The Black Girl's Travel's Guide: 10 Best Destinations
Identity matters and can affect how we, as black women, travel. With our collective rise in disposable income and an intense desire for freedom — a desire perhaps birthed from our history — we are now travelling more than ever before. Still, we do it with fear. Fear of racial profiling, assault, or putting our lives in danger because we’ve ventured into a place where we’re not welcome. While nowhere in the world is a utopia for blacks where racism doesn’t exist, there are countries where black travelers have reported that they feel more comfortable. So here it is — our top 10 list of countries to be a carefree black girl, without having to be acutely aware of our skin tone.
For a culture and civilization trip, visit Accra, GhanaBlack people in general often dream of returning to the “motherland” – the mysterious place of our origin — Africa. It’s the one place where the fragmented and disjointed record of our history will ultimately lead. Perhaps there, we can find the answers we seek about our true selves and reinforce the sense of pride in our blackness that the world does not set out to support.
Ghana has emerged as a go-to travel destination for blacks looking to connect with the continent. The city of Accra attracts visitors from all over the world for its blend of historical and modern culture. There you can vibe to Afrobeats on a rooftop bar or visit Elmina Castle to learn more about where enslaved Africans were housed before their tumultuous transatlantic journey.
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Seek underwater adventure and village beaches in BelizeAs black travelers, we often limit ourselves to travelling to the Caribbean — either because it’s our family’s homeland or because it’s a safe and easy choice. For those who want to expand their horizons, but start with baby steps, Belize is an excellent choice.
You can still enjoy Caribbean food and Creole culture, all while knowing you’ve ventured off into South America. The coastal country is rich in both island vibes and an incredible array of biodiversity. If you’re adventurous, go snorkeling in Shark Ray alley — a protected area of the barrier reef which is home to beautiful beds of coral and magnificent marine life. If that’s too much adventure, check out Hopkins Village to taste traditional Creole cuisine and relax on the plethora of beaches along the village coastline.
Enjoy the seafood, art and charm of Dakar, SenegalKnown as the epicenter of West Africa, Dakar, Senegal has been an attractive destination for black travelers who need a starting point to take on the continent. Senegal has been an example of stability and democracy in the region, and many black tourists report that they’ve felt welcomed and safe while travelling there.
A mostly French-speaking country, Senegal is known for its art, seafood and extensive beaches that stretch over 530 kilometers along the Atlantic. A 20-minute ferry ride will take you to Ile de Gorée ¬— a stunning island with a dark past. However, it’s a place to learn more about our African ancestors ¬¬as this is where many slaves left their homes to never return. While you’re in Senegal, be sure to taste the national dish, thieboudienne, and take in the colonial charm in the architecture of Saint-Louis.
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Consider the old and new of London, EnglandLondon, England presents a dichotomy to the black traveler. On one hand, there’s the idea of Buckingham Palace and the Royals, who we can’t relate to ¬– save for our good sis Meghan Markle. Then, there’s the Caribbean influence and rich black culture we’ve heard about but never experienced ourselves. I give you ‘Black Britain’ – a huge reason why you need to go to London.
To discover Black Britain, you’ll want to soak up Brixton – an Afro-Caribbean community that’s diverse, creative, and has an unbeatable night scene. If you want to grab a pint, as is customary while in London, do it at Black-owned pub Prince of Pelham, which prides itself on being an inclusive establishment. London in general is culturally and ethnically diverse with over 300 languages spoken – you will not feel out of place here.
Take in the vibrance of Rio de Janiero, BrazilThe beauty of South America is its diversity, both in people and in culture, which allows a black traveler to feel right at home. That diversity is most apparent in Brazil which is made up of people with origins from Africa, Portugal, the Middle East, Japan, Bolivia, and more. Your melanin will fit right in.
If you really want to absorb Brazil’s rich culture, go in February while their Carnival season is underway. Make sure to get your Instagram photos on the “Selaron Steps,” one of Brazil’s most famous landmarks, and of course, the Christ the Redeemer statue. Taste their wide choice of local foods rooted in their varied origins, and enjoy Rio’s Ipanema Beach, which is praised by travelers all around the world.
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Indulge in the luxury of DubaiIf a luxurious getaway is what you’re after, Dubai needs to be on your list. The opulence of the United Arab Emirates will have you in awe and the affordability won’t leave you feeling out of place. Dubai was was built with tourism in mind – with the intention of attracting visitors from every corner of the globe. It’s not a shock to anyone to see a black tourist living her best life in the sand and sun.
Though you can experience Dubai on any budget, this is one of those trips where you’ll want to save up some coin to truly experience what Dubai has to offer. The choices of upscale hotels will have you feeling like royalty – a stay in one of them would be unforgettable. Before you leave, take the two-hour trip to Abu Dhabi to visit the Grand Mosque and Emirates Palace. As you take your black girl magic photos against the white walls, be sure to be respectful of this place of worship by obeying the strict dress code.
Revel in the world class art and breathtaking views of Paris, FranceParis, France presents another European multicultural hub, but France has its own unwritten code when it comes to race. Some go so far as to say that the country suffers from an identity crisis, mostly because the idea of race is seen as divisive – to identify as anything other than a French citizen is seen as a betrayal. Despite this, Paris is plentiful in differing ethnicities, especially from countries colonized by the French such as Congo, Senegal, Mali and Cameroon.
It goes without saying that Paris is the place to go for some of the best artwork in the world. Get a Paris Museum Pass to give you full access to the L’ouvre, Musée d’Orsay, the Arc de Triomphe, Chateau de Versailles and more. You can get incredible pics for the ‘gram at the Palace of Versailles, located right outside of Paris, or stay in the city to visit the Eifel Tower and the various Parisian street markets.
Discover the street art and abundance of culture in Berlin, GermanyFor many black travelers, Berlin is low on our list of places we want to see. Really low. It’s hard to believe we would be welcome in a place with such a dark past, but that would be to view Germany through a very narrow lens. Germany has developed into one of the most attractive immigration countries and is now among the nations with the most relaxed immigration rules. Diversity is a real thing in Berlin.
The city has been described as young, hip, and vibrant and once you walk through the art-filled streets, you’ll see why. See the city through your tastebuds with the Berlin Food Tour where you’ll get to experience all nooks and crannies of Berlin easily missed by the naked eye. Don’t miss the Mauerpark Flea Market or the Turkish Market where you’ll discover unique finds you’d never find at home, and be sure to visit the House of World Cultures – Germany’s national centre exploring non-European cultures.
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Feel completely comfortable in humble Toronto, CanadaIf there’s one thing Toronto is proud of, it’s the diversity you’ll find there. About half of the population identifies as a visible minority hailing from every corner of the world – no matter where you come from, you won’t feel alone.
To experience Toronto at its best, visit during the warmer months from May to September when the city is booming after the winter thaw. There are a long list of annual cultural festivals that will give you a taste of the cultures that live there like Salsa on St. Clair, Taste of Danforth, and the Toronto Caribbean Carnival. For some adventure, test your nerves on the Edgewalk atop the CN Tower or take in the charm of the Distillery District.
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Delight in the temples and street food in Bangkok, ThailandLet me start by saying that if you’re going to Asia as a black traveler – doesn’t matter if it’s India or China - expect people to stare at you. If you aren’t bothered by that, then you can still have an enjoyable experience travelling through the continent. Of all the countries in Asia, several black travelers highlight Thailand as a country where they’ve felt welcomed.
Here, a dollar can stretch a long way – from lodging to food, you’ll find a trip to Thailand more affordable than you’d think. While you’re there, be sure to take a tour of their breathtaking temples –like Wat Arun and Wat Pho (the Reclining Buddha). Pro tip: dress appropriately for these temples or you’ll will be denied entry or forced to buy clothing from closeby vendors. Tour the city in a tuk tuk, indulge in the inexpensive massages, and party until the wee hours of the morning in this city that never sleeps.
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