Since it’s Black History month I wanted to make sure I did a travel post dedicated to being a black traveller.
October in the UK (or February if you’re from the US) we time travel from present to past and back and take a look at the achievements and successes of black people and the wider contribution they have made to society.
In the creative industry there’s been a lot of black excellence achieved over the last few years. Travel blogging in my opinion is a creative niche that deserves to be recognised and championed. To do that I’ve brought together a group of travel bloggers and creatives from black backgrounds to help me discuss what it’s like for them to go travelling – for the good and bad.
Travelling is verbally defined with dozens of buzz words, metaphors, quotes and sayings so the challenge to describe and embody the thrills, excitement, freedom and stories into just three words was put out to my fellow black creatives:
Exciting. Emotional. Unforgettable. – Elle (@ElleMacUK)
Uncomfortable, Liberating and Random – Joanita (@MonochromeEgo)
Epicurean, breathtaking and life-changing -mybreakingview (@mybreakingview)
Inspiring, exciting and character-building – The S Road (@TheSRoad)
Eye opening & challenging – Efia (@effytalkslife)
Liberation from daily routine. Appreciation when you visit a country and daily necessities are hard to find – you appreciate what you take for granted. Exposure. – TravelEatSlay (@traveleatslay)
Broadens your mind – Wadzi (@Mama__Africa)
Image Credit: Canva
As you can see from what some of them have written travelling for black people can be a very emotional rollercoaster, something we’ll touch on later.
Travelling is a unique experience for everyone. Everyone goes on trips for different reasons and interests and soaks in their wanderlust differently.
For example a person prefers hitchhiking, another choose to go on more retreats whilst another may prefer a holiday in a luxury hotel with state-of-the-art facilities like swimming pools and spa days.
One might explore to learn more about themselves but the person next to them might travel simply for pleasure. I wanted to hear from everyone involved what is it about travelling that inspires them to do it:
I think it’s such as privilege to be able to travel. It’s the perfect combination of timing, money, lack of commitments and so many other factors. Whenever any of these factors align I feel compelled to take a trip. Because who knows when the opportunity will no longer be there. As I’m typing this I’m actually sitting on a plane on my way to Tokyo! It’s my first time visiting Japan and I think it will be so different to anywhere I’ve been before. I love that travel allows you to experience life though so many different factors – Efia (@effytalkslife)
Learning different cultures seeing sights inspires me to see the world. Lately Instagram has been fuelling a lot of my inspiration though I like to travel with purpose to also educate others. – Travel Eat Slay (@TravelEatSlay)
Travelling pushes me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It encourages flexibility and going with the flow. Whether this be in the form of adapting to a new language, cuisine or even transport system, you’ll be out of your comfort zone at some point, which is a good thing since it enables growth! – Joanita (@MonochromeEgo)
There is so much going on in the world that people don’t realise. The world is constantly moving and the thought of being able to experience that in another country is phenomenal. I enjoy catching up with the culture way of living. I did this when I lived in Singapore. – mybreakingview (@mybreakingview)
I am a naturally curious person with an incurable case of wanderlust. The fact that no two countries are the same makes me super keen to see what “life” looks like to different people. – Wadzi (@Mama__Africa)
There are some absolutely beautiful places in the world as well as lots of cultures which are very different to mine. I’d like to experience as much of it as I can. I’ve recently started riding a motorbike so alot of my current places to visit depend on the scenery I would experience while riding. I also love water and the mountains so any places with sinkholes, seas, lakes, surfing or snowboarding opportunities are also very high on my list. – The S Road (@TheSRoad)
Image Credit: The Coli
There’s the saying: one size doesn’t fit all. Me talking about is not enough as my experience when abroad could have been different to another black person’s as much as there may be common similarities. For example there are the stories of black women having to deal with unwanted fetishness surrounding their hair – something me as a black man with a lovely skin fade have the privilege of not dealing with:
The stares can be overwhelming as it’s hard to tell if it’s curiosity or something else. The touching of hair has been are but that’s a real annoyance when it happens. Sometimes you feel that people assume you don’t belong there (it’s rarely been experienced) so I have to prove that I can afford it or speak/appreciate the language to prove I’m here with good intentions – Jess (@Road2Culturedom)
Travelling as a black person can always be a bit of a funny one. My mum has always left me with words of wisdom and warnings before I’ve left for certain European countries as not everywhere is as tolerant as the UK. I remember how worried she was before I left for the Ukraine. Thankfully, besides the odd stares or men telling me that they like my chocolate skin. I have never really faced “issues” travelling as a black person and hope that I never do. – Elle (@ElleMacUK)
Like stereotypically, black people feel like certain activities (e.g. camping, skiing etc.) is more for white people so just the general attitude towards certain things need to change. But also, a lot of black people are from low income families so taking lets say 2 years out after finishing college to travel is not even an option compared to our white counterparts – Joanita (@MonochromeEgo)
I like to snowboard and have taken up surfing as well, neither of which are “typical” holidays for black people. Sometimes I feel like I have to explain myself more or justify why I am ther. I also get questioned more than white people about certain things. Like the time I was in a surf group and the instructor asked me if I could swim three times but only asked everyone else once. – The S Road (@TheSRoad)
Biggest challenge I’ve experienced is people stereotyping me for a typical black person. I enjoy killing the stereotype. I always get mistaken for Serena Willaims which I think is entirely ignorant and rude so being able to coorect them politely is always good. – mybreakingview (@mybreakingview)
A lot of our issues are down to cultural ignorance from other races, being fitted into certain stereotypes and our women being touched as if they’re an attraction in an gallery. It can be disrespectful because it’s effectively an invasion of privacy and we’ve not granted permission. The stares and questioning is not too much of a shock as I myself experienced this very thing when in Naples.
But there’s also the inner-racial challenge of getting the general black population onboard new activities and revising the perception of what is “black”, “white”, “asian” etc. – to a lot of people – because it could be a very dangerous precedent that we’re setting not to mention some cultural ignorance from ourselves also.
It’s essential for someone to return back to their roots (if not then close) and study a bit of it t least once, regardless of your race or skin colour or whether you’re an avid or casual traveller. For the majority of black travellers it’s a country in Africa or the Caribbean, so which Afro-Caribbean country has been their favourite to visit or would like to visit in the future?
I’d love to visit Jamaica. Jamaican food is incredible – I think I’d come home two stones heavier haha – Efia (@effytalkslife)
Nigeria has got to be on top of the list for me. The sunshine, the food, the funny aunties, the diversity between the villages, the cities and the beaches is something that no one should miss out on. Next on my list is Dominica! What a beautiful little island. Hopefully [in] 2019 I can make that happen. – Elle (@ElleMacUK)
I would like to visit Jamaica, Barbados and St. Vincent. I’ve never been to the Caribbean but would love to go to experience the world from a Black African British perspective. – mybreakingview (@mybreakingview)
Admittedly, I haven’t been to as many African or Caribbean as I would like, but Jamaica is definitely up there. My family are Jamaican and I love Jamaican culture. The food is amazing, the music can soothe your soul and the island is absolutely stunning. – The S Road (@TheSRoad)
Haven’t visited any Caribbean countries unfortunately. However I have visited 4 different African countries and the best experience so far is in Ghana. The culture and the people are welcoming however it can be frustrating as their way of life is more relaxed compared to what I am used to. It took getting used to when it came to customer service in shops/restaurants for example. – Travel Eat Slay (@traveleatslay)
My fave Afro-Caribbean country was Ghana because it’s the motherland and I really enjoyed reconnecting with my roots and seeing my family. The food is amazing, the weather is great and the country is steeped in rich culture. Ghanaians are so warm and welcoming, I recommend that everyone visits! – Jess (@Road2Culturedom)
I’ve been to Zimbabwe (where I’m from), South Africa and Botswana. Excluding home, I really loved Botswana and I’m even considering relocating there in the future. The people are friendly and the weather is perfect. – Wadzi (@Mama__Africa)
Image Credit: Africa Travel Co
To all Jamaicans and Ghanaians reading this – quite a few black creatives love you! Permission to have a big, cheeky grin on your faces 😉
Finally – since it’s Black History Month and it’s a time to celebrate and elevate the achievements of black people – I wanted to ask everyone what their best travel experiences and to discuss about what they enjoyed most about them.
I think my surf trip might just win this time round. I went to Morocco and stayed in a little surf town called Taghazout. Being in the sea, learning a new hobby, experiencing a different culture (during a major religious festival as it was Ramadan at the time) eating great food and meeting like minded people meant I had an amazing time! – The S Road (@TheSRoad)
I was in New Zealand last year and balanced off the Auckland Sky Tower at a height of 200m. I hate heights so that was cool. New Zealand is beautiful in general, heighly recommend if you don’t mind a 20 hour journey – Wadzi (@Mama__Africa)
My best travel experiences have been in places where the locals are welcoming no matter what you look like and you feel comfortable. I’ve travelled to a few places in Central America where I felt this so strongly and also in Norway which isn’t very ethnically diverse but I felt super comfortable and able to enjoy all its natural beauty – Jess (@Road2Culturedom)
I spent some time in Barcelona last year and it was a real last minute trip. I think we booked the flights two days before leaving and while we were there we ate at this restaurant called Disfrutar. It has two Michelin stars and is hands down the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. Over the course of five hours we had thirty courses and twelve different wines. I smelled and tasted things I wouldn’t even know where to begin to describe. It truly was magical. – Efia (@effytalkslife)
Island hopping on my solo trip to Fiji. Also, my group holidays to Portugal with my friends are always filled with banter, right from the moment we meet to go to the airport! – Joanita (@MonochromeEgo)
Image Credit: Road2CultureDom
This is officially the longest post on my blog and well this is the kind of post that deserves to be the longest. Being from a minority background it’s important to me to see that the hard-work, passion, ability of other influencers is recognised and given a platform to shine and impact the wider world – something I’ve been more than willing to do with my ever-growing platform.
There are challenges we face solely because of our skin color but we have the opportunity to educate the wider world about who we truly are beyond the stereotypes given off by the media, empower ourselves and take away cultural misunderstanding for the long-term.
A big thanks and credit to everyone who got involved with the collab, their blog links and/or twitter handles are below:
Joanita (@MonochromeEgo) – http://www.monochrome-ego.com
Travel Eat Slay (@TravelEatSlay) – http://www.traveleatslay.com
Jess (@Road2Culturedom) – http://www.roadtoculturedom.com
Elle (@ElleMacUK) – http://www.ellemacuk.com
The S Road (@TheSRoad) – http://thesroad.com
Mybreakingview (@mybreakingview) – http://www.mybreakingviews.com
Efia (@effytalkslife) – http://www.effytalkslife.com
Wadzi (@Mama__Africa) – http://www.youtube.com/WadzisWorld
Take time to check out their blogs and twitter. Also remember to follow and subscribe to my blog and on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to keep up with what’s coming next. Would appreciate it if you can give it a like and share!
Till next time – Peace 😀
Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures