3 lessons learned traveling the world as a solo black woman

My story traveling abroad as a solo black woman, plus 3 ways for POC travelers to actively challenge stereotypes and expectations about black travel while on the road.


May 26, 2024


traveling as a woman of color

I remember it like it was yesterday. In May of 2019, on an ordinary day at work, I stared at my computer screen and asked myself — Why am I here and why am I living in the US right now?

The following month I answered my own question by quitting my job and booking a one-way ticket to Costa Rica with no plan and no desire to come back to the United States. Seven months and six countries later I couldn't have asked for a more incredible (and it's not over yet!) journey into the unknown.

As a black woman exploring this wide world solo, I've have had the pleasure of learning about new cultures while debunking myths and stereotypes about black women and black culture

I've also had the experience of feeling hyper-aware of my presence in areas that have probably only seen people of color on TV or YouTube music videos. 

Here are 3 things I have learned while traveling abroad as a single, solo, black woman.

1. Explore unafraid

2. Ignorance is powerless

3. Community is everything

Solo traveling as a woman of color

3 things I learned solo traveling as a woman of color

1. Explore unafraid

When I first ventured out to travel alone, I was self-conscious about exploring places where people of color were far and few between (or in some cases not present at all) but I learned that curiosity led to warm encounters and cultural exchanges.

One great example of this was when I got lost trying to catch my flight in Sofia, Bulgaria. While I wandered cluelessly, a group of ladies approached me eager to help.

Despite the language barrier and the three words I knew in Bulgarian, the women flagged down a passing friend to drive me to the airport. Crisis averted and I was even told I look like Beyonce... I'll happily take it.

2. Ignorance is powerless

Although almost all of my experiences have been positive, a few have just made me feel downright uncomfortable. 

While traveling through the Balkans simple things like shopping in the grocery store or waiting in line for food were met with uncomfortable stares and at times, whispering. I even experienced flat-out racism when I was even refused service at a gas station rest stop traveling on a long bus ride.

I decided that this type of ignorance only has power from the power I choose to give it. If I don't give it power, it has no power over me

I decided to have fun with the stares by giving a big smile and waving at the people who looked which either stopped them immediately or led them to smile back. 

While I single-handedly can't change the world, I can contribute to change by debunking stereotypes, and holding my head high as a beautiful human of color in this world.

3. Community is everything

One of the things I love about being a Worldpacker is how this platform encourages community and intersectionality

While in Croatia, standing outside of the hostel I was volunteering at, I heard two voices squealing — when I looked up I saw two beautiful faces greeting me with love. After all three of us embraced upon discovering we all had something in common... we were all Worldpackers!

We keep in touch to this day and are planning on meeting up in Germany. 

Additionally, the platform continues to grow with me as I grow with my travel. From being able to message former volunteers about their experiences to receiving exclusive community tips on how to land my dream opportunity, to now being able to contribute my writing and creative skills to the blog... Worldpackers truly inspires and brings travel to you.

It's truly a trusted community for travelers, digital nomads, and creatives to support one another and see the world. I can't tell you how many times friends have thought I was "crazy" for my spontaneity — but being a part of the Worldpackers community has given me the confidence to know I made the right decision. 

With the black travel movement encouraging more and more people of color to see the world, being able to stay connected to a community and get real insight and advice from other travelers is invaluable.

Traveling while black

My advice to anyone reading this and especially black travelers — don't be afraid to go anywhere you want to go.

Exploration is meant for you regardless of what media stereotypes produce. Have fun, keep an open mind, and carry Worldpackers with you.

You will be surprised and even shock yourself by what you learn and encounter.

Happy travels!

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