Black Travel Budget Travel Europe Travel Tips

Why More Black People Need to Travel Around Europe

Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes


Kotor, Montenegro
Flexin’ for the ‘gram after beasting a climb up a mountain in Kotor, Montenegro

If you’re already reading this with a defensive edge because of the title, understand that this article isn’t only for black people, but rather about black people, so that anyone who reads this can gain perspective as to how more of us traveling abroad could enhance the experience for others in the future.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: There are two completely different experiences you have traveling abroad as an American and traveling abroad as an African-American (or a person of color). And you can read about some of the unfortunate downsides of that here for context.

A diamond in the ruff. Get it?! T'hehe. #hereallnight
Never a tourist, but ALWAYS a character

But there are enough articles floating around about some of the negative aspects of being black abroad (racism, discrimination, prostitute labels, etc). And while it’s important to be prepared and aware of that very raw reality, here are the reasons why more Blacks should be gracing the European continent with our presence, spirit, and energy.

1. It will normalize our existence to Europeans who’ve never traveled outside of their country.

A couple guys asking for a selfie in Pamplona, Spain. Happily obliged and was probably too tipsy to care. #DayDrinking

Yes, it’s true. There are actual living people who don’t believe black people exist outside of Africa. How do I know this? Because I got into an unfortunate argument with a man who insisted I was born in Africa, and any other explanation was impossible.

And for the people that are aware of Black Americans, they’d never met or seen one up close, so they’re sometimes incapable of adulting controlling their gaze of wonder and curiosity. That gaze can sometimes (but not always) be accompanied with touching and uncomfortable kisses on the hand. I know, stay with me here. It gets worse better.

You will take selfies with strangers. Many of them. Prepare.
You will regularly take selfies with strangers. Many of them. So prepare. These boys from the Czech Republic asked nicely 🙂

If black people weren’t so rare in some regions of Europe, it’ll normalize the fact that we coexist on this planet. You won’t find yourself stopping traffic as you, the walking exhibit, make your way down a street of unexpected gazers who are trying to figure out the who, what, where, when, and why of this situation.

2. You’ll come to find you get preferential treatment in most scenarios.

One of five free cocktails on the night in Parga, Greece

This might apply more to just women, but I can really only speak from my experiences and the ones shared with me by other Black American friends. But since black women are hardly seen in some European cities or ever at all, getting free drinks will start to become a regular occurrence.

Unlimited drinks at bars, free rides on yachts, handmade bracelets, and home-cooked meals are just some of the hospitality I’ve experienced for being the first black person someone has met. And yes, they are so excited to share with me that I’m their first. The name’s Glo, just here to pop your black encounter cherry. *ahem* As you were…

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While this also comes with its fair share of hand-kissing, skin rubbing, and dumbfounded gazes, more often than not, people are just simply fascinated by the black skin color and want to let you know how soft and beautiful it looks to them. And however creepy their deliverance of said statement can be, just smile and run carry on, because they mean well.

Invited into this private beach lounge and thirst quenched with free cocktails upon entrance. Please, somehow save me from this atrocity!
Invited into this private beach lounge and thirst quenched with free cocktails upon entrance. Please, someone save me from my misery!

They’ve seen us in movies, they know we exist, but just like a dinosaur, if one appeared in front of your face unexpectedly, you too, would stare and want to know more about this figment of your imagination coming to life. So yes, sometimes you are a dinosaur. So be a f*cking Tyrannosaurus Rex and wave those tiny stub arms in all your black glory.

Not to mention, if you just slightly resemble a world-famous tennis athlete, there’s a chance you’ll find yourself on Facebook with this brilliant caption.

No big deal, just posing for the camera and signing tennis balls off of it.
No big deal, just posing for the camera and signing tennis balls in between Wimbledons and Grand Slams. I could get used to this.

3. You will experience the strangest encounters that will make for great stories when you return home.

Just minding my own business until I looked up and saw cameras snapping ferociously at me.
Just minding my own business until I looked up and saw cameras snapping ferociously at me.
Then out of the blue comes another.
Then out of the blue comes another. Ma’am, are you a ninja? Where did you come from?!
Here's my awkward grin after they decide it might be slightly uncomfortable to be the subject of a photo taken without permission. So they finally ask to take one WITH me as well.
Here’s my awkward grin after they decide it might be slightly uncomfortable to be the subject of a photo taken without permission. So they finally ask to take one WITH me. Only took 30 minutes and 3,000 photos for them to be satisfied. Next time I’m bringing my tip jar. #HustlersMentality

From the 6-year-old boy who found it necessary to rub dirt on my wrist and inform me that they’re basically the same color, to the Greek man who insisted on grabbing my arm and exclaiming the discovery of the contrast of our skin colors. However offensive or disturbing, there is always an opportunity for at least one person to come away from the experience more enlightened. Spoiler Alert: It usually won’t be you.

Being hoisted in Pamplona after running with the bulls for being the only "morena" in the arena.
Being hoisted in Pamplona for being the only “morena” in the arena after running with the bulls.

We’re an enigmatic and multi-faceted group of people who can learn a great deal from the other side of the world just as much as they can learn from us. Not referring to the time the Russian woman at the club grabbed my ass and said I wasn’t shaking it nearly as hard as I’m capable of. Oh, stereotypes. I must not be pressured to live up to thee!

Nevertheless, the European culture is so dynamic and eclectic, and so are black people. But how else will they know unless we visit the very countries deprived of our soulful flavor?

Being sophisticated in Vienna, Austria. #rare
Being sophisticated in Vienna, Austria. #rare

If we gradually started increasing our presence around Europe in a variety of roles like teachers, managers, receptionists, nurses, and everyday tourists, think of how much their perspective of us will change. We are educated. We are talented. And all of Europe needs to know it.

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The best hospitality I’ve ever experienced came from Romania, Croatia, Montenegro, Belgium, and Scotland. So I invite my fellow Black Americans to give these countries a try first!

Have some awkward stories about your black abroad experience? Share them in the comments and then share this article with a friend to inspire their next adventure across the pond 😉

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