Do African-Americans travel internationally? Well, OF COURSE!

May 7, 2010

As someone who’s totally passionate about international travel (and whose often-depleted bank account proves just how much), I want to share that gospel with others. After all, the reason I started this blog was to encourage African-American sisters to venture out far beyond the United States borders and experience the world. There’s far too much of it to see—and we are far too fabulous—to stick close to home just because we don’t know what we’ll find once we get out there.

I write about this in much detail on the brand-new Jet Magazine Web site. Take a look at my piece on African-Americans going global and a somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece on five myths that often keep us from traveling abroad. And check out some interesting statistics about black folks, the money we spend on travel, and where we go once we book those overseas flights.

So let’s grab those passports (or apply for one if you don’t yet have one of these treasures) and GO!

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55 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Jan  |  May 8, 2010 at 9:24 am

    I am traveling to Europe this fall and I cannot wait. I am going to England, Brussels and Paris. Could you tell me where the hot spots are in these locations?

    Thanks!

  • 2. Lola  |  May 10, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Solid pieces Maureen! Just checked them out.

    Speaking about traveling while black , check out this piece you might like – Breaking Down The Staredown – http://matadorabroad.com/breaking-down-the-staredown/

  • 3. urbantravelgirl  |  May 10, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Ciao, Lola — thanks for checking out my Jet articles!

    And thanks SO much for sending your piece on “Breaking Down the Staredown” when you travel to places that aren’t used to seeing brown faces. While we know there can be rude and ignorant people everywhere, more often than not staring in other cultures (where it’s not considered rude, like it is in the States — and ESPECIALLY among black folks) comes from genuine curiosity more than prejudice.

    Maureen

  • 4. Starrone83  |  May 12, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I just came back from my first trip to Europe two weeks ago…and I cannot stop thinking about it. It was a life changing adventure and a complete culture shock (in a good, good way).

    I had always struggled with being an African American woman in a segregated, Southern town. But I felt like Josephine Baker in France. LOL

    I wish EVERY Black American woman would go to Europe at least once in her life.

  • 5. urbantravelgirl  |  May 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    BRAVA for making your first visit to Europe! Did you go alone, with friends, or a group?

    That’s the wonderful thing about travel — it really CAN be life-changing, and in ways you’ll keep discovering for weeks, months and years.

    Josephine Baker is one of my ALL-TIME heroines, so love the shout-out to “La Baker!” LOL

    I agree with your thought that every black American sister should get herself to Europe. And not just there, but to Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Oceania — other places where the so-called “African-American” experience doesn’t define every single interaction we have with other people.

    Can’t wait to hear about your NEXT trip abroad. Keep on traveling, chica!

    Maureen

  • 6. roni  |  May 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I still have a hard time believing that in 2010 Black women aren’t traveling! Traveling is such a part of my life, I couldn’t even imagine what I would do if I couldn’t pack up and go explore something different. Normally I find that I am embraced in other countries, my Black skin is cherished and I am never made to feel like an outsider. I think traveling makes you such a better person, expands your thoughts, and makes you so much more interesting!

    And Jan, if you need hot spots in Paris, let me know! I lived there so I can help you out.
    http://www.trilingualdiva.blogspot.com

  • 7. urbantravelgirl  |  May 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Hey there, Jan –
    So glad you’re headed to London, Brussels and Paris — I’m sure you’ll have a straight-up ball!

    You asked about “hot spots” in those cities. (Hope you saw that Roni @ http://www.trilingualdiva.blogspot.com offered to hook you up in Paris, as she lived there.) I suppose it depends what you consider “hot spots.” At age 41, I no longer do the club scene, either here in the States or abroad. I’m all about eating and drinking well. So if you’re looking for suggestions of places to eat in Paris, I can help you out. But if you’re looking for the latest clubs and lounges — hopefully some of the UrbanTravelGirls visiting this site can hook this sister up!

    I’ve only been to Brussels one time (for business), and didn’t get a chance to hang out. So if any of you can offer Jan some tips on kickin’ it in Belgium, please holler!

    Thanks, Jan — and stay tuned!!

    Maureen

  • 8. Kim  |  May 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Hey Maureen,
    Most of the women in my family are a bit nomadic. But, they only want to travel state-side. For the life of me, I can’t get them to travel abroad and they all have some of the same excuses that you mentioned in your Jet peice.

    I think my DNA must be from the family members on another planet because I have absolutely no problem with packing my bag and hopping on a plane to a foreign country. Even if I have to go by myself!! Granted, my career choices have given me the opportunity and flexibility to travel as often as I financially can but still, I truly feel that if they would only just try it once, they’d be hooked for life. I’ve shared pictures and tidbits from some of my most juicy escapades and still they won’t go.

    Is it a generational thing? I’m 50-ish, not so old. I sometimes wonder if they think their time has passed and experiencing new things is for the younger generations. If they only knew that it is those same new experiences that make you feel young and whole again and at peace with yourself and the world.

    I could go on forever.

  • 9. urbantravelgirl  |  May 25, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Kim,
    TELL me about it! I think my parents brought home a little brown gypsy baby instead of the one they SHOULD have had! LOL You and I must be long-lost sisters from the same family “on another planet!”

    You’re so right that once you get your folks abroad and they get bitten by the bug, they will SO love it. That’s what happened with my mom, who my sister and I first took to Paris years ago for her birthday. We had the trip of a lifetime, and from then on, my once-conservative mom “had passport, will travel.” We’ve gone to the UK, back to France, Italy, across the Mediterranean… and are even talking about Egypt, her dream trip. And my born-and-bred Chicago mom isn’t too far off from 70 — so age is no excuse!!

    But I think there IS something to be said for the generational thing. Tell them what you’ve shared here — that these fascinating, hard-to-imagine experiences keep you young. See if that gets them to book that first overseas flight. Let me know how your convincing goes!

    Many happy travels,
    Maureen

  • 10. Nicole Sconiers  |  June 1, 2010 at 2:41 am

    G’day Maureen!

    Loved the articles. Thanks for tackling the myths that prevent many people of color from traveling internationally.

    Just returned from a 12-day vacation in Sydney, Australia. It was my first time visiting Oz and traveling solo internationally, and I loved it! Sydney is a jewel of a city, and the people were quite friendly. I loved exploring by myself, and I had no trouble getting around. I went skydiving in Picton, hopped a ferry to Manly Beach and went surfing. Took a Harley motorcycle tour of Bondi Beach. Went hiking in the Blue Mountains, on a wine-tasting tour of the Hunter Valley, on a pub tour of The Rocks, on a backstage tour of the Sydney Opera House and more.

    I’m thinking about returning to Down Under for my bday next year, and several of my sisterfriends have said they want to join me. Oz is definitely a safe, fun and exciting destination for black women. The 14-plus hour plane ride from L.A. wasn’t too bad, and I never experienced jet lag. Don’t fear the far!

    Cheers!
    Nicole

  • 11. urbantravelgirl  |  June 1, 2010 at 8:01 am

    G’day Nicole — and thanks for sharing your INCREDIBLE Australian adventures!! So glad you found it a great destination. Every black American woman I know who’s gone to Oz has found it friendly, welcoming, and way cool. I really hope you get back there for your birthday (is it a milestone one?) and encourage some friends to join you.

    I love what you said: “Don’t fear the far!” Long plane rides can be looked forward to if you’ve got good books and some Tylenol PM to knock you out! LOL! (Of course, a First or Business Class seat would make the ride that much better….)

    Ciao,
    Maureen

  • 12. Kimberley  |  June 7, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Black women travel but unfortunately not in the numbers represented by white females. I live in Japan and I have travelled in Asia: China, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Laos and Korea. I hardly encounter other black females. Anyway, I would encourage anyone who is thinking about it to research and do it. I often travel alone and I have enjoyed all my trips. I am off to South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe come August. Can’t wait!

  • 13. America Tour » Blog&hellip  |  June 10, 2010 at 8:48 am

    [...] Source: urbantravelgirl [...]

  • 14. My Travelin' Girl  |  June 15, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Wonderful blog! I’m wondering if you could point me in the direction of websites that specialize in international travel tours for a group of friends. We want fun and free time but still wouldn’t mind doing some guided tours. I don’t feel confident going it alone so far from home and I’m looking to pay the trip over time. I’m the planner in the group so the trip must be fab! Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

  • 15. urbantravelgirl  |  June 16, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Hello, My Travelin’ Girl — thanks for stopping by!
    I must admit, I’m not a huge “travel tour” person, but one I DO know of (if your group is all female) is http://www.BlackGirlTravel.com. Fleace’ Weaver from L.A. does totally cool black-women tours overseas — including her famed “Bella Italia” trip to Italy.

    Hey, ladies — do you know of other international tour companies you can turn Travelin’ Girl and her travel companions onto? Thanks in advance for sharing!

    Maureen

  • 16. Tyrone  |  June 22, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Greetings! Hi, I’m writing you from NY. I love your blog and your perspective on travel and all things foreign. I lived in Germany way back when and I’ve been feeling an urge to revisit Europe and spend some time in Paris. When I think of African-Parisians this video comes to mind:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9QYv9XBMHI
    Do you miss Paris? also did you work there for a Parisian company or American company. I attached my email to this note. THank you very much for all of this.

  • 17. Chelle  |  July 13, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Hey Urban Travel Girl! Your post is on-point! So many times in the past 6 years since I startted traveling solo internationally — wandering the streets of post-communist Romania, climbing the Great Wall of China, having breakfast overlooking Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong — i’ve thought . . . how did THIS brown girl get here?

    Then, I got over myself. I realized . . why SHOULDN’T brown girls be there? We should embrace the world. And, if I’m the only brown girl face I see while I’m on the road, so be it . . . I’ll just have to come back with enough stories and photos in tow that I can entice my sisters to get on the road. For this reason my sister and I started BrownGirlsFly! Because we can, do and ARE fly!

    Glad to see your spreading the message along with us!!

  • 18. Jessica Mann  |  July 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Maureen-

    I think what you’re doing is amazing! I’d love to be able to chat with you if you have some time. I recently established a non-profit organization in Chicago, Empowering Youth Through Travel, NFP, which will provide inner-city, teens of color with the opportunity to travel abroad! We can be found on facebook as well.

    I really look forward to speaking with you!

    Best,

    Jessica

  • 19. busy Holandia Polska  |  August 3, 2010 at 5:25 am

    I was bored, until i’ve found your blog, interesting articles

  • 20. This Time Now  |  August 10, 2010 at 9:25 am

    @Jessica Mann
    I will look into your organization tomorrow and am glad to know that it exists. I, too, want to create a foundation on the lines of what you’re doing. I have a slight twist but our goal is the same, to expose our young people to the world.

    @Maureen, I would love to have your email address but for now I’ll just have to send my latest work…for Travel and Leisure magazine: http://nearandfar.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/my-first-assignment-with-travel-and-leisure/

    Tell me what you think!

    Ciao Bella!

    Oh! I’m going to begin Italian lessons! You’re an inspiration!

  • 21. Daniel  |  August 24, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Hi Jan,

    Check out http://www.discoverparis.net for information on Black Paris before you go. Also, check out their blog: http://entreetoblackparis.blogspot.com/. Good stuff there too.

  • 22. Myra  |  September 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I’ve ALWAYS, ALWAYS dreamed about a european get-away! I’ve always dreamt about seeing London, Ireland, Scotland and Paris and now I am financially ready to take that life-long dream of a trip. I need all kinds of advice, how to I start to plan for this trip? Do I need a travel agency to book my flight and hotel room? Is there a way to travel abroad and skip the tourist traps? Where do I obtain a passport? When is the best time to travel? Is it possible to get a travel plan to go from England to Paris, etc.? I would truly appreciate your input/advice on these matters. I need some experienced, knowledged information.

  • 23. CaramelMomof3  |  October 12, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Hi!

    I am in the process of planning a 10 – 12 day European vacation for myself with 8 year old twins, and two other single moms and 4 more children all under 10 at the time of travel. As it stands now, we are planning to do the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France and possibly London for a quick peek at a few hot spots there. We are targeting summer of 2012 for this dream trip. Can you please point me to some airline wholesalers that are competitive and reliable? We have already made the decision to stay in Marriott properties as we don’t want to risk our lodging accomodations. In addition, any other information or links you can share about travel with kids, etc would be greatly appreciated!

  • 24. urbantravelgirl  |  October 13, 2010 at 3:32 am

    Ciao, Caramel Mom — and big-time KUDOS to you for planning a trip with your girlfriends and your young kids!! Sounds like it’ll be quite the adventure, and DEFINITELY something your kids will remember their whole lives.

    As for airline consolidators, one I recently used and really liked was CheapOair.com, which offers great rates on airfares (and also does hotels, car rentals, etc.). Most often, my overseas trips are made using frequent-flyer miles, so I’m not as personally familiar with many of these lower-cost airline websites as you might think. But check out CheapOair.com and see what you find!

    Unfortunately, I can’t offer much help on the traveling-with-kids front, as I don’t have any and have never traveled with youngsters. But a former newspaper reporter colleague of mine founded http://www.TravelingMom.com, which has all sorts of info about — of course — traveling with your kids!!

    Anyone else out there have traveling-with-kids websites or blog favorites to share?

    Thanks a bunch for visiting!

    Maureen

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  • 33. AshinSAV  |  March 2, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I traveled to China a couple of years back and it was a great leap of faith for me. I really enjoyed the trip it was hard to adjust to all the staring though but overall I am glad I got out of my comfort zone. Since I took the trip I have been trying to get more African American students male and female to take study abroad trips. The only issue once I get them conveinced to go is funding the trips. I was wondering if there were grants or any ideas on how I could potential start some type of association that will help assisting in funding trips for the students. I carried a jar just asking for any donation that a person would give once they took interest in wondering why I was carrying a jar around all the time. Being a college student it was a great idea and ended up helping fund have my trip along with donations from family members.

  • 34. urbantravelgirl  |  March 3, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Hi there, AshinSAV —
    What an interesting comment — and I LOVE that you’re so passionate about raising funds for other students to have the experience you did! I don’t know specifically about grants for students who want to study abroad, but surely a really good Google search will uncover those (or a trip to your university’s Career or Student Services Center).

    I LOVE your idea about carrying the jar around for donations — whatever works!!! Good luck and keep us posted on how things go!

    Maureen

  • 35. MelissaBee  |  March 4, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    AshinSav, there are some grants available. I do not know the links off the type of my head but these are basically scholarships for people who have done really well with their education and can write some essay declaring that.

    Fundraising works. Are you interested in volunteering abroad? There are many companies that will allow a student to go abroad very cheaply or for free. The reason I am asking is one very reputable organization charges 4-500 dollars to spend a month volunteering in a country, up to 6 months. This fee covers accomodation, housing, airport pickups, 2-3 meals per day. Considering you are volunteering to help people in poverty, you wont be living in style but you will be taken well care of. Also you have weekends off to travel and do what you like either alone or with other volunteers.

    My point is is that MANY people are very supportive of fundraising for these trips. Furthermore I come from a family that has very little money to help me go on these trips. What ends up working is asking for $5 from my mom, immediate family members, extended family. Some people give more than that and $5 is usually reasonable for most. You can ask friends, friends of friends for anything from $1-5, and trust me it adds up. Also you could do garage sells, bake sells, all sorts of things to raise money. If it’s to volunteer that’s usually easier to get money for. If it’s for an educational purpose people may also be supportive of that. Just an idea to get the ball rolling! :)

  • 36. urbantravelgirl  |  March 5, 2011 at 7:33 am

    MelissaBee, GRAZIE for sharing these great tips with AshinSAV — and with the rest of us. GOOD STUFF!!

    Maureen

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    I leave a response whenever I like a post on a blog or if I have something to contribute to the conversation. It’s caused by the sincerness communicated in the post I browsed. And after this article Urban Travel Girl » Do African-Americans travel internationally? Well, OF COURSE!. I was actually excited enough to write a thought :) I do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Is it simply me or do a few of the comments look as if they are written by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are writing at additional sites, I would like to follow anything new you have to post. Would you make a list all of all your shared pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  • 54. Monique  |  July 31, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Hello, I see the last comments were a couple of years ago. However, I am an active AA traveler who has experiences to share. Would love to see more of where you have been as well.

    Thanks!
    -Monique

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