September 26, 2023

What It Takes To Travel Safely As An African American

By: Jennifer Magdalene

Travel serves as an outlet to explore the world, meet new people, and rejuvenate. But for black Americans, it brings additional concerns about racism and their safety. That’s why 71% of black travelers in the US and Canada consider safety as influential when choosing a destination, according to Travel Agent Central.

The attention you get as an African American can ruin your trip experience. Whether it’s undisguised pointing, staring, or having pictures taken without consent, racism is a problem that affects the mental wellbeing of black travelers. Acts of racism can lower your mood and increase your fears of exploring new places. Fortunately, you can make the best of your vacation by learning what it takes to travel safely as an African American.

Know Your Destination

Before traveling, check if the destination has a strong presence of racists or hate crimes. As a black American, you don’t want to visit an area where you’re not welcome and safe. You can get great insights about safe travel destinations for black travelers, like Ghana, Panama, Senegal, Bahamas, and New Orleans, on social media groups and forums.

Online travel platforms can also help you find a Black community to connect with, even in less diverse regions. When researching travel destinations, familiarize yourself with the cultural differences. Study how locals wear and pack similar outfits, know what gestures to avoid, and how to interact with locals.

Have A Travel Plan

Planning is vital to enjoying a memorable trip. Therefore, book your accommodation and plan your itinerary. When choosing where to stay, think of diversity and inclusion. Typically, you’ll feel safe in a black-owned hotel or resort. However, if black-owned hotels aren’t available, consider booking a room in a hotel that embraces cultural differences.

Creating your itinerary earlier also helps you plan where and when to explore. As a rule of thumb, plan for excursions or road trips during the day to avoid unwanted attention from groups that might see you as a threat at night. Make sure to carry a paper map when exploring new places. That way, you’ll avoid asking for directions in places you’re not welcome.

Be Cautious Of Flight Safety

Aircraft safety is a priority for airlines. For this reason, many airlines today ensure aircraft readiness through contractor logistics, just like the military does. By outsourcing aircraft maintenance, airlines can identify and fix mechanical or technical problems efficiently. While air travel is safe, racial discrimination is common in airports.

There are several things you can do to avoid racial profiling at airports. This includes, carrying valid travel insurance, passports, and vaccination reports. Immigration officers might spend more time checking your passport, emptying your bags or performing a body search. Try to be patient with them and answer their questions diligently.

Remember, your choice of clothes matters. So, wear outfits without metal buttons or clasps, as these will set off the security sensors and call for unnecessary attention. Inside the plane, ignore passengers who annoy you with microaggressions. Equally important, respect flight attendants and follow their advice to prevent misunderstanding.

Learn Proper Ways To Handle Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination among black travelers can take different forms, from racial profiling to unintentional interactions or stereotyping. These incidents can drain the energy you’ve preserved for sightseeing or food sampling. However, knowing how to handle racial discrimination goes a long way in improving your safety and making the most of your vacation.

Instead of being harsh, stay calm and choose short blunt answers to respond to annoying questions. Alternatively, be prepared to answer tough questions, like were African Americans only enslaved people? For example, educate yourself about the ethnic and racial histories of Colonial Williamsburg, VA and Portland, Oregon. Doing so will help you answer biased questions about people of color. If the situation seems dangerous, walk out and report to local authorities.

Planning a trip is exciting, but for African Americans, it entails being mentally prepared for racial discrimination. As a black traveler, you must learn safety tips to make your overall experience memorable. Start by researching your destination in advance to ensure people of color are welcome. You should also book hotels that promote inclusion and diversity, know how to handle racism and memorize flight safety tips to avoid racial profiling.

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