Updated: Nov 19, 2019
I suppose I have always been curious about the world around me and the fact that my race or me being a woman would make some people uncomfortable never entered my mind. However that being said I am not naive enough to think that African-American women are wonderfully fascinating and our beautiful melatonin skin tones, the myriad of hair textures, and our culture could provoke gazes, hackling, or looks of amazement. Therefore, there are four key elements African-American women should be mindful of when traveling.
Before traveling do a scan of the news for the country and city of travel. Educate yourself about the culture, particularly the etiquette and treatment of their women. For example, a shawl is an essential item that allows you to cover up in modest regions so lean towards dressing conservatively. In countries like Dubai, there are legal guidelines in place informing people what is not acceptable to attire. The blogger “The Amerikanka wrote about her experience in Croatia where she was filmed by an old man and when questioned he said he was videoing his surroundings.
Always register with The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) a free service provided by the U.S. Government to “allow citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.”
Send a copy of your travel documents (itineraries, passport, and insurance) to a trusted friend or family member, and your cloud such as a Google email. In cases of an emergency, these documents are accessible to you from any place in the world.
Always stay aware of your surrounding and use your headphone such as Airpods when using map apps such as Google maps when exploring the streets of your destination.
Finally, in my opinion, the best tip I can give anyone who travels is to be confident and if you don’t have it naturally fake it! Confidence means less fear and anxiety you’ll experience, and the higher your confidence the better your coping skills to handle setbacks and racial comments. Unfortunately, these experiences are apart of our reality and they happen during travel. No society is perfect, but self-confidence is your key to survival and when you feel unsafe remove yourself and do not give those less than smart individuals power by acknowledging their comments. "Practicing assertiveness within your own culture before a trip can be beneficial. Take the time to notice how it feels in your mind and body after being assertive will boost your confidence as well. "The reality is that people of color — especially brown and black travelers — are often looked at as objects, as opposed to unique individuals with feelings," it's a rare occasion because my experience in traveling abroad as an African-American woman overall has been pleasurable.