Almost time for me to board

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When you step outside of America your perspective on life, and the world, changes. More and more Black folks have been hopping onto planes, praying to avoid a middle seat assignment, and proving to their friends that the Dominican Republic, Miami, and Vegas aren’t the only places on earth to visit. And lets not forget the mighty message it gives African-American parents: your children won’t actually be found face down in some ditch if they use their passports and hangout with complete strangers. Still the biggest lesson is for the traveler. We’re going into the rest of the world for a bit of self-care.  At the end of each year folks always say they want to travel and now is the time to start planning. Not sure on where to go? Here’s my list of places guaranteed to give you an epic story. Take your pick.

 

1 South Africa

Easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world (so beautiful, I moved there), do yourself a favor and land in Johannesburg then make your way around the country via plane, train, and automobile to discover this truth for yourself. There’s an amazing rebuilding and redefining of Blackness in the country and there’s a renaissance happening around the country in the villages, townships, and cities. Even if you’re coming to simply stare at the beauty, driving along the Garden Route, popping up on a safari, dipping your toes in the Indian Ocean, and standing on Table Mountain at sunset will satisfy every need.

Must Visit Places: Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal

Best Time To Visit: October – March

 

2 Brazil

Blackness is everywhere and it’s proud, loud, and colorful! The food, the music, the greetings, and the love will have you standing at an intersection, drinking out of a coconut with happy tears rolling down your face.. Outside of Africa, Brazil has the largest population of Black people and you know how we come into a place and shape it to make it ours. We tend to treat most visitors like family. Head to Brazil to visit a people who feel like family. Standing at Pedra do Sal on a Monday night with thousands of strangers who looked like me was beautiful. Those strangers breaking through language barriers to tell me, “Black lives matter here like America,” and me doing the same to say “I love you,” was incredible.

Must Visit Places: Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Sao Paolo, Foz do Iguacu, Natal

Best Time To Visit: December – March

 

3 France

Because James and Josephine and Miles and Richard did it. Because there are muses at every corner, whether it’s the architecture or a café or a beautiful dancer stretching in the window of a studio. Hop on a bus or rent a car and skip out of Paris and explore the countryside and the south. Accept a dinner or cheese eating invite from a stranger in a chateau then call your mama and tell her most people are good. There’s an inherent happiness that comes with visiting this country, and you know like I know that happiness is self-care. Unfortunately, there’s also a long history of Black folks and other people of color in France fighting for recognition and equality. Don’t let this deter you. In fact, it’s the struggle that makes us cousins, isn’t it? Some of the dopest conversations I’ve had about revolution happened in restaurants and bookstores across this country with folks who look like me.

Must Visit Places: Bordeaux, Nice, Saint Tropez, Menton, Paris, Lyon

Best Time To Visit: April – October

 

4 Germany

There’s something special about a place that recognizes its f*cked up past and works hard with its people to right all their wrongdoings and make sure everyone feels as welcomed as possible. As Americans, we aren’t too familiar with a country going out of its way to say “I’m sorry for how we treated you.” This does something good to the spirit, I swear. Therefore, travel we must. The monuments, the sun shining down the wide streets and into the parks, and the desserts. Bring you own seasoning for your foods though.

Must Visit Places: Berlin, Cologne, Black Forest, Hamburg

Best Time To Visit: May – October

 

5 Japan

You know that moment when you walk into your surprise birthday party and everyone pops up to root for you, pat you on the back, and wish you well? Well, that’s Japan when Black folk show up. The appreciation is…well, appreciated, and if imitation is the best form of flattery, them I’m flattered as f*ck every time I walk by a freestyle battle or walk into a dancehall to sweat out the whale meat, horse meat, crazy-flavored custard, and sake to some of the dopest reggae I’ve heard in years. The city is also fantastically weird and abnormally clean. Related: have a conversation with your toilet as it sprays your butt then dries it!

Must Visit Places: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nikko, Hiroshima

Best Time To Visit: September – November

 

6 Morocco

If the cheap argon oil isn’t enough to get you here, then come for the spices, the sunsets, the Moroccan mint tea, the fabrics, the souks, and the people who love to remind you that you, too, are African. Since before Christ and Robert Kelly, Black folks have been wandering the desert, taking photos and videos in durags and flowing scarves, and Morocco offers you endless desert to do just that! Hop a camel or a train and explore the country in just a few days, and hey, if you’re feeling up to it, hop a ferry and head to Spain.

Must Visit Places: Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fes, Chefchaouen, Tangier

Best Time To Visit: September – November

 

7Zambia

For those seeking pure serenity and peace, and proof that mediocrity does not exist in nature, Zambia is where you need to be. Stand on the land in any of its national parks and look out as far as the eye will allow and be grateful for the moment. Enjoy a walking safari and come eye-to-neck with one of those large creatures you’ve only seen in a Disney film, hop on a canoe, set up a tent and stargaze through the night then head to Victoria Falls in the morning. Again, this is all about self-care. Honestly, Lil Chano from 79th said he’s moving his entire family from Chicago to this amazing African country, and he hasn’t been wrong about anything yet.

Must Visit Places: Nyika National Park, Lusaka, Chiawa, Mansa, Victoria Falls, Livingstone

Best Time To Visit: May – October

 

8 Chile

Food is life, and Chileans do food properly! Chile is one of the most beautiful countries in the world that no one is checking for, therefore, you won’t have to worry much about running into the same few folks you always see in the airport. The people are nice and stay out of your way, but will always jump to help you there’s anything you need to find. One of the most interesting things about this country is that you can experience all four seasons within just a few miles. Sky in summer, or wear shorts in winter, depending on where you’re standing, so feel free to bring those flip flops and Baby Phat goose down with the fur hood.

Must Visit Places: Santiago, Patagonia, Easter Island, Puerto Varas, Region de la Araucania

Best Time To Visit: June – October

 

9 India

On a bus from Amsterdam to Barcelona, I was told by an old Ghanaian woman that India must be on my list of places to visit if I truly want to call myself an adventurer and a traveler. India made the list, and honestly, the most beautiful part of it all was that it was unlike any place I’d ever been. There probably is no place more different from America, the country I was escaping. If done like a proper and true traveler, this country is far outside of all comfort zones, making it a must-do! Bring oregano oil for any possible food poisoning and bring a thick skin for any negative vibes you may get from some of the local folks.

Must Visit Places: Mumbai, Andaman Islands, Delhi, Goa, Jaipur

Best Time To Visit: October – March

 

10 Vietnam

If I’m right, and I’m almost certain I am, every  film that showed the Vietnam war, always showed how well the Vietnamese and the Black folks got along. Hell, they even put up posters saying, “Black man, this isn’t your war.” So hey, that and the fact that I love Pho more than I sometimes love myself was reason enough for me to pack my bags and head into the streets of Vietnam for a while. The street meat, the fresh markets, the bays, the baes, and the people are waiting for us with open arms.

Must Visit Places: Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang, Nha Trangm Qui Nhon, Sa Pa

Best Time To Visit: February – April

Darnell Lamont Walker is an avid traveler and  the curator of PassportRequired.com. 

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