Travel comes with some inequities in the travel and tourism industry for people of color. Often that impact is also affected by race and nationality. The reality is that traveling while black comes with some individual challenges. In my travels as a black woman, I have experienced being denied certain privileges because of my race by non-blacks and other people of color. With non-blacks, I have encountered people thinking I am not good enough or entitled to enjoy the same travel experiences. With some people of color, there is sometimes a judgment or derision that I think I am better because I am experiencing certain travel opportunities. Race, nationality, and ethnicity are the realities of traveling while black. Here are my thoughts.
I define EbonyTravelers, as any traveler of color. As someone who has experienced the travel space professionally and personally, I am confident that travelers of color are identified primarily by their race. If someone were to ask me, I would say we are all one race, the human race. However, the reality is that at first sight, I am recognizably a part of what many define as the black race. That racial identity is a part of my reality when I travel because, in many countries, my race often defines me as a minority. Usually, I travel and go into quaint little stores in the tourist areas. Because of my race, I prepare myself to encounter issues from those who may not see me as simply a tourist. I am careful not to put my hands in my pockets or go into my purse, as someone may assume I have taken something. Unfortunately, this experience is a common one for many travelers of color.
With travel, race and nationality are two distinct constructs. Travel identification first comes from one’s passport, which automatically defines nationality. When traveling internationally, one’s identity is often determined by the passport one carries. I travel under an American passport, so my travel identification is based on that nationality. I’ve found that when I identify as an American, even though my black race is apparent, my travel experiences are more favorable.
Ethnicity and nationality are different constructs but sometimes just as important as race and nationality. Ethnicity is related to race and culture. I was born in Barbados, even though I travel under an American passport. The ethnicity of Barbados also includes race, but ethnicity does not seem to be a factor in travel as much as race and nationality. When I travel, it is not until I have conversations with people that my ethnicity is recognized, so I find that it does not often affect my black travel experience.
Regardless of race, nationality, or ethnicity, there is racism in the travel industry, and it affects the experiences of EbonyTravelers. There is often a need to produce more identification and a justification of reason for traveling than other travelers experience. Additionally, people of color are subject to more random searches and checks while traveling than non-blacks.
Despite the realities of traveling while black, I believe there is a need to show the experiences to black travelers more than ever. While there has been a surge in black travelers, there is still a lack of inclusion in mainstream travel advertising. As a result, many people of color are unaware of the many travel experiences they can experience. A more diverse travel perspective needs to be shared so more travelers of color can enjoy the travel experience. Travel makes us better, and the more black people are exposed to travel, the more race, nationality, and ethnicity mean less.
Almost every person has a smartphone and a mobile App they use every day. Many travelers use their phones no matter the destination. But now, more than ever, travelers take advantage of mobile Apps to help them through the travel process. Whether planning a trip or getting help during a trip, some Apps can help you save time and money and make the travel journey much less stressful. Here are three Apps I think every traveler should have.
Airline Apps have significantly improved over the past few years. While they are not often used to purchase tickets, they are most assuredly used to enhance the travel experience. Airline Apps allow you to see your travel itinerary and essential information such as booking codes and ticket numbers. This information is often overlooked but can be crucial when discussing your travel with ticketing agents. The airline app will also allow you to check in for your flight, change seats or select meal preferences. In addition, the App will have up-to-date travel information, sometimes even before it displays on airport information screens. Travelers can also opt-in for travel alerts to notify them of flight delays, gate changes, or flight cancellations. Some airline Apps even allow you to watch airline entertainment from your mobile device. These are just a few of the advantages of having the airline App when traveling. So, if you plan to travel, check if the airline you plan to travel on has an App and download it before you go.
Flight booking Apps.
Plenty of flight booking Apps are available that all claim to help you find the best trip at the best price. The best perk of a flight booking App is that it compares many flight options all in one place. The best flight booking App depends on the travelers’ preferences and priorities. Some Apps will help you with the best time to book and purchase a ticket. Some are better if you want a guaranteed refund in the event of delay or cancellation. Most importantly, travelers can set alerts for price drops and can take advantage of flight bargains when available. Like airline Apps, flight booking Apps also keep all your flight information in one location, even previous booking information. In addition, many flight booking Apps will also provide options for hotel or rental car information and suggest tourist trips or destination information. Whether you have precise flight booking needs or flexibility with your travel dates or destination, a flight booking App is a great place to start.
Hotel Apps allow travelers to create a more customized experience and a convenient way to discuss their hotel needs with the hotel. Many hotel Apps now have a mobile check-in and check-out process and mobile key cards for hotel room access. With some hotel Apps, hotel guests no longer have to interact with front desk personnel or stand in line for check-in or request a room upgrade. The hotel App may also link other hotel services such as ordering room service, booking dining reservations, making spa appointments, or requesting your car from the valet. Like the airline and flight booking Apps, hotel Apps allow guests to have all their booking information in one location. If you plan a hotel stay, see if your hotel has an App, and take advantage of the many benefits it may provide.
These are just a few of the available travel Apps and I did not name any specifically because I think preference is personal. If you want a more customized travel experience, travel Apps may help you realize a better service experience. Do you use any travel apps? Comment below and let me know.
Most hotel rooms are standard, but you don’t have to see your holiday stay as a sterile place. Incorporating personal touches into your hotel room can enhance the vacation experience. Here are five ways I try to add my personal touch to a room when I travel.
I try to unpack whether it’s for the weekend or the week. I hang up my clothing, spread out my toiletries in the bathroom, put my shoes out and my suitcase away. I like my hotel room to feel like it’s my own. I usually walk with my journal, so I leave it on the bedside table and put away all the hotel brochures. I unpack my electronics and plug them in using one area of the room, so I won’t overlook any when I leave.
Candles are a lovely way to fill a room with your favorite scent. I walk with a candle warmer and place my candle on it when I unpack. In a few hours, the smell will fill your room with a beautiful aroma instead of a sterile hotel smell. Be cautious; however, never light candles and leave them, just as you would not do so at home. I like to use small sample candles. The trick is to remember to turn off your candle warmer the night before you leave, as your candle will have time to become firm for packing. Once firm, it can stay in your suitcase for use repeatedly.
A small speaker.
If you require more volume than your device gives, then a tiny speaker does the trick. There are so many options on the market that are tiny but pack an incredible punch for noise output. You will listen to your music and get into the mood you desire with your music. Please remember your neighbors and keep the volume down, especially late at night.
For a luxurious feel, travel with your pillowcase. For EbonyTravelers, this can be especially helpful for hair care and maintenance. In my opinion, choosing a satin or silk pillowcase is a personal preference. Silk is a more expensive option, but the less expensive satin is also a great choice. Only you will know what is best for your hair type and sleeping style. The benefit of having your pillowcase is you can use it to store your dirty clothes when you are ready to pack for leaving.
Handicap accessible room.
If possible, request a handicap-accessible room when checking in. These rooms are typically larger in size because they are designed for wheelchair access, so doors are wider. Outlets are more accessible, and best of all, it is illegal to charge more for an accessible room, so you’ll get more space at the same price. Please always be considerate of those with genuine needs and know that your request may not always be honored.
Do you like to feel at home when on vacation, or do you prefer to know that you are away from home? Please let me know in the comment section below.
Since retiring from my flight attendant career, my most asked question is, do I miss it? I do, but not in the way most people expect. My flight attendant career gave me some of the most incredible memories of my life. However, as I think about the job and the realities that flight attendants face now, I have no regrets about leaving the career.
Recently, a flight attendant was assaulted on an American Airlines flight and may have had her nose broken. The assailant claimed that the flight attendant “hit her nose against the palm of his right hand” and claimed he had “psychological damage from the injury.” I have read and listened to stories about the incident, but few from the flight attendant’s perspective involved or any other flight attendant’s perspective.
According to reports, the issue began when the flight attendant informed the flight attendant of the Fasten seat belt sign. She was doing her job!!! Contrary to what many people think, the primary duty of a flight attendant is to save lives. They train continually and yearly for the career, guided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules. Not advising the passenger of this obvious fact was putting her job in jeopardy.
Flight attendants, like many others, are not self-employed, and they have families and loved- ones that depend on their ability to provide. Their job is governed by the rules and regulations not only of the airline but of the FAA. Most importantly, interfering with the duties of a crewmember violates federal law. Recently the job has brought more risk than reward.
An airline ticket is valid only to and from the cities on your ticket or trip record. An airline will provide service as they see fit, and the flight crew does not determine that service. The flight crew performs the service provided by the airline. They cannot deliver items or services not provided in advance by the airline.
A flight attendant may have several flights in a day and be on several different airplanes within the same day. Sometimes their duty days are more than 10 hours, and rarely is there time to get off the aircraft and purchase food. More so, once duty starts for a flight attendant, there is usually no designated lunch break until the duty day ends.
The realities of Covid have not only increased stress for air travelers but flight crew as well. Flight crews are not provided meals in many cases, and if they are, individual dietary needs are not acknowledged. Before Covid, many airlines cut back on service, and passengers were advised to purchase food at the airport or bring their own.
The career I left provided many opportunities to travel the world. Currently, airplanes are more crowded, services are fewer, and people are more frustrated by wearing masks or being told to comply. In addition, the stress of airport security and baggage fees or allowances make the travel experience much more stressful than it ever has been.
The next time you travel, I hope you have no regrets but, more importantly, cause your flight crew to have no regrets as well.
I recently wrote about theft on an airplane and got so many responses. Today I’d like to discuss another aspect of air travel many do not consider. As flight attendants, we knew to look out for the warning signs of drug mules, excessive sweating, refusal to eat or drink, or acting nervous. I recently saw a post on social media where a lady shared the story of her interaction with a drug mule. I like to write short insightful pieces, but I had to share this as is. This story is not my story, but I am sharing it because it is accurate and does happen.
COPIED (As was written by the unknown author without correction)
If you travel by air a lot, beware of over friendly chatty seat neighbours.
The older lady comes and sits next to me inside the plane. She asked me to help her put her bag in the overhead luggage compartment. But a gentleman sitting across quickly came through. (I am not very tall and the overhead luggage compartment is something I try to avoid at all costs.
Immediately she sits down she strikes up a conversation. She was very pleasant and well spoken. So we chatted all through the flight to Dubai.
Suddenly, when the pilot announced that we were now proceeding to begin our descent into DXB, my good friend ‘developed’ stomach pains. Me with my good heart, I pressed the stewards button, and the stewardess came to find out what the problem was. I told her my seat mate was not feeling well. And this lady, she suddenly began to address me as ‘my daughter’. The stewardess told me that there was nothing they could do except give her some painkillers and wait until we landed. The pilot announced that we had a medical emergency on board and advised us all to stay calm. My new friend was crying and sweating like crazy. And she refused to let go of my hand… everyone assumed we knew each other.
So we landed at DXB and the same gentleman who helped put up her luggage in the overhead compartment removed her luggage. But as he removed the luggage, he advised me to distance myself from this lady and make it clear to the cabin crew that we were NOT travelling together. He was a godsend!
So indeed, the cabin crew came and asked me if we were related, I categorically told them we had met on the plane. I didn’t know her at all. So we began to deplane and as I said goodbye she kept begging me to carry her handbag. I was so torn… but the gentleman looked me in the eye and emphatically shook his head. He passed me a note telling me to let the cabin crew handle her.
So I exit the aircraft and leave my ‘new friend’ to wait for the wheelchair and be handled by the cabin crew feeling very guilty.
As we waited for our luggage to come through, I hear this commotion. My ‘new friend’ was running, trying to escape the cabin crew, having gotten out of the wheelchair! She left the stewardess with her handbag and just ran towards the exit with the rest of her hand luggage! Luckily the airport police were faster than her. They got hold of her and brought her back in handcuffs.
This lady starts calling out to me.. my daughter… my daughter!.. how could you do this to me….. that’s when I caught on. She was carrying drugs and she was trying to implicate me!
Luckily for me, the gentleman who had helped her with her luggage came forward and told the airport police that me and her had just met on the plane. The police took my passport and asked her to reveal my full names if it was true we were travelling together. By God’s grace, I had not even told her my first name! I was still asked to follow the police to a little room where I was questioned extensively. Where did I meet her?… where did I board… where did she board. Etc… And my luggage was extensively searched and dusted for fingerprints.
They dusted all her luggage and my fingerprints were not found anywhere on her luggage or on her handbag!
I was let go with advice never ever to touch anyone’s luggage either in flight or at the airport. So from that day, I don’t care how much luggage you have, you will deal with it yourself. I will not even offer you a trolley to put your luggage on! Your luggage… your problem…. is my policy. And if you can’t reach the overhead compartment, and I am the nearest person, please call the cabin crew because all I will do is give you a blank stare and then look away!
A lesson to glean therein for intending air travelers.
Just as I wrote about theft on the airplane, I could not have relayed the dangers of being too friendly more pointedly. Travelers should be relaxed and have fun, be nice, but most of all, be cautious. I hope this story opens your eyes a bit.
Recently a friend traveled from Washington DC to Egypt. She discussed with me the harrowing experience of trying to get a required Covid test for travel. With recent federal guidelines, the need for Covid testing has increased, and availability has decreased. As the holidays are a busy travel season, it stands to reason travelers needing testing during the holidays will also surge. Here are a few things to think about regarding Covid testing and the holidays.
A surge in Covid testing
Many of the issues involved with the current availability of Covid testing affect the recent executive order requiring Covid vaccination for federal employees. Companies with over 100 employees will be required to comply with the order or face significant fines. As expected, there are many questions regarding the order and implementation that need an answer. However, the demand for Covid testing has risen, and so travelers need to prepare.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s usually one of the busiest times for people to travel. In 2020, many suggested curtailing travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, and many ignored that suggestion. In preparation for the upcoming busy Thanksgiving travel season, the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act may require all passengers on domestic airlines to either be fully vaccinated, tested negative, or fully recovered from Covid.
Preparing for holiday travel
In essence, travelers should be aware of travel restrictions and Covid guidelines. They should know where their Covid testing sites are. Find out if they need to have Covid symptoms or can test as a precaution. Research the timing of their test before seeing friends and family as exposure varies. It’s also good to know the different Covid test options, PCR or antigen.
As with any travel experience, preparation is critical. Stay safe this holiday season and if you choose to travel, do it safely.