The strangest places you'll never visit




Jack's Flight Club ✈️ Travel News & Inspiration

Hey there, JFC-ers,

Some interesting arguments this week from the Guardian Australia, which has suggested that we all need to start lowering our expectations when it comes to travel.

Why? Well, research has shown that travellers tend to be at their most happiest in the lead-up to their holidays (in other words, when we’re imagining to all of the excitement) and after their holidays (when we put on our rose-tinted glasses, we think back on the wonderful memories, and we forget about all of the stressful stuff). But during the actual travel experience, we’re all too haggard and harried to actually have a good time.

According to Trafalgar, 89% of travellers agree that the travel experience is stressful - which is funny when you consider that we all instinctively believe that the point of our holidays is to ‘take a break’ from it all. (And according to the same survey, a good 40% of us beat ourselves up at the end of a trip because we didn’t see every single tourist sight.)

Meanwhile, Conde Nast Traveller has made the point that travel is probably an even more anxious experience than ever in the post-COVID era. You might be worrying about getting too close to other people, avoiding crowds, trying to figure out if local etiquette dictates that you should be wearing a mask…

Do you have any foolproof tips for staying stress-free on a holiday, readers? Drop us a line at [email protected] and let us know.

Doncaster Sheffield prepares to close

Sad news as Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s final outbound flight has left the airport, after DSA was closed down on the basis of being unprofitable by its owners at the Peel Group.

The decision has been a controversial one, with Peel Group reportedly turning down offers of public support to help keep the airport running for another year - leading to accusations that the company wasn't seriously interested in alternative solutions.

According to local politicians, the company has also turned down meetings with potential investors. (Then-PM Liz Truss stated in September that she intended to intervene in the matter, but I guess we all know how that one turned out.)

Our thoughts are with everyone affected, from passengers to the 800 staff whose jobs are likely to be lost; Doncaster Council, meanwhile, is pursuing legal action against Peel Group to prevent them from stripping valuable assets from the airport, with the hope of then finding a buyer.

Many thanks and happy flying,



Your Next Trip

We’ll do our best to answer this one for you, reader!

We'd also start by saying that you’re already doing the right thing. When it comes to prejudice, racism, or concerns about travelling safely abroad, it’s always best to carry out your own research, frustrating and time-consuming though it is.

After all, this is your adventure, not anybody else’s, and you want to be sure that you’re setting off on your travels feeling confident and reassured.

And as Stephanie Yeboah points out in her ‘travelling solo while black’ piece for Lonely Planet, there’s sadly no such thing as a country that’s entirely free of racism.

The risk of having a bad experience can also vary wildly within a country - for instance, Stephanie herself recommends Thailand specifically as a top pick for black women who are solo travelling thanks to its gorgeous spa hotels, heritage sites and beaches (which is a great recommendation!).

But Thailand is also a country with a complex history of colorism, and some travellers of colour - and particularly black and Indian men - have reported experiences of being blocked from entering Thai nightclubs, receiving poorer treatment in bars, or being turned away from budget hotels when attempting to make a spontaneous booking. So we wouldn't necessarily leap to recommend it for a male traveller who's planning on doing a lot of backpacking or taking in the nightlife.

In short, spending some time reading personal blogs on sites like Travel Noire, which has a fantastic selection of traveller stories, and Black And Abroad while checking those recommendations against first-hand experiences on Reddit (r/blacktravel is a great starting point) or groups like The Black Travelers Network is the best way to make sure you’ve got all of the facts.

It can also be pretty reassuring to read the experiences of experienced solo travellers like Diane Petterson and Jessica Nabongo - officially the first black woman to have visited every country in the world - whose main takeaway from their experience is that most people across the globe are essentially welcoming and kind.

With all of that said, here are just a few of the countries that we’ve seen come up most often in black solo travellers’ recommendations. (A few more which we wanted to include but didn't have space for: Jamaica, Panama, Portugal, Tanzania!)

Ghana. We’ve written more broadly before about visiting glorious Ghana right here (and we saw a lot of reader responses agreeing that it was a fantastic destination) and we thoroughly think it deserves the top spot!

From Vanessa Kanbi, who moved to Ghana for a year from Edinburgh, here are some specific tips for solo travellers, including hostel and tour recommendations.

Ghana also has a thriving heritage, culture and sankofa (‘return to your roots’) tour scene for travellers from the West African diaspora - Ashanti Tours is one operator with strongly positive reviews that specialises in them. The Culture Trip also has a solo travel guide to Ghana with some helpful hostel recommendations if you’re travelling on a budget!

Every two years in July, the fishing port of Cape Coast also hosts Panafest - a pan-African arts and culture festival where Africans and travellers of African descent are invited to come and celebrate together. (And, of course, in December, there’s Afrochella…)

Japan. A few caveats apply here; we have read experiences of black travellers to Japan and black ex-pats, particularly in rural and less touristy areas, who’ve encountered unwanted curiosity or attention in the form of strangers on the street trying to touch their hair, or locals making catcalling comparisons to famous black celebrities (who do not, of course, at all resemble the traveller).

However, most black travellers (some examples from bloggers here and here, and an interesting Reddit discussion here) speak incredibly warmly about the lack of racial hostility in Japan, the kindness and friendliness of locals, and perhaps most importantly for a solo traveller, the firm sense of safety all around them.

The Black Experience Japan is a YouTube channel that shares interviews and news from black people who are resident in Japan - if you have the time, it’s a fascinating watch!

Cuba. We’ve been waiting to mention Cuba on The Detour for a while - so thank you for giving us the perfect opportunity, reader!

One of Fidel Castro’s key ambitions after the 1959 Cuban Revolution was an end to racial inequality and discrimination, implementing a series of policies to radically empower the lives of the Afro-Cubans who’d suffered as second-class citizens under the previous government - and while it didn’t lead to the racism-free utopia that Castro hoped for, it did at least ensure by the mid-1980s that Afro-Cubans were equally represented in the professional sector and the education system. (From Travel Noire, here’s 16 of Havana’s Afro-Cuban-owned businesses.)

Black travellers from abroad have also been a commonplace sight in Cuba since the Revolution itself - one of Castro’s other smart ideas was to advertise Cuba as a tourist destination for the African-American middle class who were still being restricted from domestic holidays due to Jim Crow laws in the USA.

Combine all of this with the Afrocubanismo movement of the 1920s which enshrined Afro-Cuban art, music, dance and culture at the heart of the Cuban identity, and you’ve got a beautiful, fascinating country which is certain to be welcoming and warm to black solo travellers. (Make sure you head to Havana’s Callejon de Hamel - the rumba shows begin every Sunday from noon.)

Travel writer Amara Amaryah covers her experience of solo travel in Cuba here, and she offers a really lovely quote about why she feels it’s so special:

“It felt like - feels like - home for me so I would 100% recommend Cuba as a solo travel destination for black wanderers. I really liked Cuba for the invisibility. the lack of stares, the warmest embraces and the safety this allowed me. I was mistaken for a Cuban in Cuba more than I was mistaken for a Jamaican in Jamaica.”

Hope that's some help, reader - but whatever you choose, we hope you have an absolutely fantastic adventure and safe travels!

Got an idea or a request for an article? Please share it with us!

Ask us for a travel tip! 🌴

The Strangest Places You'll Never Visit

Katy from our Flight Finders team has been hard at work, compiling a fresh new list of the strangest, spookiest, and most spectacular destinations that you'll never get to visit (or which you'll have to really, really work hard to get to).

You can read the entire list over on the JFC website, but here's a cheeky few to get your inspiration cogs turning...

Svalbard Global Seed Vault - a doomsday prepper’s dream

Way up north on the island of Spitsbergen, in deepest, darkest Norway (or lightest, depending on what time of year you go), sits the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Designed to protect vital food sources against wars and natural disasters, it’s kind of like a Noah’s Ark for plants.

This “Doomsday Vault” is the ultimate apocalypse store cupboard, but on a global scale, where experts deposit and take care of seeds from around the world to avoid crop extinction. It’s primarily used by countries and organizations to store the most vital resources in case of disaster, with 1.1 million seed varieties currently in storage and space for up to 2.5 billion individual seeds.

That’s not all, the vault itself is buried 120 m into a permafrost-covered mountain, like a Bond villain’s lair. Well above sea level, it’s practically untouchable by whatever comes its way. Yet at the same time, Svalbard is accessible by commercial flight, which offers practical access when it's needed.

Only those who work there or make deposits can access it, giving it a secretive reputation. But it really is just like a conventional bank, insomuch as only those who make a deposit can withdraw their own seeds.

For example, the war in Syria caused serious devastation, including the destruction of a seed collection belonging to the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). As a result, ICARDA became the first body to withdraw from their stock at the Vault, and remain the only ones who have done so to date.

Even organised group tours can’t get a glimpse inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, although you can pick up a tour that’ll take you right past the door.

Mount Kailash, Himalayas - the Stairway to Heaven

A Himalayan mountain that in relative terms isn’t that tall, nor that hard to climb… and yet nobody’s ever reached the top. Some might call that suspicious.

Mount Kailash is as significant to eastern religions as Jerusalem is to western religions, earning itself the title of “Stairway to Heaven”.

Hindus believe it to be the home of Shiva, while Buddhists believe it is the home of Demchok, a god of tantric meditation. In the Jain religion, Mt. Kailash is the place where their founder, Rishabh, first became spiritually awakened, and in the Bon religion, it is the spot where their leader Shenrab first descended from heaven.

You’d think that would mean thousands of intrepid mountaineering pilgrims would attempt the ascent each year, but it’s commonly believed that to do so would be an insult to the gods. In fact, in 2001, the Chinese government received such a backlash for issuing permits to a team of hopeful Spanish climbers that they then banned all attempts to scale it.

But surprisingly, there are no records of a successful climb ever taking place, even before the mountain became off-limits. Some stories point to superstition as the reason for this, with one explorer being told, “only a man entirely free of sin can climb Kailash.” He felt that message so deeply that he chose to turn back.

The stories associated with the mountain only add to its mystery and power, as it’s said that circling Mt. Kailash once will erase a lifetime’s worth of sins. On the other hand, circling it 108 times will get you into nirvana. Could be worth a try...


Our Pick Of The Clicks

All the important (or silly, or strange) travel news from across the web this week.

After a new outbreak of COVID-19 cases, Disney Shanghai has dramatically locked its guests inside - asking them to show a negative coronavirus test (and in some cases a series of tests taken over several days) before they’ll be allowed to leave.

It's a weird time for amusement parks all round, in fact. Yesterday Sydney Zoo had its own lockdown - with overnight guests being rushed to safety after a family of lions escaped from their cages.

Conveniently, CNN is continuing their series on how to avoid deadly animal attacks when you travel, and while they haven't got around to escaped lions yet, this time they’re tackling bears.

It’s a great read, as ever, and we’ll try and remember the advice using this simple rhyme: ‘If the bear is black, roar on back. If the bear looks grizzly, make yourself tiddly.’

…we’ll work on that one.

Staying in the UK over November? Here's what you need to know about strike action and how it might affect your domestic travel.

And finally, one Alaskan politician has gone viral for her Halloween costume showing off the town of Whittier - where almost all of the residents live in a single 14-storey building.