Side view of smiling woman with curly hair in swimwear standing in sea and enjoying sunset while spending weekend outside
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Advice From a Black Girl Who Travels: Stares and Photo Requests

Side view of smiling woman with curly hair in swimwear standing in sea and enjoying sunset while spending weekend outside; Advice From a Black Girl Who Travels: Stares and Photo Requests
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“Is everyone staring at me?”

If you’re a Black girl traveling, Yeah, they probably are.

Let’s face it – traveling comes with the reality that you may be the only person within miles to look like you. It’s important to be prepared for unique cultural experiences, especially when you stand out from the local population. If you identify as Black, you might attract curious stares and photo requests in other countries. Don’t worry; Travel Nitty Gritty has you. Dig into these tips on handling these situations while maintaining your peace of mind. 

Remember: While the United States has its own social rules and norms regarding interactions with people of different races, it’s critical to remember that these norms aren’t universal. Many countries worldwide have their own cultural perspectives on race, and travelers should navigate these differences with respect and sensitivity.

You may have seen these TikToks from travelers who have experienced this in Vietnam:

So, let’s take some advice from a Black girl who has traveled a bit and figure out a way to deal with this:

How to Deal With Stares as a Black Girl Who Travels:

TIP 1: Stay Confident

Remember that you have every right to be where you are (unless you break a country’s legal or cultural norm). Hold your head high, smile, and exude confidence.

Tip 2: Stay Positive

If you notice someone staring, try to push past feeling uncomfortable or angry and stay positive while minding your business. If you have the emotional energy, greet them with a friendly smile or a nod, remembering that you are a foreigner in their country. 

TIP 3. Use Distractions

 If you feel really uncomfortable or another type of way with the attention, divert your focus to something else. Observe the surroundings or pop in headphones to bump up your music to create a personal bubble. Focus on what you can control versus something that you can’t.

Handling Photo Requests:

TIP 1. Assess the Situation

Before declining, consider the requester’s intent. Are they genuinely interested in cultural exchange, or do they see you as an exotic spectacle? Trust your instincts.

TIP 2. You have the right to decline politely 

If you’re uncomfortable with the request, politely decline with a smile and a simple “No, thank you” in their language. You don’t owe anyone a photo.

Addressing Unwanted Touching:

TIP 1. Assert Your Boundaries

If someone touches your hair without permission, firmly and assertively ask them to stop. Use a calm but assertive tone. If there is a language barrier, hand gestures go a long way. Also, most languages understand no or shaking your head with a frown. 

As a Black girl who travels, you’ll find that you’ll go to places where you stand out due to your race. This be an eye-opening experience, but it comes with unique challenges. Remember that cultural differences exist, and while some behaviors might be unfamiliar or uncomfortable, handling them with grace, confidence, and respect can make your travels smoother. By engaging positively, politely declining photo requests when necessary, and asserting your boundaries, you can make sure that your travel experiences remain memorable for all the right reasons.

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