“If someone does not travel because they want to avoid ignorance then, they are ignorant themselves.” Says Kayla Alexander who is only 23 years old and has already travelled to countries such as Zimbabwe, Japan and Poland solo and on her own dollar. She is proof that young women of colour can shatter stereotypes and fund their dreams into reality.
What Inspired Kayla To Start Travelling Solo
Kayla was raised in Florida, the U.S and has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature. She considers herself as a citizen of the world and travelling is something that she always wanted to do. “I started solo travelling at the age of 21 with a winter trip to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Warsaw for 10 days. I knew I had a bucket list to conquer so any opportunity that I had to travel I took."
One of the things that inspired Kayla and pushed her to travel alone, is the fact that she has never been willing to wait for her friends or family to decide whether to join her. “I was fed up with planning trips with friends who either took too long to make a decision thus, tickets were too expensive to reserve or our schedules did not coordinate,“ she adds. These are relatable reasons for anyone in their early 20's to have the urge to become globe-trot independently.
Solo travel was never something that Kayla feared of or worried about, “do extensive research about a place when planning a trip and take precautions ” she says that if she didn't take the plunge to explore the world alone she would have barely left the U.S.
Her Thoughts On Women Of Colour Travelling
When asked about what stops women of colour to travel alone she says “Many people do not feel they have the money or will ever have the money to travel. The reality is when one makes travelling a priority it can happen because it is just that - a priority. The ideology of solo travel is something many people of colour are not exposed to, it may not be on their radar. I do not believe the ignorance of some white people is a reason that should stop a woman of colour. Ignorance does not have a colour.” She replies.
Travelling With An Open Mind
When asked about her impression of Africa she said it gave her a positive feel and the people helped her to feel welcomed.
" People have to remember it’s the people that make the place not the place itself that you have to worry about. Everyone cared about me in each country, especially my safety. In Johannesburg the hotel told me “Do not walk alone in the day or night, please take our shuttle or taxi for crime”, the people were willing to help me with anything and get in contact with my driver if cell service was down. I have felt safer in Africa at times than I have in Paris or London.
Encountering Ignorance Around The World
Kayla said that most of the time she felt safe in most of the countries she visited. When asked if she encountered racism or ignorance Kayla said that most of the time she didn’t but in Italy, Japan and Poland the case was different. “In Naples, a woman asked me how long I tan for. It was more comical than anything but I guess there are people who don’t often see other skin colours. In Japan I noticed people staring at anyone who is not Japanese.”
There is a stereotype that Americans don't travel much outside of the U.S, Kayla is proof that millennials are ready to change these misconceptions."I think that is changing as time goes on. People skip out on vacation because they want to excel at work. In my generation, more people are travelling than my parent's generation."
A Word Of Advice For Other Travellers
When asked about a tip that she can give to other female solo travellers she answered, “If fear is stopping you, you have to overcome it by stepping outside of your comfort zone. Start small for example in your country then, slowly expand to outside of your home country. Research, research, and research! Knowing your destination is not only important for your safety but to be well rounded on the cultural norms of the country. Lastly, if money is the main factor holding you back it will always hinder you from travelling if you allow it. Cutting back on your daily Starbucks and planning your trip in advance will help your pocket.”
And she concludes with the best thing that has happened to her while travelling, “being able to just soak it all in, live in the moment, and disconnect from technology and people. Solo travelling has taught to depend on myself, It's made me mentally stronger.”