A Solo Woman
I am a solo woman traveler (for the most part). I book my own flights. I take myself to the airport. I carry my own bags (however heavy they may be), I ride solo in planes crossing oceans and continents. I hail cabs in big cities near and far. I ride public transit when possible. I find my way around cities (lost but making good time). And I do all of this for the most part solo.
Having been raised mostly by my mother (I had a father but he wasn’t exactly the “present type”), I was always encouraged and empowered to do whatever I wanted. To be whatever I dreamt of being. Granted my mom always hoped I would “find that special someone” and “settle down” eventually. I’ve told her not to lose hope. There is still much time left for that. But in that same breath, wishing those things for me, she is also telling me to go. To move far away. To embrace the side of me that thirsts for knowledge and adventure.
Many people have this idea that to travel solo, especially as a woman is, well many things. Silly, improper, and unsafe. I adamantly disagree with all these notions.
My first point of contention “Silly”. Why do we deem it good and desirable for a man to be worldly but not a woman? Why should a man have any more right to an experience than me? We both have brains capable of learning. We both have emotions capable of feeling. Simply because the majority of the world lies within a patriarchal society does not mean a man’s choice to travel is any less silly than mine.
Much of the world still seems to have the “Scarlet O’Hare” mindset; meaning that a woman needs a man to not only keep her safe but for proprieties sake. That a woman is “less” when unaccompanied by a man. That this somehow makes her immoral or inferior. I can’t grasp this mindset for the life of me. Women are the ones who carry children. With the sometimes swift assistance of a man, they propagate the earth. Without women, humankind would not be. So why must a woman have a man at all times when he is only truly needed for so little.
And last, that traveling alone is somehow so much more unsafe for women than it is for me. In all fairness this is true. With incidents occurring on a daily basis where women are violated simply because we are seen as possessions of men who can do with us as they please, being a woman in the world today, has seen a fairly sharp decline in our safety. But why should this stop me from traveling? Life is an uncertain journey, as is every trip. I have the choice to either hold up in my home where I feel safe but never experience the multitude of things I desire to or to go out and take that chance. And it should be noted that while there are risks for women travelers, there is also a risk for male travelers.
Women, we need to stop feigning weakness. We are not weak. We are stronger than we could ever imagine. So instead of feeling that the only way to travel is with someone, try traveling alone. It might be a bit scary at first but you will never know the joy of the experience if you never try.