Almost every Black traveler does this: Before booking their flights, they go to Google and put in the search bar what it’s like for Black people in a perspective country. When traveling while Black, especially as a woman, it’s crucial to go to places where the local people are welcoming. There are often horror stories of Black men and women being followed around, having their photos taken without permission, and at times harassed simply because they were viewed as exotic or a threat in a certain country.
With this being a common travel concern it’s important to keep up-to-date with the places that are most accommodating to Black people, especially Black women. This means searching for countries that are generally accepting of foreign travelers and targeting countries where the residents and people respond positively to Black people as they would any other tourist. And of course, it’s important to know how and if the country’s history involved Black people and how that history is made relevant in the present.
Here are 10 countries that meet these criteria. With this list, it’s important to keep in mind that these countries are just 10 of the 249 countries that are in the world. They were selected based on the experiences of other Black women and only represent an opinion and not absolute truth. If a certain country is calling you, follow your heart, do your research, and go. You make the experience — don’t let the experience make you.
In no particular order here are the top 10 countries for Black Women Travelers:
- Philippines: According to Stephanie Perry on her YouTube channel where she talks about her top 6 countries that are welcoming for Black people, she mentions that the Filipino people are “incredibly warm and friendly.” She continues to say that during her trip there, every day someone extended their help and support to her. And Liza from Spontaneous Travel said that she felt so welcomed in the Philippines that she “forgot she was solo traveling.”
- Mexico: By now, there’s no surprise that Mexico made the list. When police brutality and racism seemed to escalate during 2020 and the following year, many African Americans were eager to leave the States. Who had their borders open? None other than Mexico. Since then, thriving communities of Black people have flourished. For example, Tulum, a popular destination for tourist has become the birthplace of Black Tulum, a community of Black travelers who come together to provide resources and support for one another.
- Portugal: Not only is Portugal a great place to visit, more and more Black digital nomads are relocating there. Travelers seem to naturally gravitate towards Lisbon when wanting to get a taste of Portuguese culture. Portugal makes the list because of its friendly people and its food. In Black culture, food provides a sense of community, and many Black people pride themselves on their flavorful food. Thus, Portugal is a must to visit. Perhaps it’s the rich blend of spices such as paprika, all spice, cumin, and clove that make the many Mediterranean cuisines so delicious. Beside the food, Lisbon is an important city to visit because of its history. For many years, Portugal‘s history with the trans-Atlantic slave trade was not well known. Fortunately, there are those working on the ground making sure their history and the history of Black people in Portugal is remembered. This is being done through a fabulous tour by Naky Gaglo called the African Lisbon Tour — a must-do experience for anyone visiting Portugal.
- Brazil: Brazil is the largest country in Latin America with a strong Afro-Brazilian culture that can be found in the music, the food, the dance and pretty much around almost every corner. This strong African presence comes from the estimated 4 million enslaved people who were brought to Brazil. Because of this history, you can find tours centered around Brazil’s ties to Africa. Rio Encantos does culture experiences and tours highlighting Brazil’s African and Indigenous roots. Another way to experience Afro culture is through a trip to Bahia, a city that pulsates with Afro- Brazilian culture will leave you in amazement.
- UAE: The United Arab Emirates is a predominantly Muslim country, and Islamic attire is strongly encouraged for tourist. Covering your shoulders and knees as a woman can sound restricting, but these regulations may be what contributes to popular destinations like Dubai and Abu Dhabi being one of the safest places to visit. Janelle, a Black expat, told Travel Noire that one of the reasons she feels safe living there is because she doesn’t have to worry about her husband being racially profiled or, worse, shot because of the color of his skin. Another interesting fact that helps keep everyone safe in Dubai are their cyber laws. As Curley Closest mentions in her blog, it is against the law to insult or accuse another person online, even through WhatsApp messages. You also can’t take pictures of anyone and post them online without their permission.
- Senegal: Senegal is a thriving country that obliterates any perspective of Africa being a poor continent. Not only is it bustling with museums, cafes, boutique markets, and beaches, but there are many historic sites that pay homage to African ancestry. Jamayca Williams shared her experience with She’s Wanderful blog: “At the airport in Dakar, everywhere I look there is a mirror of me, dark faces, black hair, big smiles.” Senegal is a place where hospitality is a part of the culture.
- England: Visiting England might sound surprising due to Great Britain’s past of colonization, but London is actually one of the most diverse cities in Europe. Similar to Lisbon, you can find a Black History Walking Tour along with yearly celebrations of Black culture. There’s even a Reggae brunch.
- Ghana: We’ve seen Ghana make tremendous efforts to help Blacks all over the world reconnect with their African roots. Started in 2019, The Year of the Return brings to our attention that it’s been over 400 years since enslaved people were brought to the United States. It’s their goal to celebrate and recognize the unbreakable spirit of those who traveled that horrific journey from their home land. Alongside this movement, Ghana provides visitors an opportunity to explore forts, castles, and exotic wildlife.
- Japan: This also might be controversial choice, but looking at Japan’s sub and urban culture, it has been and continues to be heavily inspired by Black culture. Most visitors reported going to nightclubs and hearing hip hop music blasted nonstop. Apart from the urban culture, many Black travelers have had varying experiences and interactions. Sometimes Black people are stared at by locals, sometimes they get lumped in with being another American. However, Ashlie Williams told Travel Noire that the most beautiful part of Japan is the people.
- Panama: This small Latin country has much to offer. Not only does it have a rich Afro-Panamanian culture, but it also offers travelers the excitement of the city life in places like Casco Viejo and the tranquility of nature such as the San Blas islands or coastal towns such as Bocas del Toro. Panama also has yearly celebrations of Black culture such as Fiesta de la Etnia Negra (loosely translated to Black History Month), which is celebrated in the month of May.
With all these options, you may be eager to book your flight or to do some more research. The most important thing for any traveler to remember is to keep an open mind. Bad and good experiences can happen anywhere. The world is a big place, and if one country isn’t to your liking you have 100+ others to choose from.