This Festival Celebrates BIPOC Travelers — and It's Happening Just Outside NYC Next Month

After a three-year hiatus, the festival returns in-person in Newark, New Jersey, from Sept. 9 to 11.

Illustration for NOMADNESS Fest
Photo: Courtesy of NOMADNESS Fest

As connected as the world is today, traveling the globe as a person of color inherently puts the color of our skin at the forefront of how we're perceived and can bring about specific challenges. The Nomadness Fest, which will be held from Sept. 9 to 11, 2022, in Newark, New Jersey, brings BIPOC travelers together, elevating our voices in a three-day event, filled with much-needed discussions, panels, and networking sessions.

"We've curated an amazing experience for our attendees, vendors, and sponsors," one of Travel + Leisure's Most Notable People in Travel in 2021 Evita T. Robinson, founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe and Nomadness Fest, told T+L. "[This] is the first year we've really doubled down on [including] the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) [community] and really created the olive branch for our Asian, Latinx, and Indigenous brothers and sisters to have their time on our stage as well. No one of these demographics is a monolith, and we are happy to provide a space where we can represent ourselves."

Returning in person after a three-year pandemic-induced hiatus, Nomadness Fest (previously known as Audacity Fest) will shine a spotlight on intersectionality through the year's theme, Traveling in Color: The BIPOC Experience. As the "premier event for travelers of color," which is about "amplifying and celebrating the contributions of Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous travelers within the tourism industry," according to Robinson, the festival is open to everyone who shares a love of travel. "We also welcome allies who know that when they walk into our space, they're the students of the experience," she continued.

After being a three-time expat — having lived in Paris; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Niigata, Japan — Robinson became "fueled" by wanderlust, yet there was something missing. "Living, especially in Asia, I found a real need to find travelers that looked like me," she said. "I knew I wasn't a silo of one, but in 2011, we didn't have the communities we do today. There were bloggers, but not influencers. There were photographers and videographers, but not travel content creators as we know them to be today. I sought out to create a home for whomever wanted to partake."

So she created Nomadness Travel Tribe in 2011. It started with 100 members and has now grown to an impressive 31,000. In 2018, a New York City conference that the group held a few times grew into a festival, first in Oakland, California, then in Memphis, where the attendance more than doubled. And this year marks an even more personal take as she brings it to her "resident city" of Newark, New Jersey.

Travel + Leisure will be a major part of the festival, with editor-in-chief Jacqueline Gifford as one of the featured speakers. "Evita has built an incredible global community, one that is engaged and passionate about travel and all the good it represents," Gifford said. "It is a community built on tolerance, respect, curiosity, and equity. I am honored to be a part of the first in-person Nomadness Fest in some time, as we look to come out of COVID, meet fellow travelers, and discuss where our industry is moving in 2022 and beyond."

The feeling is echoed by Robinson, who said: "Whether you're an established travel content creator, writer, or novice, everyone wants to know what's behind the curtain. What are press outlets, brands, and destinations looking for when they are considering working with talent and organizations? Editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure magazine Jacqui coming on board is massive because our audience is hearing the information straight from the top. It's very rare that this type of access is granted to our community. We're proud of these coveted relationships."

The weekend agenda kicks off with the first-ever industry and VIP day at the Newark Art Museum on Friday, followed by a full Saturday of programming at Mulberry Commons, with sessions on remote working and living; moving abroad as an educator; tiny home truck living; content creation; travel hacks with points; monetizing travel; investing abroad; politics and culture; and more. Among the speakers are Black Travel Alliance president Martinique Lewis; Travel Like a Bawse founder Shakeemah Smith; remote work expert Libryia Jones; Gen-Z travel expert Gabby Beckford; Newark influencer Lauren Lebeaux; and Robinson herself, among others. The final day will be a Tribe barbecue at Military Park.

"We hope attendees leave informed and feeling represented," Robinson said. "Nomadness Fest has been dubbed the family reunion of the travel industry for Black and brown nomads — we love that."

To learn more about the festival, visit Nomadness Fest's site or register to attend at this link.

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