I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been told, read, or heard about how it is dangerous traveling solo as a woman. For someone who travels on her own, it’s frustrating to keep receiving texts from friends saying how much they fear for me traveling alone. They might seem concerned, but these kinds of remarks are unsettling and only make me anxious. The problem here doesn’t seem to be traveling solo, but traveling solo as a woman.
Sadly, we live in a world where misogyny is rampant. For a woman, following your passion in a world where you are constantly being told how to look, who to be, and what to do takes great courage.
Instilling fear in women does NOT help the solo woman traveler. I am not sure if it’s a cultural thing, but here in America, we like to think everywhere else is unsafe. It’s quite ironic since we live in a country where rape culture is so prevalent. I personally know people who have been sexually assaulted on college campuses—places that should feel 100 percent safe.
For that reason, I think anything can happen anywhere. However, to think that the world is out to get you is simply not true. Most people are not out to kill or hurt other people. I know sometimes when friends and family say the world is a dangerous place, they are just showing concern. I feel like their words can also come from a place of jealousy and they could want you to conform to their lifestyle.
I do believe that people can genuinely be concerned, but their concerns are rooted in judgments that solo female travelers “deserve” whatever happens to them. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, of course—not that anything “happens” to most female travelers anyway.
Solo female traveling is perceived as just “another disaster ready to happen.” Don’t get me wrong. I am not naive; I do understand violence against women is sadly a thing, both here and abroad. However, the more we say solo female traveling is dangerous, the less sympathy a solo female traveler gets when something does happen to her on the road.
By normalizing how dangerous it is for solo female travelers, we are normalizing crimes upon women without even realizing it. We are contributing to rape culture. We need to stop saying how dangerous traveling alone is so it’s not expected of us to be victims of crime everywhere we travel.
If we set our expectation for safety during travel as very high, we can render the correct empathy when there are bad events which violate our expectations—exactly the way we should be behaving all of the time.
The problem is not traveling solo as a female. The problem is that we have failed to promote gender equality and respectful relationships.
We have failed to make the world a safer place.
Most importantly, we have failed to do our part and love one another.
Next time you come across a solo female traveler, don’t remind her how dangerous the world is. Be a part of a world that she can expect to be safe and treat her well. Simply wish her happy travels!