Go to Google and type in ‘Women Travel’. In the search engine results, you’ll see loads of travel groups and information on the rise in solo female travel. Head over to the Google News section with the same search term. You’ll find similar stories but notice there’s something missing. The representation of black females.
In my travels, I can’t help but notice that for every trip I take, finding another black woman is hard. This isn’t a joke. At the airport, you might be lucky to see a group of black friends or a family on vacation but at a foreign destination, forget about it. Nothing in the restaurants or on the bus. If you do happen to spot one, they’re likely hustling for money or a local beggar. Recently on my trip to Marrakech, I was a rare find - a black female wearing box braids. I was called a Rasta by nearly every local (not every person in Marrakech, but beware the ancient Medina) and had a hard time finding travelers like me. But why? Where are all the black females? Why aren’t we traveling more and promoted in the mainstream?
Well, I can tell you that we’re traveling. Currently, you can find a variety of influential black female travelers who showcase “real” and aspirational travel experiences on Instagram. There’s SimplyCyn, a life, style and travel influencer who showcases how she makes her 9 to 5 work with her travels to exotic luxe locals. There’s SomeCallMeAdventurous, who shares the beauty of cities both near and far. And there’s the likes of OneikaTheTraveller who has built a brand around traveling the globe and recently started a Travel Channel video series. There’s a community. It’s big, it’s eager and it’s worth investing in. But why does it seem like mainstream is avoiding it? Why do they find working with black female influencers less than their white counterparts? It’s mind boggling because nearly anyone who has had a taste of travel loves it. No matter the race or gender. Once you tap into travel, people are dying to save their money to go on their next adventure.
Why is it important to get black women (really, all women) into travel you ask? It creates people who are open, culturally aware and more educated. Cassy Isabella said “many black women that I know around me come from homes where experiencing the world is not a priority encouragement from parents or they’re ignorant to the fact that travel is accessible to them.” Combatting this notion, Cassy uses travel as an essential part of her growth. It has served as a tool for self discovery and provides a level of worldly awareness that she initially never had.
Samantha O’Brochta of Some Call Me Adventurous said that she grew up incredibly shy, however traveling taught her that she could be more outgoing and brave. “If I had stayed within the bubble of my childhood, I wouldn't have known how strong I can be. I have done things while traveling that I never thought I could do based on my introverted and passive personality.” This is incredibly valuable as a woman growing up in a society still working to navigate race and equality. This sort of experience is something that more black women need to hear, especially as they are fighting to navigate the complexities of life.
Aside from advancing a black girl’s hopes of doing and becoming more, travel is also important because it breaks the monotony of adult life. Cynthia Andrews expresses this, “there’s something about travel that reminds you that you are part of something bigger. That there’s more going on in the world that what’s happening in your neighborhood or on your local news. When you’re growing up, you’re constantly energized by learning new things- and then when you get into the work world, you can easily fall into routines.” Her curated gallery of amazing destinations and blog posts, truly enlighten. They provide women with a perspective that they too can travel and live out a form of black girl magic.
It’s great that we have a black girl travel movement happening and we too can become backpackers if we dare. Jakiya Brown of the Traveling Fro states “I feel like black women are encouraged to travel more and more. There’s an increasing amount of images in the media of us traveling.” Cynthia agrees saying “pre- social media, I would have said black women traveling was an abnormality. However, social media has shown great communities and stories of encouragement.” This movement is important. It shows that black female travel is not only possible, but it can be glorious. Jakiya uses her platform to educate black women on travel to add value to this movement. Showing women how to truly connect with different cultures without breaking the bank is a priority for her. Notice women - not just black women.
We need more content though. If you aren’t aware of travel as an experience or black women traveling, you may never stumble across fabulous influencers like these.
Black women are eager to explore and we’re gobbling up all the travel content we can find. Travel Noire and other profiles on Instagram are shaping our minds and showing us the numerous ways we too can see the world. Forget the stigmas or preconceptions about a certain place. Everywhere isn’t off limits due to the color of your skin or stories of racism; see what works for you. Ribicca of Amro Menor says “some places require more patience than others. There have been times where my travel experiences have been affected by the negative attitude some people have of people that look like me. Over the years, I have learned to ignore these experiences since they’re most likely a reflection of a few individuals and are outweighed by my positive experiences at the place.” Samantha says “The best way to face them (negative responses) is to just be an example of a good world citizen wherever you go and that will help combat whatever bad things people think.”
We need to remain confident as Jakiya adds “...there are so many negative things in this world trying to put black women down. No matter where we go we are strong, powerful, resilient and magical.” Cassy from Go Home Bella also says “Not to believe everything you read online about a place. If there's a country in your heart that you want to visit, go out and experience it for yourself. I can guarantee that no two experiences are ever the same.” So now we have reaffirmed the following, black women love to travel, we love content and we aren’t immediately eliminating locations due to “bad” behavior.
With all this established, what’s next? It’s important to realize that we not only influence “our community” but we influence everyone. We want to go everywhere, not just to the Caribbean. Our voices are strong and it’s vital that younger generations know what the world is like and that they too can travel. We need to be encouraged to see the world and broaden our horizons. So encourage us - put us front and center too because we have valuable things to contribute.