Whether you prefer the surf and sand of a far-flung island getaway or the big skies and starry nights of a cross-country road trip, traveling is invigorating to the body and soul. But the attention, discrimination and obvious differences for being the only Black or brown person in a location are not the checked baggage we wanted to bring along our destinations. Whether it’s blatant staring and pointing, having pictures taken without consent (because “Are you Beyoncé? Barack Obama? Rihanna?”) or being followed around shops, certain experiences can affect your mood and heighten your fears around venturing into unknown territory. And it’s exactly why we have to do more work to stay safe traveling while Black.
“I believe we have to do extra work [to stay safe],” Mirissa Jackson, an independent travel agent and Inteletravel ambassador tells us. Just as there’s racism and prejudice in the States, there are countries and regions around the world where people are still persecuted for their skin color. For example, as Thailand has become such a popular tourist destination, it’s especially important for Black tourists to be aware of the country’s complex relationship with skin color prior to landing in Bangkok. Says Jackson, “That distorted image or thought of Black and brown individuals, which could be positive or negative, can interfere with the way they engage with you when you come to their country.”
So, to make traveling safe, we tapped a few experienced sightseers to provide tips and tricks to travel safely while BIPOC.