If there’s anything that makes my blood boil (apart from neoliberalism, but that’s another blog post for another day), it’s being warned of the dangers of travelling alone as a woman.
I’m sorry, but I’m not going to let life pass me by, I’m going to go travelling, whether I have friends or not. In fact, a man I went on a date with tried to warn me of the dangers of travelling alone as a woman, and I just nodded and smiled whilst imagining his bloody corpse on the pub floor.
Sure, it gets lonely, and the rather untrue and unfair stereotype of the British woman has followed me around, but travelling alone is liberating.
Firstly, you can do whatever you want. I adore my friends, but although we have many common interests, I have dragged too many friends around modern art/communist-themed/animal centred museums only to be met with “I paid how many euros for this?” or “I’m so glad the Tate is free because there is no way I would spend any money looking at that” or “stuffed animals are cruel and not funny” (wrong: bad taxidermy is hilarious). Travelling alone means that I can stare at socialist art and nod at paintings that yeah, anyone could do, but they didn’t, and that’s why the artist is rich, and not you. I think the only bad thing about not being able to share bad taxidermy with people is that I have to send them photos of it sneakily so that the museum staff don’t get suspicious.
Secondly, you can go whenever and wherever you want. How many times have you tried to organise a party and everyone has different availability? Yep, a holiday is 10000000x worse. Then you have to decide where and everyone has different budgets. So, some people throw their credit cards down and say “LET’S GO TO CUBA” which, to be honest, would be amazing, but sometimes you can barely afford rent and bills, so leaving your house for bread seems a bit of a luxury. If you are travelling alone however, you can whip open skyscanner, search ‘everywhere’ by ‘cheapest month’ and there you have it, flights to wherever you want, whenever you want.
Thirdly? You are a woman over the age of 18, and chances are, you know what the dangers are and how to avoid them. You know that walking home by yourself at night is an annoying thing to have to forego in most circumstances, and that taxis aren’t always safe, to always stay in populated areas and that when a guy on the metro asks you to his for coffee, that that isn’t exactly a welcoming invitation. It’s irritating when people (men, let’s be honest here, rarely is it a woman informs me of the dangers of travelling alone) try to put limits on what you should do for fear of staying safe.
If I’m taking risks because I want to live a little, that’s on me. There are things that we should always do as women travelling though:
- Research. How safe is it? What have other people who have travelled to this place said?
- Learn your bus routes/metro routes. You don’t want to be looking lost in a dodgy part of town.
- Bring a phrasebook! Come on guys, not everyone speaks English and they have some VERY useful phrases in there. For example, “I have my period, can I please have some tampons and some painkillers? Also, a brick so I can knock myself out whilst the painkillers start to work?”
- Keep people up to date as to where you’re going. Broadcast it on Facebook or text your mum/dad/grandparents/best friend, make sure people know where you are roughly.
- Keep your common sense. (I feel I don’t need to tell you this though).
In fact, these pointers should really be for anyone. Different people have different ‘safety’ points, and only you know what your limits are and what is safe for you. Don’t let anyone scare you into not travelling or trying to tell you how to experience the place that you want to visit. If another woman told me not to visit X because of her experience, I would listen to her, but some guy I’m on a date with who thinks I’m too delicate to visit a major city in Europe that I have researched extensively? Sorry, that doesn’t fly with me.