In 2021, Jessica Boyd and Steven Hughes packed up almost all of their belongings with the goal of vetting new cities across Black America that could become their new home. Both grew up traveling domestically—Jess hit the road for family events and field trips; Steve’s family took regular trips to Orlando, Florida, along with annual road trips to New York.
So far, the couple’s journey has taken them from their hometown of Columbia, South Carolina through states like Texas, Louisiana, and California, where they’ve documented their travels as Journey Black Home on their blog, Instagram, and TikTok. Jess says that the experience has been transformational.
“I was in a bit of a rut personally and professionally pre-pandemic, as well as before we set off on Journey Black Home last July,” she says. “Now, not even a full year later, I feel absolutely wide-eyed and renewed. Also, all of its man-made problems aside, the U.S. actually has lots of beautiful natural scenery between the hustle and bustle of its cities. Seeing more of the country’s natural beauty up close and personal has been incredible.”
Part of Jess and Steve’s journey has included their discovery that material things have less importance to them now. They’ve also been intentional about visiting and amplifying Black-owned restaurants, bookstores, and cultural tours around the U.S.
“Not only have we learned so much hidden and lesser-known Black history in the cities and communities we’ve visited around the U.S., but we’ve also learned a lot about ourselves. I believe we are clearer on what moves us, what we don’t really care about, and what we want and need in a future home,” Steve says. “Before we started this journey, I personally thought we needed more. It’s become clearer to me, though, that we really just need each other and a few other essentials that can fit in a bag. Everything else is icing on the cake.”
Jess says that one of her favorite destinations is Beaufort, South Carolina, because of its unique Black history, landscape, and slower pace of life. So far, Steve counts Los Angeles as one of his favorite places. Some of his reasons include the beaches, mountains, and access to authentic Jamaican and Mexican food.
Opting for a slow travel approach, and in an effort to make it easier to support Black-owned lodging options for themselves and other travelers, Steve and Jess created a list of over 200 Black-owned Airbnbs across the country.
“Since we released The Black-Owned Airbnb List at the end of January, we’ve heard from Black travelers that they’ve been wanting and needing a resource like this; they want to feel safe when they’re away from home and they want to feel good about supporting Black hosts and their Airbnb listings/Black-owned businesses.” Jess adds, “All in all, we believe it’s important that Black travelers have resources to navigate this world safely, and connecting with Black Airbnb hosts can offer that solution.”
The couple accepts US-based listings on a rolling basis at BlackAirbnbs. They said that once they’ve covered all 50 states, and should the opportunity to grow their team and resources arise, they would be open to possibly expanding the list internationally.
Below, the couple shares three of their favorite Black-owned Airbnbs in the United States.
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Chic Guesthouse in Gastonia, North Carolina
Located in Gastonia, about 30 minutes west of Charlotte, this one-bedroom, one-bathroom guest house is full of gorgeous design details like straw-covered lamps, black and white patterned furniture, wood-paneled floors and ceilings, and thoughtful artwork placed throughout the home.
“While we haven’t booked a stay at this Airbnb yet, we are enamored with the cultural decor and intentional design,” Jess says.
Past guests have rated this property five stars for its location. The “luxe cabin” is close to restaurants and museums in the downtown district, but also has access to outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking.
Bohemian Retreat in Windsor Hills, California
Step into this sleek three-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family home in the View Park neighborhood in Los Angeles. The property is decked out with charming bohemian details like potted plants, mid-century furniture, and a cozy fireplace.
“We stayed at this Airbnb in February and never wanted to leave,” Steve says. “The Black art throughout the space and its proximity to many points of interest in LA/Inglewood made it hard to say goodbye.”
Ideal for a long stay, the home can accommodate up to six guests and is a great home base for exploring the rest of Los Angeles.
Beach View Condo in Gulf Shores, Alabama
It might be impossible to not smile in this bright, two-bedroom, airy beachfront condo in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The condo features yellow and teal sofas, palm tree and flamingo wallpapered rooms, and a playful, neon “Vacay Vibes” sign.
“This is another Airbnb submitted from the travel community that blew us away,” Jess says. “We’ve passed through Alabama on road trips, but this fun and brightly decorated space is definitely a hidden gem.”
Each room comes with ocean views, and guests have the option of laying out at the beach all day or enjoying the shared pool, hot tub, restaurant, and fitness center on-site.