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7 Things Women of Color Should Know Before Traveling Overseas

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Featured Image: @naturally_kenya
Article By: Dani L

Now, more than ever, women of color are exploring different countries and cultures through travel.  We are flocking to some of the most exotic locales in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean.  According to the Huffington Post article ‘Black Travel Dollars Matter,’ African Americans spend approximately $50 billion annually on travel.  Black females make up the majority of this amount spent. 

What does it mean for us females?  We are expanding our horizons and becoming more culturally aware. However, before you snag your best friend and start making plans to roam the fantastic European vineyards, there are a few steps that should be taken to ensure a satisfactory travel experience.

1. Location, Location, Location

It is essential to find out the location of your native country’s embassy in the country that you intend to visit.  Murphy’s Law can be even more apparent during a vacation.  You can lose your passport and personal identification.  In addition, you may be the victim of a robbery.  I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy, but these are some of the things that just might happen.  An embassy can assist when a visitor has a medical or financial emergency.

 

2. Research And Organise

There are so many large and small points to organize a trip.  That’s why it is necessary to start planning a few months before your departure date.  Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:

  • Which airline provides the best service and the most affordable tickets?
  • Are you staying at a hotel or an Airbnb?
  • What type of equipment and electronics are you allowed to pack?
  • Do you need adapters for your electronic devices? I learned the hard way on a trip to Guyana.
  • Will you be staying long enough to require laundry services?
  • Which items can you pack in checked and carry on luggage?
  • Are there transportation choices close to your hotel or bed and breakfast?
  • Where are the closest supermarkets and restaurants?

3. Let’s Talk About The Weather

If you live in a seasonal climate and would like to travel to a country with a different temperature, this is going to be a critical factor in deciding what clothing you will pack.  I am from the Caribbean, and I took a trip to Florida a couple of years ago.  Thankfully my friend looked at weather reports and discovered a spell of cold weather would be visiting at the same time.  My dreams of sundresses and sandals were quickly replaced with the reality of cardigans, scarves, and jeans.  One friend even purchased gloves!  Yeah, it was that cold.

4. Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to

Each country has its differences in languages and customs.  Therefore, visitors to a particular country may unwittingly do something there which may be normal for the visitor but taboo for the area being visited.  For example, Dubai boasts of a conservative dress code, so it is best to cover up when visiting public places in that country. 

A couple of women visited a shopping mall in my country (Trinidad and Tobago) while wearing short shorts and fishnet stockings.  They spoke a different language and were obviously visitors.  Their way of dress was different to ours, and they drew a lot of unwanted attention.  A couple of men even followed them while negatively addressing them.  I am all for freedom of expression, but I would prefer to cover up instead of attracting that type of unwanted behavior.

 

5. It’s Getting Hot In Herre

The results of the last elections continue to affect the United States’ relationship with other countries.  Economic, financial and cultural consequences ensue as well as political and racial tension.  One of these includes some visitors’ reactions to US citizens who visit foreign countries.  You may be faced with opposition, questions and unsolicited opinions on the President of the United States.

6. Safety In Numbers

It is better to travel with a partner or a group.  However, you may need to let others know of your whereabouts if you intend to travel solo.  Leave a travel itinerary with a close friend or family member.

Find out the locations of the closest health care center and police station.  Have a plan of action in case of an emergency.

 

7. Roam If You Want To

When you’ve taken care of all the planning and research, it’s time to travel and have fun!  Explore all the hidden treasures of the country that you intend to visit.  These may include:

  • Food and Drink.  Pay a visit to some upscale restaurants but don’t forget to sample what the smaller eating places have to offer.
  • Museums.  You can tell a lot about a country’s history by visiting a couple of their museums.  Artists have a way of telling amazing stories in many different ways.
  • Festivals.  Many countries have festivals that reflect their religion, culture, and way of life.  These can even reveal information that you had not known before. 
  • Craft Fairs.  These fairs are filled with local small business owners who make affordable souvenirs.  It’s worth visiting any of these because these items also make excellent presents for friends and family.
  • Flora and Fauna.  Many countries have public parks, zoos, and swamps that are often affordably priced.  These are an added plus when traveling with kids.
  • Nightlife.  It’s easy to find out the trendy hotspots in the place that you visit.  A brief chat with a sales clerk or taxi driver can give you all the information that you may need.

When you make adequate preparations for your vacation, your time spent traveling will be sure to be an enriching one!

Danielle Layne is a Caribbean writer and artist.  She describes herself as a ‘modern hippie.’  Follow her on Twitter.

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