Go East, Young Woman: Coping With Pre-Travel Abroad Jitters

Woman and ParisThis is an unusual post for me because it involves talking about my life plans. Outside of rare circumstances, I don’t usually do so on this site. But I think it’s necessary both personally and for anyone else who may be coping with the same thing right now. You never know, so let’s cope together. đŸ™‚


As some of you may know, I’ve been wanting to go abroad for a couple of years now. I only started actively planning within the past few months. Though I initially hoped to be out the door by fall, it’s working out that early spring of 2014 will be my jump off point into the unknown.




Riviera Maya.



After a bit of planning and calculating, I decided on not one, but TWO destinations next year: Barcelona in the spring and Thailand in the fall.

Ambitious I know for a person who has never been on a plane in her life. But you only live once, right?


Confession One:

About that whole never been on a plane thing?

Would you believe it is entirely possible to be SCARED TO DEATH of getting on a plane without having been on one? Yes, it’s absolutely true and I’m already picturing myself running in tears from the plane screaming, “YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!” to the top of my lungs. Or puking on the guy next to me.

I’m trying to get over this by assuring myself that planes are one of the safest ways to travel and that death and destruction if more likely on a highway. But then, substituting one fear with another doesn’t strike me as kosher.

In the end, I think having spent so much money to make this happen will get me on the plane. Maybe if I can successfully convince them I have digestive issues (which if nausea arises may become partially true…), they’ll let me stay in the bathroom during my plane trips. đŸ˜€


Confession Two:

Worried I’ll turn out like Dorothy…


I think there’s a couple of reasons “The Wizard of Oz” has always been one of my favorite movies. Like Dorothy, I grew up in the country (surrounded by farms and farmland rather than on a farm) where things were ordinary and dull. Though not quite as black and white. And Dorothy dreamed and sang of a far off place “somewhere over the rainbow”. She even opted to run away at one point, but instead ended up in a major coma having a wonderful adventure in a faraway land.

So why I am I worried I’ll turn out like Dorothy?

Well, she goes away and finds out that faraway lands are terrible, that she didn’t appreciate her family enough and that she was happiest being right where she was.

I want to be able to travel, and have an adventure and maybe even a new life abroad. This is what’s in my heart. At the same time I’m worried that I’ll be putting myself out into the world that’s big and dangerous and people are terrible and it turns out everything’s better at home. That would be an expensive realization to come to. A bump on the head and a week’s worth of sleep didn’t cost Dorothy anything!

I guess that was just a long-winded way of saying I am afraid of regretting my decision somehow.


Confession Three:

Inability to cope with the “R” word…

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be part of a community with so many traveling black women. Because if I ever just relied on a lot of travel sites and blogs as a guide, I’d swear that nobody anywhere welcomed a black face. It’s almost disturbing how excluded people of color are from programs that encourage free-movement about the world. I don’t know if it’s on purpose (where people assume whiteness = money) or if it’s because these people and programs just don’t get too many black travelers.

And one of my major concerns is how I’ll cope with racism while out in the world on my own. Heck, the process of planning brought me face to face with bigotry.

I was looking for information on Thailand and I happened across this one white guy’s page. This man went on a “blunt” tirade moreso than a helpful explanation about getting work in Thailand. One thing that stood out to me was that he said, “You basically have to be white to have a job here. They don’t like/hire black or dark-skinned people.”


I’ve seen these types of posts by white Americans before. They declare that X location is entirely racist and that black people are just better off not being there. It’s ironic when you consider the history of imperialism in the Far East and how Westerners exploited colorism in other parts of the world. But I digress less I get way off point.

It was discouraging. I actually considered opting out of the location altogether. Then I clicked on a couple of more related links anyway and I found this and then I saw this:



Imagine this music playing in the background while I stared at this picture.

It’s a black woman. She has non-permed hair. She is teaching a classroom of students. They are Thai children. ….Someone must have hired her to do so!

The mini-epiphany encouraged me to stick to my guns and go through with attempting to make plans to go to Thailand. One bitter ex-pat on the internet should not get to decide my future; only I can do that.

But it still makes me wonder: Do white people, especially Americans, think they are helping when they tell black people “not to come here?” Sometimes I think it’s well meant, other times I’m not so sure.  It did make me realize that the knowledge and expertise of black women in the international community is what’s most reliable.

And on that note I end with a pair of huge puppy eyes. I’m serious.


I really want to ask some questions that I’m counting on people to answer. Because it’s really important and I’d appreciate any and all info. Also, if anyone else is currently planning to travel, it might be a big help to them as well:

1.) What is the best way to cope with being terrified of flying? Window seat or aisle? Should I bring a paper bag? Am I being a big baby and scaredy cat?

2.) If one’s heart is set upon going abroad, what are the chances that they’ll regret it? Also, how does one deal with homesickness? (And a mom that is going to flood the world with her tears when her “baby girl” goes?)

3.) What are some popular travel resources for black women who are looking to network abroad and or find out relevant travel information?*

4.) Does anyone have any travel stories they want to share? Including their very first trip abroad? đŸ˜€




* I believe this was featured in a post way back when, which I will find as I’m currently digging through the travel section. But I’m asking anyway because I think maybe it would be good to 1) have a more current post listing these sites available for reference and 2) give travelistas another chance to toot their respective horns. đŸ˜‰

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