Solo Woman travel*Black women traveling alone is trending

My first trip out of the country was in 2012 to Ghana. I went without a travel companion. I was a woman, traveling alone to Africa.

The trip to Ghana started off as a group travel thing, but that plan flopped. Then it became a trip for me and my then Hotep-brother boyfriend to go on (before he became my ex shortly thereafter). But he flaked I think mostly because he was unwilling to explore Africa without the supervision and protection of a tour guide. He wasn’t about that life. Then it became a Brittney is doing new things comfortable and alone trip. I purchased my ticket on my phone at the airport while waiting to board a Delta flight to New Orleans for the Essence Festival. I think the ticket was around $1300. I was so proud.

I called my mom and told her the news. The first thing out of her mouth was “Oh my God! Why are you going there? Is it safe? Who are you going with?” Yes any worried parent would say the same. But I also knew these questions come from a place of fear as a woman and because at the time, it wasn’t common for Black people in America to travel to ‘exotic’ places like Africa.

She asked if I knew anyone there. I did not. Where I was staying? I was not sure. But what I did know is that Africa was calling and I was bold enough to answer.

My trip to Ghana was excellent. I silently cry sometimes thinking about that place because it felt like home. And like many, I get home sick sometimes. I was safe. I felt loved. I felt powerful. I felt embraced. But mostly I felt like this trip was a defiant act against the standards of being a Black woman in America.

I have never ascribed to being labeled a feminist because Black feminism has yet to be defined. Being called a feminist is still in many ways, a white girl’s thing. But something about traveling solo as a Black woman has helped me better sculpt Black feminism for myself.

Growing up, I was conditioned at home and at school to never be alone for safety and social reasons. You know because being a woman makes you a target of rape or kidnapping. And being a lone woman makes you unapproachable and hard.

But I’ve felt safe anywhere I’ve been because people are people everywhere, plus I’m a boss. I’ve made friends everywhere I’ve gone, life long ones and dope ones. Going abroad alone as a Black woman is like what women say turning 40 is like. Free of judgment, you’re sense of self is stronger, your sense of what it means to be a woman is grounded and you know when and where to be all the time.

Moving about Ghana or Turkey or Italy felt like being a president. Both men and women respected, gazed (whether that was in awe or fascination), paused and even protected me if they felt it was necessary.

My moments abroad were both empowering and liberating. My travel experiences remind me that being a woman isn’t a cautionary tale. We are the substance that every living thing is made out of. We are life’s essence and we deserve and can be anywhere we want to be.

While the reality of being safe is important, being safe does not negate the importance of independence, intelligence and confidence when traveling abroad.

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