I don’t know about you, but I’m often more psyched about going to church on the road than hitting a bunch of must-see museums and boutiques. Although mornings and I have never been friends, when I’m overseas, I make a point of finding an English-speaking service, whether I need to hop on a subway or bus or use my own two feet to get there. I enjoy the religious aspect of worship but for me, it’s also about experiencing local culture in one of its most authentic and expressive ways….
At the recent Travel Blog Exchange ’09 conference in Chicago, a fellow blogger and I found ourselves discussing why African-American women—even those with the financial means and interest in traveling abroad—don’t do it more often. I often think about this, as I always feel it would be GREAT to see more sisters when I’m running around Italy or Spain either in a group or solo.
For many of us, it’s fear of the unknown. We don’t speak the language; we don’t know anyone in the country we’d like to visit. But in countless conversations I’ve had with African-American women over the years, it comes down to wondering how we’ll be perceived as black people. Even without realizing it, being black in America—whether dirt-poor, comfortably affluent like “The Cosby Show” Huxtables, or “movin’ on up” like the Jeffersons—means wearing the subconscious burden of potential discrimination on our backs like the latest designer dress….
Those of you who’ve visited UrbanTravelGirl know what a passionate ambassador I am for solo travel. So is Beth Whitman, whose Wanderlust and Lipstick Web site is a treasure trove of info for those chicas who like hitting the road, whether with girlfriends, kids and families, or on their own.
I often am asked by friends—and friends of friends—for tips on visiting foreign countries when you’re female and rolling solo. In fact, I’d planned to write a post with some suggestions… and one of those suggestions is to be open and available to meeting local residents wherever you go. But Beth beat me to the punch, and has a great recent Web site post on “Meeting the Locals: 5 Tips for Solo Travelers.” Be sure to check out her five tips on doing this with purpose—and it’s obviously worked for her, as she’s become friends with folks she’s met on her travels. I’ve done the same, having met and shared my 40th birthday dinner with a charming Irish couple on the French Riviera. I’ve become pals with Parisians I’ve interviewed for travel stories and have developed and maintained real friendships with B&B owners I first met several years ago in Rome….