Traveling alone as a woman

kokorowashinjinIn my short time as a traveler and backpacker I’ve often come across criticism from friends, family, and strangers about why I travel alone. Usually the concern or criticism isn’t just about me traveling in general, it often comes down to the fact that I am a woman and I am a woman traveling alone.

Considering the many attacks on women travelers in India in the past year it’s understandable that people are concerned. These news stories only reinforce the mindset that international travel is dangerous and scary, but even more so if you’re a woman alone in a foreign country.

Think about the numerous books out there like On the Road about a male protagonist headed out on a journey of self-discovery through traveling and meeting new people. In stories where there is a female protagonist on a journey, her story is always surrounded around finding love, but not about a female simply wanting to explore her world and learn more about herself in the process.

Solo male travelers are admired for their bravery and adventurous personality, and they’re encouraged to travel alone at a young age. Solo female travelers, however, are often met with judgment, concerned tones, and raised eyebrows.

It goes without saying there is always risk in travel, whether you are male or female, alone or with a group, but many times when something happens to a woman when she is traveling she is blamed for the incident and questioned for her motives of traveling alone in the first place. You should never let other people’s opinions over gender roles dictate what you do in life or where you should go. Here are some reasons traveling alone as a woman is pretty freaking awesome.

People look out for you, especially if you’re a woman.

I’ll be honest. There has been a few times where I second guessed myself while backpacking, wondering if I would be safe or if there would be any chance of me being harassed or attacked. The week before I went on my first big backpacking trip alone I felt especially vulnerable, wondering what the hell I was about to embark on, and if I would regret it.

Instead, that first experience and every experience traveling alone since then have been nothing short of surprise at how concerned locals and other travelers have been for my well being. People seem to take extra care of me because I am a woman alone, making sure I have a taxi or ride back to my hostel at night, offering their homes up so they know I will be safe, or putting me in touch with trusted friends to ensure my journey is smooth. It always feels good to have that added security that people are looking out for you. I know male travelers don’t often get that kind of treatment.

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