Alright sis, the time has come.
You see other Black women traveling.
You’ve been talking about going abroad.
You’ve heard from other traveling Black women how amazing it is.
But you still haven’t booked the trip? Well, this is your sign to do it!
As a Black woman traveler myself, I’ve lived in Spain twice, spent a summer in Berlin, and have visited 15 countries spanning three continents. I’ve met up with Black women living in Amsterdam. While solo traveling in Mexico, I befriended Black women from Brazil and Canada. I even attended a conference in Spain hosted by and for Black women.
So, I’m here to tell you that it’s not as scary as it seems. Black women travel anywhere and everywhere. However, I get that it takes some convincing and maybe you’re a little hesitant. This post is here to ease your fears and get you abroad. Let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
Read Black female travel bloggers’ experiences beforehand
Not only do Black women travel, but they write about it too! Black travel bloggers such as Oneika the Traveller and Gloria Atanmo of The Blog Abroad are two of many resources who outline their adventures abroad. Their tips as traveling Black women can help you plan your own trip. From hair care to handling the ups and downs of being Black and abroad, blogs are a top source of travel information. Other Black female travel bloggers to read and support in your research are:
– Jewels of Travel Jewels
– Christine of O. Christine
– Gabby of Packs Light
– Candace of Candace Abroad
– Sojourner of Sojournies (me!)
If you can’t find friends or family to go on a trip, go alone! Solo female travel is not as obscure as it used to be. Black women travelers are taking advantage of it too. Key tips for solo travel include: sending your itinerary to a loved one, bringing a portable charger for your phone, and making copies of your passport and visa in case of emergencies. For a little more motivation and inspiration, check out Ciara Johnson of Hey Ciara. She is the solo travel queen and her Instagram has all the tips you need to take that solo adventure.
Join Black travel groups on Facebook to connect with people
Black travel groups are another excellent resource of travel information. If you log onto Facebook and search “Black travel,” tons of groups will pop up. Some popular ones include The Black Travel Movement, Black Folks Travel Too, Nomadness Travel Tribe, and many more. A few are even specifically for Black women travelers, such as Black Women Travel and She Travels the Globe. Search past posts in these groups asking for tips in your destination, or make a new post if you can’t find your answer.
However, a pro tip is to join more location specific Facebook groups. For example, when I solo traveled in Europe I joined the Amsterdam Black Women group to get connected. When I moved abroad to Spain I joined the Bellas Morenas group, and when I interned in Berlin I joined the Soul Sisters Berlin group. Search “Black women in _______” in the Facebook engine to see what pops up.
Know that people will stare or may take pictures
Black women traveling is on the up and up. However, some places may not be aware of our magical existence. In destinations that are more homogeneous, with minimal Black people, stares are common. As someone who was stared at a lot while in Spain, and pushed into a tourists’ photo in Greece, it can be uncomfortable. Normally people stare, point, and keep it moving.
On rare occasions it leads to physical contact. On most occasions it sparks a conversation with a stranger. There is no right or wrong way to respond because it can be a lot to process in the moment. Remember, we cannot control what people do and how they perceive us based on what they’ve seen and experienced. It’s one of the downsides, so try to focus on the trip itself and the good things that happen.
Pack your hair products, weave, tools, etc.
Hair is important to Black women, we know this. But, you may not know that our products aren’t everywhere. When you are preparing for your trip, pack the hair products you want or need with you. It is highly unlikely that your destination will have the shea butter, flexi rods, marley hair, or gel you are accustomed to using. This is especially true if you are traveling long-term. If you’re looking for a Black hair abroad packing list, I’ve got you covered here. Black hair care abroad is important, so don’t forget those headscarves too!
Prepare and gather the travel essentials
Piggy backing off the hair products, be sure to gather other travel essentials! If you are backpacking, make sure you have a good one. For those who love to take photos or will be navigating with your phone, invest in a portable charger. A neck pillow, travel-size hand sanitizer, packing cubes, your phone/camera, and more are some travel essentials to think about. Additionally, let your bank know you are leaving the country so they won’t block your card.
Listen to podcasts that share Black women travel stories and tips
I understand that not everyone may be interested in reading stories, so try listening to them instead! In addition to blogs and Facebook groups, podcasts are yet another resource for your research. Black Women Travel Pod, The Globetrotter’s Lounge, and On She Goes, all feature and/or focus on Black women travel. The guests come from various professions and travel interests. You are bound to listen to a story that you can connect with. Often, the guests are open to connecting with future Black women travelers so don’t hesitate to reach out to a guest. You never know what other tips they can offer.
Learn some of the destination’s language
Language learning is one of the exciting parts about traveling. No one is expecting you to be fluent. Nevertheless, it’s helpful to learn key phrases such as “where is the bathroom,” “yes,” “no,” “thank you,” etc. As you embark on that trip download the app Duolingo to learn some of the language. If you’re really serious, look into purchasing Babbel or Rosetta Stone. Taking the time to attempt the language can go a long way. You may even be able to connect and chat with other Black people in the destination if you speak the language.
Beware of fetishes and hypersexualization
Traveling as a Black woman is beautiful. We are beautiful. Most people are genuinely curious about Black women travelers, Black culture, and Black people in general so they may fawn over us. But, there is a fine line between strangers admiring our beauty and a fetish. Every now and again, you may interact with people who would “love to *insert expletive* a Black girl.” Or someone who “has never been with a Black girl before.” That is what I would call a fetish and you should avoid them at all costs. Read some stories of Black Americans in Europe here that touch on fetishes and hypersexualization of traveling Black women.
Don’t give into fear, but still trust your gut
Travel is amazing and as a Black travel blogger I encourage people who can travel to do it. Yet, there are still some precautions we need to take no matter where we are. As you are traveling, be aware of your surroundings. Let someone back home know your itinerary and occasionally check in, even if you are traveling solo. If you are out and feel uncomfortable at a bar, club, hostel, hotel, etc., find an exit plan. While it’s amazing to meet new people (or new flings), and most people are genuinely nice, still be smart. Trusting your gut will be key to a pleasant experience.
Whether you read the stories of Black female travel bloggers, join Black women travel groups, know that the information is out there. You have the wanderlust to see the world, and I commend you for showing up and reading this post. Now sis, it’s time to book that adventure! Don’t be scared. Get out there and join the many traveling Black women creating their own path abroad. Black women travel – go be one of them.