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 BIPOC-owned businesses along the routes. Thus, the CrushGlobal road trips guides were born, offering curated and personalized trips around the US with inclusivity at the forefront. Here’s how she did it, and some recommended routes to take.
“A passport is the greatest education one can give themself.”
Braswell started CrushGlobal 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 traveling 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.”
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, CrushGlobal 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.
“To still be able to have that connection, that feeling of curiosity and adventure that travel brings.”
“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 travelers 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.
“I feel honored that people include the initiative and the vision that I have at CrushGlobal 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 CrushGlobal’s road trips are still popular amongst Braswell’s clients.
Here are three examples of a few road trips CrushGlobal 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 savor 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.