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Traveling Alone As A Black Woman? Do These Four Things To Stay Safe

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Travelling solo as a black woman, especially to places without many black people, can come with risks. I saw this first-hand when I travelled to the medieval city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. As I sat at the entrance to the Old Town, a 50-something year old man approached me out of nowhere. He was dressed in khaki shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and dark sunglasses.

“Hey, what’s your name?” he asked.

“Um, Sheila,” I lied. Well, Sheila’s actually my middle name.

“I was looking at you and was wondering… Are you by yourself?”

“No, I’m waiting for some friends,” I lied.

“Oh, okay,” he continued in broken English,

“While you wait I can take you out to lunch, get to know you a little better. I like dark-skinned girls. Very beautiful.”

“No, thank you,” I retorted, “I’m not interested.”

“Are you sure? I’ll take you to a fine restaurant. The best Croatian food. You’ll like it.” he insisted.

That man followed me around the city for two days, popping up in different locations. He even showed up next to my hostel! Luckily, he didn’t harm me, but the incident shook me up. After that, I developed a system to stay safe while travelling solo.

These are some of the key steps I take:

Register your trip with your relevant State Department or Embassy

Being from the United States, I register my trips with the U.S. State Department, but most countries have a similar option for their citizens. Check with your relevant embassy to see what programmes are available for citizens who travel abroad. If you’re American, subscribe to email alerts from to receive timely updates and advice in the case of an emergency abroad. You can choose the frequency of the emails.

If you are from the U.S., the U.S. State Department offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for citizens travelling or living abroad. The purpose of the program is to alert citizens of emergency situations and facilitate an intervention if something goes wrong.

To register for the program, go to the STEP’s website, list the places you’re traveling to and the dates you’ll be there. That information is made available at the U.S embassies in the destinations you’re visiting. Let’s say civil unrest breaks out at your destination, the State Department will immediately send alerts to your phone or email and provide you a course of action to take.

Even if you don’t have a trip planned at the moment, you can still register and then add your future trips when the time comes.

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