Recently, I posed the question on Facebook: Why don’t more black men travel out of the country/internationally?
As a black woman who loves to see and explore the world and new cultures, I wondered if the feeling was the same for black men. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say that black men NEVER travel abroad. Many who do weighed in and let me know that they enjoy travel but they just don’t necessarily post it publically for various reasons. However, there were still many who don’t and that’s where my focus was. Once I raised the question, the answers begin to pour in and I was very intrigued by them. Some of the answers were expected but there were a few that surprised me. The expected answers: I don’t have time, it’s hard to gather a group of men to travel together, I don’t have a reason to, and it’s too expensive.
With the first two expected answers I can’t really change that, but I do want to dispel the myth that traveling abroad is expensive. As I mentioned to one of the men, if traveling abroad was as expensive as he said (thousands of dollars) I would never go anywhere myself. This belief alone was one of the main reasons I created this site. I want more people to see that traveling abroad doesn’t require you to blow your entire savings. These days there are so many sites that post travel deals daily. I’ve mentioned and written about several of them before. I’ve even gone so far to post really hot deals on my social media pages and people are always shocked when I do. It’s as though they can’t believe that getting to these places can actually happen for them, but I’m proof that it can.
As I said, there were also answers that truly surprised me. The first being fear. I asked the men to elaborate on this and many of them did. One stated that some fear flying and I can actually relate to this.
As a child being raised by a single mother traveling on a plane was something that was foreign to me. We took road trips but never actually flew anywhere. I didn’t get on a plane until the summer before my junior year of college. I’ll admit that on that first ride, I cried silently to myself because of my fear of flying. However, once I realized that it wasn’t as bad as my mind would have had me to believe I was ready to do it again. From that moment on, I wanted to fly anywhere I went. I share this to say, sometimes you just have to conquer that fear to get over it.
Another fear that was mentioned was the fear that black men aren’t received well in other countries based on stereotypes perpetuated in the media. One man talked about how he had read several articles and blogs that talked about some of the attacks on American black men in other countries and that alone instilled a fear in him to not want to travel. His only reason for traveling abroad was his significant other forcing him to go and seeing for himself that the things he read about were in fact false. Although at times he’s still hesitant, he’s come to enjoy seeing new places.
In my opinion, the only way for foreigners as well as black men to feel more comfortable is to interact. Now I know that requires for one of the parties to actually travel but once you do, the benefits are amazing. So I challenge any black man with this same feeling to just go for it. If there is some hesitation from the natives in the place that you visit, try to hold conversation as best you can so that they can see things differently. Many natives of other countries just haven’t had exposure to black Americans beyond what they see on T.V. If they ask questions, answer them. This is the only way to get beyond the stereotypes.
The biggest surprise for me as to why black men don’t travel was due to legal restraints. A lot of men pointed out that when black men are required to pay child support and in turn owe back child support, they are required to turn over their passport or are prevented from actually applying for one successfully. You would think as a lawyer I would know this, but I was totally unaware. A few of the men expressed their desire to travel abroad but that they are unable due to the laws in place. This angered me in a way but from a legal perspective I understand the reasoning. It challenged me as an attorney to try to do more to prevent this from happening or at least to educate more men on the requirements of child support and how to stay on top of things.
Overall, this post really enlightened me and I’m glad I opened the space for the dialogue. As someone who has come to truly love traveling, I want to open the eyes of others like me so they too can enjoy and experience it. But in order to do that I had to see what was holding them back. Now that I know, I will do my best to continue to bring content that will help more people feel a sense of ease when trying to plan travel.
What are some travel related topics that you would like to see in 2017? Let me know. I would love to hear from you.
Happy New Year and Happy Traveling!