubt, capable of changing beliefs.”

This philosophy struck a chord with travel resource and sponsor, Hotels.com, “We encourage people to follow their passions when determining where to travel. Why not follow a whim and embark on a trip specifically to experience cuisine, art or music,” says Taylor L. Cole, travel expert for Hotels.com. “Our partnership with Nomadness helped take this a step further by encouraging the next generation of global explorers to use those experiences to also find their own identities and assimilate with other cultures while dispelling negative stereotypes.”

One example Robinson gives students about appreciating cultures is truly understanding why many taxi drivers in New York are from India and have developed driving tactics some may find terrifying. She points out that they grew up around similar traffic in India and simply find the New York congestion to be normal, but need to drive defensively.

Robinson reflected on the stories she shared with students on the RV tour, “I’m so lucky to have visited so many different countries, but am truly honored to have shared my experiences with more than 1,700 budding globe-trotters through this tour. If just one nugget of what I said helps them better understand another human being, I’ll consider it a success. If they go on to travel and experience that change themselves … well then it’s a victory!”

To learn more and join the Nomadness Travel Tribe, visit: nomadnesstv.com/home. For travel destination inspiration based on your wanderlust, check out Hotels.com’s expert recommendations.

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