Solo Travel for Black Women: Best Tips from the Pros
Let’s talk about solo travel for black women, a topic that raises concerns and some eyebrows. Is it safe? Does it get lonely? What about racism? While these are legitimate concerns, they often stem from misconceptions and misinformation. Many of us grow up being taught that the world is dangerous and that we as women are especially vulnerable. For black women, the fear of sticking out, facing racism, or being fetishized makes solo travel especially daunting. Today, I want to show you that traveling alone as a black woman is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it can be really empowering.
As a matter of fact, solo travel has the power to transform your life. Case in point: traveling solo in Europe for a year gave me the courage to create this blog and start a business. Solo travel is one the best forms of self-care a woman can give herself.
I recently chatted with five black travel bloggers who are experienced solo travelers. In this post, they share the best places to travel for single black females, best solo travel safety tips, solo travel preparation tips, and more. I hope that these travel bloggers of color inspire you to take that solo trip you’ve been thinking about.
DIAMOND of Ink For Miles
Diamond is a twenty-something solo traveler who is currently teaching English in South Korea. She’s been traveling ever since graduating from college and has no plans to stop. On her blog, InkForMiles.com, Diamond shares travel tips and tricks with other women and women of color to inspire them to travel the world solo.
Tell us about your first solo trip. Where did you go and how was the experience?
My first solo trip was a seven-week backpacking adventure around Europe. I went to eight countries mostly in Western Europe and I had an amazing time. I did things I never thought I would have the courage to do and I learned a lot about myself and the kind of life I want to live.
Have you experienced any challenges traveling alone as a black woman?
Sadly, I have been through a few incidents I could have done without. On more than one occasion staff have pretended they didn’t see or hear me to avoid serving me. On more than one occasion staff have flatly refused to serve me and stated my ethnicity was the reason why. I’ve had people give me dirty looks in the street. I’ve dealt with being opening stared at. I’ve dealt with complete strangers grabbing me because they want to say “hi.”
Yes, there have been incidents. Not in every country that I’ve visited, not even in most of them, but it has happened and it still bothers me when it does. But despite how disappointing the world can be at times, it can also be wonderful and beautiful and amazing and kind. I’ve seen that side of the world more often than I’ve seen its bad side and that is what keeps spurring me on. I will never let the bad stop me from doing what I love: traveling.
What have you learned about yourself by traveling solo?
I’ve learned I don’t need anyone else’s company to have a good time. I may even have more fun when I am traveling solo because there’s nothing like waking up every day and doing exactly what I want with no one else to tell me no. That kind of freedom is hard to come by.
I’ve learned to be resourceful and rely on myself to figure out a solution. In the middle of a strange city with no clue how to get to my hostel? Don’t panic. I’ll find my way there eventually. Missed my connecting train to Amsterdam? Shrug it off. There will be other trains. Language barriers? Getting lost? Cultural differences? Traveling has thrown quite a lot at me and I’ve learned how to handle it all. Traveling has shown me how strong and capable I really am.
What are some myths and misconceptions about female solo travel that you’ve found to be untrue?
Myth #1: Black Women Don’t Travel Solo
Some people think black people don’t travel at all, but we’re out there. We are exploring the world and leaving our mark everywhere we go and our numbers are only growing.
Myth #2: You’ll Get Lonely
Pffffft! Nah. You’ll meet so many people in your hostel, while riding the bus, sitting next to you on the plane, while visiting an attraction, eating in the same restaurant, enjoying the same tour, etc. Unless you’re going to be dropped off on top of a mountain with no people around for miles, you’ll meet people. As long as you’re open to interacting with those people, you won’t get lonely.
Myth #3: Solo Travel Isn’t For Introverts
I am as introverted as they come and I would say that solo travel is perfectly suited for me. I would say it is for all introverts because we get the best of both worlds. When we need time for ourselves to recharge we can take it without feeling like we’re letting down a travel companion. And when we want to socialize we can and we can do it on our terms.
Share a couple of your tips for saving money to travel and finding travel deals
Money Saving & Travel Tip #1
Open a Charles Schwab High-Yield Checking account today, no, do it yesterday. My Charles Schwab debit card has saved me more money than I can count over the years. This debit card comes with no foreign transactions fees, no minimum balance, it is accepted all over the world and if you are charged any ATM fees, the money will be returned to you at the end of the month.
Money Saving & Travel Tip #2
Once you’ve open that Charles Schwab account, set up automatic payments into that account. It’s doesn’t have to be a lot of money but every month try to add a little bit to your travel fund so that you’re always getting closer to your goal.
Travel Tip #3
It tends to be more expensive to fly on the weekends. If possible book your travel dates for Tuesdays when fewer people are flying and therefore prices are lower.
Travel Tip #4
Some attractions offer tourists the chance to purchase tickets online for a discount and the opportunity to skip the line. You can save time and a little money just by going to the website first.
Travel Tip #5
Budget airlines love their extra baggage fees so by packing light and traveling carry-on only I have saved what has added up to hundreds of dollars over the years.
Travel Tip #6:
Skyscanner is my go-to for finding cheap flights while I’m traveling and Hostelworld is my go-to for finding the best accommodations for the best price.
EFFY of Effy Talks Life
Efia, who goes by Effy, is a travel and lifestyle blogger from the UK. She’s passionate about inspiring and empowering young women to take on everyday life with a boundless courage. effy writes abotu travel, lifestyle, blogging, social issues, and mental health on her blog, Effytalkslife.com.
What motivated you to travel solo for the first time?
The first time I travelled solo was actually for an internship in San Diego. It was an incredible opportunity to get out there and see the world and it definitely sparked a travel bug in me. I didn’t travel alone after that again for another two years… and I’m still going two years later!
What challenges have you experienced while traveling alone as a black woman? How did you deal with them?
There have been a few untoward comments and stares. I think unfortunately that’s something I’ve come to expect. That doesn’t make it right though. It used to really bother me especially when I was younger. Now I know that problem isn’t to do with me but the other person. You can only control yourself not other people so it’s not worth my time anymore.
How do you meet people when you travel alone?
Loads of ways. Through staying at hostels, dating apps, Instagram, Facebook groups. I have no shame haha I will do a full on social media stalk. It can seem a bit intimidating at first but just remember all you need to do is say hey and conversation will flow naturally from there.
What advice would you give to black women who are thinking about traveling solo but feel afraid?
I would give the same advice to all women and say just go for it at some point in your life everything was scary or new once!
Can you share a solo travel experience that was particularly memorable for you?
The most memorable experiences are always involving friends I’ve met along the way. I’ve been so lucky to meet some incredible people that I still call friends years later.
You may also like: The Truth About Racism in Spain – Advice For Black Travelers
BIANCA of It’s All Bee
Born in Lusaka, Zambia, Bianca loves adventures as much as she loves heels. She is now based in London and enjoys experiencing different types of adventures, from luxury hotels to hostels to traveling in a camper van. Her website, ItsAllBee.com, showcases endless possibilities out there and serves as inspiration for your wanderlust.
Why did you decide to start traveling solo?
I am used to doing things on my own and not waiting for anyone to do them with me so I guess I naturally moved to traveling solo having done a couple of trips around the UK on my own I was then comfortable to travel internationally on my own.
Have you experienced any challenges as a black female traveling alone?
Other than getting stared at in some parts of the world I am fortunate to have experienced anything negative beyond the random staring contests.
How have you addressed your parents or family’s concerns about you traveling solo?
My sisters used you worry about my weird and crazy adventures but I think now they have come to realize that I will do it anyway. Sometimes I only tell them about it once I have already done something I know they would have second thoughts about. I am insured though should any thing happen. I am into risky sports like rock climbing, diving so I do buy additional travel insurance so that my family are not saddled with expense should something unfortunate happen.
What are some things you do to stay safe when traveling alone?
Apply the same common sense I use living in London. No dark alleyways at night or sometimes even in the day time depending on where you are. Always research the places I am going to in terms of scams, transport issues and any other safety risks in the city, for example if theft/pickpocketing is rife in a certain city then I know to be more vigilant to people distracting me so as to allow their partner to robe me. Just a general research of new places I am visiting always helps to put my mind at ease when I travel that way I can concentrate on enjoying the city.
What do you think are some of the best places to travel for single black females?
EVERYWHERE! This might sound weird, but the only people I know that are always wary about where black people can travel to are Americans. Most black people from other parts of the world don’t think too much about these questions. I don’t know whether that is partly to do with the race issues in the USA where black people needed some sort of a green book with details of safe cities or states. Majority the questions most black people I know and mostly those from Africa is whether or not you need a visa and how complicated the application is to visit a certain country. So to answer that question, I think the world is your oyster if you let fear of how you think the world will receive you stop you from traveling, the only person that misses out is you.
TIFFANY of Tiffany Travels
Tiffany is a social worker who absolutely loves to travel. For her, exploring other parts of the world is one of the best feelings. So far Tiffany has been to South Africa, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Thailand, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, St. Kitts, Niagara Falls, Barbados and many places in the USA.
Why do you travel solo?
I travel solo because I love the freedom of planning things that I want to do without consulting someone else. If I want to go to the museum or eat a certain restaurant, I can do that without worrying about what the other person wants to do. I love to travel with friends and family but the reality is, that can’t always travel with me. They may not travel due to lack of finances, limited time off work, family obligations etc. Although traveling is a priority for me, it may not be for others. I travel solo because others may not be able to accompany me but I refuse to wait on others.
What challenges have you experienced as a black female traveling alone?
While in Thailand, people wanted to take pictures of me or often stared and I believe it was not only due to being a woman of color but also my plus size. It made me uncomfortable and didn’t really know how to deal with the unwanted attention. I wish that I would have had the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation about why they were staring or wanted to take photos. The discussion would have allowed me to understand their perspective and embrace the new found attention.
How do you prepare to travel solo?
I prepare by doing lots of research: I read blogs, Facebook posts from various travel groups, and read websites such as TripAdvisor that offer reviews about the best excursions, hotels, and restaurants. If I travel internationally I register with the State Department and visit the travel nurse for any medications or necessary shots. Call the bank to let them know I’m traveling I always make sure I have a protective style such as individual braids and go to the nail shop for a pedicure and manicure Pack clothes in packing cubes Keep track of itinerary on Tripit App and share details with my parents
How do you meet people when you travel alone?
I think people are often afraid to travel by themselves because they don’t want to be alone. During my last solo trip to Colombia, I actually didn’t feel alone because I met up with so many wonderful people along the way. I post in my Facebook travel groups to see if other people will be traveling at the same time as me, if our schedule permits, we meet up. I also meet people from my planned excursions and then we make plans to have dinner, night out on the town or other sightseeing adventures in the city.
What are some must-have travel gadgets and carry-on essentials you’d recommend?
- Battery Charger Pack: I can’t tell you how many times my phone has died while I’m touring the city.
- Waterproof phone case: I damaged my phone in Cuba due to not having a proper waterproof case. As a result, my beautiful photos from Cuba are gone forever.
- Carry on essentials: always carry an extra outfit and a pair of underwear in case your luggage is lost or delayed. I try to be team carry on but sometimes it impossible to do.
- Refillable Water bottle: Comes in handy when you are doing lots of walking on tours
- Tripod – I often ask strangers to take my photos but if no one is available to assist you, set the timer and have your own personal photo shoot
- Safety Whistle or Mace: Although I have never had to use these items they are excellent ways to stay safe
Check out my travel essentials page for a full list of women’s travel must-haves
RACHEL of Rachel Travels
Through blog posts, online courses, consulting, and speaking engagements, Rachel hopes to educate and inspire millennial, Black Americans to explore the world and push past their comfort zones. She wants to encourage the idea that world travel does not have to be expensive. Rachel shares her adventures and tips to become a travel influencer of color over at racheltravels.com.
What motivated you to travel solo for the first time?
The first time I traveled solo was when I moved to Nairobi, Kenya while in Grad school. I wanted to experience a long-term study abroad experience and took the opportunity.
Have you experienced any challenges black woman traveling alone?
Honestly, I have not experienced anything super negative or challenging traveling solo. If anything, it’s interesting being the “representation” of Black American women because we’re so different and complex.
How do you prepare for your solo travels?
I take time to research the destination including the political, socio- economic, and financial climate of the country. Then, I create a budget and find places to see/ experience based on that.
What tips do you have for black women who want to travel solo?
Where have you been that you think is perfect for black female solo travelers?
Greece! It’s a beautiful country, relatively inexpensive, and you’ll have no problem getting positive, admiring, and respectful attention from the men!
Connect with Rachel on Instagram and Twitter. Also check out her Facebook group
I completely agree about Greece! Such an incredible country. You can read about my solo travel experiences in Santorini, Greece to get a taste of what it’s like.
As you can see from these ladies’ experiences, black female solo travel is completely normal and doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, you can truly extraordinary adventures traveling alone that you wouldn’t be able to have traveling with others. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Even more importantly, you learn to trust your instincts, become more self-reliant, and gain a ton of confidence. If you’re thinking about traveling solo but hesitating, just do it! It might just change your life, like it did for me.
Have you traveled solo before? Tell us about your experience – the good and the bad. Comment below!
If you liked this post, please share!