Welcome back to GabarIskuFilan—a radical feminist solo female travel blog that focuses on Black liberation! This is a blog where I document my experiences reconnecting with the African diaspora. In this blog post, I will discuss my honest experiences as a solo female traveler in Trinidad & Tobago.
When did I go?
I was in Trinidad & Tobago from February 18th-March 3, 2020. I arrived at Piarco International Airport and made my way through immigration. I read somewhere that nearly 40,000 people descend onto the island every year. My travel company organized roundtrip airport transportation, so I was picked up and transported to my Airbnb where I’d be staying for three nights by myself. I arrived a week prior because it’s recommended to be in Trinidad on Wednesday before Carnival Monday. After Carnival, I spent 4 days in Tobago which was paradise!
Was I safe?
I arrived three days before my tour officially started, so I booked myself an Airbnb in Maraval. Maraval is a high-income neighborhood in Port of Spain. I definitely felt out of place, but I did feel safe. I took the same precautions I would in the US, but I definitely felt safer in Trinidad because of the massive police presence during carnival. Upon checking in with my incredibly accomodating host, Raisa, I unpacked and got dolled up for a fete. I was ready to party! Throughout the two weeks, I stayed in Airbnb’s and four different hotels.
What did I do?
Those two weeks were very intense and hectic: I went to 8 fetes (each one was like 6 hours), played Mas in an elaborate costume, marched in a parade, went snorkeling, jet-skiing, and saw Ludacris and Kes the Band live. My favorite fetes were Soca Brainwash, Phuket and AM Beach. On Ash Wednesday, I went on a boat ride. Trinis really know how to party! My favorite part about my trip to Trinidad & Tobago was establishing connections with locals and fellow Black people from across the diaspora. Trinis are the nicest, most gracious, and most incredibly kind people in the world!
How did I get around?
I love taking rideshares wherever I travel. In Trinidad & Tobago, there are three types of rideshare companies. My options included Drop, TTRS, and PinkCab. PinkCab is exclusively for female drivers and female passengers. I took Drop and had a profoundly safe and pleasant experience. I met Samira who works full-time at a bank and drives Drop on the weekends. So do I! I work two jobs in the US, too! I loved talking to my Drop drivers about the ways the gig economy exploits their workers worldwide!
Why did I go?
I went because carnival is a celebration of Black liberation. Trinidad Carnival is rooted in rebellion. In 1833, enslaved Africans fought and won their emancipation. They’ve been celebrating that victory ever since. Carnival is celebrated in Toronto, Jamaica, Colombia, Cuba, Barbados, and the Bahamas and other enclaves worldwide. However, Trinidad Carnival is the world’s first (and best, ha!) carnival. As a non-Caribbean Black person, I felt so welcomed. Carnival is the perfect opportunity to bring the Black diaspora together! I met people from Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, London etc. Trinidad & Tobago forced me out of my comfort zone. I had so many firsts: first time wearing shorts in public, first time in the Caribbean, first carnival, and first time jet skiing.
Advice for Solo Female Travelers?
If you’re going to experience Trinidad carnival, I would highly suggest going with a concierge company because it will mitigate costs. Carnival is expensive! I would also highly suggest visiting Tobago which many people go to “cool down” after carnival. Tobago is pricey and transportation isn’t as widely available as it is in Trinidad. You can either take a ferry or fly. The flight to Tobago was about 20 minutes. As soon as I told Trinis I was traveling solo, they started babying me lol. Overall, I felt very safe on both islands. I loved that I looked like a local. Trinidad is very diverse, but they’re inclusive and respectful of each other. Anthony Bourdain’s episode really summed it up. Yes, there’s racial tension, stratification, and crime. But where are Black people actually safe?
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