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Photographer BJ Scott Answers All The Questions You Want To Know About Traveling Solo

Meet Barrington Scott, a marine veteran, culinary-trained chef, and accomplished photographer with over seven years of experience. Barrington's adventures have taken him through an impressive 31 countries, which have allowed him to hone his skills as a solo traveler.

BJ Scott

Born in the Bronx, Barrington has dedicated recent years to refining his culinary skills abroad in Australia and ventured into the depths of Honduras to achieve the status of a master scuba diving trainer. Now, he stands at the threshold of an exciting new chapter as he embarks on a fresh adventure in Thailand, driven by an insatiable thirst for discovery.

The skilled solo traveler shares insight on what countries Black men should visit, advice for solo traveling, how to save money and more.

BJ Scott

Describe a moment when you stepped out of your comfort zone during solo travel and how it impacted your journey.

The year is 2017, I woke up one day and decided to embark on the spontaneous journey of selling my house and belongings to travel the world for a year. It was a liberating decision that unfurled new dimensions of joy for me. The act of shedding possessions brought an invigorating sense of freedom, allowing me to immerse myself fully in the uncharted territories of life. Beyond the materialistic confines, I discovered a profound simplicity that enriched my spirit. This transformative journey not only introduced me to diverse landscapes and people but also ignited a deeper understanding of myself. The memories, lessons and friends I gathered became treasured fragments of a life lived with purpose, inspiring me to embrace experiences and cherish the intangible treasures that define our true essence.

Describe five essential items you always pack for a solo backpacking adventure.

  1. Backpack: It's obvious enough to carry a backpack while "backpacking" but having the right type can have an impact on both your experience and overall physical health. Having a backpack with features that distribute the weight without burdening the body will make carrying a breeze. My personal favorite is the osprey aether 75 ml.

  2. Air tags: Never leave home without them and always keep one with you so your loved ones can know where you're always located.

  3. Converter/adapters: When traveling, bringing a converter and adapter is crucial due to variations in electrical systems and plug designs among countries. Adapters are essential to match the shape and size of plugs, enabling connections to foreign outlets and preventing charging issues. Voltage and frequency disparities also exist globally (110-120V vs. 220-240V), necessitating converters to ensure device safety and functionality. While some devices handle diverse voltages, confirming compatibility before usage is vital. Personally, I use the BESTEK Universal 2-in-1 Travel Adapter and converter $39.00 (you can grab it from Amazon)

  4. Travel insurance: In the spirit of preparing for anything, I'd 100% recommend purchasing travel insurance, which is important because it provides essential coverage and protection during your trips. I'd recommend Allianz.

  5. Shoes: Selecting the appropriate shoes for backpacking is crucial for a comfortable and safe experience. The right shoes provide comfort, support, and protection, reducing the risk of blisters, injuries, and fatigue.

Share your advice on finding and connecting with fellow solo travelers on the road.

Simple. Get out your head, be open and willing to engage. You might receive helpful travel advice, location of hidden gems or gain an additional travel buddy.

  1. Stay in Social Accommodations: Opt for hostels, guesthouses, or Airbnb stays where you're likely to meet other travelers. Common areas provide great opportunities to strike up conversations. I've met some of the most interesting and dopest individuals just lounging area social areas.

  2. Join Online Travel Communities: Utilize platforms like travel forums, Facebook groups, and apps designed for solo travelers to connect with others before you even leave home.

  3. Language Exchange Meetups: Attend local language exchange events or language classes to meet both locals and travelers.

  4. Utilize Social Media: Follow hashtags related to your travel destination and engage with posts to connect with like-minded travelers who might be in the same area.

What are your go-to techniques for capturing stunning photos and memories as a solo traveler?

Nowadays, I set up my trusty tripod, find a strong composition, and begin capturing. Utilizing an app on my phone, I can remotely capture shots and use live view to fine-tune the setup of my photo.

How to save money while traveling.

  • Unlocked phone: Unlocked phones offer flexibility for international travel. You'll be able to use different country's sim cards, which will save you money. Phone carriers offer the option to temporarily unlock your device. For example, you could get a 10gb sim card for roughly $5 dollars.

  • Hostels: Hostels are often more cost-efficient than traditional hotels due to their shared accommodation setup. In hostels, guests typically stay in dormitory-style rooms with multiple beds, which significantly reduces the cost per person compared to private hotel rooms. Over the years I've seen boutique hostels rival hotels! Don't sleep on them.

  • Be flexible: Flexibility while traveling saves money by enabling you to find cheaper flights and accommodations through adjusted travel dates. Exploring more affordable destinations becomes possible, and a flexible itinerary lets you grab last-minute deals and discounts.

BJ Scott

What are your top five countries Black men should visit?

  • Thailand

  • New Zealand

  • Indonesia

  • Vietnam

  • Maldives

Detail your favorite destinations that are particularly well-suited for solo travelers and explain why.

I find that the safety level for solo travelers is consistent across my top five countries to visit, with the exception of replacing Maldives with Japan. This choice is influenced by my extensive time spent in Asia, where I can personally vouch for its suitability for solo travelers, especially those on a budget. Most of Asia being considered safe for solo travelers can be attributed to several factors such as low crime rates in many countries, strong cultural emphasis on hospitality and respect for guests, well-developed tourism infrastructure, and generally friendly and welcoming local populations. However, it's still important for travelers to exercise caution, be aware of local customs and laws, and take common-sense safety measures no matter where they go.

Describe a place you initially felt apprehensive about visiting alone, but ended up having an incredible experience.

Hmm. I would have to say Colombia. The negative reputation among travelers in the past can be attributed to several factors, including a history of drug-related violence and crime, political instability, and the portrayal of the country in media. While Colombia has made significant progress in terms of security and stability in recent years, outdated perceptions may still linger, affecting its image among some travelers. It's important to note that perceptions can change, and many travelers now recognize Colombia as a vibrant and diverse destination with much to offer.

After a month of backpacking through Colombia, I can confidently say that I had an incredibly enjoyable experience. The country's captivating beauty, rich culture, and stunning landscapes made it an unforgettable journey.

BJ Scott

Share your favorite strategies for managing loneliness or homesickness while traveling solo.

I don't really face those kinds of challenges anymore, especially given my military background. I'm accustomed to not being present for important family occasions. When I'm traveling, I'm usually so immersed in my adventures that I often forget I even have family back home. Apologies, fam haha. My focus tends to be fully on my experiences.

Could you please share some of the exciting activities you enjoy during your trips?

I have a wide range of hobbies and bucket list experiences that I'm eager to cross off. I'm open to all sorts of activities, whether it's skydiving, scuba diving, or anything in between. Interestingly, I hold the title of being the youngest African American master scuba diving instructor at 29, although that's quite a mouthful to say! I'm also a certified freediver, so you'll often find me exploring the depths of the ocean. My adventures have taken me to rock climbing in Vietnamese mountains, kitesurfing and surfing in Bali, and even cage shark diving in Hawaii – you name it, I've tackled it!

Make sure to follow BJ Scott on Instagram.


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