Another Perspective on Solo Female Travel

Ok, that’s it.

I realize that I am a novice blogger, and so many excellent posts have been written on the subject, but I feel the need to chime in.

If this is your introduction the #WeGoSolo movement, let me briefly explain.  There has been somewhat of a backlash against women traveling alone, and—I’m sad to say, women traveling in general—spurred in part by the tragic death of Sarai Sierra, an American in Istanbul traveling solo.  (See the links posted at the end of the page for more information.)

As some of you know, I am about to announce my plans for a longer-term travel period of my life.  When discussing the itinerary, I am shocked and saddened to hear some people say, “I don’t understand why you want so badly to go to all these third world countries.”  Ummm pardon me, while I clean out my ears…what did you say?  “Aren’t you scared?”

When I realize they fully mean what they said, I eagerly want to reply “I don’t understand why you want to go plop on a beach in Hawaii or *gasp!* Mexico for the 90th time!” (although I’ve got nothing against either place…I love beaches, too!) but instead I ask the dissenters if they have traveled outside of the United States, to a so-called “third world country.”  The people that don’t understand haven’t gone, it’s that simple.

 

You’re never alone when you travel solo, even if your only company is a monkey!

I’m all about one’s right to their own opinion.  To each their own.  If you never want to leave the country, that’s fine.  It’s not for everyone.  (I might ask you why you’re reading my blog, though…) I also respect worry about safety and wellbeing in foreign countries.  What I don’t respect is blacklisting an entire country when you haven’t been to it.  If you go, and experience misery (I’m thinking of the one woman in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel film, seen it?) then you are fully entitled to your opinion.

The same goes for solo travel.  99% of the time, the ones who fear it or condemn it are the ones who haven’t done it.  I’ve been there! (the fear part…) The reason I am writing this post, is that I likely never would have traveled solo had it not been for the urging of other travelers.  If you do have a voice inside of you whispering “travel,” let this be your nudge!  Be smart, do your research, put yourself in the best position possible as far as safety goes…but do not fear.  Don’t be so scared that you never go.  For there are undoubtedly risks, (less than you’d think,) but those who have gone will tell you…the rewards are far greater.

 

…Travel solo! Problem solved.
There are reasons why solo travels scares us, especially as women. Those reasons are not to be disregarded. They are to be considered, not ignored, but not given the power and weight to make the decision for you. As many other bloggers have noted, women are at equal if not greater risk in their home countries to be victims of violence and crime. The problem isn’t female solo travel…it’s violence against all women in all countries.
Take India for example (because it’s a common travel objection, and because it angers me.) “I don’t ever want to go to India. It smells, it’s dirty, the people are weird. I don’t even like curry. I’ll probably just get sick. There’s poverty everywhere, children begging, corruption…why would I want to see all of that misery?”

…Sound familiar?  (see last tab above.) I bet even if you’ve never talked about going to India, you can imagine that this is what many people might say, if they objected to going.

The funny thing to me is…India is all of those things!  (Except the weird people part, that is just ignorance and cultural relativism speaking.)  They are common generalizations for a reason.

I’d ask you to talk to someone who has been to India, or better yet, who IS Indian…perhaps they would tell a different story.  A story of beauty, history, culture, spirituality, kindness, foods that change your life and your tastebuds, a country that makes you question everything you know (in a good way!)

Women shouldn’t fear going to India…they should fear NOT going to India.

Perhaps you have gone and you disagree with me.  India is a very polarizing place.  India or elsewhere, I would again direct you to my previous point, that you are fully entitled to an opinion IF you’ve actually gone.  Even still, I would wonder if you visited again if you’d have the same experience…

Meet my new friends: the newlyweds and the rhino. I unintentionally crashed their honeymoon safari in Nepal. One of my favorite solo travel memories.

India is a hot topic now when it comes to women.  Even outside of women traveling solo. Women’s rights are under examination and are generating discussion, both in India and outside of it (thank goodness.) The only thing that is scary to me is that these discussions will deter travelers, especially women and especially those who “go solo,” from going to places like India at all. 

I was scared to go to India. I’ve never been so nervous before a flight in my life.  Having gone, here’s what I say to you: don’t listen exclusively to the media, don’t let fear of the unknown or the unfamiliar control you.  Take it all in, take the necessary steps of smart travel to ensure your safety, talk to other travelers (!!) who have gone and done it.  Then do what’s right for you.  Be aware that if you let the fear stop you from going, you may be missing out on the experience of your life.

I did my research, I felt the fear, I went anyways…I survived, I thrived.  Now, it’s your turn. 

 

We shouldn’t fear traveling solo, we should fear NOT traveling at all.

What’s your “scary” dream destination?  You know, the place you’re curious about visiting but have reservations about making reservations?  What is holding you back?

See more posts on this topic:

See a roundup of all posts on this topic at BreatheDreamGo, a founder of #WeGoSolo

Other excellent perspectives: Does Sarai Sierra’s Story Scare You From Solo Travel?

Stephanie of Twenty-Something Travel: Solo Female Travel is NOT the Problem

Jodi of Legal Nomads: The issue is not about solo female travel, it is of general violence against women, worldwide

Amanda of A Dangerous Business: Dear Dad: Please Don’t Worry (A Treatise on Solo Female Travel)

Christine of Almost Fearless: The woman travelling solo question

Katie of Katie Going Global: No, It’s Not Stupid to Travel Solo

Several more links at Journeywoman: Be Brave – Go Solo

India specific:  Charu of Butterfly Diary: Is Travelling to India Really Safe?

Mariellen of Breathedreamgo : Top safety tips for women travelling in India (and elsewhere), Commentary on travelling safely in India


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7 Comments

  1. I completely agree with Ann and love traveling solo. I was alone when I when to London for 6 weeks and Australia for 2 months in college. While they may not be third world countries and are both English speaking, I was still nervous when I landed in a foreign country alone (especially when I read about all the poisonous spiders in Aussie). However, I would do it again in a heartbeat because it was so liberating to travel on your own itinerary, wander aimlessly by yourself without having to think about others want to do or accommodate anyone else.

    • Thank you for sharing another perspective! You’re so right, it doesn’t have to be a third-world country to be exhilarating, liberating, and life-changing… I love that you brought up that some of the benefits include doing things on your own terms, without having to consider others. I think this is especially important for women 🙂
      Happy travels and thank you for reading!

    • Everyone would benefit from reaidng this post

  2. Love this … but you know how I feel about women traveling alone in India and the backlash it gets …

    (Where are the links to the story about the girl you mentioned?)

    ALSO? the cool presentation part of your blog is SUPER fancy!

    • Yes. I’ve talked about it a lot recently, but it’s only because it’s SO important to me!

      Thanks! I can’t take credit, it’s part of my theme. I try to be fancy every once in a while 😉

      The links are also fancy. You have to click the arrow on “See Most Posts on this Topic,” which is unfortunately in a very light font.

  3. I wish I would’ve read this post sooner.

    I was planning a trip to India after developing contact with an Indian woman on travel to the DC area. I almost bought a flight, but due to *her* concern & that of her Indian friends, I nixed the idea. There were a few recent incidents involving women over there sadly.

    Being scared is definitely not my norm. I’ve traveled solo to Bali, Brussels, Amsterdam, & in the US as well as extensive travel with others.

    I was very torn on that decision. I do hope to go one day though.

    • I understand the hesitation. Even as I prepare to go back, having been once before, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t scared. For me, the trade off of going is better than the risk. I have to wonder if there is really an increase in the crimes against women there or just an increased awareness/reporting. There has absolutely been a change in attitudes, though, from what I can tell. Hopefully it’s a catalyst for change.
      I will let you know how this time around goes…for now, I can’t recommend India enough should you get another opportunity 🙂

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