Should women be traveling solo?
MANILA, Philippines - Stories of women who have died while traveling alone have shocked the world and raised questions on whether women should travel solo.
There is the tragedy met by American Julia Campbell who was killed in Batad in 2007 while on a trip to see the Banawe Rice Terraces on her own. Last February, New Yorker Sarai Sierra’s body was found near a bridge in Istanbul, Turkey. She too had been traveling alone.
In a Huffington Post article, solo traveler Leyla Giray joined in the mourning for the deaths of Sierra and other women travelers but wondered if their deaths have made us ask all the wrong questions.
She deplored some of the comments people wrote after reading news articles on Sierra’s death. Some of their comments were:
“Why was she traveling in a foreign country to take pictures when she had two young sons at home? Responsibility and parenting go hand in hand.”
“This woman deserved what she got."
“Women should never travel alone.”
Giray wrote, “Media coverage and comments about Sarai's murder uncover a clear subtext: she had it coming, and none of this would have happened had she stayed home where she belonged.”
“If she had been a man, how many commenters would have implied ‘he should have stayed home with his kids’ and ‘he deserved what he got’?” she fumed.
Giray said that such questions and comments detract from the real issue. Instead of advocating that women should not travel due to higher chances of being victims of violence, Giray said the focus should be changing mindsets that encourage violence against women.
She added, “The mere thought that any woman exercising her independence and self-reliance could be blamed for the subsequent violence against her is an insult.”
In the end, Giray empowered women solo travelers by promoting the Twitter hashtag #WeGoSolo.
Four Filipina travelers featured in Rappler in this story prove that women in all stages of life can travel.
As long as you take the right safety precautions, prepare for the trip well and sharpen your street-smarts, there is no reason why you should not travel solo.
Here are 5 reasons why #WeGoSolo:
1. It’s a confidence booster
Traveling on your own is a challenge that will require resourcefulness, patience, courage and street-smarts. From coming up with a full itinerary to getting around the exotic locale with unfamiliar modes of transportation, traveling solo is Independence 101. That’s why getting through the trip unscathed—or almost—is something to be proud of.
2. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want
Traveling alone is one of the most liberating experiences you can ever have in your life. Want to stop by a quaint book store you spotted on your way to your hotel? Go ahead. Feel like biking to your destination instead of taking a tuk-tuk? Be your guest. Going solo helps free you from the restrictions of a group that will most likely go with the “majority vote” of where to go and what to do.
3. Time for reflection
Alone-time has always been ideal for reflection. Taking a vacation away from everyone else allows you to enjoy your own company and take stock of where you are in your life and where you are going.
4. Take on a new identity
There is something refreshing about the anonymity that comes with being in a different country or locale. Nobody knows you so you can be whoever you want without fear of judgment. Want to wear crazy outfits? Want to be the mysterious woman who writes all day in a café? Want to experiment with a photography hobby even if your friends back home never pegged you as the type? You can do all those things and more. And who knows, those habits might accompany you home.
5. Meet new people
Though friends can function as wing-(wo)men and being with a group can put you more at ease when meeting new people, socializing while traveling solo can be empowering. Being alone forces you to be more sociable. You have no one else who can ask for directions, haggle for the best price or ask for recommendations about places to visit. When meeting someone new, you’ll have to employ all your personal relation skills instead of relying on your super outgoing friend. Traveling alone might just bring out the social butterfly in you.
But take this advice with a grain of salt. Be careful with who you choose to hang out with when in a different country. Keep your street-smarts about you and make sure not to put yourself in a situation in which people can take advantage of you. Never accept drinks from someone you just met. Know your hotel’s contact number in case of emergencies and never accept free rides from total strangers. - Rappler.com