Dr. Bande Virgil Shares Her Passion for #TravelingwithBlackGirlMagic
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Last month, I was happy to share my very first spotlight on #TravelingwithBlackGirlMagic. I have some awesome women show up and answer the call. The goal is to highlight our experience, to foster and empower inspiration for all things travel, in women of color. In this feature, we have the beautiful Dr. Bande Virgil. Check her out below!
What was the first trip you took and how did it fuel your desire for travel?
The first trip I took was as a young child visiting my homeland in South Africa as a 10-year-old with my family. We moved to this country and became US citizens when I was very young. The long flight made me realize just how big this world is. Spending time there made me realize how different yet similar different experiences are in the world. It made me curious about other places, how other families and people lived, food, music. All of it.
What advice would you give to women who are #travelingwithblackgirlmagic (women of color)?
Be open to something new. Don’t just go to the places everyone goes to, try and learn about the culture, the people, their history, their struggle. Don’t just go to be a tourist.
What countries would you recommend for women of color to explore?
Anywhere in the diaspora is important. We all have a shared journey from Africa all around the world. So African countries, South America, the Caribbean primarily but honestly, do not limit yourself.
What was the worst thing you’ve experienced while traveling?
Racial discrimination in a Caribbean country that is more color stratified. My friends and I went to a club and were not selected in all of us being browner than the more European folks that were there. We were told later that it was most likely due to us not fitting the “style” (ie fairer) crowd. We are always so aware of racial dynamics in the US, you can forget that it happens elsewhere. It’s awful when it happens on a vacation.
What was the best thing you’ve experienced while traveling?
On the flip side, my younger sister and I were in Porto Portugal in our 20s with our family for a conference. She and I ventured out to bar hop. She is a very dark complexion and it was awesome to see the heads turning and all the compliments she received for being so beautifully brown. Some could see it as stereotyping but both of us thought it was empowering and refreshing!
How did these (best & worst) shape your view of #travelingwithblackgirlmagic?
They just solidified for me how varied each country and experience can be. It didn’t close me off to travel but just to be more tuned into the way my color may impact my experience.
How do you feel about solo travel for women of color? And where would you recommend for a first-timer?
I think it’s a great idea. Planning and coordinating schedules can be a challenge. I think the main issue would be safety, going to a place where you can communicate effectively, and where you can navigate safely. Caribbean Islands are so closely connected to the US, certain areas there would be a good start.
What’s your best budgeting practice(s)?
I try to set general budget goals for each day of our trips, keeping in mind the travel and key locations we want to experience. Keeping a daily budget in mind helps me remember not to go overboard shopping for example.
What things do you wish you would have known prior to your travel ventures?
Honestly, you probably can’t know everything about all the scenarios that could arise. I know a lot of people that do exhaustive research before their trips. I’ll be honest I’m not that person. For good or bad, for me, I like the adventure of experiencing my trip as it evolves. My husband is my best travel buddy because he gets me. We do general schedules but are not regimented at all. I’ve been on trips with folks who like schedules and targets and I have found them really draining. So in short, I wish I had known the type of traveler I am on some of those earlier ventures. It would have made them so much more enjoyable and less stressful. There are certain people now I would not travel with for that reason. Have similar travel styles and goals!
Anything additional you would love to share with us?
I’m a huge proponent of traveling with your children since I’m now a mommy! The same way it’s positively influenced me, early traveling creates global citizens in our children.
Dr. Bande Virgil is a board-certified pediatrician and author with publications on several national websites and writes regularly on her own blog ‘The Mommy Doc’ where she shares the journey of motherhood and gives practical advice on kids health and parenting. You can catch her trending on
Sapphire Kharyzma is an accomplished travel, beauty and lifestyle writer, photographer, creative designer & digital marketing maven – who harnesses the power of Travel, Beauty & Style – experienced through sisterhood…to empower multicultural women.
When she’s not traveling the world, she enjoys planting the seeds of growth and prosperity for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She’s an accredited Travel Designer, who specializes in curating unique, Caribbean and Luxury ventures. She’s a travel marketing expert, who loves to make her passions her paycheck while teaching women to do the same.