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How I Roll: Nomadness Travel Tribe founder Evita Robinson

Jan. 29, 2022
9 min read
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Welcome to How I Roll, TPG’s airport routine series, covering everything from how jet-setters prepare for a trip to what they wear on the plane.

We caught up with Nomadness Travel Tribe creator Evita Robinson before she headed out on vacation to Egypt. The Nomadness Travel Tribe is a social community for travelers of color that organizes trips and hosts an annual travel and cultural festival called Nomadness Fest.

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(Photo by Bereng Monareng for Evita Robinson)

The itinerary

In December 2021, Evita visited Egypt. The Nomadness Travel Tribe has trips to Cartagena, Colombia, planned from Feb. 23-28, March 2-7, and March 9-14.

Pre-departure prep

TPG: What does your pre-travel to-do list entail? Do you have any must-do activities around the house before leaving?

ER: I am a daily checklist person only because my brain has only so much capacity with running Nomadness, I have to make sure I don’t forget stuff. I have a couple of rituals, one of them is a checklist, and that happens 48 to 24 hours before I leave. It’s always the last little tidbits that you forget that can really mess you up when you’re on the road, such as making sure I have all the chargers and passport. Checklists are integral for me.

A number of days before a trip, especially if I’m on the road for a while, I start sorting my laundry where I start tossing the clothes and accessories that I know I’m going to wear for that trip in the corner — it’s kind of like pre-packing. As I audit my closet for what I feel is going to be in the suitcase for this trip, I put clothes and such into a certain section of my closet, so that starts to streamline the process.

I also have pets (two cats), so I make sure the feline babies are a big part of my pre-departure rituals — from making sure someone is booked to watch them have all of their food set up for the duration of the trip while I’m gone to finalizing anything they need.

I make sure the apartment is clean. Literally, if I walk back into my apartment and it’s exactly how I left it before I went on my trip, that is bliss to me. I don’t want to have to do anything. And there are systems I have for that with cats shedding, so I have a blanket I put on my bed to capture their fur while I’m gone. When I get home, I can take that off and it’s comfortable and clean. You find these systems that you develop.

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(Photo by Bereng Monareng for Evita Robinson)

Packing strategy

TPG: Do you carry on or check your luggage?

ER: I’m a cuber where I can; I think it’s the most efficient. I am team carry on. The last trip I had was two weeks. When I have equipment on me, I do have to check a bag, but in order to fit everything I can into my carry-on, I am definitely a cube user.

TPG: Is there a particular carry-on bag or suitcase that’s your go-to?

ER: I’m not a luggage brand loyalist. I have an iFLY, and I ordered another one off of Amazon, but I don’t even remember the brand. I am starting to have an affinity towards aluminum luggage. I love the sleekness, and it looks like you’re rolling through the airport with a briefcase full of money. Hard case [luggage] for me is a must, as it needs to be durable. The carry-on I use the most is iFLY right now.

TPG: Do you tend to pack light or overpack?

ER: I try my best to not have a bunch of stuff. Sometimes you can get bogged down by your luggage, and I don’t want that. My itineraries tend to be pretty intense, so I don’t need that added to the mix.

TPG: What are your carry-on essentials?

ER: I have to have my journal, pens, my laptop in my carry-on, essential oils and if I’m flying domestic, CBD. The big things for me are my journals and the book I’m reading at the time. I'm a big bibliophile, so I need to be able to read and write.

TPG: What’s your go-to travel outfit and footwear?

ER: Right now, the footwear is Birkenstock. My go-to outfit depends on where I’m going and what the weather is going to be like on the way there. If I can come up with a hybrid that's both stylish and comfortable, that’s what it is — comfort over everything. Maybe a month ago I brought this up in Nomadness. I’ve been finding that I wear rompers, which aren’t the most efficient, but I love the comfort of it when I fly and that’s been my go-to [outfit] this year for some reason.

Before boarding

(Photo by Bereng Monareng for Evita Robinson)

TPG: Do you get to the airport early or with just enough time to spare?

ER: I come from the land of standby travel because most of my travel is done on benefits. The thing with standby travel is that you’re literally the last person on that plane if you even get a seat on that flight. I’m notorious for checking the [standby] flight to see what’s going on, but I will be one of those people strolling up late if I’m on standby because I know I’m going to be the last person being given a ticket before the doors close.

If it’s a paid ticket, that’s a different story. I’ll get there with enough time because I don’t like the stress of it all. I’m not a super early person like my mother, who will show up three hours early. I think I play it a little too close and every time, like clockwork, Clear has saved me. I need to be careful because I feel like I’m getting arrogant about it and there’s going to be one trip where I show up and there’s going to be a Clear line. I have Clear so I speed through all of it and bypass the security line, and on top of it, I have status on United [with the United Explorer Credit Card], so I can maneuver with those. I have systems in place through points and airline privileges, but the greatest of all time is Clear.

TPG: How do you spend any extra time at the airport?

ER: When I go early, it’s about lounge access. If I can’t get into a United lounge — I mostly fly out of Newark and their lounges have been closed — I also have a priority pass. I have Clear for the flights and priority pass for the lounges — that’s how you rig the system, as far as I’m concerned. If I’m there early or at an international destination, everything is about the lounge, especially during COVID-19. Where can I post up around the least amount of people?

TPG: What pre-flight snacks and items do you stock up on?

ER: Considering airlines don’t feed you anymore, for me, water is big. I’ve been pretty good at not steering toward candy and junk food but rather finding healthy alternatives like a trail mix or a pop chip. I tend to have a sweet tooth; dried fruit is good for me for the sugary fixes. What I need to start doing is pack my own snacks because I think we think so much about how we can’t bring water or liquids of a certain size through [security] that we forget you can bring food in your carry-on, whether it’s from home or from a restaurant. You just have to package it correctly.

Inflight routine

TPG: What’s your preferred seat on a plane: window or aisle?

ER: Aisle because I like freedom. It’s a melodramatic answer.

TPG: Would you rather work or relax during the flight?

ER: Relax. I actually look forward to people not being able to reach me on flights. I love it. I don’t care about the Wi-Fi.

TPG: Any preboarding or inflight advice to make the travel experience smoother?

ER: Give people grace. We’ve all been through it the last year-and-a-half, everybody’s emotions are high and everything is high octane. People are now trying to fight airline attendants — we need to get back to the point where we understand that you don’t know what people are going through. It doesn’t need to be an aggressive situation. I just want us to get to a point where the default is to grant people grace because we would want that for ourselves as well.

Everything else

(Photo by Rhyse Woodward for Evita Robinson)

TPG: What is something you would like women of color to know about traveling?

ER: That it's accessible for all of us, even if you travel by yourself. One of the privileges of being in travel communities, like the Nomadness Travel Tribe, is that we have folks everywhere. Don't let the fear of potentially being a solo traveler and feeling like you're not going to run into people who look like you stop you from experiencing the world.

TPG: What should others know about certain travel experiences that women of color have and have to deal with?

ER: Each person’s experience is not the equivalent of the widely marketed experience that the travel industry tends to shell out. There are nuances to being a part of the Black and brown community, and there are intersections within that nuance. Traveling as a Black male is different from traveling as a Black female; traveling as a brown woman who is also part of the LGBTQIA+ plus community is different from being a brown woman who is straight.

For me, it's about understanding that all Black and brown travelers are not a monolith. There are nuances to our community, and we are wildly diverse. There is no one-size-fits-all model for us.

Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Featured image by (Photo by Rhyse Woodward for Evita Robinson)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees