Women are in the news yet again. These days it has to do with the current US president’s views on women (and other marginalized populations), but honestly, it’s always something. A few years ago, it was the media giving women traveling along a hard time. This post is from my previous travel blog and seems like a good time to keep in mind that for women every day life boils down to one thing–personal safety. It doesn’t matter if it is the president of the US talking about ‘grabbing the by the pussy’ or female genital mutilation [a subject I wrote a paper on in college], daily life for women is all about personal safety.
Women traveling alone are in the news again [A woman hiking the Camino de Santiago has had her body found months after she went missing along with the woman who was killed while CouchSurfing in India] so it seems like an appropriate time to revive this post from my previous travel blog.
It seems like every few months or so something happens and all the news outlets rush to make up stories about why women shouldn’t travel alone. I am referring to the latest story to attempt to scare people [especially females] away from traveling alone. Almost every news outlet has an opinion on the subject. [comments from the NBC site–““A woman has no business traveling alone,” FOX news’ take, another FOX gem, CBS has an opinion too, let’s not leave out ABC] The current theory is that the victim was ‘hanging out with criminal element‘ and therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that she got her skull bashed in. Several travel bloggers [who travel much more frequently than I do] have already weighed in on this issue,[see the posts here, here, here, here, here, here, and here,] but I am more inclined to go with this viewpoint. It is the violence directed at women, not necessarily the traveling abroad, that is the real issue. For whatever reason, women are a target when it comes to violent crime–not just abroad, but at home too. As for me, I would not be the same person I am if I hadn’t traveled solo at various points in my life. Truth be told, I’ve experienced violence directed at me at home, and I’ve experience less subtle attempts at violence while traveling. At home sometimes we let it slide because it’s someone we know; while traveling, we usually have out guard up–at least to some degree.
Traveling solo has helped me to:
- not feel guilty that I majored in foreign languages in college and didn’t add a teaching degree with it
- end a relationship that was seriously bad news
- meet new people that I wouldn’t have ever had the opportunity to meet before [people that are definitely different that the crowd I normally meet in South Carolina]
- develop a quiet independence
- come out of my shell [It’s hard NOT to talk to someone, anyone when you are traveling alone]
- make decisions about where I want my career to go
- be confident in making decisions
- explore my photography passion
- go where I want and do what I want
- be a better citizen of the world
- build self-esteem
- develop an inner voice
Traveling alone isn’t rocket science. Use common sense. Let someone know where you will be. Trust your instincts. Don’t advertise that you are alone. Don’t be a idiot. Don’t flash around jewelry, electronics, or cash. Know where you are going, or at least act like you do. Research your destination ahead of time. Just be smart about being out there by yourself. These tips apply whether I am traveling in Charleston, SC, Cape Town, South Africa, or even my hometown.