I get so many questions from other Black women on ways that they can travel alone. So I wrote a post about it. Here are 10 tips for a Black Female Traveling Alone. Leave a comment below!
People May Want to Take Pictures With You
I have been in several countries and even some US states where people have wanted to take pictures of me or with me. This is very common in South American countries and even some Asian countries. In truth I think you should just let them take the pictures. It may not be a comfortable thing for some women.
I will say that not everyone will have the ability to communicate their desire to take a picture with you. In America it would be super rude to walk up to someone and start taking pictures of them. We don’t however feel the same way about taking pictures of people or things that we may not have the chance to see again.
In the case that someone wants to take a picture of you then I wouldn’t cause a big scene. Make sure that you are watching your property. Take the picture and keep an eye on your things. You can also try to learn the language necessary to tell them that you don’t want to take a picture. This doesn’t meal that they won’t stand on the other side of the street, and closer, and take a picture anyway.
Racism Can Be Subtle
I have been to several European countries and 43 of the 50 states. What I can say for sure is that racism is rarely blatant and in your face. I can understand how that might be something that is on the mind of a lot of Black women who want to travel internationally. This is especially the case when they want to go to a country that is predominantly White.
What I can say about racism is that it is often subtle. There may even be times where you don’t notice it. I say that because there is also a lot of backlash against Americans in some countries.
When it comes to racism I would say that it isn’t something to worry about. There have been a few stories where women have been heckled but in almost every case they still recommend the place that they had a bad experience. I don’t think there is any particular country that I would really say not to go to because they are racist. I mean, I come from America…
If you feel like you are being treated unfairly then politely speak up. Bringing attention to the situation is often all that you need to make the mistreatment stop.
There Are Options For Your Hair
The first time that I traveled internationally, I had cut all of my hair off and I was rocking a buzzcut. If you are like me now and have natural hair then there are a few tips that I can give you. Of course you can bring all of your hair products with you but that will often mean that you will have to check your bag.
I personally save money by traveling out of a carry-on so my options for packing a bunch of hair products isn’t an option. If this is you, you have options. You can of course wear a protective style like braids. Braids are an easy way to not worry about your hair. You will have to deal with every TSA agent running their hands through your hair but it is a small price to pay.
You can also try to make your own products or buy local products. Surprisingly I have been able to find Black owned hair shops in Greece and Italy. These countries also have fresh products that you can combine for your own use. Avocado, honey, olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, it’s all there internationally. If you educated yourself then you really shouldn’t have to worry.
Don’t be Afraid to Go Off the Beaten Path
I often see my fellow Black women going to the same countries over and over again. This is not a smash on any particular country but I really hope that more women will travel to countries that are a bit off the beaten path. I had one of the best experiences of my life spending two days in Bulgaria. The people were nice and they had English menus in all of the restaurants.
Don’t be afraid to go to countries even if you haven’t seen a lot of Black women or Black people going there. There is so much that you can gain from going to Caribbean or African countries, there truly is. There is also a lot for getting out of your comfort zone.
I want to encourage all Black women to go to Eastern European countries, South American Countries, and the other countries that make up North America. People of color have made an impact wide and far. This impact isn’t always in the predominantly Black countries.
Be Willing to Answer Questions
I get so many questions when I travel. Foreigners want to ask me about the political climate, if stereotypes are true, and what it is like to live in America. People want to know what it is like in parts of the world where they have never been.
There are also some questions that are less welcome. I get all kinds of questions about my hair and people will often want to touch it. I also get questions about whether or not I am some sort of artist or I play a sport. It happens that a lot of countries only know Black people from TV.
Whenever I am questioned I always try to be polite. I will also try to educate people as much as I can. If I am the only black person that they have ever met, or will ever meet, then I want to leave as much of a good impression as possible.
Wear a Dummy Wedding Band
This really applies to women who are not married. I suggest that all female travelers bring a dummy wedding ring with them if they don’t already have an actual wedding ring. I would suggest getting a cheap one that swimmers or athletes use. They are rubber and typically under $15 or so dollars.
In countries where women are not typically seen wandering around by themselves, it may end up proving useful. It may prevent some men from coming around and harassing you. If nothing else it will be a way to keep yourself a little safer.
Dress Appropriately, Feminism Doesn’t Always Have a Place
I mean this in the most respectful way. Not every country is the place for short shorts and low cut tops. If you are heading to the beach then sure, wear the bikini and enjoy yourself. If you are going to visit one of the world’s famous mosques then you might want to cover up.
There are a lot of countries that are very conservative. There are also a lot of countries where women are culturally expected to cover up. It really isn’t appropriate to dress in provocative ways. My suggestion would be to follow the guidelines set by local women.
As a person who is curvacious, I am very conscious of how my clothes fit when I am traveling. I often travel in workout clothes but I will choose sweats over tight yoga pants. I will wear long sleeves if warranted and make sure that my chest is covered. It isn’t the time to make some stance and dress how you want to.
There are several sites around the world that will decline you entrance if you are not dressed appropriate. Restaurants may not allow you to come inside based on the way you are dressed. More than anything, you don’t want to go out of your way to offend locals in the area. Just be smart and you should be fine.
English is Widely Spoken
As a Black female traveling alone for the past 3 years, I can tell you that English is spoken in every country that I have traveled to. There may be instances where the English is broken or perhaps you need to hunt a bit to find someone who can speak English, but it has always been available to me.
If this is one of your big fears then I can hopefully but that at rest. Now if you are planning on going to incredibly remote areas where they don’t have electricity then maybe you will run into problem. I think in most cases you will be fine.
Be comfortable Being the Only One
I have alluded to this in other sections of this post but I want to dedicate a section to the topic of standing out. It could be the case that you may be the only person of color. It may cause people to stare at you or want to strike up conversation. This has happened to me in the middle of Montana in the same way that it happens in the middle of Bulgaria.
In this instances I try to remain calm and focus on my own agenda. It may be the case that you have to live your life and mind your own business. Don’t bother taking offense to being pointed at or getting pictures taken of you. There are worse things than being the center of attention and most of the time it really isn’t that big of a deal.
Don’t Worry About the Opinions of Others
There is no one in the world that has had more negative things to say about me traveling alone than my God-fearing grandmother. There has also been no one who asks more questions about my travels then my God-fearing grandmother. I have said this in other posts: Leave their asses behind.
Seriously, leave them. On top of leaving the nay sayers, ignore them. Don’t let people who won’t even leave their state tell you that you shouldn’t leave the country. Don’t let people who don’t leave their couch tell you what trip you should take. Especially don’t let people who won’t go outside their own comfort zone tell you where you should go. Follow your own path.