Curious about what the Black solo female travel experience is really like?
Then you’re in the right place.
In this eye-opening, empowering, and educational guide, Efia Sulter —the travel blogger behind Effy Talks Life — shares what it is like traveling solo as a Black woman.
On Jessie on a Journey, I’m passionate about not only sharing my own realities traveling the world, but also the experiences of other travelers.
For a long time, diversity in travel has been grossly lacking, which essentially leads to a space where many people, particularly those who don’t look like the smiling face on the typical travel agency brochure, don’t feel heard or included.
But in my opinion, travel is an incredibly enriching experience that everyone should be able to enjoy, confidently and safely.
That’s why these interviews are important. In my own words, I can only speak to my own experience as a White millennial solo female traveler from the United States.
But by amplifying the voices of others — in this case, sharing Efia’s experience as a Black solo female traveler — my hope is that other Black women can feel more confident hitting the road solo and that non-Black travelers can gain a better understanding of a reality that isn’t their own.
So that we can move closer and closer toward a truly inclusive travel industry.
Read on to hear Efia’s stories from the road, snag solo travel tips, educate yourself on the Black travel experience (particularly for women traveling on their own), and learn how travel brands and non-Black nomads can be better allies.
The Black Solo Female Travel Experience
1. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! To start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I’m Efia. I’m the creator of the lifestyle and travel blog Effy Talks Life and the author of the solo travel e-book Girl, Solo – A Modern Guide To Travelling Alone.
Really my whole ethos is centered around empowering millennial women to live the lives of their dreams.
I started solo traveling back in 2016 and at that point, I was scared out of my damn mind and dealing with a lot internally too.
Over the past four years, I’ve really grown into myself, in both life and travel, and it’s my mission to inspire other women to do the same!
2. What is your favorite aspect of traveling solo? Any reason you choose it over other travel styles?
Oh, the freedom!
You can do whatever you want whenever you want to do it.
You want to take a nap? Go for it!
Want to gorge out on a six-course meal? Done.
That and the people you meet. Through traveling solo, I’ve made some really incredible friendships.
3. Black solo travel is inherently different than other types of solo travel. What are some challenges you have faced as a solo Black female traveler, and how have you overcome them or handled them?
There have been a lot of instances of racism. Though none have stopped me from traveling, it’s hard to forget about those moments.
When people think about racism they think white hoods and disgusting remarks, when actually it’s the day-to-day racism that can almost go undetected that is one of the biggest frustrations.
I would say there is no one way to deal with them. So each time I handle it differently.
There’s a lot of pressure on Black travelers as you become the representative for your entire race. Even if something does hurt or offend you there’s this feeling of needing to be careful.
You don’t want to be branded as the angry Black woman, because then that will mean the same for every Black woman that comes after you.
4. What is one thing you wish non-Black solo travelers understood about the Black solo travel experience?
Just how varied they are. Often when I share my experiences of Black solo travel I’m met with remarks like, “Well, how do you know it’s because you were Black?”
We’ve been experiencing racism since the moment we were born. We know. We always know.
So even if you can’t relate, just acknowledge and don’t downplay someone’s experience.
Traveling solo as a woman has its challenges, and traveling as a Black woman has an extra layer. It’s important to acknowledge that.
When I was writing my solo travel e-book it was really important for me to shine a light on some of the things Black women may experience and how to deal with that because that’s something that isn’t generally discussed.
But it’s crucial to prepare all women for what they may experience when they travel solo.
5. What destination(s) have been the most welcoming to you as a Black solo female traveler? Why?
Hmm, I think that’s a challenging question. It’s easier to identify the ones where you feel uncomfortable.
6. What destination(s) have been more challenging for you as a Black solo female traveler? Why?
Well interestingly, I live abroad in Australia, but I do find that I’ve experienced many many racial microaggressions.
People telling me I’m hot (for a Black girl), that I speak good English — or they might ask where I learned to speak English — as well as that I can’t be from Scotland because I’m Black.
Hearing that repeatedly is frustrating because it feels like my identity is being scrutinized; that no matter where I go there will always be someone who thinks I’m out of place.
7. What is something you know now that you wish you’d know before taking your first solo trip?
Just how easy it is to meet people. I spent a lot of time stressing that I would be alone the whole time and that I wouldn’t meet anyone.
Actually that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
On my first solo trip, I made a friend within my first 10 minutes at the hostel.
Funnily enough, we bumped into each other around the world a few more times over the following two years, too!
8. How can the travel industry better support Black travelers?
How much time do we have?
The travel industry is falling extremely short:
- Equal pay for Black creators,
- diversifying press trips,
- hiring Black models,
- not just using one token picture on Instagram and social media,
- hearing the frustrations of Black customers and actioning them,
- hiring Black employees at the top levels of their organizations,
- marketing to Black travelers…
Not just using performative allyship on social media but stepping all the way up.
9. How can non-Black nomads be better allies to Black travelers on the road?
I think it starts with having the difficult anti-racist conversations with family, friends, and other travelers.
Also examining their implicit biases. Ask:
Where can I do better?
If you don’t know, don’t go to a Black person and ask.
If you’re in the travel industry, look around. Do you only see faces that look like you? How can you hold companies and brands accountable?
Are you willing to do that even if it means potentially losing out on some of your own work or followers?
10. What advice would you give to Black women considering taking their first solo trip, but who may be on the fence?
There are always going to be people who don’t appreciate you. Who will hate your beautiful Black skin. I’m so sorry you will have to deal with this.
Don’t let it stop you from seeing the world. It’s just as much your right as it is anyone else’s.
Though I’ve shared some uncomfortable situations, the good has by far outweighed the bad.
If you get the opportunity to go take it with both hands while keeping your eyes open.
11. As a solo traveler, what are some of your favorite travel brands or apps? Why?
I love the Maps.me app and also the XE Currency app.
These are absolute lifesavers and make solo traveling just that little bit easier.
12. Can you share a solo female travel tip that can help make this style of travel easier for others?
I think for me it would have been comforting to know that all those feelings of fear of traveling alone are normal.
But feeling the fear and doing it anyway was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I urge you to do the same!
13. Let’s chat about future travel. What’s on the horizon for your solo travel plans?
Next year I want to go all out and do a Eurotrip for two or three months.
No holds barred! Island hopping. Pizza eating. The works.
Despite being from Scotland when I lived in the UK I really didn’t see enough of Europe and this is a bucket list trip for me!
14. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?
There are many considerations for traveling as a woman.
On top of that, there are the nuances of traveling as a Black woman.
Despite all of these things, it’s really important for me to encourage women, especially Black women, to see the world anyway.
Become A Savvy Solo Traveler
Now that we’ve dove into this enlighting guide to Black solo travel, I want to invite you to grab access to my free Savvy Solo Traveler e-course — a must for anyone hitting the road on their own for the first time.
The six-day email course will take you from trip planning to execution so you can travel the world solo with confidence, whether you’re heading to New York, South Africa, or anywhere else.
Together, we’ll work through common solo travel fears so you can feel confident traveling the world on your own.
Moreover, we’ll cover:
- how to choose the best places for solo travelers,
- breaking the news to loved ones,
- mentally preparing for your journey,
- staying safe,
- and even how to take amazing photos when nobody else is around to hold the camera.
While traveling solo can take you out of your comfort zone, it can also be the best thing you ever do!
Do you have any stories or tips to share about the Black solo female travel experience?
Continue learning about solo female travel. Read about:
- 50 Essential Tips For The First-Time Solo Traveler
- 11 Amazing Destinations For Curious Solo Female Travelers (one of the best travel guides on the site!)
- Mastering The Art Of Solo Travel
- How Solo Female Travel Changed My Life (And How It Can Change Yours, Too!)
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