How Your Travel Business Can Provide Safety for Black Women

May 19, 2022
Youmie Jean Francois
4 min read

This isn’t going to be an easy conversation, but it’s an important one. Let’s talk about the privilege of not having to think about your race or gender while you travel and why travel businesses need to prioritize Black women travelers’ safety as they courageously navigate the international world. 

We are living in a time where traveling is wildly romanticized. Social media influencers are traveling around the world telling people to quit their jobs and become digital nomads. Most of these influencers, however, are not Black women. This is not because Black women aren’t traveling or aren’t digital nomads, it’s because many of them have to navigate traveling around the world very differently.

I’m a Black woman business owner and avid traveler. I’ve traveled to over 15 countries both solo and with friends. I can tell you that the number one question I always get when I encourage Black women to travel internationally is, “Is it safe for us?” This question isn’t as simple as it seems, because one can always ask about safety when it comes to traveling regardless of race. What they’re really asking is, “Will I experience mistreatment because of my race?” “Will I be accepted or will I be treated poorly because I’m Black, because I’m a woman?

My answer is always that it depends on the place, but I suggest they prepare diligently. But more importantly, I suggest travel businesses prepare properly. It’s a privilege to get to travel around the world. Although many have learned how to travel affordably, it’s still a huge privilege to be able to afford flights, accommodations and insurance. The other side of that privilege is not being discriminated against while you’re trying to see the world. Companies offering affordable accommodations, like Airbnb, have received multiple complaints about Black women being denied accommodations because of stereotypes and discrimination. And if we go deeper by bringing human trafficking into the conversation, it further supports how the world sees us in comparison to other travelers.

According to an article written by Michael Britt for Chamberlain University, “Racism and oppression are embedded and perpetuated in human trafficking. Sixty-two percent of confirmed sex trafficking are African American girls and women.” And when they travel abroad, they are often forgotten about completely. Yet tourism companies often do not take steps to warn Black women about this type of danger.

Because I live everyday as a Black woman and have experienced racism and discrimination abroad, I absolutely have navigated the world differently when I’m simply trying to see it. To this day, I still have a checklist that countries must pass before I book a flight there. Below is a snapshot of the list. Before every trip, I make sure I’m able to check everything off. 

My Travel Safety Checklist

  1. I do extensive research on the country to see if there have been any major racial crimes or if there are articles written by Black women with safety warnings. 
  2. I look to see if there is a Black women expat community and see if I can join. 
  3. I always look for reviews from solo female travelers of color or Black women on hotels, Airbnbs, drivers and more. 
  4. I register with the U.S embassy for their STEP (Smarter Traveler Enrollment Program) 
  5. I look up the laws of the land and religious laws for both foreigners and locals to see how I can protect myself or if I will be believed if an incident occurs. 

My checklist may seem extreme to you, but it’s simply not as easy for me as booking a trip and going — especially if I’m solo traveling. And to be clear, I do not speak for all Black women; I do, however, speak from experience as a Black woman in this space and certainly have had a number of conversations with other Black women that can relate to this.

However, this article’s aim is not only to educate everyone on the privileged aspects of traveling, but it’s also to hold business owners in the travel space accountable for providing necessary resources and helping Black women travelers to experience the world in a safer way. 

So, what can your travel business do? 

1. Seek Employee Insight

Talk to your Black women employees in your company and ask them about their fears or discomfort about traveling abroad – especially if it’s for work. This provides them with a safe space to express how they feel. 

2. Support Black-Owned Businesses

If you’re a travel agent or your business offers tours to travelers, make sure you include and support Black-owned businesses. This can include (but is not limited to) food suppliers and restaurants, accommodations, and museums that spotlight the incredible things that Black people have contributed to that country. 

3. Offer Tailored Experiences

Create special packages for Black female solo travelers that will help them experience the best of that country without the fear of being judged, heckled or ridiculed. 

4. Diversify Your Leadership

Diversify your board. The travel space is changing. I often say that my company is bridging the gap between travel and wellness but also expanding the face of travel and wellness. What do the people that make decisions in your travel company look like? Do they ever have to worry about some of the specific things that I mentioned in this article? Make that decision swiftly. The faster you do it, the better you serve the world. And Black women safely seeing the world matters deeply. 

5. Create Special Deals

Consider offering special discounts or experiences. For these experiences, collaborate with small business owners or non-profits that prioritize keeping Black women travelers safe while they travel internationally. 

This topic is way bigger than this article and there are countless other ways you can help. My hope is that this article will spark the change and start the conversation of privilege and safety when it comes to traveling and the safety of Black women travelers. 


A Black woman traveler that wants to feel safer as a traveler and who is hoping to one day be able to retire her list.