Travel

Cross the Country with These Road Trip Routes for Black Travelers

Some are calling Crush Global the modern-day Green Book.

CrushGlobal Travel
CrushGlobal Travel
CrushGlobal Travel

The idea of the “great American road trip” has often been romanticized as the best way to travel and see impressive sights around the US. But navigating the road as a Black traveler is not always an easy task, as we’re often met with racism across the country. The Negro Motorist Green Book, aka the Green Book, was first published in 1936 by Victor Hugo Green to provide Black people with safe places to eat and sleep while road tripping across the US, so that their travels would be less dangerous and dare we say even a bit enjoyable.

Seeing a rise in road tripping during the beginning of the pandemic, award-winning journalist Kristin Braswell saw an opportunity to create inclusive road trip guides for today’s landscape, to provide an alternative way to travel-and to highlight Black- and POC-owned businesses along the routes. Thus, the Crush Global road trips guides were born, offering curated and personalized trips around the US with inclusivity at the forefront. Braswell started Crush Global in 2016, after years of being a travel writer. “Early on in my career, I was having all of these incredible experiences while I was travelling to interview people and visit new places to report on,” says Braswell. “And I thought to myself, I want to share these experiences. I truly believe that travel should be accessible for all people; a passport is the greatest education one can give themself. And a big component of my passion is just supporting businesses around the world.”

CrushGlobal Travel
CrushGlobal Travel
CrushGlobal Travel

The company offers group trips that focus on strengthening local economies as well as travel that’s accessible to all. Before the pandemic, business was thriving. But when travel slowed down, Braswell (like many others in the travel industry) had to pivot her business model to focus on domestic trips. “The idea of the curated road trips around the US came about during the height of the pandemic,” she says, “when I was-quite frantically, to be honest-trying to figure out how to keep my business afloat due to international borders being closed at the time.”

Up until then, Crush Global had been very much reliant on international travel. She and others in the industry were reeling not only about how to generate revenue, but also how to stay connected to the world and other people amid all the isolation.”I thought this was just a great alternative, since a lot of people couldn’t get on planes-or wouldn’t get on planes because of safety reasons,” says Braswell. “It’s a great way for people to still be able to explore, to still be able to have that connection, that feeling of curiosity and adventure that travel brings. They would just have to get behind the wheel and my team and I would create these pre-made guides.”

Being that Black travellers are often overlooked in the travel industry even though the Black dollar is powerful, Braswell also wanted to put a spotlight on and support Black-owned businesses that were disproportionately affected during the pandemic. Some would say that her road trip guides can be considered the modern-day Green Book, but Braswell is humble about the comparison.

CrushGlobal Travel
CrushGlobal Travel
CrushGlobal Travel

“I feel honored that people include the initiative and the vision that I have at Crush Global as part of something as revolutionary and as important as the Green Book was,” states Braswell. “In a lot of ways, when I was planning the road trips during the pandemic, I was simply trying to find a way for people to still be able to travel and for that travel to be inclusive-whether you’re gay or black or disabled.”

And that’s exactly what the guides do. Future road trippers can choose between custom trips or premade guides. Personalized custom trips start at $299, depending on the guest’s budget and time frame. It can include hotel reservations, insider discounts, special wine tastings, and coveted reservations. The premade guide, on the other hand, costs between $29 to $59. It ranges in options from a food lovers’ tour in the South to a wine trip to California.

With international borders being wide open yet again, Braswell is working on creating some awe-inspiring group travel trips for 2023, which people can sign up for now to get information. But Crush Global’s road trips are still popular amongst Braswell’s clients.

CrushGlobal Travel
CrushGlobal Travel
CrushGlobal Travel

Here are three examples of a few road trips Crush Global has to offer, so you can hit the road for a great escape.

The Northeast Road Trip Guide includes six glorious days through New York City, Beacon, the Berkshires, and Newport. Guests will explore a route that includes farmsteads, wineries, canoeing, breweries, hiking, and even horseback riding, as well as walking along a historic African-American outdoor trail that celebrates activists.

The Southern Road Trip Guide winds for seven days through New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Macon, Atlanta, and Savannah, where guests can savour the best southern food that each city has to offer. Then drivers can hit up historical points of interest in each city, like Savannah’s beautiful, less-frequented beaches or the French Quarter in New Orleans-or a spooky walking tour with a supernatural leaning. Not only will you be eating well, you can hear about Black people’s history in each city.

The California Food and Wine Road Trip Guide is seven wonderful days of drinking and eating your way through Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Oakland, Sonoma, and Napa. On this trip, you’ll be able to stop at a few of Oprah’s favorite haunts, likeModel Bakery-because who doesn’t want a chance to be like Oprah for a day? This trip will also include winery and restaurant recommendations that focus on Black business owners.

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Yolanda Evans’ work has appeared in Zora, Forbes, Travel & Leisure, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, The Cocktail Lovers, and Savoring Gotham.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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