7 Reasons Why Black Women Should Travel Alone

by Tiffanie Drayton

There is one thing Black women too rarely enjoy that can have wondrous personal impacts, not only on self-esteem but also on mental health: traveling alone. Of course, family vacations or weekend getaways with friends and significant others can offer a break, but we often don't afford our minds, bodies and souls what is necessary to heal and grow. It's a form of self-denial that is easy to ignore but the cumulative effects can include heightened levels of stress, anxiety, weight gain or any number of ailments associated with too little time to recalibrate away from life's demands. Don't let that be you.

This is something I've learned for myself by traveling on my own for a few years, and for varying amounts of time. The idea can seem daunting at first, after all doing anything alone-- even just going out to dinner or a movie-- is usually stereotyped as being antisocial. But don't be deterred. The hidden benefits of some quality alone time lie just beneath the surface. After a couple months of me-time I found myself wonderfully rejuvenated. Here are 7 Reasons all Black women should find time to travel alone.
1. Space for introspection and self-reflection. Let's face it, there is little room for self in a life populated by the needs of the world around you. It's one thing to relax by taking a seat and a few deep breaths. It's another thing to transplant yourself to new surroundings where “out of sight out of mind” can have maximum effect.

While the break room at the office might seem adequate for a sanity-rescue session it can't really compete with expansive vistas replete with fresh air, fresh food and fresh views. A white sand beach here, a mountaintop perch there and soon your worries seem much smaller. Creating space to sort your feelings is more involved in practice than in theory but that doesn't mean it has to be hard. It just requires a new approach that might involve an adventure or two.

Traveling has afforded me the opportunity to come to terms with past hurts, decide on future goals and plans and even rediscover the importance of my relationship to family and friends.

2. Sometimes the person who needs you the most is yourself. Black women are mothers, friends, nurturers, providers, employees or bosses-- we are many different things to many different people. However, although caregiving is very meaningful, it can also be woefully distracting from someone else who is also important: you. You deserve your own attention and it can be hard to find someone who knows how to spoil you as well as you know how to spoil yourself. After all the world is just not nearly as practiced as Black women are required to be for so many of those around us. Treat yourself to your own world-class caregiving. You've earned it!

3. Solo traveling offers a unique opportunity to ditch old or unhealthy lifestyle choices (and the people who reinforce them). We ladies all have close friends or family members with whom we share time. Unfortunately, some of that time spent could be reinforcing unhealthy habits. Trying to quit drinking, but your girlfriends keep pressuring you for nights out at the club on the weekends? Trying to lose weight around family members who know nothing about portion size control? Sometimes it is the most difficult to get rid of our bad habits because those around us share them. Time away from our closest friends and relatives can actually help us shed old habits we use to socialize and kickstart a healthier lifestyle.

Take it from me: I lost 15 lbs while training at a Muy Thai Camp in Thailand for a few weeks. I definitely could have never done that had I remained back at home where my family loves to eat.

4. The odds for finding love are against Black women in America, but not everywhere in the world. It is practically impossible to miss the various studies and articles that tell Women of Color -- especially those who are the most gainfully employed or best educated--that the odds are stacked against us in America's dating and marriage pool. However, that is far from true everywhere in the world. There are billions of men on this planet, so why settle with only exploring a few options?
5. Often we don't notice how overwhelmed we are until we take a moment to step away from our lives. Years can disappear as we hurtle through life on a path riddled with trials and tribulations. The main objective? Survival. Our secret desire? To thrive. While struggling to simply get by or survive, our emotional health can fall by the wayside. And to make matters worse, busy lives move at warp speed so we may not even notice until we are forced to because of a breakdown or anxiety attack. It is important that you take a moment to step away from life before that happens.

6. There is no better way to get over an old flame but to embark on a new adventure (alone!). Everyone one of us needs time to get over a breakup, but sadly the tendency towards "rebounding" and diving deep into another relationship to avoid that pain means we may not give ourselves that time. A week camping on an island beach or even months trekking through beautiful mountains or hillsides can be the best medicine for the hurt of a failed relationship, while ensuring you don't rush into another.

7. Solo world traveling can challenge your definition of Blackness and even womanhood. America has a pretty rigid way of defining our Blackness and womanhood that often fails to account for the complexity of those identities-- and we are all guilty of internalizing them to some degree or another. Blackness can feel constricting. But it doesn't have to be. The seemingly inconsequential event of meeting other Black people embarked on their own worldly journey can add dimension to your own sense of self.

Tiffanie is a proud The New School alumna who spends her free time playing the ukelele and ruminating on social justice issues when she isn't traveling or writing.

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