Save for a very few races, women are almost completely emancipated. Female solo travel is on the rise and it is expected to come even stronger in the coming years. The travel landscape is making it more convenient, comfortable and safer for 21st century-women who are motivated to see the world to challenge themselves to get beyond their comfort zones, to meet people from different cultures, and reinforce their sense of independence and self-determination.
It is, however, undeniable that safety for women traveling on their own is unguaranteed. According to a paper presented in the Tourism Student’s Virtual Conference entitled Travelling with Caution – The Perceived Safety Risks to Solo Female Travellers written by Sharna Wright:
“… The rise of sexual assaults in India in the last year has drawn attention to the dangers facing female travellers in the country, and has resulted in a 35% decline in number of female travellers visiting the country. This has once again reignited the discussion of whether it is safety for women to travel alone. The stigma attached to the inappropriateness of solo female travellers is not new either; instead women have been travelling for centuries however not without challenges (Wilson and Little, 2008).”
The paper said that the most common professed risks include theft, sexual assault and sexual harassment. India and the Middle East are among the places perceived to have the highest perceived dangers for women traveling solo. Wright said that the most important thing to do is to prepare and to heed advices from travel forums and blogs.
One blog that grabs attention is About Travel – Student Travel Section’s 5 Lies to Tell When Traveling written by Lauren Juliff. While Juliff says, “Lying’s wrong, but not in these situations.”
“Lying is almost always wrong but when you’re traveling there are certain situations where it’s a good idea to do so. As travelers, we’re often prone to scams, harassment, and many other terrible experiences and a simple white lie is often all it takes to deflect this unwanted attention.”
“No, This Isn’t My First Time Here”
This is one lie that is so useful when you want to avoid unpleasant scenarios. For instance, if you are taking a cab from the airport, it is best to deny it’s your first time lest the driver takes you on along route to make you pay more. Local con artists will find you a vulnerable target if they know you are new in the place.
“Yes, I have a Boyfriend”
This lie is a great defense when you want to deflect unwanted male attention or when a guy is sexually harassing you in places like a bar. Remember to bring a man’s picture that you can flash around if and when needed.
“Sorry, I Can’t Remember the Name of My Hostel”
Overfriendly people (even females) can be a scammer posing as a fellow tourist. Never give away too much vital information. When you are asked where you are staying, give this lie. You don’t want this person paying you a visit and doing you harm.
“No Speak English”
Don’t speak to strangers especially those you sense can be plotting something sinister against you. You can avoid talking to these people by pretending you don’t speak English to deter their advances.
“I’m Traveling With a Friend”
Tell advancing or overfriendly males (or females) that you don’t really need a companion because you are with a friend and that you just decided to join different tours on that day. That will make you a less attractive as a target.
One woman solo traveler narrated her ordeal when she was almost raped when she hiked along a deserted trail in Dharamsala, India. Yet she encourages women not to be intimidated by fear and the risks. Despite the risks, women must continue to enjoy traveling alone. It is just important to be prepared, to accept the reality that female solo travel is not totally safe and to adapt the cultural realities prevalent in the destination. With a few lies and some smart tips, you should be able to enjoy globetrotting on your own.