Is Solo Travel Safe for Women?

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VIDEO: How safe is it to travel alone as a woman?

Note: This is a continuation a previous post- Is solo travel safe for women? 

Recently, I had a question posed to me on one  of my YouTube videos. The female viewer asked:

Is solo travel safe for women? 

..You’re asking me?

When my friends and audiences ask me this question, I won’t lie, there is a smart ass in me that wants to say–

I am a woman. You are looking at me still alive and breathing. Do I look like the type of person, who would knowingly furl myself into danger on purpose? …Or even jump in front of a moving bus? Do I look like I’m begging to be raped or am someone who would gamble with my life and safety?

As a female solo traveler of over 8 years, don’t get me wrong, I have moments when I long to be that party-happy, living-for-the-moment, reckless American you see in movies. But being from a small island in the Pacific Ocean of Asian heritage with a mom who’s constantly worried about my safety, …my virginity, … the time of night I’m returning home, …if driving conditions are bad and if I have enough gas … recklessness was not a character trait in my upbringing.

Like most women, I measure and weigh my options. I take calculated risks when necessary. But often, the risk is more in my mind than it is in reality.

I am Jane … not Tarzan

Many outsiders look at solo travel through a warped mirror. There are many aspects to safety and solo travel.

The biggest fears arising out of this idea are largely, due to the fact,  women let societal conditioning get the better of them. Women often see themselves as incompetent Tarzans of a ‘Jane story’. Thus, many women (myself included) live under the assumptions we’re “victims”, the moment we consider travel.  Throw the alone part in there and the fear raises exponentially, due to second guessing and self doubts.

Women  aren’t known to be natural adventurers. Many women are more than happy with declining an adventurous role, because it’s mostly attributed to the image of macho men.  But this doesn’t mean women are incapable or risk-averse. Women actually assume wise and cautious roles where risk is concerned. They possess strong survival instincts, endurance, intelligence and willpower. They’ll take calculated risks if they’re certain of their abilities or a good outcome.  But it’s challenging for them to trust their wisdom and instinct as equivalent to a man’s strength.

Thus, the only way to enter solo travel is seemingly to’ take a leap of faith’. But how do you do that?

Is female solo travel safe?

Consider the ‘other’ perspective

If there are no guarantees in life, why do we expect guarantees in travel?

Each day, you’ll encounter bad folk and good. …Today you can be happily married, tomorrow, divorced. Employed one day, fired the next.  Today healthy, tomorrow, hit by a car. You see where I’m going with this?

Whether locked into a boring routine in your home country or an unfamiliar country– there will be a lesson in survival and the possibility of danger. When I traveled Turkey in the height of Isis news hitting CNN on a daily basis, I was petrified traveling there. I already booked my trip to Greece to attend my first travel blogger conference. Turkey was so close by.  I asked a Spanish travel blogging friend, whom had just returned from Turkey, what he thought. No worries he claimed- it’s safe as long as long as you don’t go out of your way to go off-the-beaten path. (Did he say that because he was Spanish and a male?) I did my research, checked travel warnings.

I spent half my trip worried, hiding the fact I was an American and looking for any anti-American hatred tendencies in every warm and friendly face. Every Turkish person I met was so hospitable. It made me realize, the media shows us the most sensational fragment of a country, but I ultimately create my own impression and trip. Being paranoid was a waste of my time as locals were debunking my fears. Needless to say, I had an stupendously amazing time!

So your glass is either half full or half empty? What you choose to see is the perspective that will make your brain obsess falsely.

Check travel warnings

I agree there are countries, which are highly dangerous and ill-advised for solo women to travel to.  This is why its important for travelers to do their research beforehand and check travel warnings.

Research tourist scams

I engineer my safety by learning about the potential dangers, risks and scams of the country. I also learn about how to recognize them and how to deal with them. Just google “tourist scams + (name of country)” and it will pop up travel warnings. For instance, I read Athens had a bad pickpocketing problem on metros. I avoided traveling during rush hour and when the metro was crowded, I swiveled my backpack to my front to keep an eye on it.

Read Ways to Outsmart Pickpockets and Thieves

Take responsibility for your solo traveling safety

Personally, I feel like solo travel is safe because I try my best to take preventative caution in my choices. I think of the consequences of my actions when I weigh my decisions. I’m sure this puts a damper on impulsive fun, but bad risk is something I don’t want to take. Read ways to prevent danger: solo travel safety tips.

Cultivate safe spontaneity

I’ve had girlfriends whose primary objective for going to a nightclub was to get drunk, hook up with a guy and have sex.  Some travelers like to party at bars like it’s spring break… While I’m not saying you can’t have fun or be spontaneous as a solo traveler, the above mentioned are risky moves when you’re in unfamiliar territory.  There are ways to have fun but be safe. If you want to go nightclubbing, why not make friends from your hostel. I almost got caught in a scam in Bangkok but at least I had other hostel friends along with me to get out together. Here’s a list of fun ways to spend your nights alone.

Safe and culturally connected options: taking interactive workshops to learn about a culture, exploring the streets and practicing your photography, taking a day or walking tour.

Read Cultivating safe spontaneity in solo travel

Do not confuse unfamiliar with unsafe.

If you watch my video, I actually share a lot more than I will in writing,… But most Americans think going abroad is unsafe, simply because it’s what our media feeds us in daily news and a foreign country is rife with unfamiliar customs, languages, foods, culture, etc… They’re afraid not necessarily because it’s unsafe, but outside of their comfort zone.

If you look at American living, the United States is much more rife with crime than a lot of other countries. Of crimes, we have white collar, blue collar crime, underworld, gangs, domestic , tourist, internet, etc..  Visiting Los Angeles, I might be cautious of gang violence, random shootings, car jackings, pickpocketing, muggings, theft, tourist scams, rape, prostitution, etc… But the difference for Americans is that it’s part of our home country. Home is considered to be safe, whereas everything outside, is cautioned as potentially unsafe.

How do I create safe travels?

To continue how I engineer my solo travels, visit my next chapter of Solo Travel Saftey Tips..

Is it solo travel safe for women?

 

 

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6 Comments. Leave new

hi christine thank you for your videos about safety and traveling solo. very well done. I have traveled solo for many years and never really thought of it as a big deal – still dont (I’m a female in my 60s) a while back I was at the ferry landing for Capri in Italy and a dude started to talk to me about whatever. Without realizing it he was sort of “cutting me out of the herd” so I would be ok to go with him. It was crazy how skilled he was at this. It came down to me saying no and him leaving but for the rest of the day I was literally shaking like a leaf! I don’t know if this makes sense but stuff like this can happen fast and in the middle of the day to anybody. It definitely changes nothing about me traveling alone but like you said in your video – weirdos are out there everywhere – in the US in Capri – everywhere. Oh well – many trips later – getting ready for another solo trip – hopefully to Asia this time.
Mary

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    Christine Kaaloa
    November 17, 2014 1:22 pm

    @Mary: I totally get your “shaking like a leaf” part. It’s very easy to feel vulnerable when you know you’ve been targeted. I’ve had friends who encountered theft alone and with others and the scar of feeling victimized can definitely put a hitch in your sail for a bit. Glad you got out of it and I think it rocks that you travel solo at 60! You’re an inspiration. =)

    Reply

Considering so much of the world has less crime than the US, it’s an odd fear. But it’s hard to break free of societal norms and expectations. Good job fighting the fear and embracing solo travel.

Reply

When you are traveling alone, always put safety first and keep your eyes on risky things. I’m with Charu! Hail to all the female travelers!

Reply

I think we just have to be cautious, even more careful but cannot let the world stop our mental freedom…here’s to empowering women travelers everywhere!

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