“So…what are your plans for the next year?”
“I want to travel. I was thinking of traveling over to Europe for three weeks in September and October… and then I was thinking of finally doing a working holiday for a year in Australia.”
“Sure why not?”
“Well… I’d feel a little bit more comfortable if you had someone with you… It’s dangerous traveling by yourself as a girl, Melis.”
This was roughly the conversation I had with my mother when I initially told her my plans to travel by myself. I wasn’t necessarily surprised with my mother’s response – my father, of course, echoed the same sentiments once we all had a sit down chat about my future plans. While I realize that in comparison to a lot of my fellow travellers, my parents seem to take the cake and give a whole new meaning to the word overprotective; this same sexist remark seems to always come up, time and time again from the loved ones of my fellow solo female travellers.
It boggles my mind that the older generation (baby boomers and older) can’t seem to get over the idea that travelling is unsafe – even DANGEROUS – for young, solo female travellers. Yet, at the same time, they are willing to embrace the idea of sending young men off into the world so they can have time to explore.
I will agree- yes- there are some areas of the world that I would consider more risky for solo female travellers; but certainly not Australia or most of Europe. If I had said I had plans to travel to the Middle East, then perhaps I could understand their concern. Even I will go out on a limb and say it’s probably a bit more difficult to navigate as a solo female traveller given the general gender inequality in that area of the world. But that being said, it has been done, and more and more solo female travellers are taking the leap, embracing the cultural differences and having some really amazing experiences along the way.
I suppose on the surface there is a bit more for women to worry about. In general, it’s believed that men are more willing and physically able to defend themselves, they don’t have to worry about getting pregnant, and no matter where in the world they travel, they will always be regarded as having more power than women. It’s sad that even in today’s age of information and technology and seemingly more and more acceptance on various equality issues – that we, the solo female traveller, have to defend our decision to this older generation, stick to our guns and prove them wrong.
Ultimately, when it comes to solo female travel, you have to remember to keep your wits about you. Use common sense and embrace the opportunities and experiences you are having. Don’t let the old school way of thinking get you down or make you second guess yourself. We can do it!