Have you ever noticed that the people who tell you about how dangerous it is for a woman to travel alone are typically not solo women travelers?
What a strange thing!
I hear all the time about how risky it is to do what I do, but it usually comes from older men (particularly 40-50 year-olds) and women who clearly have not been adventuring recently, and especially not on their own. I can’t help but wonder: how exactly do these folks know what it is like to be a young woman traveling alone in today’s world?
My frustration about these remarks is twofold. For one, I don’t really know how to respond to them. Clearly I am not going to change my mind or plans just because they mentioned a vague danger lurking near my independence. But, I can deal with that, and in fact, the more I travel, the better equipped I am to combat these strangers’ concerns with hard facts.
I guess the thing that truly ‘grinds my gears’ as a fellow hiker would say, is that all these people dissuading women from traveling alone are simply doing so because it is what they are used to seeing. Do I believe the lady at the deli / older man telling me not to trust anybody is actually concerned for my personal safety? No.
I am not saying these people have bad intentions. But their autopilot response is not exactly reassuring, compassionate, or convincing. I see these comments as society replaying back exactly what we have been told in the past. In the scenarios we are told to imagine, women are victims, helpless against violence, theft, bears, heatstroke, who even knows.
Certainly, there are places and situations where women may face challenges that are different from those of a male traveler. Just like a young person may be treated differently, like people of other races or ethnicities or religions, what have you, may be treated differently.
So what I am advocating for is not a total discounting of caution. Every traveler, especially solo adventurers, should do their research and prepare accordingly for the risks they may face.
But for goodness sake, can we please stop pretending that women can’t go out into the world and take care of themselves? It is really time to accept that anyone can be independent, strong, and adventurous. We need more women to get out there and prove it.
So if you’re a woman wavering at all about whether or not to wander, let me encourage you to make the choice yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot handle.