Why I Will Continue to Encourage Solo Travel
I don’t necessarily push the fact that I am a solo female traveler, but I often encourage solo travel. I just happen to also be a female. Solo travel, whether you’re a man or a woman, can teach you so much about yourself, give you more flexibility, and I truly believe it’s something everyone should try at least once. But some people think solo travel, especially for a woman, is foolish, irresponsible, and just plain stupid. Obviously I strongly disagree.
A New York woman traveling solo was murdered a few weeks ago in Istanbul, Turkey, and it has people going crazy about her decision to travel by herself. The comments people are leaving on articles about the tragedy are infuriating. According to these people, women are just crazy to even consider traveling solo, the world is incredibly unsafe, Muslim countries especially, and that Americans are targets no matter where they go. I can pretty much guarantee most, if not all, of those comments came from people who have little to no experience traveling.
I have traveled by myself in several countries, a few of which are Muslim countries, and I never once felt unsafe for being a woman, an American , or solo. On the other hand, I have often encountered people who are more helpful and friendly than those at home. Here are just a few of the places where I’ve traveled solo.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had let my fear of solo travel take over. I will continue to encourage others to travel solo because it’s a wonderful experience. Yes, there are risks in this world, but those risks exist whether you’re male or female, traveling solo or in a group, or at home. Almost all of the safety rules out there apply to both men and women, whether you’re traveling by yourself or not.
Traveling is NOT inherently dangerous. You have to take certain precautions, but you have to do that at home too. This woman could’ve been murdered near her own home in Staten Island just as easily as in Istanbul or anywhere else. In fact, women are more likely to be murdered at home, so travel is not the problem. I’ve actually heard from so many people who have traveled outside of the US who say they feel more at risk and more unsafe in the US than in many other parts of the world. We shouldn’t be blaming this woman, as if she was asking to be killed just because she traveled by herself. Violence is the problem, not travel.
The thing is, situations like what happened to this woman in Istanbul are rare, which is why it makes such a big splash in the news. People are fed fear all the time about traveling to other countries. Then something like this happens and it confirms those fears, even though murder and other violent crimes can happen anywhere. The media doesn’t report on the thousands and thousands of positive experiences travelers have overseas, and they don’t point out the fact that there is more crime in the US than in many other countries we’re warned against traveling to.
Don’t let fear or the media or the unknown stop you from traveling solo. The world is a wonderful place, and most people are genuinely kind and helpful. Don’t judge a person or country based on their religion or economic status. The majority of Muslims are NOT like the people who attacked the US on 9/11. And just because a country is poor does not mean it is dangerous. Cambodia and Laos are among some of the poorest countries in the world, but I felt incredibly safe there.
One of my main objectives on my new site Travel Made Simple is to encourage people to travel, solo or not, female or male. A couple months ago I wrote a post over there about the fear of traveling alone, go check it out to find out some of the benefits of solo travel.
There are lots of really wonderfully written blog posts going around about this topic right now. Here are a few of my favorites, please take a few minutes to read at least one of them:
Dear Dad: Please Don’t Worry (A Treatise on Solo Female Travel) by Amanda at A Dangerous Business. This one made me cry it’s so beautiful.
Female Solo Travel is NOT the Problem by Stephanie at Twenty-Something Travel, who points out that Washington, DC, where she’s from, actually has a higher murder rate than Bogota, Colombia.
No, It’s Not Stupid to Travel Solo by Katie Aune, who just spent 13 months traveling solo through Russia and all of the former Soviet countries.
Looking for a few more? Check out #WeGoSolo – Supporting solo women travel and scroll through the comments where bloggers are leaving links to their posts about solo travel.
Most importantly? GO! Don’t let your fear hold you back from traveling solo!
You might also enjoy:
- Solo Travel Sucks. Do It Anyway.
- Be Proud of Your Accomplishments
- On Living a Non-Traditional Life
- The Struggle of Wanting Conflicting Things
Jade Johnston - OurOyster.com
February 9, 2013 @ 1:59 AM
Great article!! If the news made a huge sensation of all the women murdered in their home towns as well then maybe people would have a different persective… but then again maybe not. Here in Australia there was a big media story of a women being murdered as she walked home in the evening and the media’s solution was that women should not walk in the city at night….. its easier to blame the victim than to look at our cultures acceptance of violence against women
February 9, 2013 @ 1:56 PM
Thanks Jade! I think too many people feed into the fear, and any little thing to reconfirm that fear makes it worse. They’re not rational fears, but as soon as the media makes a big deal about something like this, it makes the fear feel more legitimate. Telling women not to walk in the city they live in at night is not practical at all. I wish so many people didn’t just blame the victim, that doesn’t solve anything at all.
February 9, 2013 @ 3:29 PM
Totally appreciate the non-gender specific nature of this post, Ali. Well done and well thought through.
February 9, 2013 @ 7:13 PM
Thanks Michael! It irritates me like you wouldn’t believe to hear people say women shouldn’t do XYZ simply because we’re women. Sure, there are differences between the genders and women sometimes have a few extra concerns, but every single person needs to be smart and take certain precautions to stay safe while traveling.
What's the Big Deal About Solo Female Travel? | SoloFriendly.com
February 10, 2013 @ 12:08 AM
[…] Adventurous Kate –The Truth About Solo Female Travel and Safety Ali’s Adventures – Why I Will Continue to Encourage Solo Travel Almost Fearless – The Women Traveling Solo Question Breathe Dream Go – Ode to the lady […]
February 10, 2013 @ 4:48 AM
This post is written so well. Safety is really an issue for women, but then there are always notorious elements no matter where you go. So I agree with you completely, we must allay our fears and travel.
February 10, 2013 @ 3:38 PM
Thanks Arti! Traveling helps people get past those fears. There’s no way to really know unless you GO, and traveling is just so amazing, just just need to take the first step.
February 10, 2013 @ 1:37 PM
I agree – bad things can happen anywhere – I have heard about the incident but haven’t read the particulars. It’s a shame though; I would hate for travellers to be afraid of Turkey, one of my favourite destinations.
February 10, 2013 @ 3:40 PM
Not much is known about what happened to her, it’s just that it has stirred so much negativity about solo travel, and females traveling alone in particular. I agree, it would be such a shame for people to stay away from Turkey because of this. It such an amazing country with wonderful people, and senseless violence can happen anywhere. Thanks Andrea!
February 10, 2013 @ 4:39 PM
It makes me SOOOOO mad to see how one woman traveling alone can be twisted so as to deter others from doing so.
I solo travel a lot and meet up with many guy & girl travelers along the way too – and have never had any real issues (other than the usual stuff I get at home.) Don’t believe me? Then meet me and let me explain … http://www.wandermates.com/profileview.php?profileuserid=21 … I promise u, solo travel is fine with all the usual precautions.
February 10, 2013 @ 9:30 PM
You’re preaching to the choir Sinead! I totally agree with you!
February 11, 2013 @ 10:38 AM
Great post, Ali! I don’t do it often, but I do enjoy traveling solo from time to time. I spent most of 2010 traveling solo in Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia while Tim was deployed to Afghanistan. That time not only really built up a confidence I didn’t even know I had been lacking, but was a very productive use of my time instead of sitting home and whining about my husband being at war for 8 months. More people should travel solo; it’s such an enlightening experience.
February 11, 2013 @ 3:11 PM
Thanks Jennifer! That’s awesome, I didn’t realize you traveled that extensively through Italy, Croatia and Slovenia (though Italy makes sense) while Tim was gone. Definitely a great way to not focus on his absence! I agree, more people should at least try solo travel once. It teaches you so much about yourself.