To craft rugged luxury itineraries for open minded explorers seeking faraway and bespoke experiences
You’re walking home from the bar you have become a regular at since your stay here. You might be alone, or with another girlfriend. Your apartment is only a few blocks away so you don’t think much about the lonely trek, you kind of enjoy the peace after the hustle of the bar. You’ve had some drinks and are feeling good about the fun you’ve just had meeting new people, the excitement of your travels, getting to know locals, and absorbing a new culture. Your mind is buzzing with ideas of what happens next and the drinks your favorite bartender just gave you for free.
Most nights you get home without anyone bothering you. But something about tonight is different. As you’re walking you feel uneasy, you think maybe you hear footsteps behind you, but then maybe its all in your head, who would want to bother you anyways? Your heart races and you start to pick up your pace.
This story ends in many ways. Rape culture is still very real all over the world, and though a change of culture is long past overdue, the fact of the matter is, as a woman traveling solo you have to remain protected at all points in time.
The night for metaphorical “you” in the story above could have ended with safely arriving in your apartment, fears just being anxiety, with a stolen purse, or so many worse situations.
There is a never-ending battle in every traveling woman’s head, the struggle of wanting to truly relax and enjoy the culture and those around you for all they bring, and remaining true to your fears about how the world is not all warm and cozy. In real life traveling is not cute Instagram photos. Everywhere I go I see girls doing stupid stupid things to “get the shot”, or to “be a local”. No ma’am, you are in fact not acting like a local when you’re on study abroad and drink 4 too many rum and diet cokes and your friends have to drag you to your apartment because you can’t walk on cobblestone.
When you’re alone it’s scary. The only person you can trust is yourself, you won’t have your friends there to carry you home, mom is in a different timezone, and even putting yourself in the element of just having a few drinks can alter your decisions and turn what was a great night into a front page headline in your hometown.
We’ve all made bad decisions, its what makes us human. We all want to have fun and let loose, especially when we are on vacation. But as a solo woman conquering an unfamiliar place, being observant and taking precautions is necessary. It’s been said time and time again, but put pepper spray or mace on your keychain. And if you haven’t done this already- seriously? What is wrong with you? Stop what you are doing right now and go buy some…really. This article will still be here when you get back. If your excuse is they won’t allow it on planes, think again. As long as its under the “travel size” rules, and won’t self-implode, then you’re good. Of course check with your airline before departure, but most allow it. When you go out, be comfortable, wear things that would quickly allow you to get away, and try and respect the norms of the culture you are in, after all you are there to learn and adapt. If it is uncommon for women to go out in mini skirts and those weird bralette cropped shirt things, maybe you should consider not going out in that. Think about what their sex culture is, as it may be vastly different from what it is here in the US. Europeans tend to be more lax about sex, and Americans as a whole think they can get away with slut-shaming everyone (of course there are exceptions to every rule). I hate to say it, but don’t drink as much as you would at home, and if you’re staying somewhere for an extended period of time try and find a good group of friends you can trust that will have your back if you need something.
Believe me, I am not a proponent of “She was wearing that, she was asking for it.” It absolutely disgusts me. It is never a woman’s fault for a sexual assault. Anything but yes means no, and I firmly believe that a woman should be allowed to wear whatever she wants without fear of repercussion.
The sad, pathetic fact of the matter is society isn’t there yet, and if you’re 1000 miles or more away from home you can run out of options very quickly. Not only when it comes to sexual assault, but robbery, or any crime that can leave you helpless. Petty crime is a real problem all over the world, especially in big cities and metro areas, and if you don’t have a Plan B, things can get complicated very fast.
Before we can change society, traveling women, we have to protect ourselves. There is a balance to be found, and since we’re women, I know we can do it.
Things need to change, and fast. There will always be creeps out there and you can never prepare yourself for every situation, but you can try as best as possible.
Protect yourself, and be wary, but do not live in fear. Keep a weather eye out, but let your mental walls down and open up to people. You never know what someone has to offer you, until you can give yourself to them.