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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

Instagram: @themommydoc1, Facebook: @https://m.facebook.com/TheMommyDoc1/  blog: www.themommydoc.com. Check out her article about traveling abroad with families on The Sophisticated Life.







  • Traveling is such a complex thing, and it’s interesting to see how everyone deals with different situations that arise. It’s sad that colorism exists in a space where different variants of color are so ample, but lessons definitely come from experiences like this, and it’s nice that she came out of it with her head held high.

    December 29, 2017 at 6:50 pm
  • Thanks for all of the travel advice. You would never think that you may be discriminated against in a caribbean island, but I’m sure it happens everywhere.

    December 29, 2017 at 9:38 pm
  • EG Green

    I love her tips about visiting a destination. Too often do we caught up in the hysteria of touristic attractions that we forgot to just let go and try to experience life as a local.

    December 30, 2017 at 8:39 am
  • Crystal Nicole Collier

    Love these tips. I definitely want to travel more and explore areas that locals visit versus the tourist attractions.

    December 30, 2017 at 2:25 pm
  • Reading this makes me want to get out and travel. These are great tips, as a woman I want to explore the world on my own a bit.

    December 31, 2017 at 1:57 am
  • I love the idea of being open to something new. I don’t know when we as brown women can be loved and celebrated everywhere we go.

    January 1, 2018 at 12:24 am
  • Bernetta

    These are great tips and looking forward to using them soon. I want to visit Africa one day too.

    January 1, 2018 at 3:20 pm
  • She definitely provided some beneficial information. I want to travel more places with my children this year, so I will try to put most of the advice she provided into practice.

    January 1, 2018 at 4:33 pm
  • She hit the nail on all of her points about traveling, and I especially loved the idea of traveling alone and being okay with that. If anything, I think you get the most from your experiences traveling solo to different places.

    January 2, 2018 at 2:22 pm
  • Tiffany Heard

    Yes so glad she mentioned traveling with children! I don’t have any now but I certainly plan to travel with them when I become a mother. Yay to solo travel, its great.

    January 3, 2018 at 12:55 pm
  • Kasi Perkins

    This is a great interview! She offered great travel advice. Was sorry to hear about the racism that she experienced!

    January 3, 2018 at 4:07 pm
  • This was great! I have dealt with colorism while traveling, and while it was disheartening, I couldn’t let it disrupt my trip. South Africa is definitely on my list for a trip very soon.

    January 4, 2018 at 11:23 am

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