Being a Black ex-pat.

Being a Black ex-pat.

My lived experience is affected by being born in Barbados, a former international flight attendant, and living in London, Germany, and Singapore as an ex-pat. I am accustomed to being exposed to different cultures and being in spaces with people who do not look like me. Being a Black ex-pat is a similar experience as most ex-pats tend to have less melanin. Here are a few of my experiences that you might find interesting.

As a Black ex-pat, nationality has at times played an even more significant role than race. Having an American passport has occasionally lessened the impact of my skin color. Additionally, the perception of me being an ex-pat gives the assumption of certain socio-economic status. This notion seems to provide an added benefit my skin color does not always allow.

Most foreigners view black culture through what they see in media, pop culture, and their local prejudices. It’s not uncommon for someone to strategically take a picture with me in the frame. I am now not even fazed when asked to take a picture with someone. This request is much more acceptable to me than being staged in someone’s photo without consent.

Microaggression is always present. It’s a constant reality navigating other people’s perception of the black lived experience. As an educated black woman with a doctorate, I refuse to be the racial educator. It can be exhausting to explain racism when tone-deaf comments tend to be frequent occurrences.

I’m comfortable with being the only black person in the room. People often express to me their love for a famous black person. I often refer to this as the “Obama” effect. I see these expressions as people’s way of affirming their acceptance of me occupying the space I’m inhabiting and making me feel comfortable.

As a Black ex-pat, I have become familiar with being stared at. I tend to see the stares as a curiosity that lessens the discomfort I may feel. However, I have had to aggressively stare back in some instances to make people realize that I am not a museum piece.

Whether as a Black ex-pat or a frequent traveler, have you had any similar experiences? I’d like to know.

How to thrive with group travel.

How to thrive with group travel.

I wrote an earlier blog post about choosing your travel partners wisely.  Travelers may not always be able to select their travel partners with group travel.  However, there are ways to ensure your journey is pleasant and that you thrive with group travel.

Recognize your individuality.  No two people are alike. While there may be majority decisions or even unanimous decisions, all travelers have different needs.  For some travel group members, the desire is for escape, while it might be an adventure for others.  The reasons for travel are far too many, so embrace yours.

Be respectful of group members.  Even though your travel needs may be different than others, respect their needs.  Acknowledge their thoughts and ideas but state your own opinion.  If the group plans work for you, join in, and if they don’t, politely decline.

Be mindful of the advantages as well as the disadvantages.  For many, group travels can be a way to save money or provide a feeling of safety. However, it can also infringe on your privacy. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages ahead of time will prepare you for the realities of group travel.

Embrace similar interests.  Most group travels begin with a goal or interest that everyone shares.  Taking part in group tours or events with like-minded people can be exhilarating.  Sharing an experience with friends or family is much more enriching than telling them about it.

Know your travel goal.  Does the group travel involve a trip or a vacation?  For many, a trip usually has a purpose, while a vacation is about the experience.  If you consider the group travels a trip, you most likely will have a plan in mind.  If the travel involves a vacation, usually it entails rest or relaxation. Knowing your expectations from the group travel experience allows for travel that won’t disappoint.

Have you been able to thrive in group travel experiences? How? I’d like to know.

Travel preparation

Travel preparation

You can never be too prepared for travel.  There are plenty of things to consider before you travel to make your travel experience a much more pleasant one.  I discussed a few ways of travel preparation in a prior blog post. Here are a few more ideas to think about before you travel.

Cell coverage

When traveling internationally, mobile phone charges can be an unexpected expense.  Remember to turn off cell service roaming before you leave the country to avoid roaming charges.  If you try to do this in an international destination, you may be charged for the time trying to complete the effort.  Try to arrange for a global cell service plan with your carrier before you leave the country.  You can often use a phone for dollars a day rather than dollars a call if you choose an international package for the duration of your time out of the country.

Notify credit card companies

Without prior approval, using your credit card in another country can be problematic. Your card can be flagged for fraud, and you may not be able to use it.  To prevent this, notify your credit card company before you travel to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of having your credit card declined.  Additionally, getting in touch with your credit card company from another country and verifying yourself will be a hassle you can avoid.

Currency exchange

Try to have some local currency before you enter the country.  Currency conversion fees can differ where you choose to convert your money.  Also, converting before you leave on your trip will give you an idea of the exchange rate, so you know before you go.  If you plan to take local transportation, having local currency can be helpful. Knowing and understanding foreign currency also prevents you from being taken advantage of as an unaware tourist.

ATM fees

Using an ATM in a different country can be expensive with built-in foreign conversion fees and daily changing exchange rates.  Research what bank or system your bank card or credit card is affiliated with before you go so you can avoid unnecessary expenses.

Carry small currency

Having local or foreign currency in small denominations can be a lifesaver when you arrive at an international destination.  Some businesses and people will prefer the US or other foreign currency rather due to instability with their currency.  It is also safer to have cash in small denominations than trying to get the correct change back in your own or foreign currency.

Have you had any unexpected hiccups with forgetting to plan for international travel? I’d like to know.

How I packed for a weekend trip in a carry-on.

How I packed for a weekend trip in a carry-on.

Packing well for travel is a skill that comes from practice. Recently I traveled on a weekend trip that included a wedding and was able to do this with only a carry-on. Travelers can consider a few things that will make their packing easier and improve their ability not to overpack and fit in just a small bag or suitcase.

Check the weather for your destination. As I discussed in a previous post, pack for the realities of your destination, not what you expect it will be. Therefore, think in layers. Weather is not always predictable. When packing for a warm, sunny destination, consider the cool evenings by the beach or weather changes that can cool considerably as the day progresses. Similarly, when thinking of cold destinations, remember that you can become overheated if dressed too warmly.

Limit your footwear. For travel to any destination, you can almost always limit footwear to three pairs of shoes. Consider one set of footwear for walking, one for evenings out, and flat footwear. These three pairs of shoes will cover almost all types of travel itineraries. Your initial traveling outfit should include one of those three types, which means you will only need to pack two pairs of shoes.

Plan your travel. If you organize your trip, you will know what activities you plan and can pack accordingly. Think of how many changes of outfits you will need. How many times will you go to lunch or dinner? Will your plans call for business casual or comfort? In most cases, one pair of bottoms can be made unique with a different top or jacket.

Try different packing techniques. Rolling items rather than packing flat can allow for more things to fit into your carry-on. However, your outfits may need to be ready to wear and will not be suitable for rolling. Think of what items will be best rolled, such as jeans and tee shirts, or folded flat such as dresses or suit jackets.

Pack in advance. Packing in advance allows you to consider what you are packing rather than rushing to pack at the last minute. Preparation also will enable you to determine better if you are over packing or packing according to plans. It also limits forgetting items you will need, such as pajamas, socks, workout wear, or underwear. Advance packing helps in packing light.

Are you able to pack for a weekend with just a carry-on? What’s your secret, or what prevents you from packing light? I’d like to know.

Five travel must-haves post Covid-19.

Five travel must-haves post Covid-19.

With many people choosing to vaccinate against Covid-19, the possibility of safer and healthier travel is closer to reality.  However, being vaccinated does not ensure that you will not be affected by the virus, and there are certain health precautions, such as wearing masks, that we still need to take.  When it comes to travel, here are five must-haves I think all travelers should have post-covid-19.

Antiseptic wipes

No matter how much the airline tries to clean and sanitize an airplane, the short timing between deplaning and reboarding an airplane does not seem guaranteed to sanitize the aircraft thoroughly.  Therefore, having your sanitizing wipes and sanitizing your seatbelt, tray table, armrest, and general area, would be a more intelligent and healthier choice.

Disposable masks

Post covid, wearing a face mask has become more of a fashion statement in addition to a measure of health safety.  When traveling, it is advisable to use disposable masks to change often rather than the pretty fashionable ones you tend to use at home. Stylish face masks are great for use when at home because you can wash them often.  When traveling, cleaning your masks is not usually an option, and disposable masks can be a safer, healthier, and economical choice when traveling.

Sanitizer spray

In addition to sanitizer gel, sanitizer spray is also another excellent option for travel.  Travelers can use sanitizer spray to disinfect surfaces without coming into direct contact with surfaces.  They are now available in travel sizes, and travelers can make homemade solutions to fit travel-sized containers.

Disposable gloves

Using gloves when disinfecting surfaces is just another precaution to take from coming into contact with infected surfaces.  Travelers can use a disposable glove when wiping down their seatbelt, tray table, or armrests, and even when they go to the restroom to sanitize toilet seats or accessing toilet seat covers.  Gloves are just another way to minimize your contact with items that might be infected.

Travel soap

Consider the ramifications of pressing the button that everyone else pushes for dispensing soap after using the bathroom but before washing their hands.  Having personal travel soap can make for even less avoidable contact.  There are now tiny travel packets of soap flakes available that are small enough to carry in your purse.

Travel realities have changed post covid, and travelers now have a few more precautions to consider when traveling to avoid becoming sick.  Have you changed the health precautions you now take for travel?  Let me know.

Pin It on Pinterest