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Should women travel alone? Emily Hansen addresses the most common concerns and lays the fears to rest.

EVER SINCE I BEGAN traveling solo at age 19, I’ve been told the same thing over and over: traveling alone as a woman is dangerous.

Many people speak as if I’m inviting violence upon myself, as if it would be my fault if something happened, as if we live in a world that is populated only by creeps and muggers.

I always explain that danger is a fact of everyday life wherever we live, and that an autonomous woman is safer than one who depends on others for protection, because she is self-assured.

Traveling has given me a take-charge attitude that makes anyone with bad intentions less likely to mess with me. Furthermore, it has enriched me, taught me how to support myself in difficult situations and cope with things on my own.

Traveling solo I suppose, is one of the ultimate challenges for a woman, and that is part of the reason why I enjoy it so much.

A Dose Of Inspiration

Growing up, some of my greatest role models were fictional traveling men. I became a traveler in spirit during the days of The Littlest Hobo, a movie and TV show about a traveling dog. When my grade six teacher read us Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, I was surprised to learn that there were not just traveling canines, but traveling people as well.

While I did not experience any latent colonial longings, I wanted to ride an elephant, not just My Little Pony. I loved Indiana Jones movies, and as a teenager, Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation inspired a yearning within me that could not be stifled by one read through On the Road.

Then Easyrider arrived, with all its hippie kitsch – that movie was my inspiration to go to New Orleans, although sadly I didn’t travel by motorcycle.

It was a while before I learned about women who traveled, because in my conservative town in Canada, I didn’t know any.

Women Travel Too?

People in my neighborhood took trips because they had money and could afford a cruise, not because they were hungry for a big adventure. Recently, I read about Dar Robertson, in 2006′s The Best Travel Writing: True Stories From Around the World, and she has since become my hero.

Women are so used to being told what to do, and being led around, that they sometimes forget it’s their own voice that counts.

In her story, “Sahara Unveiled”, she recounts her trip to Morocco and Algeria in which, dressed as a man, on her fifth week of solo backpacking across Africa, she drives illegally across the border into Algeria, gets caught in a sandstorm, and is later saved by strangers, a group of gentle Tuareg men.

She recounts her story with the voice of a woman in touch with her instincts, moved by the thrill of discovery and the kindness of her fellow human beings. She writes, “I was here…I was not afraid…I was ready for the next challenge”.

While some people might think what Robertson did was foolish (and it’s true she took risks), she is a role model for traveling women everywhere, simply because she had faith in her own instincts and capabilities.

Instinct is our center. It functions as a personal alarm system that tells us when we are safe, and when we are in danger. Women are so used to being told what to do, and being led around, that they sometimes forget it’s their own voice that counts. Women with a taste for adventure do themselves well to get in touch with that inner instinct.

While our fears of being hurt, raped or even killed are real, we are never safe all the time, anywhere in the world. A woman who stays in her house with all the lights on might cut her risk of violence on the street, but as well, she will block herself off from the great fountain of experiences that awaits her.

Staying Safe

How can women stay safe when traveling abroad?

Just remember that it’s a lot more fun to take a small risk than it is to stay at home.

Firstly, I believe we should do what our parents and the Lonely Planet both advise. We all know that it’s a bad idea to walk alone at night, to flash our jewelry and large sums of money, to show off our underwear in conservative countries (or even North America, with the exception of New Orleans), or reach for more than a couple of bottles of beer, especially when we’re hanging out with “strange boys”, as my mother likes to call them.

While doing any of these things would never justify a mugging, rape or worse, a murder, it’s plain to see that using common sense is no different from wearing sunscreen – if you don’t want to get burned, take basic precautions. Just remember that it’s a lot more fun to take a small risk than it is to stay at home.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we should simply do what we want.

With our heads up and our eyes wide open, grounding ourselves in our natural ability to make decisions and lead ourselves, we will become wiser, stronger, and better able to protect ourselves as we navigate the globe.

The potential for violence that surrounds us will begin to disappear when we nurture our own independence in the same way we care for our families and loved ones. By staying true to ourselves, we will find adventure on the road and get home safe and sound.

While women who choose not to travel deserve their own applause, so do the courageous women who reach out for the grand and sometimes uncertain joys of travel. The world is our oyster, and we deserve support and encouragement for taking the bold steps we do.

What are your most memorable experiences as a female solo traveler? Share your thoughts below!

Emily Hansen is a travel writer and teacher based in Shimla, India, where she is working on a book about her experiences as an expat. Her native land is Canada, and she has traveled to over 30 countries, and has lived in six, including Germany, China, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and now, India.

Culture + Religion

 

About The Author

Emily Hansen

Emily Hansen is a travel writer and teacher based in Shimla, India, where she is working on a book about her experiences as an expat. Her native land is Canada, and she has traveled to over 30 countries, and has lived in six, including Germany, China, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and now, India.

  • http://www.greatescaperoutes.com ntin

    Dear emily at Brave new traveller.

    I must say its a very encouraging article for women to travel rather than sitting home all day and of course a lot of them do that in the 21st century. Definatley a very good insight for a lot of them sitting home and watching all on T.V.

    Good work
    Good Luck !

  • Olivebeard

    It’s a pity that travel has to be a gender battle for women. Going off the beaten path in Jamaica, my wife and I stopped into a bar. The group quieted down as we both ordered drinks–nothing but men in there, staring quizzically at her. Once we were safely outside with our drinks my wife quipped, “I forgot that, outside of Wisconsin, it can be unusual for a woman to be in a bar.” After that we noticed that not many women were even outside, apart from manning tourist trinket booths, shopping for groceries, and hanging laundry.

    I won’t say women travelers “invite” danger, but I will say this: men are tenacious. Even with her husband (me) 10 feet away, my wife has had to physically push men away at times. I think a visibly alone woman sparks some kind of hunt/mate instinct in men, and I think the level to which they act upon that ranges from the benign pick-up, to the violent assault. Conversely, I know a lot of guys that WISH they would get sexually assaulted by a woman while traveling.

    Gender and sexism has always been a touchy issue for me, and that has extended to traveling. Ever since a my High School English teacher–who taught us about “sexist language”–hung a banner to the effect of “Every [b]child[/b] has the power to make [b]his[/b] dreams come true”. I’ve since seen these gender-loaded pronouns surface in numerous statements that should be unisex. I heard a commercial the other day for a appliance store, stating it would save millions of women trips to the laundromat (presumably to do their husband and twelve childrens’ laundry, in between bouts of “The Young and the Resteless”). I don’t care about feminist political issues (e.g. If I hear that women make less than men one more time, I’m going to scream), but I believe–as George Carlin said–the quality of our thought is only as good as the quality of our words. I think we subtly send a generation of women these quiet signals of submissiveness when we off-handedly dismiss their role in the world.

    Same thing with homosexuality. I’ve listened to guys, in a few sentences, say that queers and dykes are bad/sinful/stupid/unacceptable then turn around and laud incestuous lesbian porn (“‘cuz they’re hot twins, huhuh”). Everyone gets a giggle because “boys will be boys” but what message does that send to a new generation? Unless you’re ‘hot’ you can’t be anything beyond the man you’re attached to; you can’t even be gay.

    Anyway, enough of my soapbox. Fascinating topic.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    “You take a risk every time you slice a salami.” – Andy Warhol.

  • Adam

    Very cool. I had an Aunt, who in the 1950′s traveled across the country in a pick up truck dressed as a man. I was always intrigued by her life. Also you may want to check out the “Voyage of Swell” http://www.wetsand.com/page-feature.asp?locationid=5&tabid=1048&subtabid=1495&catid=1495
    Liz Clark is sailing around the world in search of waves. She often sails by herself. As a man who has a four year old daughter, I am very excited to read these stories with the hopes that my daughter can grow up to be as strong as these women.

  • http://www.itravelnet.com/blog/notes.html James

    The Littlest Hobo was such a good show. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  • http://www.shantanughosh.com Shantanu

    Great post! And I agree, common sense is what we need to have to stay safe. Also, some research in advance about the places you intend to travel to will go a long way.

    Interesting comment by Olivebeard… Travelled over 30 countries and lived in six? I envy you so much. :-)

  • http://www.women-on-the-road.com Scribetrotter

    Emily, congratulations for not abiding by the stereotypes!

    Yes, solo travel for women can be dangerous – so can traveling in twos or fours. There are special rules for us – and we do need to be more careful at times. No, it’s not a good idea to go out alone at night in certain parts of Nairobi or Johannesburg, but knowing that, we don’t do it.

    Traveling solo is one of my great joys – I’ve been doing it since I was 15. My latest major solo trip was at the age of 43 – I traveled across Africa and Asia for three years on my own. There were a few moments of danger – very few – and most of the trip was inspiring and invigorating. The times I faced danger were usually when I disregarded my own rules and went where I shouldn’t have, when I shouldn’t have.

    I met many people I wouldn’t have met otherwise – a woman on her own is a curiosity in many societies, and by sticking close to other women, I’ve stayed safe. I’ve taken part in a traditional balinese wedding, paddled my way out of a flood in a dugout canoe with a filipino priest, been chased by an elephant in central Nigeria, and spent nights in the wild tracking gorrillas. Granted, these things might have taken place had I been with others, but the fact that I was on my own allowed me to get to these places on a whim, seizing opportunities, without consultation, without worrying about other people’s plans.

    Solo travel for women is exhilarating and fun – and it’s also a great character builder. I learned much about self-reliance and making decisions, and few things bother me anymore. Tomorrow will be another day.

  • Emily Hansen

    I’m so glad someone else remembers The Littlest Hobo too! A good second to Sex and the City, I must say. Thanks everyone for the ever so insightful comments. May you all travel far, safe and well!

  • http://www.travelinsurancefinders.co.uk/travel-insurance-elderly.htm Jamie Leech

    Travelling alone is the best way to go and the only way to go in my opinion!

  • Guylaine Spencer

    I’ve travelled alone and with others and enjoy both experiences. The thing I like about travelling alone is the complete freedom … no need to make compromises, accomodate someone else’s wishes (which I have to do in my day-to-day job while not travelling). You can change your mind and your plans on a whim. It’s exhilerating. I also find that I frequently experience the world more directly and intensely when I’m alone. When someone else is with me, I’m partly distracted by them. I think the experience can be enhanced when you share it with someone, sure… but it can also be more powerful when you’re focussing only on your surroundings and not by what your travelling partner is experiencing or saying at the same time… if she/he has a headache or wants to find the bathroom, etc. The experience gets diluted somehow. This is especially true for nature, I find.
    As far as safety goes, don’t the stats show that you’re just as likely (or even more likely) to be injured or killed by a partner as you are by a stranger? So aren’t you actually SAFER travelling alone out of the country than you are sitting at home with your husband? Seriously though, as long as you use common sense (avoid dark streets, don’t reveal too much to strangers, dress on the conservative side, don’t get drunk with strangers, etc) then I can’t see how travelling alone is that risky.

    • ValerieHamer

      I was about to post something similar – women are more likely to be hurt in some way INSIDE their home than outside. Plus men have to take reasonable safety precautions in a new place.

      Great article.

  • LB Martin

    Hello:
    I am a professional vocalist. I’ve been traveling and working
    throughout Asia for 10years in 5-star hotels. Recently I decided to begin taking writing courses in Travel Journalism.
    I’m 52 and divorced. I love my life and wouldn’t trade it for
    the world! Although, at times I would like to slow down a bit,
    and hope to do so in the near future. I do not, however, intend
    to stop traveling, hence the travel writing courses in order
    to forge a new career.

    People are often extremely narrow-minded about things that they
    have never tried or FEAR to try because of half-truths and innuendos. A woman, as well as a man, should conduct themselves
    respectfully, no matter where they are, what they do. I am a
    female who is grateful to have had the opportunities to see and
    visit places where most people can only imagine. Being home is
    wonderful. But there’s nothing like being on the road!

  • http://cici.blog-city.com/ CiCi

    There is nothing greater than living the life of a female wanderer. Even though I crave the companionship of a partner one day…I love traveling the world on my own. The freedom and purity of the experience makes it exhilarating! And those moments when you experience something that touches you in such a way that you just want to share it with someone…those are the most precious gifts that you can give yourself! That’s when you realize that you are with your best friend…you! And when you know you…you are smart, safe, and sassy traveling on your own!!

    When I hit the road a few years ago to begin my journey, one of my parent’s friends had this to say to comfort my fearful father: “I can’t think of a better compliment that a child could give to their parent than saying that they are confident, courageous, and comfortable enough with themselves to travel alone.”

  • Marjorie

    I’m so inspired by this post, I want to take a trip this summer and have been leary because of the whole “female traveling alone” issue! I am definitely doing it! Thanks!

  • Michelle

    hi emily, just read ur article really nice. I travelled solo last year for the 1st time and it was amazing, i loved every second of it.
    I’m 27 and life had just stopped. I was stuck in a dead end job that i could not leave, I had just visited my parents and was back from the “holiday” that was more like pleasing people rather than taking a break for myself. I then just booked my tickets to Nepal & left within 3 days i had no accommodation, just the Lonely Planet guide. I thought i would be scared but was not, it was more of excitement that being scared, my parents freaked (we’re Indians, so u can expect that).
    Currently i’m doing an MBA which really doesn’t leave me much time except work & study but hope this keeps my interest until i get restless again.
    bye
    michelle

  • Mercedes

    this was very inspiring! I am a 20 year old female who chose to do study abroad in Brazil. I attempted for the first two months here to find people to travel with outside of the state I go to school in here in Brazil, but everyone is too busy or doesn’t want to. I’ve since decided to travel solo starting next month.

    Every reaction has been negative! And I recognize that my generation has so many advantages as far as the gender gap, but it still exists. Instead of people being happy for me that I get to do something I have wanted to for a very long time, travel, people try to deter me and change my mind. It would be nice if people tried to encourage self reliance and strength instead of fear and dependancy.

  • jilly

    Part of the reason I travel solo as a woman, often through “unsafe” parts of the world, is the same reason I dance with my whole body regardless of who watches and whether it looks right – to give others permission to do the same.

  • kate

    Aw, this was so great to read. Thank you for this! I’m a 16 year old female who was been bitten by the travel bug as well (who totally relates to you on how yours developed), and whose main concern (aside from funds) is being a female who would like to travel alone. I always envied the Kerouac-types until now, because, “they’re men and can travel alone without a problem.” I’m definitely feeling reassured now, especially since I hope to be going to Peru this August by myself to work in an orphanage (Oh, how I hope it works out!)

    Anyway, thank you again. This site is filled with so many gems, articles like this are why I am addicted!

    • http://www.ianmack.com Ian MacKenzie

      @Kate – glad you enjoyed the article, and the rest of the articles on BNT. We’re glad to have you as a reader!

  • Emily

    Thanks Kate! Hope you enjoy all of your future adventures. I wouldn’t take any of my traveling moments back, that’s forsure, and it really is great to hear from young women who have been “bitten”.

  • Sarah

    I just had a conversation with my friends over dinner that somehow turned to me telling them how badly I want to travel the world after I graduate, and often alone. I spent the next half an hour trying to convince them that I wasn’t just running blindly into a death trap, and it infuriated me. These are my friends, fellow women (one of them a gender studies student), telling me that it wasn’t safe for a woman to be travelling by herself. Then I stumbled across this article tonight in my nightly Matador wanderings, and it hit the spot! This is exactly the kind of reassurance and validation I need to be confident and common sensical when I step out of my doorway.

    In addition, I highly recommend the book “Maiden Voyage” by Tania Aebi. It’s a true story of a girl who sailed around the world by herself. It’s probably more interesting for people who love sailing but it’s also a fantastic story of a young woman seeing the world by herself.

    Bon voyage women!

  • Hannah Pocock

    What an inspiring article! Last year I took a semester off from college to spend five months backpacking around East and Southeast Asia with my boyfriend. I had an incredible experience, and we’re already planning our next grand adventure, but I realized that, while we’re perfectly matched travel partners, I also wanted to have the experience of backpacking solo. I wanted to challenge myself to do it all on my own – bargain for food at the market, find the bus station, venture out to remote mountain temples – without having anyone to rely on but myself. I wanted to see what I could learn about myself and the world around me by opening myself fully to new cultures and experiences, rather than giving in to the loneliness and closing in on myself.

    So here I am in Vietnam, a little over a week into my two and a half month solo adventure in Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s been challenging at times, but I’m loving the freedom of being alone, the time to reflect – and write like crazy. While some people (as anywhere) leer or make unwelcome advances, I find that (as you noted) modest clothing, self-assurance and a little common sense go a long way toward fending off danger and over-eager suitors. And I have found the vast majority of people I encounter to be incredibly warm and welcoming – I’ve been treated to more meals at local haunts in the past week than in the whole five months I was on the road with my boyfriend! I’m rapidly learning to love traveling alone, and reading articles like yours reassures me that coming here alone was the best decision I could have made. Thanks for your insights!

    • NJ

      Hey..I loved your article…and the below comments too..
      But please someone tell me how you guys manage your travel expenses.I mean youmight need money for so long trips..how do you manage to get money..please advice me something as i love travelling two and would like to go onlong trips as well….

  • Anonymus

    I recently got back from Paris in April. I definatley had a great time.
    However even though I was sitting right outside the Louvre Museum a guy approched me and started talking to me.
    The conversation was the usual intro, what’s your name? Where you from? etc. Followed by discussions of the Art in the museum and music. (I mentioned I played the Piano)
    After about 20 minutes it turned into more personal things (with no help on my part) and resulted in the guy asking me to go back to his place to the play the piano for him (apparently he had one himself).
    Well you can imagine what I said, “Ahh I don’t think so, sorry”. After another ask and getting the same answer he left to go and “buy a book” from the museum (that’s what he said anyway).
    He seemed like a nice enough guy but some of the questions were just a little too personal for me, considering we’d been talking for only 20 minutes. Plus you never no what to expect even if you do think it’s just innocent.

  • Steph

    Wow!! This was a truly inspiring read! :)
    I’m a 17 year old who dreams of grand adventures and travelling the world.
    It was so nice to read about the many people who have the strength and courage to explore the world on their own! Thank you for this, it has motivated me to pursue an adventure of my own! I am going to go to Kenya for a equestrian safari, closely followed by a month travel in South America!

    Thank you again!!! :)

  • Olga

    What a great piece! I’m a 25 year old female who took a solo trip to South East Asia for 4 months. Next week I’m going to South Africa by myself. I’m scared out of my mind. I’m prepared to take the usual precautions but I really want to be able to rock climb and go hiking by myself. I am very excited to take this step by myself!

  • Mollikaptein

    Hi, my name is Molli. I am doing a career paper at my school in which we are required to interview someone with the job we are researching. I was wondering if I could interview you through email?

  • Hilary

    This is an excellent article! I now find myself unceremoniously single while traveling through Europe at the result of nasty breakup with my long term boyfriend. In two days I’m going one way, my (now) ex is going is another. I was so nervous until I read this, and now I feel much more comfortable moving on to Italy. Cheers from Vienna! You are wonderful!

  • Molly

    This is really assuring and inspiring! I can’t wait to go travelling next year, I hope I will be as strong and brave as you.

  • LouiseHan

    I think my most memorable experience as a female solo traveller was when I moved to Shanghai.  I decided to take the bus from the airport, which broke down on the freeway into town.  After some attempts to fix the bus, we were told to wait by the side of the road for the next bus to come.  I’ll never foreget standing on the side of the road, with blond hair, blue eyes and all my luggage as the whole of China drove past me giving that special stare I became so accustomed to.  I must have been an interesting sight.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XLF44MVOJMZYBQ4CXG527GQQ6I Juno VelaL

    love the article and the encouragement behind it, but realistically, i feel i need to point out some important advice that was dangerously left out. please forgive me if i am being graphic, i feel it is very important to share. as a lifelong solo vagabond and female traveler since age 11 as well as a survivor of numerous armed and unarmed attacks, i feel your above advice is a good start but is nowhere near enough to promote truly independent and SAFE adventurers out in the real world. it is important to be able to protect yourself during unsavory real-world events, and laying real world fears to rest through an encouraging and comfy article isnt helping men or women who travel alone be any smarter or more capable about it. your entire audience are the exact people who need this advice the most. of course, most of the time you can go anywhere without worry, absolutely, but anything can happen to anyone at anytime anywhere… i dont think you have ever encountered an attack or violence so i dont blame you for not having the insight to provide this, but it is probably the most important thing any of these people will ever hear in their entire lives if they look forward to continuing them.

    both men and women need to learn self defense regardless of size, strength, or denial they will ever need it. your pacifism or morals may send you to an early grave. always carry yourself with confident body language, appear strong and aware of your surroundings, look alert. victims are picked out by human predators as weak or easy prey, shy or unconfident, walking while looking at the ground, not paying attention, or appearing easily “had” or fearful. do carry weapons, pocket knives, keys, anything, and learn to use anything / everything for your defense at your immediate disposal. this is why i am still alive today. study and train your mind before your body, learn critical escape and avoidance techniques, negotiation, reflexes, reaction and speed, re-directing the threat, and MOST importantly, DO NOT HESITATE TO IMMEDIATELY KILL OR INJURE YOUR ATTACKER/S. you may be gentle and passive by nature, but you will end up dying first. if there is no way out of a physical confrontation, (it is always the number 1 priority to avoid that point in any way possible and maintain your physical distance!!), cut them, grab them, tear them, beat them, bite them, burn them, break their bones, stab them hard, go for the eyes, throat, and hands, stomp on their foot, twist them, twist and wiggle to get away, scream at them as loud and forceful as you can, anything, be vicious, be out for blood or it will happen to you instead. during a fight between animal predator and prey, animals do not have hang ups about hurting an attacker for their one and only shot to survive and live their one and only life. a good tip if they get too close is to swiftly kick their knees and break their legs in half, permanently disabling them… forever. you may not have a nanosecond to spare while you sit there and think about what to do if you are in fear or mentally and physically unprepared, but you will have time to get away or stop the threat before it gets ugly. death and attacks happen in the blink of an eye and you need to be even faster if you hope to survive one.

    we do live in a world of predators and horrific atrocities and injustices. not everyone is kind or has any value upon human life, let alone value for females in particular. traveling abroad will expose you to dangers you may not even be able to fathom in your home country. instead of seeing your loved ones again and returning home safely, you may be traded in for sex slavery, robbed, burned alive, repeatedly gang raped by attackers with numerous diseases, disemboweled, tortured, and left to die on the side of the road with a slit throat and your body carved up like a turkey… Steph, Hannah, Olga, Kate, all of you readers out there, if you never so much as even thought about this before, your eyes are the ones i wanted to open the most. thank you for reading and taking this seriously. i wish you all the best experiences possible for your travels, the experiences and discoveries of adventure and exploration cannot be topped, only with more wonder!  :D

  • Mimi

    I started traveling solo when I was 19 also; starting in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, camping, hitch hiking, and living every moment spontaneously. I’ve never been able to articulate to my friends who ask in awe, “Aren’t you afraid you’re going to get raped or murder?” And it’s difficult to explain, but they way you state:

    “The potential for violence that surrounds us will begin to disappear
    when we nurture our own independence in the same way we care for our
    families and loved ones. By staying true to ourselves, we will find
    adventure on the road and get home safe and sound.”

    This is definite sound advice. As  women, society nurtures us as incapable, especially if we are traveling,  but once I started traveling by myself, I  learned how to listen to my gut feelings. I’ve been able to venture off in the Mexican jungle hitching rides in the back of trucks with chickens and other hitch hikers, seen secret beaches in Brazil, cross the border between Argentina and CHile through the scenic route on foot, and I’ve had any of those horror stories we hear. I listen to heart, observe my surroundings and travel smartly. I believe there is potential danger everywhere, it’s just how we react to our surroundings. 

    LOVE this article.

  • http://www.thewrittenroad.blogspot.com Jill

    Hi Emily,
    This was such a reassuring article. People are so quick to supplement my desires to travel abroad with “Won’t you be scared?” Yes, fear is a real thing, but it’s only as real as you make it. You can’t let it inhibit your life. I love this: “A woman who stays in her house with all the lights on might cut her risk
    of violence on the street, but as well, she will block herself off from
    the great fountain of experiences that awaits her.”
    I’ve always felt there is a grand adventure waiting for me, I just need to be willing to reach out and grab it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/heatherfoster1 Heather Foster

    This is a very inspiring article. I am always excited to hear what other women traveler’s have to say. I love travel, but have a very limited circle of female traveler friends and of the one’s I have only 2 traveling solo like me (or not exactly like me, but they are by themselves). I do like a group on occasion, but even in a group situation I find I need time to myself to explore the place we’re traveling in. 

    It’s amazing how much of travel you actually enjoy when you travel on your own terms. I love the idea of waking up when I want to and bumbling through a city for a day or two at the beginning. For me, it’s not about the place I sleep or the familiarity of the meal, but about experiencing new things, people, dishes… anything.  I find what you say to be true, that if you employ reason… you generally keep out of trouble.  It’s very important for people to realize that good and bad personalities exist everywhere and ‘the safety rules’ as our family calls them are to be employed at all times. 
    I would go further to add, it’s important to be prepared for trouble too. As a child I picked up basic survival skills, one of those is self defense. The first part of effective self defense is to be reasonable (which you’ve outlined well) and (if you can) just run away. This first rule got me through many years of solo traveling and it is very useful. However, I have always carried some pepper spray, a personal alarm and/or a small knife. I never had to use it until last year and I was so glad to have it on me. I’ve never even had a skirmish with anyone and I’ve been through some very different cultures and very seedy places too. I’ve only ever hit anyone other than my sister (during childhood) before then 2 times in my whole life and one of those was in elementary school. So, adding #3 to my list was not exciting, but I was glad I was prepared to do it or to at least scare the hell out of the person who thought I was an easy target.  

    Of course, if I had gone back to my apartment when I was first starting to get tired, it would not have happened, but when I didn’t… I was prepared. 

  • Cathy Bourner

    No experiences to share, just kudos on a great article. I may just get out and do something that I can share in the future!

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Your driver is doing 90 around blind corners.
"Where's the snow?" asked Wentworth, arriving Paris-Dakar-style out of the moonless...
You beat your way to the next great "undiscovered" village, the ultimate "secret" beach....
And so began another epic struggle for my preexisting rights as a traveling blind man.
Once I get it in my head that in fact I may be The Dude, everything starts to pick...