Jul 3rd, 2022, 08:00 AM

Traveling Solo as a Black Woman

By Lola Rock
Image credit: Sukhi Borse
Tips and tricks to overcome fears of traveling alone from a fellow Black traveler

When I talk to my friends and family about my solo travel plans, it’s clear from their responses that the idea is still taboo. Because the truth is, as daunting as the idea of solo travel is on its own, being a black woman adds another layer of concerns to navigate.  Between living in Paris and traveling Europe alone for over a year now, I’ve gained a lot of perspective on what it means to travel as a black woman. Now, I want to share what I’ve learned. 

Don’t Let Fear Deter your Trip

Taking responsibility for your own life for a little while is a super valuable tool, it’s not often that people take responsibility for every aspect of their lives for more than a few days.  There’s racism everywhere and that’s the hard truth. Of course, it varies based on where you choose to travel to but that shouldn’t deter you from planning a trip and as a black woman, I don’t think fear should deter you from getting a new passport stamp. If you’ve heard a fellow black traveler have a bad experience in a country, remember it doesn’t necessarily speak to the experience of the whole country

Image credit: Sukhi Borse 

Research, Research, Research 

Knowledge is power and knowing a bit about your destination is key to having a safe and productive trip. Though itineraries may seem like a spontaneity killer, they do the opposite.  Making rough plans (accommodation, transportation, and key activities) makes it much easier to hit the ground running in a new destination and not waste time.  But this also doesn't means over-plan, give yourself wiggle room to explore freely. 

Creating plans of time as a black woman also allows you to take an added safety precaution by being able to share your plan with a loved one.  YouTube videos, TikTok and Instagram have great engaging travel content to get you excited about the trip. I suggest you make a list of your top five to seven places and narrow it doesn’t from there.  As a first-timer, I would recommend cities with good public transportation, especially if you’re not renting a car.


Differentiate Between Hostility vs Curiosity

In most places I stayed in Spain I was the only black solo traveler and on occasion, I’ve gotten a few awkward stares or invasive questions about how I can afford to travel alone. Despite this being annoying at times, unless clearly discriminated against, I try to allow myself not to be bothered by the unsolicited attention. 

It’s important to keep an open mind to the cultural differences of the place you’re traveling to. As hard as it is to understand sometimes, what’s considered racist in one country can be slightly different in another, and context is the most important thing when making judgments about the people of a country.

Be Safe.

You shouldn’t let fear deter you from living your best life.

  1. Send family and friends a copy of your itinerary: This should include your accommodation (with a room number) along with flight details and any other major change of plans.
  2. Read Reviews: Read the reviews of hotels and restaurants before booking. Look out for any reviews mentioning discrimination.
  3. Daylight, Daylight, Daylight: Though it may sound like a buzzkill, as a black woman this rule has kept me feeling the most secure and safe throughout my solo adventures. Only venture out alone during daylight.
  4. Stick to the main tourist areas while alone: If not accompanied by a guide or local, it’s probably best to just stick to the center of a city if you are unfamiliar with a country.  Although our smartphones can make us feel invincible at times, phones die, cell service is spotty, and accidents can still happen
Image credit: Sukhi Borse

Meet local people off social media (safely)

Traveling alone doesn’t mean a solitary vacation. Making new friends while traveling alone is one of the greatest gifts that can come from the experience.  When planning your trip, book group activities such as architecture or food tours.  In addition, regardless of where you stay when you travel you can also use apps like meetup (hyperlink) to find local events and activities happening in town.  Even though you can’t tell at first glance, there are thousands of other black women passionate about solo travel. Connecting with black travel communities on social media is another excellent way of making friends before touching down at your vacation destination

Image Credit: Unsplash/ Thought Catalog