We’ve all admired the images of Black women abroad. The photos where their skin glows in the sun. They stand tall with a smile on their face, overlooking some gorgeous view of the city.
You can easily find travel inspiration when looking at the blogs of Oneika the Traveller or Jessica Ufuoma of The Ufuoma. Black women are traveling more and more to escape the pressures of society through group trips, solo travel, and even specialized Black women retreats. Over the past few years, we have seen movements unfold such as The Nomadness Tribe, which cultivated trips for BIPOC. Outdoor Afro, whose mission is to help get more Black people outside and build connections through nature. And of course, there’s Black Girls Travel Too, which curates travel experiences to enrich the lives of Black women.
Traveling has become more than a tool to escape reality but a means to cultivate a better life and a deeper understanding of oneself. What Black women need more than a vacation are safe places to exist, be themselves, and experience joy. If you’re a Black woman who is thinking about traveling or is a seasoned traveler, here’s how to make travel a self-care practice and use it to heal.
In the hustle culture, you’re either focused on the future or you’re falling behind. Existing in the present moment is a skill that isn’t always valued in certain work-focused environments. We are conditioned to focus on the next place we have to be, the next thing we need to do, and this mentality can follow us on our trips. This can look like overbooking yourself for activities and tours.
But the power of travel is that it encourages and allows us to be present. By using your senses to bring you into the current moment, you can help your nervous system heal from always being on alert. Focus on what you see, noticing the details around you, the colors, the shapes, etc. Use your sense of smell to fill your nose with the different aromas. Do you smell food, flowers, wood, ocean, etc.? What new sounds do you hear? Can you hear the songs of the birds, can you listen to the cadences in a new language? What can you feel and touch? Can you feel the cobblestones underneath your feet as you walk? When you go out to eat, what new flavors grace your tongue as you bite that fuchsia-colored fruit?
Slow travel doesn’t mean you miss out on the adventurous aspect. It just means that you are being fully present in whatever experience you are having and not focused on what’s to come.
Travel helps you remove the labels and discover who you really are
It’s no secret that Black women have been labeled as angry, irrational, overbearing, etc. Western culture continues to perpetrate these ideas so much that these labels can become linked to our identities. Traveling allows you to step outside these misconceptions. Yes, there are expectations and misunderstandings of Black women in every part of the world. But with traveling, these labels are not always rooted in the culture you are visiting. Instead of showing up as a Black woman, you can show up as you.
In addition, traveling allows you to sit with yourself. Yes, it’s possible and very accessible to travel and meet new friends and new groups of people. But there is a lot of alone time that can happen. Whether you’re on that 9-hour plane ride, or hiking up a mountain, or getting lost on your way to the supermarket, you get to be with yourself without the many distractions. You become more self-aware and more conscious of your thoughts. So at the end of your trip, look back on all the things you’ve done. Did you daringly learn to surf? Did you practice speaking another language? What were the things you did that you never thought you would do? It could be something as simple as talking to a stranger. Attach those characteristics to your identity and start to erase the labels that have been put on you by society.
Travel connects you to peace and joy
Joy and happiness are contagious. When you travel to places in South America, Southeast Asia, and part of Europe, you may find the cultures there don’t focus on work but instead on building community. Many countries welcome new travelers and visitors. And dwelling within the happiness of others, you can start to find your own. Eventually, you reach a level of peace that can only come from being away from the familiar.
So travel and follow in the footsteps of women like Satya X, who creates retreats for women to heal from racism’s societal pressures. You deserve the time and space to heal. You deserve to be happy. Traveling can provide you with both.