Tag: travel abroad

Benvenuto! Bienvenue! Welcome!


Salut,
and welcome to UrbanTravelGirl, a blog featuring my thoughts on black women living globally through international travel. I’m a passionate believer in the ability of travel to not only transform the way we see the world, but ourselves.  As an African-American woman, I’ve developed an even stronger sense of who I am by visiting nearly 35 countries and territories — and by living outside the United States. I spent nearly one year working as a freelance writer in Florence, Italy and most recently lived in the charming French village of Samois-sur-Seine, a 40-minute train ride south of Paris.  I don’t believe in letting other folks define ME — and you shouldn’t, either!

I hope to spark conversation among African-American women who love (or WANT) to travel abroad, who are never happier than when we’re in new and challenging foreign environments. I want to hear your comments about my trips – and I want to hear about yours. Wondering whether it’s cool to travel solo to Paris, or how you’d be received as a black woman in Rome?  Put it out here and we UrbanTravelGirls will jump in and give you the scoop. Looking for some fab, locals-only restaurants and boutiques in Florence, Barcelona or Buenos Aires? I’ll dish about it and hope other chicas visiting here will also share.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there, hit the road, discover your own global bliss — and let’s chat about it!

118 Comments June 1, 2014

Why don’t films about traveling or moving abroad ever feature black women?

For most folks, spending 10 bucks and a couple hours at the movies is all about passive entertainment. But sometimes, you encounter a cinematic gem that literally becomes life-changing, that totally alters the way you see the world. That one for me was 2003’s “Under the Tuscan Sun,” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0328589/) which inspired me, following a major surgery and reordering of life priorities, to quit my corporate job and pack my bags for fabulous Firenze (Florence), Italy.

Even now, if I’m flipping channels on the TV and “Tuscan Sun” is on, regardless of whether the film’s at the beginning, middle or end, I plop down and watch. And certamente, I own the DVD—and when I’m feeling the need for a bit of inspiration, I’ll view it again. I recently interviewed Under the Tuscan Sun (http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780767900386) author Frances Mayes (http://www.francesmayesbooks.com/) for a national Travel story, and that conversation took me back to those dreamy days of living in bella Italia.

The latest film buzz, of course, is about Julia Roberts’ “Eat Pray Love” (http://www.letyourselfgo.com/), which hit U.S. cinemas earlier this month. As I’m sure you know (or have heard, whether you wanted to or not), it’s based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s monster best-selling memoir (http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/eatpraylove.htm) about ditching New York City after a traumatic divorce and subsequent love affair and spending a year traveling through Italy, India and Indonesia. (Her gig was WAY easier than mine, as her publisher’s book advance funded her year of self-discovery.) Personally, I never got past the “Eat” portion of the book, but perhaps that’s because I’m too Italy-obsessed to care about the rest.

But here’s what got me thinking: none of the films I’ve seen extolling the joys of traveling and/or relocating abroad has ever starred a black woman—or a woman of color AT ALL….

Continue 22 Comments August 27, 2010

Sisters in Spain: Michelle Obama and Sasha wrap up mom-daughter trip abroad in style

I don’t know about you, but it’s absolutely thrilled me to see First Lady Michelle Obama taking 9-year-old Sasha on a mom-and-daughter holiday—to SPAIN, no less! I don’t have kids, nieces or nephews, but if I did, I’d be booking us on some overseas trip as soon as they were old enough to appreciate it. And I’d be sitting them down right now to watch video of adorable Sasha meeting the king and queen of Spain (http://news.yahoo.com/video/politics-15749652/michelle-obama-meets-king-of-spain-21295458). How it does my heart proud to see this darling young brown-skinned girl looking confident alongside her mom, realizing she’s a princess in her OWN right. Nothing like self-assurance, even when it comes in the package of a preciously dressed pre-teen.

I was super-proud and psyched last year when the President and Michelle took their two girls with them to Paris and London (http://urbantravelgirl.com/2009/06/10/young-americans-in-paris-the-obama-girls-take-europe-by-storm/). I wrote then about how important it is for youngsters—and especially African-American ones, who don’t always see themselves portrayed positively in the American media—to travel abroad and experience life through a different lens….

Continue 15 Comments August 8, 2010

Hair—and what to do with it when we travel—is nearly ALWAYS an issue for black women

I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for nearly one year and am only NOW finally writing a post about hair. Yes, black women’s hair—sometimes our crowning glory, other times the thorn surrounding our crowns.

For sisters, hair is political. It’s sexual. And when you travel, it needs to be straight-up PRACTICAL—at least for me.

When I talk to black women about travel, the “hair thing” nearly always comes up—ESPECIALLY when we talk about traveling abroad. It’s as much of the discussion as, “Are there any black folks in (name-the-country)?” “Do they speak English?” And “Will my curling irons work over there?” Because unlike many of our sisters of other races, most black chicks don’t naturally have wash-and-go hair. No, after we wash it, we often need to blow-dry it. And sometimes straighten, then curl it. And PRAY we don’t get caught in a rainstorm or encounter high humidity or some other Mother Nature force that will have its way with our tresses. It’s WAY more drama than I feel like dealing with when I’m on the road….

Continue 23 Comments December 22, 2009

Say amen, sister: Get a spiritual boost by visiting houses of worship when traveling overseas

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….

Continue 6 Comments August 16, 2009

Black women traveling abroad: Learn a foreign country’s social mores, customs before you go

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….

Continue 22 Comments August 9, 2009

Michael Jackson’s lasting gift to black ‘citizens of the world’

As has everyone I know, I’ve been obsessively tuning into print, TV and Internet coverage of the horribly tragic, sad and untimely death of pop icon Michael Jackson. Back in the day, I was a huge Michael fan (before he morphed into someone unrecognizable). I still love his songs, and have found myself mindlessly humming and singing along with “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “The Lady in My Life,” and the telling “Black or White.”

But being a journalist who’s always searching for the sociological meaning and truth behind current events—and goodness knows this is the biggest global one since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States—I see Michael far beyond the off-the-charts performances, fantastically creative music and videos, and even the eccentricities that defined his later years.

Over the past few days, I’ve heard it stated by everyone from the Rev. Al Sharpton to former “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather that Michael Jackson’s most lasting legacy to the world just might be the fact that he was the first African-American artist to achieve true global superstardom without constantly reminding folks he was black. These social critics—and I concur—changed the world by paving the way for global audiences to embrace and accept Chicago Bulls basketball phenom Michael Jordan, multimedia mogul Oprah Winfrey, golf genius Tiger Woods, and President Obama, who has ignited the world’s imagination in a way unlike any politician in my 40-year-old lifetime.

Now you say, what does this have to do with international travel? I say it has EVERYTHING to do with it ….

Continue 2 Comments June 28, 2009


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