Planning a holiday should be a joyful experience.
Where to stay, the hot spots to visit, the best food to try – in an ideal world, these would be your only considerations.
However, young people are now carrying out lengthy research into the attitudes around race and the LGBTQ+ community, as well as other inequalities that may make visiting certain places unsafe for them.
According to new research conducted by travel platform Trippin, 50% of people would avoid travelling to countries where the police force has a bad reputation.
The study also found that 65% of people who identify as marginalised would research the local community’s attitude towards them before visiting.
Almost 40% of LGBTQ+ people research their threat of safety before travelling, and 67% of people would research the county’s police reputation before reporting a serious crime whilst travelling.
‘As a Black female traveller, the act of exploring the world comes with its own idiosyncrasies and challenges,’ says Rachel Allison, 31, from Hertfordshire.
‘From anti-Black racism, to safety concerns in foreign countries, the decision to collect stamps on your passport is a battle of different situations.’
Rachel says racism, overt or covert, can happen anywhere.
‘In Barcelona, I travelled with a mixed group when I experienced blatant racism,’ she says.
‘A city lauded for its art, beaches and culture, it was an absolute mission to get a taxi when in a group that included three Black men. All the empty taxis we flagged would just pass us by. The only way we got around was by applying the central London clubbing trick of separating the group to seem less “ethnic”.’
Thanks to the global nature of racism and anti-Blackness, Black people report experiencing discrimination, hostility, even violence, all over the world. And the vulnerability that comes with travelling – the unfamiliar settings, different languages, isolation from your support systems – can exacerbate the impact of racial discrimination.
Racism while travelling can feel even more terrifying and unsettling than the racism you face at home. And this has an impact on the way Black people choose to travel and experience other countries and cultures.
It’s a feeling I know all too well.
In 2018, on a city break to Paris with two female friends, a whit man called me a ‘Black b****’ while we were having a picnic outside the Sacre Coer, simply because I didn’t want to engage with his flirting.
What was unsettling was that many people around me witnessed the event, but nobody reacted or offered any support. I didn’t feel confident approaching local police about what had happened because I wasn’t sure I would be believed, or if I would even be safe in that situation.
Another problem Rachel identifies as something she experiences abroad is colourism – a form of racism that denigrates people with darker skin, particularly Black women.
‘This happens when I visit “Black” countries, and when visiting “white” countries I have to preemptively prepare my hair and cosmetics before making the trip – we all know there won’t be shea moisture available!
‘Travelling can often be a gruelling process with a lot of background admin.’
The survey of 1,600 people revealed that the safety of women, marginalised communities, and LGBTQ+ people are of huge importance to young travellers – and informs their decisions about where to visit.
As a result, Rachel says, the travel industry needs to react appropriately.
‘It’s so important for the travel industry to wake up to people’s experiences and offer authentic and alternative narratives to help people travel safely,’ she explains.
In response to the changes, Trippin is set to introduce a series of searchable filters and content that address police attitudes, drug policy, race relations, LGBTQ+ attitudes and law, and sustainability.
There will also be exclusive guides from celebrities including Jorja Smith, Snoh Aalegra, Headie One, Sean Paul and Goldlink.
Tools to empower people to make informed decisions that will improve their safety and enjoyment while on holiday are hugely important.
A US study from 2015 found that racism while travelling is a widespread and deeply damaging phenomenon for Black communities. Travelling abroad can still be incredibly dangerous for members of the LGBTQ+ community thanks to pervasive homophobia and archaic laws that still persecute people for being gay.
Elisha Tawe is an artist from London. The 23-year-old tells Metro.co.uk that there are many different things Black-African travellers have to consider that their white counterparts do not.
‘The most apparent issue being racism which seeps into various facets of the travel experience and in some cases is embedded in the institution’s tasks with facilitating travel,’ he says.
‘For instance, in most countries including many African nations, the visa obtainment process is often quicker, smoother and less invasive for people from the west.
‘For us, trips often have to be planned well in advance and the option of a spontaneous weekend abroad is often off the table.
‘Though the issue around visas is more one of passport privilege, British passport holding Black travellers encounter racism in other ways when travelling, whether through the unsolicited touching of one’s hair or refusal of service from what appears to be an otherwise empty restaurant.
‘The additional stress of having to wonder or research – a task that can be hard to carry out due to the limited amount of information out there – which countries are less racist than others is just one of many additional obstacles we endure.’
As travel returns to our lives after two years of the pandemic, it’s important to remember that inequalities can impact every stage of the process for people from marginalised groups. It is clear that travel habits are changing as a result.
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