It seems more and more women want to travel internationally and if they can’t find someone to go with them then they’re doing it on their own. I’ve been travelling solo for years and while it’s not always easy I now look forward to doing it at least annually.
Many of us travel differently when we’re on our own for we shape the itinerary according to our own interests and not someone else’s. I tend to spend more time in one place, just breathing it all in and not running around trying to see all the sites. Others choose to have an itinerary filled with tours to all the local attractions.
However you approach it, I suggest solo travel is most successful when you:
- Stay in small family-run hotels or hostels
- Avoid properties that attract mostly couples
- Don’t feel sorry for yourself
- Don’t let others feel sorry for you
- Establish a routine
- Do what YOU feel like doing and not what you think others expect of you
In our culture it’s quite acceptable for women to travel around the world for work. Young Westerners have been teaching English in South Korea, China and Japan for some time and doing internships in far-flung places. A sister of mine travels the globe working on elections for various international agencies and everyone admires her for that (although they feel a little sorry for her husband who stays at home).
While it’s alright to go around the world professionally, women are often looked at a little strangely when they say they’re travelling just for the sake of travelling. I say, get used to it for our numbers will increase.
You do have to take extra precautions, particularly if you are young. I was harassed constantly when I travelled through Pakistan years (and years) ago. Men would point at me, follow me, reach out and try to touch me. I was often the only woman on the street with an uncovered face. On a bus trip through eastern Turkey the assistant driver put his hands on me when I was asleep, waking me up. The bus driver heard my screams and threw his assistant off the bus in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere. Even today I am thankful that he did that.
My daughter, who was regularly harassed when travelling in southern Mexico and Cuba, says she thinks she would now handle herself differently, probably not being as bothered by the sounds and rude remarks of young men as she was then. Perhaps so but if you’re a young woman, be aware of the culture, think about how you’re dressed, be careful who you make eye contact with, be extra careful at night, and walk with confidence.
By Sylvia Fanjoy
© Riding the buses 2010