Girls on Tour
Hey chicks, shit-scared of traveling alone?
As a girl who clearly has no friends and prefers to spend time on the road than counting my squats and re-blogging inspiring quotes on the gram, I’ve heard the sentence, “Aren’t you scared to go there alone?” more than I care to remember.
To be honest, I’ve grown pretty tired of the restrictive notion that women either can’t or simply shouldn’t travel to certain corners of the globe on their lonesome. Naturally, it is necessary for a woman alone to keep her wits about her, but it is also necessary for a man or a group of women to do the same. Solo travel for women has been portrayed as something to be approached with caution, to be wary of, often even to be avoided.
It’s complete bullshit.
Below is a true representation of how to empower yourself to travel alone.
1. Don’t allow yourself to be fear mongered. Every man and his dog is going to have an opinion on you heading out into the world alone – don’t let anyone scare you out of doing what you want to do. The number of times I have been flying into a country and have been forced to endure the middle-aged man next to me croaking on about how horrified he is that I am travelling alone before reeling off horror stories about our destination is countless. The internet, media and people who haven’t travelled will love to indulge you with the worst aspects of a place. Allow yourself the freedom to make up your own judgments based upon where your personal comfort zone lies. I recently went to Belize City, known for having one of the highest murder rates in the world, and found nothing but kind people looking to change the perception of their hometown. Throughout Africa, Central and South America, Asia and Europe, it has been much the same. Deciding to travel comes with inherent risk, so too does driving to work every day. The difference is that travel is a shitload more fun than spending your morning on a freeway to spend your days in an office.
2. Remember as a whole that people are actually pretty cool. If nothing else, travel should grant you this perspective. Quite often, I have found travelling alone as a woman to be an advantage; people seem drawn to help you in situations in which you are looking as though you may be lost or anxious. Maintain an open mind about people approaching you, as quite frequently locals just want to chat to you about your culture and theirs, so try not to turn into a huge foreign bitch every time a man approaches you overseas and you might just learn something you can’t find in your Lonely Planet.
3. Respect cultural norms. This is important for all travelers, but in certain areas of the world such as the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia, it is particularly important for women. If women cover up where you are headed, you damn well better not be packing your cut-off tees and denim shorts from Urban Outfitters.
4. While on the topic of respect, respect the dangers of where you are headed. It’s pretty simple: if an area of the city is known as violent, avoid it. Most of the places I’ve been that are considered “unsafe” only really become so after dark. If you can’t work this out on your own, you should probably just book a Contiki Tour.
5. Speaking of tours, if there is somewhere you are aching to travel but feel slightly uncomfortable doing so alone, by all means jump on a tour. While they’re not for everyone, if you’re pretty stressed out about it all it can be a good way to get used to flying solo (pun fully intended). Try to avoid becoming too reliant on tours though, as they can tend to impact with your interaction with local people and cultures, leaving you with a watered down version of the country.
Most of the above is purely common sense and completely as necessary at home as it is abroad. Don’t let being a woman define what you can and can’t do overseas and certainly don’t believe the hype of the big bad world – you’ll only be disappointed when you soon find it’s not a cold, dark place.