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Black Americans traveling abroad is still an odd thing to witness, even from the perspective of another black American. Yes, some of my friends travel and some of their friends travel but it’s still not enough to make huge waves in the world. Even in a large traveling group, we are barely a ripple in a great ocean of predominantly White or Asian nations.

As a solo traveler, I’m a triple-oddity: I’m single, female and usually the only black person around.

Me on a whale watching cruise in Tenerife, Canary Islands - take with an iPhone7

Me on a whale watching cruise in Tenerife, Canary Islands

Nonetheless, I still get a little thrill when I see someone who looks like me in a foreign town/city plaza, a hotel lobby, or on a tour bus. I can’t help myself, so I prepare the nod and/or smile when I make eye contact. Success! I move on but with a secret hope that we’ll see each other again and that we’ll have time to strike up a conversation in the next go-round.

Admit it Black American travelers, you do this too!

So why are we so troubled when others notice the oddity? I’ve seen it posted on so many travel groups and forums: “they stared at me!”; “they wanted to take my picture!”; “they wanted to touch my hair!”.

Different day tours in Australia and New Zealand where I was the only black person

Different day tours around the world where I was the only black person

Really? They don’t mean you any harm and, depending which country you’re in, you might be the only black person they’ve ever seen. Back in 2007, I once had an entire family of 5 blonde-hair and blue-eyes just stop and gawk at me in the streets of Rhodes, Greece. I was surprised by their obviousness but kept walking as though nothing had happened. However, on the way to the airport a few days later I asked the taxi driver about it and he said “they probably thought you were some big-time singer or actress”. Yes, I liked that explanation! Then he asked “Are you?” *grin*

So now I say, soak it up for all it’s worth! Make some friends in foreign lands, enjoy being relevant, and continue to be an ambassador for future generations.

Some of the great friends I’ve met in 2018 in Queenstown, Brisbane, Tenerife and Santorini

Some of the great friends I’ve met in 2018

Because, truly, the only time that kind of “odd” attention might happen in America is when they are investigating your corpse.



Follow me on Instagram or Twitter as @DaniLew_1 to see where I end up next…

Dani Lew

DaniLew is a podcaster and a retired nomad who loves to slow travel around the world and share her travel stories and personal photography.The Slow Traveling Soul Sister podcast is all about me and my travels around the world for the last 40 years as a solo black woman, My motto: travel nourishes the soul and broadens the mind, but solo travel frees our imagination and builds our Confidence. #slowtravelingsoulsister #GoSeeDoBe


  • Patricia Pomerleau says:

    I went to your website Danielle, as following you on Facebook, you and your travels fascinate me. I think of myself as a traveler, and am comfortable traveling solo, but you make me look like a rank amateur. I hope we run into each other on the street of some wonderful destination one day.

    • DaniLew says:

      Thank you very much for commenting, Patricia. You are nowhere near a rank amateur compared to me. I’m older, hopefully wiser, and I really want to be a citizen of the world now that I’m free from the workforce.

      Oh, and we will meet. I will be in your area end of June 2019; let’s make a plan for then and let me know where you might be in the future and perhaps we can meet then as well.

  • So true! At times it all depends on how we’re portrayed from the media, etc. Everyone are not bad people. Enjoy life because tomorrow is not promised. LOL you’re right about America..sad but true. Great post!!

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