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.
Traveling expands your life more than anything else, whether domestically or internally. The US is a beautiful country, and there is plenty to see and do, but if you want to travel internationally, you must have a US passport. If you already have a US passport, take a minute to check its expiration date. You must have at least six months of validity on your passport to travel. If you don’t already have a US passport, here are the steps to making sure you have one.
The first step.
If this is your first time applying for a passport, you must apply in person. You can find an application on the US Department of State website that can be downloaded in a PDF or filled out and downloaded online. In addition to the application, you will need proof of citizenship, an original ID and a copy, a recent photo, and payment. If you renew your passport, you can complete the process online unless you are under 16, you got your passport when you were under 16, your passport was lost, stolen, or damaged, or if your passport was issued more than 15 years ago.
The first step in getting information for your passport is looking up the US Department of State, travel.state.gov. Here you will find all the information on what to expect if you are applying for your first passport, renewing your passport, or need to get an appointment at a passport agency. Many services will charge you a fee to process the passport application, but the application is simple and requires the same information you would provide to a service.
Due to Covid, the timing to receive your passport varies. The Department of State website currently estimates 8 to 11 weeks for a routine application. You can have an expedited service; the timing is at 5 to 7 weeks. To get a passport within three days for a life-or-death emergency, you must have an international travel itinerary within three days, and you must complete the application at an agency by appointment only.
Passport fees for an applicant over 16 are currently $130 for a passport book and $30 for a passport card. If the applicant is under 16, the price for the passport book is $100, and the passport card is $15. To get your passport faster, you can pay $60 for an expedited fee. There is also an option for quick delivery by first-class mail for $18.32 to have your passport delivered in 1 to 2 days after the passport has is ready for delivery. Payments can be by c personal, certified, cashiers, or travelers check. You can use credit and debit cards except for expedited services. Always check with the agency to confirm payment options.
Whether you plan to travel or not, I highly suggest getting your passport. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. In addition, consider a passport card. It’s better to walk around with your passport card than your actual passport. I hope this information helps and encourages you to either get your passport or make sure it’s valid or renewed. Please let me know if you find this information helpful.
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.
Our passports are a rite of passage, figuratively and literally. It is a must-have to travel to an international destination, but also having it means you have taken the first step to international travel. A passport is an important document, and we should treat it as such at all times. Here are some ideas to care for your passport.
Make sure to make a copy of your passport. As a traveler, I have kept copies at home in an easy-to-find place, in the inner pockets of my luggage, and my purses while traveling. You should secure your actual passport in a secure place in the hotel room, like a safe if provided or in a locked bag if you leave it in a vacation rental to keep your passport secure. Try never to tour or sightsee with your actual passport. Carry another form of identification, even if not local. It will suffice to let people know who you are in unfortunate circumstances.
The most important information on your passport is the issue date, issuing agency, passport number, and expiration date. In case you have misplaced or lost your actual passport, this information is vital to replacing or renewing your passport.
Getting a replacement or new passport is not always an easy process, and it can be even more challenging when you are not in your home country. Please store your country’s embassy or consulate information in the same place you keep copies of your passport. For more passports safety tips, you can find helpful information on STEP, The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program before you travel if you should need embassy or consulate services.
Try to keep your passport in a passport holder. Some newer passports have an RFID chip, and people looking for that information with a scanner can get your passport information without touching you or your passport. Therefore, don’t just get a pretty case, but get one with RFID protection similar to what some wallets now have for credit cards. Additionally, if your passport is damaged or defaced, such as if it is dropped accidentally in water, it will not be accepted or acknowledged as a valid form of ID.
Passports are a vital piece of information when you travel internationally, and you should treat them as such. Have you ever misplaced your passport while traveling? Do you have any other passport safety tips? I’d like to know.
There are many different travel cards available, so it is essential to know how they differ and whether they work for you and your travel style. Here are my five takes on travel credit cards and why you may consider using them.
1.Travel cards usually earn points or miles every time you use them. Therefore, it means that even though you are not traveling, your simple everyday purchases could be working on getting you to your next travel destination. Some cards even offer double points for using the card at certain establishments or even during specific periods. These points can then convert to discounted hotel stays, airfare, and seat upgrades, to name a few.
2. If travel perks are one of the main reasons you choose a travel card, then it’s essential to read the fine print and understand how you can earn rewards with the card and redeem the rewards. If the card you chose only accrues perks on travel-related spending and you are not a frequent traveler, then consider another card. A card that allows you to earn points on everyday expenditures might work better for saving towards a trip.
3.If you travel consistently on a specific airline, then a specific airline-branded travel card might be worthwhile. Usual perks might include a free checked bag, priority check-in and boarding, a seat upgrade, and the ability to earn elite status with the airline. You are also allowed some perks when using airlines associated with the airline-specific card, such as lounge access.
4.It’s imperative that you join the airline loyalty program and have your travel card linked to that account. As a rule, you should join the frequent flyer program of every airline you fly on as it’s free, and sometimes extra points are given just for signing up. Also, note that you usually have to join within 24 hours of travel to get credit for the flight taken.
5. Many non-airline branded credit cards have travel perks attached. However, travelers should research what card best suits them and their needs. Some cards advertise lounge access, but only if you are traveling first-class or internationally. Others allow access but only to the cardholder and one guest. While some only allow lounge access during a specific time before or after a flight. If you happen to be traveling with a family or stuck at the airport for an extended time, having a travel card with perks you can’t use can be frustrating.
Overall, I strongly believe in frequent flyer programs, branded and non-branded travel cards. As a person who travels often, I choose my travel itinerary based on what best works for me and what card I hold. How about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Establishing your personal boundary can be a challenge when traveling as you have to share communal space. However, understanding your and other people’s boundaries is important to having positive traveling experiences.
Travelers must remember that cultural norms often define someone’s perception of personal space, and people will have different sets of meanings and values. When traveling, remember that even though norms are different, you do not have to accept any interaction that violates your personal boundary.
It is important to make sure your boundaries are respected but is it equally important to respect them in others. Your actions and words may be innocent in your personal relationships yet could be construed as rude and offensive to your fellow traveler.
While many may understand the word “no” to mean exactly that, some people and cultures may believe that a no will eventually lead to a yes. Be clear in your interactions when traveling so that there is no question about your meaning or intent.
Remember that being kind and being nice are not the same. Being kind involves being considerate and respectful to others while being nice usually means giving more consideration to others than ourselves. Often, being nice crosses your personal boundary, be kind and say no.
Finally, keep in mind the role of stereotyping in our interactions, especially for women of color who are often seen as exotic and more sexually permissive than other women.
Have you experienced any issues in keeping your personal boundary when you’ve traveled? I’d like to know.