Solo female travel tips & 3 myths we need to stop spreading
Editor’s note: I commissioned this article from writer and solo female traveller Hannah Logan of Eat Sleep Breathe Travel because I knew that she felt as strongly as I do about solo female travel. We both agree there’s a lot of hype, fear-mongering and misogyny around this topic. We also both agree that women should be both encouraged to travel AND armed with the best information, tips, and advice. Women do face unique challenges in this world — but I do not agree they should be made to feel afraid nor made to feel like victims. I like Hannah’s empowering approach, and I hope you do , too.
SOLO FEMALE TRAVELLERS face a lot of flak when they decide to go see the world on their own. Announcements of solo travel plans are met with endless warnings and so-called advice that, while maybe well-intended, can incite feelings of fear. Yes, solo travel as a woman does carry some risk, but it’s not as dangerous as it’s made out to be.
Here are the three most common myths we need to stop spreading about solo female travel, and the types of tips and advice we should be focusing on instead.
Myth #1: You will be sexually harassed
One of the main reasons women are not advised to travel to certain destinations, or travel alone, is because of sexual harassment. Ask any woman, anywhere in the world, and I can promise you that she has experienced sexual harassment in her home city. It doesn’t matter if it’s a city in a ‘risky destination’ like Turkey, or a so-called safe one like Canada. Sexual harassment is, sadly, a part of a woman’s everyday life. Rather than warning women away because of it, it would be more proactive to give advice on how best to avoid it or manage it.
Instead of telling women not to go, why not instead offer tips on how to blend in and what to wear? How about offering insight about local customs, social etiquette, and cultural norms? This kind of information can be a huge help in preventing unwanted attention.
Read on Breathedreamgo:
Myth #2: It’s too dangerous to be a female solo traveller
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people that I travel as a solo woman and they have asked me if I have seen the film Taken. The expectation that every woman who travels alone will be kidnapped and sold into the sex trade is, quite honestly, ridiculous. Could it happen? It’s possible, but very unlikely. And, it can also happen at home.
Same goes for sexual assault, getting caught in a shooting, or being the victim of a terror attack. The truth is the world can be a dangerous place. Staying home doesn’t guarantee safety. However, staying up-to-date about current events and ensuring we are aware of what is happening around us can help mitigate potential risks.
If you are going to warn us about dangers, make it specific. Is there a certain street or area that should be avoided? Is it best to not go out at night? Is it safe to take public transportation, or is it better to use a taxi? These types of tips and warnings are considerably more helpful and appreciated than blanket fear-mongering.
Myth #3: You will be lonely
There seems to be a strange belief that solo female travellers will be unable to make friends on the road and, at the same time, be a constant target for unwanted attention. This is far from the truth. Over the past several years, I have found that I am more likely to meet others — both fellow travellers and locals — as a solo female traveller. I am also more likely to be protected, cared for, invited to outings and activities, and treated with kindness.
Of course, meeting people while travelling is easier for some than others. Nowadays, due to social media, it’s easier to make friends abroad than ever. There are many female travel groups on Facebook (such as the mega popular Girls Love Travel with more than 400,000 members), a slew of travel apps that help you meet others on the road (some can be configured for meeting only other women), and lots of other ways to meet people while travelling solo. You can also meet people on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. who are also travelling in your destination — just be careful if you meet in person to meet in a public place, and don’t share any personal details such as your hotel name.
You can also meet people by providing feedback on places you’ve visited via sites like TripAdvisor and Google maps. Along with the recommendations, you can pass on safety tips as well. Things like what to expect when using Tinder abroad and advice on what to look for in a good couch surfing host are all valuable advice.
Rather than dissuading women from exploring their world — in a misguided effort to protect them — why not help educate them instead. Tips, advice, and suggestions on local customs, safety practices, honing your intuition and instincts, and even self-defense moves are much more useful and constructive than simply making them afraid.
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