One of the main reasons I started my travel blog is to motivate more young people, especially young blacks to see the world. Before I started traveling internationally I didn’t even think how me being black would affect my travels. I was in for a surprise, I got treated like royalty in some countries.
I was so confused the first time a tourist asked to take a picture with me. Also why the locals kept calling me Serena Williams. After the third time, I just started going with it. Posing for pictures left and right. I even thought about charging for pictures; use the money to help fund my travels. I remember when I was in Malaysia climbing the famous Batu Caves stairs. It was blazing hot outside and I made the mistake of wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt. Halfway up the stairs a young woman who looked to be close to my age asked me for a selfie. Normally I wouldn’t mind but I was sweating buckets, my legs were starting to feel like jello and I was beyond thirsty but too scared to buy a water bottle and get attacked by a monkey. I didn’t want to be rude so I started asked the girl questions, “Where are you from? How long are you visiting Kuala Lumpur?” trying to distract her from taking this selfie with me while I’m looking a hot mess from the beaming sun. We finally made it into the cave. I’m quickly trying to catch up with my friends but homegirl didn’t forget about the selfie. I thought to myself, what would Beyoncé do? I took the selfie and after the girl tells me, “I never saw someone in person with such pretty brown skin like yourself.” I was thinking really my skin looks a mess right now but at the same time, I really appreciated it. The compliment helped take my mind off of the trek down the stairs. I have so many stories of my celebrity status while traveling from free food, drinks, tours, etc. Overall I feel like people treated me with equal respect as everyone else or like Serena Williams.
I consider myself a newbie to traveling the world and so far I haven’t experienced any disadvantages as a Black traveler. I think that has a lot to do with countries I have visited. Most of the countries in South East Asia are super friendly to all visitors regardless of their race. People might stare at me, but they do that back home in the States. So far the worst thing I have experienced is a stranger just touching my hair without asking! One of my biggest pet peeves. If you ask nicely I will politely tell you NO!! I’m more than happy to answer all the random questions about black hair.
Speaking of hair, one of the first things I think about when planning a trip is how will I wear my hair. Traveling as a black woman with natural hair, I really need to have a hair game plan. I hate to check bags so I have to figure out how to pack for weeks of travel with only 3oz of my favorite hair products. Also need to keep in mind if my hair will get wet. If so do I need a wash day in my trip? (Yes a whole DAY. Wash days need a minimum of five hours.) I learned to choose styles that are easy to style with little or no products or any hair tools. My go-to hairstyles are crochet braids and my favorite faux dread locs. Both styles can hold up pretty good in water activities. They both are secured pretty tight so you don’t have to worry about your weave flying off when skydiving. These styles can also help save some time when getting ready, all you have to do is slick them baby hairs down and you’re good to go. My biggest advice to my sisters is to choose a simple hairstyle beforehand that is still cute but easy to manage on the road based on activities you want to participate in, and try not spend so much time while traveling doing your hair. If you have a hair game plan you can travel around the world anywhere you please making the Hair Gods proud.
Maya Angelou once said “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
There will be highs and lows when traveling, just like anything else in life. However, it is our duty to go out there and create these amazing experiences, grow from them and be an example for our community. I’m internally thankful for all my travel journeys and wouldn’t trade #TravelingWhileBlack for anything.
Peace & Love