Discover the places writer Stephanie Yeboah and her social media followers have selected for giving the best experience.
A few years ago, while considering options for the perfect destination for my annual birthday holiday, I decided to do a call out on my social media channels for the best spots to travel solo as a Black woman. Frankly, I was tired of having to search online for honest answers about where I can visit without being exposed to racial slurs and harrassed.
I've written about my experiences traveling while Black in the past and how the unexpected racial micro (and macro!) aggressions I experienced would discourage me from visiting again. I believe that one of the biggest concerns Black travelers have when it comes to international travel is safety. Add to that the additional considerations women have as part of daily life and it's no wonder I feel hesitant before booking a flight. Will I be racially profiled? Will strangers come up to me asking to touch my hair? Will I be subject to rude stares in public?
While no destination is a complete utopia where the Black experience exists in a vacuum, there are many places where Black travelers have felt comfortable exploring and others that are particularly exciting for travelers right now. I’ve taken a cross-section of responses I got from Black female travelers and added them to my own list of personal experiences; read on for some of the destinations on our recommended list to visit.
1. Accra, Ghana
It’s been more than 400 years since the first slave ships departed from the shores of Ghana before arriving in the Western world. Ghanaian politicians have also long been advocates of the Pan-African movement and in 2019, Ghana started to invite people of African descent to visit with the promise of easier visa applications and a year-long calendar of culturally immersive events, dubbing it the 'Year of Return'. Since then, many have been traveling back to Ghana to connect with their ancestral roots, so there has never been a better time for Black women to travel there. Speaking as a person of Ghanaian descent, I can attest to the fact that it is indeed one of the safest places I’ve ever visited and lived.
2. Lisbon, Portugal
While Portugal can sometimes be seen as a companion trip to Spain, it's a country that's more than able to stand on its own. Since it is such an incredibly diverse country in its own right, it is definitely one of the best countries for Black travelers. If you are going for the first time, I would suggest visiting Lisbon, Porto and Faro, which have huge African communities.
3. Montreal, Canada
There’s so much to love about Toronto, especially with its thriving Caribbean culture, but Ontario’s capital can get quite busy for that very reason. That’s why you should head to Montreal instead! Montreal has a strong Afro-Caribbean culture, and is a foodie city with the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada, according to Geos Montreal. Every April, Vues d’Afrique holds the Pan-Africa International Film Festival – a celebration of African and Creole culture through film. Music lovers should try to visit in June for the annual Montreal Jazz Festival featuring famous Black jazz musicians like Dianne Reeves and Buddy Guy.
Thailand has definitely become one of the most popular travel destinations for people of color – especially Black women. There are so many friends and influencers that I see posting pictures of their spa days, beach trips and visits to world heritage sites in Bangkok on Instagram that I’m starting to feel the itch myself. A friend of mine spent a year studying abroad in Thailand and had nothing but wonderful things to say.
Like many Southeast Asian countries, Thailand is known for its hospitality. Locals are always willing to extend a hand to travelers. In addition, the country is an excellent budget option for those of us who need it. Affordable lodging can be found in pretty much any part of the country and, if you stay out of restaurants and stick to local street food, you'll be surprised at how far your budget will stretch.
5. Tokyo, Japan
I’ve put Japan on the list because of their historic love of Black culture. You can go to many of the nightclubs in Tokyo and other major cities and always find hip-hop music blaring from the speakers. During my short stay in Tokyo, I heard Cardi B being played more times in one night than I ever have in my lifetime. In addition to the appreciation of our culture, you can find amazing food and extremely welcoming people. As a person who frequently travels alone, you shouldn't underestimate how important it is to have a group of locals who are willing to give recommendations and directions.
6. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil is known for having one of the highest populations of African people outside of the continent of Africa, with Nigerians topping the list. There is so much to learn from the way this place has combined both African and Portuguese cultures. In Rio, there is a rich and accessible art community that travelers can take advantage of and immerse themselves in.
It should be on the bucket list for any traveler but it's especially nice to know you'll receive a warm welcome if arriving alone. Several of the major cities are known for being dangerous at night but during the day there shouldn’t be any issues as long as you stay in well-lit and populated areas – advice all women sadly have to keep in mind no matter where they travel.