Is it Safe for Black Travelers?

“Is ______ country safe for Black travelers?” This is one of the first things many Black travelers ask before making travel decisions. Just Google it (if you haven’t already). There is so much content out there around this topic and it’s not something new. We as Black people have a long history of sharing tips to help us stay safe while traveling. From Victor Hugo Green’s legendary Negro Motorist Green Book to Facebook.

However, the idea that there is any safe place for Black travelers is funny to me. With the deep-rooted history of Black people, from African history to the Diaspora, we know the issues we face can come from anywhere and in so many different forms. Whether you’re in a majority Black populated country or not, Black people have and continue to face issues of prejudice, injustice, racism, colorism, etc., from within our home countries and abroad. So, the idea that any place would be truly safe for us to go is laughable to me. We are at risk no matter where we are. In your own home, in your own country, just existing in your skin is a hazard. And yet still, we are human and the idea of expanding our horizons by seeing and experiencing new places and people implores some of us to take the risk and go – across the world, across the country, even just across the street. We simply do our best to be mindful, thoughtful, careful, and alert at all times for our safety. That’s one plight of being Black – constantly being aware and/or having others make us aware of our Blackness.

happy man in formal wear and glasses in countryside
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

We all travel for different reasons: work, leisure, family, events, etc. Someone’s reason for travel may affect their entire outlook on a place (And to be clear I am specifically addressing travel, not immigration or migration). If you’re forced to travel somewhere for work that you’d never think of going for leisure, your thoughts on that place may be different than if it’s a place you’ve always wanted to go. Hell, if you travel to see family you hate vs. family you love, you might form opinions of that place purely based on your mood when you arrive vs. when you leave. Maybe you went to a place full of tourists and didn’t get to see and interact with the locals, or vice versa. The point is our perspectives are shaped by so many factors, it’s impossible to take one person’s view as the end all be all. 

“You can’t let the possibility of something racist happening to you, stop you from exploring the world…Every acknowledgment of your race is not racism.”

– Jessica Nabongo, She Did That. Podcast: Why Travel, Abundance, & Luxury Are Our Birthright with Jessica Nabongo (2022)

More so, what safety means for people is very different. For some being able to roam around relatively unnoticed is safe, while for others it’s no bother to be noticed. Some hate the attention they can get while in places with minimal Black presence and consider it racist (or at the very least extremely uncomfortable), while others find the attention warranted and welcome. How the Black population is historically treated in a country can influence someone’s perspective on its safety for them as a foreigner. Even more so there are countries in political and social unrest that may not be the safest to travel to no matter who you are. But we know that none of that completely stops those who want to experience a new place. As a Black American living in London, I meet so many Black people from all over the world who say how much they love or how much they want to visit America. “Why?” I scoff, thinking what Black person would willingly want to visit my home country knowing how terrible it treats its Black citizens? If someone asks me “is America safe for me as a Black traveler?” I’d say hell no! But what place truly is? If you want to go visit, go!

It even goes beyond our Blackness. Nationality is also a big factor. Those of us with the so-called “good” passports (American, German, British, French, etc.) are seemingly awarded different luxuries than those without, making the idea of traveling much more of an option. I’ve heard countless horror stories from fellow Black travelers with African, Asian, or South American passports who have dealt with the pain of having to acquire expensive and time-consuming visas to most places they want/need to go, and then getting to airports and being overly hounded and questioned by rude passport control officials for why they are there, where they are going and how long they are staying. That alone is a reason to feel unsafe when traveling to a new place. Then upon arrival, you may face issues when someone finds out where you are visiting from. I’ve been to places in the world where they love that I am American and then others where I’ve faced hostility because of it. 

woman in white and red floral dress standing on green grass field
Photo by Joshua Abner on

“One black man will love his experience in Hungary, another one will hate the country because of an inappropriate remark from a local. One black woman will love her stay in Italy, the beauty of the country, the food… and another one will promise never to set foot there again because of the monkey chants she heard at her expense. One Black couple will be thinking about returning to India after a wonderful stay, while another couple will hate the country and make negative publicity about it online and among their friends…each experience will be unique. We are all black, we share the same skin color, but there are many factors that will affect every single experience…”
– Roobens Fils, Traveling While Black (2020)

That’s exactly why I started this blog. I wanted a platform to capture the uniqueness of our experiences that only we can truly understand as Black people. But while we often have similar experiences, the way we interpret, react and respond to them can be vastly different. When you ask Google if a place is safe for you as a Black traveler, you’ll get all types of answers and reasons why or why not. But that shouldn’t stop us from the pleasure of journeying to new places. Here you will get my perspective as the self-proclaimed Black Female Flâneur, but you will also get a collection of stories from Black travelers from all over the world that go beyond a recommendation to highlighting the unique perspective and experiences we have had in various parts of the world during our travels.

Because the truth is there is no exceptionally safe place for Black travelers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have safe and comfortable travel experiences all around the globe. Those of us who choose to travel the world can share our experiences and encourage each other to have our own life-changing adventures in different places. Because the world truly is our oyster and we deserve the chance to see as much of it as we please.

%d bloggers like this: