This post is from guest blogger- Terra Robinson, a black chick In Europe. She has her MA in International Relations and a BA in Journalism. She currently live in Brussels, Belgium (aka the land of frites, chocolate and waffles) after going to school in London and living/learning French/working in Toulouse, France.
|Photo by Terra Robinson; Great Wall of China- Beijing, China|
Below are the top five reasons I hear from fellow black Americans for not travelling abroad:
1. It’s Too Expensive! Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive if you know how to shop around. If you can avoid it, don’t go during the high season. Summer trips to Europe are ALWAYS expensive. Airfare, hotels, etc. all go up, plus it’s crowded to boot. Look at fares in the spring and fall. The weather is still nice and the prices are much lower. Or if you don’t mind the cold, winter fares (with the exception of Christmas/New Year) to much of Europe are rock bottom. Also, don't be afraid of travelling a bit off the beaten path. Central and Eastern Europe tend to be cheaper than Western Europe but still just as impressive in terms of things to see and activities to do.
Plus, you don’t have to limit your travels to Europe. Many Asian countries (with the obvious exception of Japan) are still much easier on the old American wallet than European countries, as are African and South/Central American countries.
For you young/solo travellers, staying in hostels can save you a ton of money, as can cooking dinner in your hostel/rented apartment and eating out at lunch time (when you can often get the same food much cheaper at restaurants) to get a taste for the local cuisine. And of course, use the Internet to compare prices and get the best deals.
2. Folks in Country X Are Racist! Please, there are racist folks in America and yet you still live there. That shouldn’t keep you from travelling. There are racist folks everywhere. Acknowledge it, deal with it and get exploring! Some of the countries I’ve been to have a reputation for being racist towards black folks (Germany, France, Spain and Italy just to name a few), but I haven’t had any racist incidents in those countries yet. I’ve actually found the Germans that I’ve met in my travels to be quite kind and helpful. I will admit that in some countries (*cough*France/Spain/Italy*cough) black Americans are sometimes treated better than the native black population/African immigrants. Totally not fair I know. But still something to be aware of.
3. There Aren’t Any Black Folks in Country Y! There are always black folks. Always. I don’t care what country you go to, there will be black folks. You might not see them because there very well may only be two in the entire country, but they’re there. Besides there’s more than just black folks in the world. Go forth, travel and interact with some of our more melanin-challenged brethren. You might actually enjoy it or learn a few things. I know I have. Like when I learned the Romanian word for a black person after wandering by a school with kids playing outside in a town in which I'm pretty sure no black person had ever been through either before or since. Cute kids. Nice townfolks. Pretty sure I’m the first and only black person they have ever met...and to this day they probably still think I’m African, despite me repeating “Sunt American (I’m American!)!” over and over again.
4. I Don’t Speak the Language! This should never be a reason not to travel. And I won’t use the old line that “everyone speaks English anyway” because I can tell you from experience that it’s not true. In order to travel to a country that doesn’t have English as an official language, all you have to do is head to your local library and do a little research. Most libraries have travel books that include useful travel phrases in the back. You don’t need to be fluent, but learning some key phrases like “Where is...?”, “How much is...?”, “Do you have...?”, “Please”, “Thank you”, and “Excuse me” really do come in handy. Especially in France. Make an attempt to speak their language and the Frenchies (outside of Paris) will love you forever. Even if you butcher it like I do.
5. Why Would I Want to Leave America? OK yes, America is a pretty awesome country. But it’s not the only awesome country in the world. Just think about all of the things we study while going to school. We read about the wonder that is the Great Wall of China. I can tell you from experience, it’s even more awesome hiking it. We read about the Vietnam War...which became even more real for me as I took a river cruise down the Mekong, the same Mekong my father (a Vietnam vet) waded through with is gun over is head while praying that no snakes would decide to make him dinner. Travelling makes all those (often boring) history lessons more tangible, more alive.
And as much as I love Southern food, Tex Mex and other regional variations of typical American cuisine, the food lover in me also loves trying the local cuisine of whatever country I happen to be in. I did, however, draw the line at trying the fried scorpion in Hong Kong. I would have been more willing to try it had the thing not still been alive...and moving on its stick.
Granted, many of the above are reasons given by Americans in general, with the exception of #2 and #3. I think those two are very specific to black Americans and other minorities.
Now it's your turn! What are the top 5 reasons y’all hear from fellow black folks/minorities for not travelling?
Follow Terra's blog at http://americanblackchickinlondon.blogspot.com