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Several years ago during one of my dramatic rants about single life, an older cousin of mine gave me a gem of advice that I took to heart. “Girl, travel” she said,”You have plenty of time to be married. Have a blast! I know I did. And look, now I’m about to be somebody’s Momma!” pointing to the massive jungle gym that had taken residence on her stomach.
During the season of life when the only mouth you need to feed is your own, it’s important to take advantage of a unique freedom that characterizes unmarried life. While the list of destinations is endless, there are five categories of trips that every Black woman should experience before settling down.
Girls Gone Wild
Now now, calm down. I’m not suggesting you sell your soul to be featured in a video produced by Snoop Dogg. (But that would make a GREAT story to laugh about in 10 years!) Every woman should experience a carefree weekend of inhibition in a city miles away from responsibility, deadlines, and recognizable faces. Leave the Crackberry at home and round up your boldest girlfriends for a weekend of tomfoolery that should never see the light of Facebook. If you’re in the recently graduated, dollar menu, still-splitting-a-room-with-10-of-your-closest-girlfriends stage of life, Las Vegas is a great option for this type of adventure. The city paves the way for The Broke and the Beautiful offering inexpensive hotel packages, complimentary drinks at every casino and free admission to almost any club before 11. Pack your get-em-girl dress, your “special occasion” heels and prepare for a weekend you’ll probably forget!
Eat. Pray. Love.
So unless you’re expecting a windfall profit from a lucrative book deal, I don’t suggest you blow your savings trying to follow the itinerary detailed in the book. However, a solo trip free of extra voices and opinions can reduce the white noise on life’s soundtrack to a level so low you can actually hear the instruments. As you feast on fresh bake and shark by a private pool in Tobago, you’ll be able to discern each note of the steel pan drums that permeate the air 24 hours a day. While you relax at a sidewalk café in Venice, your ears will be delighted by the inflections of foreign tongues while your own tongue experiences a sensory overload, indulging itself in authentic Cappuccino for the first time. Your first trip alone should be to a destination that fosters reflection and personal growth, refreshing your spirit in a setting of peaceful solitude.
Back to the Future
You can never truly understand the capabilities of your future until you comprehend the complexities of your past. Being surrounded by shades of unadulterated Blackness and being judged purely on the content of your character is reason enough to return to the birthplace of African America. Immerse yourself in cultures with untold histories of excellence in every field imaginable and learn for yourself how misunderstood this vast continent really is. Whether you walk through the Door of No Return at the slave castles in Elmina, Ghana, or swim daringly close to 360 foot waterfalls at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, a voyage back to Africa will ignite a lifelong desire to learn more about the mysterious place we call the Motherland.
The Majesty of Nature
I don’t buy into this whole notion of there being only 7 wonders in the world. Each day the Earth hosts a massive scavenger hunt on its grounds, inviting us to discover breathtaking manifestations of Nature’s glory in unexpected places. Between the peaks of two mountains in Mpumalanga, South Africa sits a breathtaking reservoir called God’s Window where time stops and peace begins. If budgetary concerns prevent such a costly venture, visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk in Arizona, where you can stand suspended 4,000 feet over the peaks and valleys of the canyon, embracing stillness and a new appreciation for Earth’s raw beauty. You might not be the “camping out in the wilderness” type of girl or remotely interested in traveling to areas where Verizon can’t hear you now, but such an experience guarantees to put the minutiae of life’s routine in perspective and reminds us we are just a small part of a vast global ecosystem.
Heal the World
When disaster strikes our brothers and sisters around the world it’s easy for us to pull out our phones and text a donation to an aid organization. However, once the coverage has faded from the news we often forget that the devastation resulting from these tragedies extends far beyond the breaking news story. When planning your next trip, consider a destination where you can affect positive change in a dire situation. Gather your girlfriends for a clothing drive, and take the unwanted apparel to women who wore the same outfit for weeks following the earthquake in Haiti. Spend a day building a home for a single mother who has been sleeping with her child in a shelter since the levees broke in New Orleans. Getting your hands dirty in the name of rebuilding lives will be one of the most powerful trips you will ever take and will be far more rewarding than any “text to help” message could.