In 2016, I traded my American bubble for a life across the pond. Since then I’ve called the UK, China and Thailand home, solo traveled across the world and haven’t moved back to the US since. 

Over the course of that time I’ve also met more black women than I can count—living a life of adventure and travel, on their terms. But when I talk to friends and family in the States, the idea of solo travel is still a taboo…

“You’re going where by yourself??”

“Aren’t you afraid to be alone?”

“Good for you girl… but I could never.”

Because the truth is, in addition to the everyday apprehensions of taking your first solo trip, we all know being a Black woman brings an added layer of concern to navigate, especially when it comes to travel. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Every Black woman deserves to see the world on her terms and have the trip of a lifetime. So from me to you, here’s a quick guide on how to master solo Black female travel. 

Choose Your Destination Wisely and Research, Research, Research

The first step to solo traveling is figuring out where to go, but if it’s your first time taking a trip alone you’ll want to choose your destination wisely. As Black women I don’t think we should have to limit ourselves on where we get our passport stamps. Racism is everywhere, so if you’ve heard of a fellow Black traveler having a negative experience in a place remember that doesn’t necessarily speak to what your experience will be. 

With that said, if it’s your first-time solo traveling as a Black woman, then a well-known and relatively safe destination is a great way to dip your toes into the world of solo travel. This can include destinations like: 

  • London, UK 
  • Paris, France
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Czech Republic 
  • Berlin, Germany 
  • Tulum, Mexico 
  • Montreal, Canada 
  • Portugal 
  • Iceland
  • Austria 

I suggest you make a list of your top five places and narrow it down from there. And research as much as possible. Knowledge is power and having a bit of knowledge on a destination and a rough itinerary will ease your mind immensely. This should include information on how the public transit works, your accommodation, and a bucket list of activities for your travels. 

Pack Your Own Hair Products  

One of the biggest struggles solo traveling as a Black woman will always be haircare. Between scrambling to find an Afro hair salon while backpacking in Europe and trying to get braids in the middle of Thailand (a struggle), I’ve learned from experience that it’s always best to pack your own products and wear a protective style during your trip. 

At minimum this includes edge cream, hair moisturizer and sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. If I’m going on a solo trip I’ll also opt for box braids as my protective style. 

If you’re solo traveling in Asia be very careful about where you buy your skin care products. Many of the products sold include bleach agents for a ‘whitening’ effect (a whole other issue in itself) so consider bringing your own lotions and face wash etc. 

If you run out of products on your trip or just want to experience getting your hair done abroad, then use Instagram! Every destination should have at least one Afro-hair stylist who can usually be found through keywords like ‘Afro hair {Insert destination}’ or ‘Black hair {Insert destination}’, or you can ask around in Facebook groups for the best recommendations. Which brings me to my next point…

Join Facebook Groups for Solo Black Female Travel 

Even though you can’t tell from the media, there are thousands of Black women traveling solo every day, you just need to find them. Connect with the Black travel community through Facebook groups to choose your solo travel destination, get more information and recommendations on a place or even find a potential travel buddy! Some good places to start include: 

Once you join you should introduce yourself and start asking questions leading up to your solo trip. To make sure you have time to connect and have plenty of conversations, try to be active in the group for at least one month before your trip, especially if you’re looking for a travel buddy. 

Be Open and Curious 

In all my solo travels the best memories have come from being open and curious. 

As a Black woman, I sometimes find myself on edge when I travel in spaces where no one looks like me. But from bonding with travelers from India and Denmark over hostel pub crawls to laughing with an old Greek woman in the Mediterranean sea; over time I learned that the more I put myself out there on my travels, the better the experience I would have. 

You can do this easily through staying in hostels, joining a free walking tour or taking up a group activity while you’re solo traveling. 

Eventually you’ll realize (as every solo traveler does) that traveling alone doesn’t really mean you’ll be by yourself, because you make so many connections during your trip! But it all starts with being open and curious to new people and experiences.

Stay Safe (But Don’t Let Fear Deter You From Fun) 

As a Black travel blogger I get constant DMs from Black women afraid to travel. Whether it’s fear to travel to a country they’ve heard was racist or to travel somewhere where no one looks like them—there’s an extra layer of apprehension to see the world amongst the Black community. 

But always remember that for every bad experience a solo traveler has (especially a Black woman solo traveling) there’s a good one that hasn’t gotten the same press or coverage as the negative experience, which can easily skew perceptions on what it means to travel solo. Point being, until you take your own solo trip and make your own experiences you’ll never know what kind of trip you’ll have.

With that said, it’s still important to be safe wherever you go. This includes: 

  • Sharing your location and itinerary with a close friend or family member
  • Choosing accommodation close to the city or town center 
  • Locking up your valuables 
  • Going easy on the alcohol and nights out 
  • Avoiding walking alone at night 

Remember that fear shouldn’t deter you from living your best life. You deserve to take adventures. You deserve to see the world. And you don’t need to wait for anyone else to do it.