Hi everyone! Welcome back to GabarIskuFilan, the first radical Somali feminist solo female travel blog. This blog post will be about my unpopular travel opinions—the solo female travel edition. As many of you probably know, this blog chronicles my solo female travel experiences from a Black feminist perspective. I delve deeper to address the intersection of race, class, gender, citizenship, and economics during my travel experiences. I’ve had solo female travel experiences in both Costa Rica and Colombia. I’ve written about my experience in Colombia where I was mistaken for Afro-Colombiana and how I was treated after revealing I was a tourist.
Solo female travel is an incredibly liberating experience. However, migration is inherently political and inextricably linked to race, class, and gender. I’ve been to countries where my people get smuggled through as they attempt to seek a better life in the U.S. Here are just some of my unpopular opinions about solo female travel.
Travel is expensive
Mainstream travel blogs will insist that travel is inexpensive and everyone can do it. I disagree. Becoming a US citizen is actually very expensive. The application fee itself is $725. There’s also no guarantee that you’ll be granted citizenship. Immigration lawyers are expensive, too. Vaccinations required for certain countries are not always covered by health insurance companies. My vaccinations for an upcoming trip to Latin America will cost me $300 out-of-pocket. Tell me again how travel is within everyone’s reach.
Haggling is unethical
Haggling is absolutely unethical. Haggling occurs in countries that have been historically depleted and are currently being exploited for labor, resources, and capital. Tourism is already driving wages down and undermining the local economy. Even if they over-charge you, it’s just another form of redistributing wealth. Is it worth haggling with someone who is living off $2/day? So, you insist on haggling with a Peruvian grandmother, but you’re too scared to negotiate your salary? Be big and bad at home, too!
Tourism is a corrupt enterprise
Tourism is just colonization by another name. Tourism ruins economies, exposes local communities to financial, sexual and physical exploitation and destroys the environment. Whenever tourism rises, women and girls suffer. Sex tourism (which is also human trafficking) is a major problem. Black women in the Caribbean, Europe, and South America are forced into sex trafficking to keep up with inflation which is catalyzed by tourism. Everything gets more expensive, yet, the labor force is paid below poverty wages. Tourism funnels money into already richer (also whiter) businesses. To combat these oppressive structures, I give my money directly to people and support local businesses. I recommend Real Cartagena Tours which is a Black-owned tourism company in Colombia.
Solo female travel is safe for whom?
Solo female travel as a Black immigrant woman is incredibly different than that of a white woman. In Colombia, I was mistaken for an Afro-Colombiana. I never felt unsafe. Deeming a country as “unsafe” poses the question of which type of audience you’re addressing. There are countries solo female travelers will claim are safe, yet, I’ve had different experiences as a Black woman. I’ve experienced over-policing, interrogations, and random searches. I’ve felt safe in countries that other solo female travelers have reported as being dangerous. Whenever a country is deemed as “dangerous,” it’s important to remember that such claims are covertly racist. I’ve felt safer in Latin America than the U.S.
So, those are my unpopular opinions about solo female travel. Did any of these surprise you? Leave comments below! I look forward to documenting more of my solo female travels on GabarIskuFilan. Here’s to more exciting adventures in 2020 and beyond!