As someone who’s been travelling solo since I was 17, you could probably guess what side of the field I’m on in this argument. Women can travel solo, women do travel solo, and it is just as safe as any other form of travel. After reading this ridiculous scare mongering article today I just felt like I had to say something. I should also add my opinions are based on several years of travelling solo personally -not just what I think or imagine travel is like. I feel a lot of the negative opinions on solo female travel tend to come from people who do this… They imagine what it’s like to travel solo and have opinions that are based on the worst things they can imagine up in their heads. Their opinions are not based on first hand experience like mine are or the many other lady travellers who have also stuck up for travelling solo as a female.
Just like life is not 100% safe, neither is travel. This is the same no matter what style of travel you decide to take. It is the same no matter what life you lead too. You are never 100% safe anywhere, anytime. Even in your own home…
Most horror stories I read in the media fail to tell the full story. Once you delve a little deeper you often find the that person has not followed some basic safety rules. They’ve been walking alone at night, been in a bad area, got too drunk, not took notice of local customs in more conservative parts of the world etc. They may also just have been very unlucky. Tragic things that happen at home can also happen abroad. Thankfully they are usually quite rare, but they do happen sometimes.
Even in my own travels I have had one particularly scary moment, but this was during one time when I didn’t follow my usual safety rules. I’d drank far too much alcohol and tried to make my way home alone at night and intoxicated. This was just plain stupid and something I don’t usually do. Needless to say I got my handbag nicked. That was around 3 years ago now and I’ve since travelled a lot more and not had any major problems. I was lucky that my stupidity only resulted in my handbag being stolen. The reality is it could have been much worse, and occasionally when you make these mistakes much worse does happen. They key is not to make the silly mistakes. The problems mostly arise when you give them the opportunity to do so, and just because you’re abroad doesn’t mean you can stop following all those usual safety rules you would apply on say a regular night out back home.
Another factor that I don’t think gets reported enough on is how many guys versus girls get into trouble abroad. Certainly in my own experiences, I’ve come across many more guys who’ve been robbed or injured abroad than I have girls. Most of the injuries have been the result of guys who have got into drunken fights, done something stupid that resulted in serious injury, or been pick pocketed/robbed. Even then, this is a minority of people. Most guys AND girls I know who travel have not had anything major happen to them at all on the road. Most people are sensible.
I have heard comments lately that the scare mongering around solo female travel is partly due to the fact there are people who call themselves “solo female travellers”. Some people think that by labelling us or it as different that we are making it seem more scary somehow. I think this is bullshit. The reason we identify ourselves as solo female travellers is because a) we’re trying to show that it is entirely possible (and to break down those stupid pre-concieved ideas that it’s not), and b) because we’re proud of who we are and passionate about what we do. When you’re passionate about something you generally feel the want and need to share that passion. It’s just human nature.
There are also some people in this world (even in this day and age) who still have very outdated ideas of how women should be, act, and live their lives. In fact, I know some of these people personally. By making solo travel a part of my life it’s like sticking a middle finger up to those people and those outdated perceptions, but it’s also just how I enjoy myself. I enjoy travelling solo and I remember how scared I was before I started travelling solo because of what other people said to me. Friends of mine who were guys never got the same problem (or certainly not to the same extent), but other girls I know have voiced similar situations such as I experienced before going away on that first trip.
Equally, when people are giving out “female travel safety tips” the truth is that most of these could also be used by guys as well as girls. I think girls just generally worry about safety more, and therefore more content is aimed at them in this regard to help them more with peace of mind than anything else. The reality is also that girls do generally have a smaller body size and weight than a guy. We are generally not as strong. However, if we follow the basic common sense rules that we’ve always known and follow back home then there is no reason why we can’t be as safe as anyone while travelling, be it guy, girl, or monster! You also don’t need to wear a wedding ring or carry a weapon to be as safe as you can be when you’re travelling. I know a lot of people advertise this as something they do, but I have personally never felt the need as a female travelling alone. You just need to be sensible.
So in answer to the question should females travel solo? My answer yes they should. In fact, I highly recommend it!