These TikTok Creators Rate Destinations Based on How Comfortable They Feel 'Traveling While Black'

Meet Marlie and Anthony Love, the couple behind Traveling While Black on TikTok.

<p>Courtesy of Anthony and Marlie Love</p>

Courtesy of Anthony and Marlie Love

As a woman of color, my first thought whenever I make travel plans is always the same: will it be safe for me? Conversation about intersectionality in travel is not new — growing up, I was taught that no matter where I go or why I'm there, I will always show up as a Black woman first. And while this usually doesn't affect my travel plans or the experience I have in a new place — I say usually because it absolutely has — it's something I never forget.

For me, travel prep involves a lot of research, but not in the traditional sense. With the boom of TikTok and short-form video content, researching a destination is more convenient than ever with easy-to-digest quick clips. And while many videos highlight the best things to do in a new city or the best places to get the most Instagram-worthy food, there are creators who make it their mission to spotlight their first-hand experiences as people of color.

During one of my (many) destination-research rabbit holes, I came across Marlie and Anthony Love, a hilarious and informative Black couple in Seattle who create videos under the name Traveling While Black. The duo travels to places mainly in the northwestern United States and gives every destination a "Comfortability for Black People" rating based on their experiences. The rating system ranges from one to five, the former meaning they were uncomfortable in a destination, and the latter implying they were completely comfortable.

<p>Courtesy of Anthony and Marlie Love</p>

Courtesy of Anthony and Marlie Love

The couple started their media journey in mid-2019 after they relocated to Seattle for work. And, as one does when moving to a new place, they devoted a lot of their time to exploring the Seattle area. "When October came around, it started to get darker a little bit earlier, and we wanted something to keep us accountable," the couple told Travel + Leisure in an interview. "So one weekend, we took a day trip to Vancouver, and on the way back, we were like, 'Hey, look what we can do in one Saturday. Why don't we do something that would keep us getting out?'"

They decided to hold themselves accountable by creating a YouTube channel, where they could document their travels. They weren't exactly sure what kind of content they wanted to create, though, and started to consider what their travel life was like before their move.

"One thing we used to Google all the time was, 'Where are the Black people?'” the couple said. “And not having that, us being transients, we said, 'Why don't we be that resource for people?'"

Anthony told Travel + Leisure that the idea of their channel leaned heavily on the “Green Book” by Victor Green, a travel guide published in the 1930s that identified what businesses across the country — from hotels to restaurants — were safe enough for African Americans to visit.

"We see [the ‘Green Book’] as a mechanism to enable Black travel. In that book, there's a place in every state that Victor Green was able to identify for us to go. Why? Because that’s important."

After 132 YouTube episodes about different destinations in the Pacific Northwest (and beyond), Anthony and Marlie have succeeded in creating their own digital Green Book — with their commentary and ratings.

"We're not saying that you're not going to meet any type of racism just because we gave a place a five out of five," the couple said. "What we really want to do is give you peace of mind that there is a place [in that destination] where you can go be yourself and find comfort."

There have also been instances where they’ve had to amend ratings because of things that have happened in the area after their visit.

"We [visited a location and] went to a Black business, met some pretty cool people, and had a dope experience, but before we posted, some stuff popped up in the news about hate speech," they recalled. "So we ended up giving [the location] a 3.5."

While they’re known for their comfortability ratings, Anthony and Marlie's content also shines through funny bits featuring trending sounds, recommendations, and reviews, like this review of hikes they've taken in the Pacific Northwest.

<p>Courtesy of Anthony and Marlie Love</p>

Courtesy of Anthony and Marlie Love

The couple encourages travelers of color to do their research and be prepared. Marlie said that before they travel anywhere, they research the history of their destination, and then start to plan specific activities. "We try [to pick out] three main destinations or categories, either an outdoor activity, a museum or a major landmark, and definitely a restaurant or popular place so we can get a feel of the city."

For more cautious travelers, Anthony recommends traveling with a friend or in groups. "Travel is supposed to be social," he said. "The big reason we do our show is to be a resource for people who have that hesitation. So definitely step one, check out our show, and then get some friends, get some family, and get out there and go."

With nearly 63,000 TikTok followers, 5,300 Instagram followers, and 5,600 YouTube subscribers, Anthony and Marlie Love are just getting started. The Loves have recently been named Washington State ambassadors and are set to create exclusive episodes for The Parks Channel.

"We're not going to be afraid. Travel is for everyone to experience,” Marlie said, when asked about racism as a travel deterrent. “So we're going to go see those waterfalls, see the islands, and have a good time."

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