Solo Travel Tips and Experiences From a Black Woman
After this pandemic, it’ll be even nicer travelling solo as tourist spots will want to make you feel even more welcomed and encourage you to support locally. Now is the time to look at a few destinations, one or two potential hotels and top 3 sights and restaurants. When you’ve got this, save it and promise yourself to go, no questions asked in the group chat!
Solo travel as a black woman isn’t as rare, which is positive. There are many countries that are more used to our faces and feel homely and safe when visiting. If you spend too many hours on Google, you’ll see both positive and negatives, in the end, the choice is still yours as no 2 people will have the exact same experience. Recently, I saw many Black women travellers talk about safe destinations that they have been to as a black woman solo. Here is a black female solo travel destination list to start your wanderlust journey:
All of these places have great culture, interesting people and fancy dishes to try!
I have travelled solo for pleasure, work, and in small groups for over 10 years; when I was 18, I came back through America by myself and that was very very very long. Now, I enjoy the journey and have enough solo trips under my belt to give you my top solo travel tips for Black women!
Save that mula!
You might be a saver, but for your first few trips, you’ll realise that you need to bring extra money just in case. Cities in Indonesia are cheap, and so are parts of Europe, but complacency is easy when you are having fun. You’ll have 1 too many massages and pressed juice and see that the blog telling you it’ll be $10 a day is now nearly $20 a day. I didn’t travel on credit in my early 20’s, and I wouldn’t advise that unless you’re purchasing things to send home or are building points and have a stable job to pay it off in the next few months. I usually read about the country and have enough money in my account or in that currency (e.g. £100) and a similar amount in another account just in case something happens to a card, or things end up being more expensive than I planned (e.g. another £50-100 in a card with little international charges).
Failure to prepare is preparation to fail!
That is something that my dad has always said and is a part of why I am a planner. I read about the landmarks that I want to go to and use reviews of restaurants to help me plan the budget around food. I look at excursions online (e.g. TripAdvisor) and what local websites charge- Google search the country name + the excursion name. If your hotel is booked and paid for in advance then that’s one thing to not worry about. If you know how close is it to your favourite attractions, that saves on transport and even having to do a guided tour (if that’s your thing). Facebook groups and smaller Instagram influencers often share prices, tips and ideas for specific countries too.
When I was younger I used hostels and they were really cheap, I did 6 max to a room and would speak to people there or at the breakfast tables. It’s a great way to meet people, some hostels in countries are pitiful and others are as good as a basic hotel. If you’re extroverted this is good ground to make friends- read reviews and ensure it is close to transport links and fun things for you. If you’re an introvert, I wouldn’t put yourself out on the first trip, unless that’s the point. Try 3- and 4-star hotels, there you can speak with people at check-in, at the buffet bars and around the reception area. Hotels and hostels do have excursion desks and that is another place to meet people. Airbnb and serviced accommodations are great if you want a beach spot and a quiet relaxing scenic trip, speak to the host beforehand and get a good feel for them. If you feel unsafe, call Airbnb and leave, your safety comes first, and this is where having a second accommodation in mind helps.
Your carry on needs to have the essentials
I always say this, the one time I didn’t follow this through, my wedding wig was in my luggage and it didn’t get to my final destination for 2 days. The wedding was the 4th day, I had in 2 plaits and hardly any tools to doll my hair up. I made the biggest mistake and also said the biggest travel prayer. I had to buy more underwear and t-shirts but I had my headscarf, so there were small silver lines. Always pack your small essential clear liquids bag with your mini products (face wash and moisturiser, hair and body creams), a few pairs of underwear and t-shirts, plus your headscarf. Fill that bag/tote/backpack/cabin approved suitcase to the brim. You could add in: your charger, passport, cards, travel purse, waterproof phone case, safety document holder, spare travel lock and key set, portable charger for your devices, spare pen, reading or notebook, sandals, microfibre towel (use for body, beach or hair towel if going into the ocean) and more.
Talk to strangers
I know we were raised not to do this, but the best stories come from speaking with locals and being open to conversation and experiences. You’ll learn about the local area and get the best recommendations. You may even make a friend or have company for breakfast, lunch or a beach stroll. I do encourage using your gut and common sense, I also apply a night-time curfew whereby I aim to get in before sunset or 8/9 pm for safety. That is different when I’ve moved to live solo, but for travel, I try not to give my parents heart palpitations.
Manners will always bring you far. I believe it’s courteous to learn a few phrases in the native language: hello/goodbye, good day, and yes/no. Respecting other cultures reminds me that we’re all human and in English speaking countries we often hold an air of superiority. What if non-English-speaking people expected that of us too, and would treat us better if we tried?
Plan your trip, bring extra money, carry your essentials and have a blast! Where are you heading to first?
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Kirah is a blogger, educator (special needs) and traveller. Her passion for seeing more of the world increased after qualifying to teach English to Adults (CELTA) where her journey began in Spain. She is presently on country 32 (of 25 independent territories) and is always ready to catch flights and experience new cultures.
This is great! Some clear points and really good advice.