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Ty Allen

Truth in Travel

Dame Traveler: Black is Beautiful – Two Brown Eyes & a Lens

Hi my fellow Dame Travelers, my name is Ty! Professionally, I am an Analyst and passionately, I am a travel content creator on Instagram. My travel journey started as an adult in 2012 when I was afforded the opportunity to Study Abroad in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and Akita Japan. From then on, I became enamored with travel.

I’ll address the elephant in the room – lack of diversity! That has been a huge challenge as a Black female traveler. I would love to see more Press Release opportunities open to people who look like me and who represent the growing number of People of Color (POC) who DO travel. Shortly after I began travelling with companies aimed at young, professionals, I noticed very few people were POC. I didn’t see myself represented in brochures or on websites. So, my advice to travel companies, brands, hotels and tourism boards, is to actively hire people from all ethnic backgrounds.

To my black traveling sisters,

Sis, do not book a trip without first learning about the tolerance of Black people in the destination you want to travel to. Use Instagram to research hotels, scroll through tags to see if anyone looks like you, search for pins on Pinterest, read blogs about other Black experiences in “x country”. I literally google “x country, Black travel experience”, “safest countries for Black solo travelers”. You should not have to do this, but the reality remains, not all destinations in the world are as forward thinking as you would hope them to be.

To my non-Black travelers,

PLEASE SEE COLOR! I cannot tell you how infuriating it is to hear non-POC dismiss the idea of color or want to keep things “positive”. It is offensive! See my color, see my see my uniqueness, see the beautiful hues of Black skin and please take it upon yourself to learn more about US. Yes, it will make you uncomfortable at times, especially if you have taken the pledge to become an ally. I also ask, when you see or hear something that is being done or said to lack travelers that does not seem just, SPEAK UP. It could potentially save a LIFE!

Let that sink in.

Some misconceptions I’ve heard of regarding traveling solo as a Black female: that are untrue:

1. You won’t be able to find hair products to care for your natural hair.

The grocery store has plenty of natural ingredients that you can use to whip up natural hair products, such as coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, and avocado for deep conditioning treatments. When in doubt, bring your own products with you and or research alternatives before you arrive to your destination.

2. It will be hard to meet people.

If you have an okay time with meeting people at home, you will be okay when traveling. You may find it easier to be open-minded when traveling. Hostels make a great environment for meeting like-minded travelers such as yourself. Go a step further and hang out at a local café

and strike up a conversation with the barista or book a group tour! Your options are virtually limitless, you just have to put yourself out there and take a chance.

Whenever someone asks me what country my favorite is, I always say Japan! I spent about 6 months there and felt completely immersed in the culture. The people of Japan are some of the kindest, funniest, and welcoming people I’ve ever met. Their hospitality is unparalleled, and I always recommend that POC should visit Japan. My skin tone was unique – yes – but it was not a repellent. People were intrigued and wanted to learn more about me and I in turn, wanted to learn more about them.

South Africa was an interesting experience. It was the first country I visited alone, and I had so many expectations about visiting “The Mother Land”. Many of the expectations were met with disappointment. It was the first time I had experienced “colorism” (discrimination based on skin color). As a woman of medium-deep complexion, I was often followed around in shops as a presumed to be a “thief” until owners heard my American accent.

It was the country where I learned how valuable my “American Privilege” is. It was an eye-opening lesson.

As we all learn to navigate the new, post-covid world, I will most likely be at home in California until I feel safe traveling internationally again. Until then, you can check out my previous travel content on IG, @thatgrlty.

Be safe, travel intently and often,

Ty

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