Travelling in Africa as a Kenyan is not difficult, save for the language barriers that may happen in some countries. Safety can perhaps be a factor in some regions as well. But apart from that, African travel simply requires resources and an adventurous spirit. This also applies when you cross out of the continent’s borders, but other rules also come into play. Since travelling the world is what we advocate most, we would love to make it easy and enjoyable for you. So here are a few things to know and expect when travelling to non-African countries.
Not everyone is keen about African culture; they will be curious
Back in Kenya, being an African is almost like breathing in air. It happens by default. However, when you go to different countries, especially in rural Europe and Asia, you might end up having to explain your existence. You will find some people who have never seen a black person up close, crazy as it sounds. So be ready to explain how your skin is not burnt, and why your hair is not silky. The stares will be there and mumbles will be made. You should not take offence because the reactions are mostly out of curiosity than ill-meaning.
Racism does exist
Even though most people are curious and just want to know how come there are people different from them in the world (assuming you chose to travel to the less travelled regions), there are those who see all black people, regardless of their citizenship, as intruders. Countries such as Israel have made it clear that Africans are not welcome in their borders because they are seen as nuisances to the government. Racism can be subtle or direct. From being refused basic services such as being served at a restaurant, to verbal or even physical abuse. The best way to avoid this is to do research about a country’s policies before travelling. Going with a friend can also allow you to feel safer.
It could get expensive
The truth about travelling, even in Kenya, is that it requires a lot of sacrifice and financial resources. Going out of the continent gets much more expensive because most foreign currencies are much higher than the Kenyan Shilling. You might have to give up luxurious living in order to be able to travel. You also have to be extra cautious about spending so that you do not end up getting stranded in a foreign country.
Have your documents on you always
Some countries have all Africans generalized and will have the police on black individuals in the name of keeping their streets safe. Africans in most European countries, for example, are associated with drug dealing and being fraudsters. Although you might not prevent the police from stopping you on the streets or road, you can prevent them from arresting you by having relevant documentation on you.
Countries and people outside Africa can be cold and unfriendly, but so can those back home. You cannot group all people in one basket because of one person’s actions. Instead, you can be cautious about the people you interact with but also be open to making friends. Some of the connections travellers make while on the road end up being lifelong. You never know, your spouse could be oceans away!
Create your own experiences
The internet is a hub of information. Some positive, others not so much. You should never make a definite decision based on internet information alone. Sometimes you just have to get to that country physically and experience the negative (if any) so that you can be sure not to visit again. Otherwise, most countries outside Kenya and Africa are just geographical spaces holding human beings just like you. You should not kill your wanderlust out of fear.