By Brande Nicole Martin

When I decided to travel to Europe alone I was at first concerned about being a single black female going to predominantly white European countries. Then, I learned that there is nothing to fear if you use good judgment and do adequate research before and during your journey. Remember that in most larger European cities most people are accustomed to diversity. Therefore observe essentially the same safety precautions as in the U.S.

1. Be aware of your surroundings. Get a good idea of where you want to go and what you want to do before starting your trip. In Europe, ask a local to identify the unsafe areas of the city.

2. Ask the local tourist bureau if there are areas to be avoided. It is wise to register with the U.S. Embassy in your host country so you can be located if necessary.

3. Never forget to have a map handy. If you have extra money, buy a handheld global positioning system. More important for safety when traveling alone is a cell phone. Companies such as Nextel and T-Mobile sell phones and calling plans with world access and no roaming charges.

4. Do some research beforehand and learn about the local male-female customs, such as how men approach women and how to respond to advances, particularly aggressive advances from men. To learn about the customs, search for web sites about the country. Join a travel list serve and post a message asking about solo women travelers and safety. Your guidebook may also offer some information on the topic.

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  1. As an African-American living in the UK, I have to say that travel within Western Europe for black women does not require any racially-bound advice. If you use the same common sense you would travelling anywhere else, you’ll be fine. You’re a tourist, no one expects you to behave in a way other than that.

  2. Black Woman in Europe

    Thanks for your comment. I tend to agree with you. My thinking was, and I could be wrong, that a lot of sisters from the States don’t travel a lot in Europe. Perhaps the author’s intention was to let them know it’s OK to do it.

  3. Although I am a seasoned traveller, and have found I’ve never needed more than “common sense” while travelling in Europe, I HAVE heard several Black American women express trepidation about travelling here.

    Admittedly, these are women who are not used to travelling much outside the original 48 states. As such, they often only hear news about neo-nazi or anti-American activity, etc., when it comes to relevant reporting on their evening news.

    Anything that encourages Black Americans to venture out of their comfort zones and proactively experience the world is a positive step, imho.

  4. Iris M. Gross

    What about the idea that at the European airports Black women are target, regardless of apparent economic status (how one looks) because of profiling as drug runners or “mules”?

  5. Black Woman in Europe

    I agree that black women are often stopped at customs to have their bags checked. I get stopped 7 times out of 10 it seems. Even the black customs officials pull me over. However, my mother has never been stopped.

  6. Iris M. Gross

    Perhaps they don’t expect a drug runner to be older! Which airports in particular gave you trouble, black woman in Europe?

  7. Black Woman in Europe

    Age is surely a factor, although my mother has bever beem stopped in all the years she has traveled, and I have friends who don’t get stopped either. I seem to get stopped more often when I have braids. I’ve been stopped as Baltimore-Washington airport, Newark, Dulles, Amsterdam, and Brussels. My bags haven’t been checked in all of those places, but I’ve been questioned.

  8. Dulles?! BWI?! Wow, not just Europe, then. I don’t ever wear braids, but do carry a rather large duffel. Maybe the first time I go to Europe, if ever, I’ll get lucky. Maybe by then all they’ll have to do is scan your passport for an automated DNA check which ties into your criminal record. Clean passport, off you go, have a nice trip! LOL

  9. skybus airlines

    Blacks, whites, they are all the same as tourists when it comes to travelling. And, like any other traveler, one must take into account all details and necessities pertaining to their destination.

  10. Great tips by B.W.I.E….I will recommend these tips to all the guys who are traveling Europe as well as other destinations too….These tips will really avoid some problems,if someone keep them in mind…..

  11. glad you found it helpful!

  12. Hi,
    My name is Ryan. I reside in USA. yeah Global Positioning System is the best tool you could carry with you now a days.  Nice Article!
    cheap flight tickets

  13. B.W.I.E (™)

    Dulles is my most used when entering the US. I’ve been stopped at Schipol in Amsterdam for wearing a fur coat. To be fair I was returning from Moscow and could have been trying to avoid a duty on the coat but was able to show it was my mother’s.

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