Despite the exhaustion of the pandemic and cultural reckoning of the past two years, Black millennials are reclaiming their joy and taking to the friendly skies to explore the world. According to recent studies, the amount of young Black leisure travelers has skyrocketed in recent years, bringing $109.4 billion dollars into the industry. Thus, the need for safe spaces to connect and share stories and insights is more important than ever. Inspired by this growing movement, Joc James and Matt P., both HBCU graduates, launched “Thee Travel Hour” podcast as a platform to share their travel perspectives as young, Black working professionals with guides and resources based on their experiences.

The bi-weekly show seeks to serve as a modern-day version of Victor Hugo Green’s Negro Motorist Green Book by amplifying perspectives to promote safety, confidence, and independence. As avid travelers themselves, the co-hosts are focused on providing resources to empower novice and seasoned globetrotters alike. Their hope is to highlight the importance of wanderlust and relaxation for working professionals who deserve to take their hard-earned PTO. They also want to increase the representation of Black men in travel who currently only account for 37% of current voyagers. “Thee Travel Hour is more than a podcast,” says James. “Our hope is that this platform encourages dope black travelers to explore new places, peoples and cultures while creating a community that we can lean on to grow as travelers.”

Thee Travel Hour Podcast hosts Joc James and Matt P. in Santorini, Greece. Image: courtesy of subjects.

Their number one tip is to do some initial groundwork before planning your next big trip. They advise, “Before you start exploring, always prioritize safety and do your research before you go. Read reviews and don’t be afraid to ask folks who have already been. The Jet Black Travel Group is a great tool to leverage where folks will share their tips, itineraries, and recommendations for places they have visited. Additionally, a quick search on TikTok and/or Instagram can often yield great results.”

If you’re looking into a shorter domestic trip, they encourage branching out of the more obvious flashy locations, as the U.S. has so many untapped cities to explore. They share, “Sometimes it can be hard to look past the Miami beaches and Vegas casinos, but there is so much more beyond the typical party destinations but don't be afraid to venture out…see y’all outside!”

Ready to start booking? Keep reading for the co-hosts' top suggestions for traveling smarter and three budget-friendly stateside destinations that are perfect for a summer getaway.

Travel Smarter Within the U.S.

1. Use your personal vehicle to do weekend getaways. 

2. Consider destinations that are reachable by train or bus. 

3. Amtrak is a great option that is usually less expensive than flying and alleviates the pressure of driving home sleep deprived and dehydrated. 

4. If you do decide to fly, look at booking two one-way flights to get a better deal with multiple airlines.

5. Use any vouchers, credits, or miles that you have saved up. 

Charlotte, North Carolina

Sycamore Brewery, Charlotte, NC. Image: courtesy of Charlotte Tourism.

Matt P. explains, "The Queen City once was a hidden gem, but folks have caught on to the benefits that the largest city the Carolinas has to offer. Charlotte is driving distance from Atlanta, DC and all things in between. Charlotte is also a 2-hour drive from the Appalachian Mountains and picturesque Asheville, NC." He says, "You can also get to the beaches on the Atlantic coast in about 3.5 hours. If you're in the city, there is plenty to do. The epicenter is in the heart of Uptown and provides many restaurants, bars, and museums to explore. You can also check out up and coming areas like Southend, The NC Music Factory and Camp North End."

Houston, Texas

3rd Ward Bike Tour Houston, Texas. Image: Instagram/@3rdwardtours.

"Houston has grown to be the new mecca for Black folks. You can find just about anything here in the nation's third largest city. There's always has something going on from festivals, concerts, rodeos (yes, Black folks go to rodeos), etc. Houstonians know how to have a good time" details James. "Make sure to check out the historic 3rd Ward district, which is home to many Black-owned bars, lounges and clubs, and amazing food. If you want to explore the Gulf Coast, head to Galvsetson, Texas. It’s just a quick 45-minute drive down the interstate and has plenty of vibes."

Denver, Colorado

Mills Lake in Denver, Colorado. Image: courtesy of Steven Bratman.

"If you are looking for a place that is scenic, has art, and has great beer then the Mile High City is the place to visit!" The co-hosts detail, "Downtown Denver is very walkable and easy to get from one place to the next. While visiting, be sure to catch a baseball game at Coors Field and watch the Rockies play." Lastly, "No trip to Denver is complete without taking a road trip out to the mountains to take in those breathtaking views. It can be done in a day and you can be back to the city in time for dinner. Lastly, visit the Red Rocks for a hike or to catch a concert at the Red Rock Amphitheater."