Traveling Alone (Gasp)

by June 23, 2012
filed under Life

Traveling AloneI find that the idea of traveling will stir up a lot of different reactions in people. Traveling alone, in particular. Traveling alone as a young woman will raise the heated opinions in full force. The vast majority, given the choice, would probably prefer to travel with a group, or on a fun and safe family vacation. Both have their highs and lows for sure, but nothing quite compares to the freedom and experience of traveling alone. It’s something I think all women with a hunger for adventure should experience. The risks of doing so can be bested like any others by simply being well-informed.

If you’re like me, the idea of traveling solo sounds awesome. It’s a chance to have a grand old adventure like you dreamed of when you were a kid. Maybe it’s just me, but I always thought being the princess locked in the highest tower sounded a bit dull. I would much rather be the heroic knight, riding a mighty steed as I overcome obstacles and fight dragons for his beloved.

However, if you’re anything like my grandmother, every trip has the potential for you to be kidnapped and sold into slavery. Grandma does have a point, though. If you’ve never seen the movie Taken, (starring Liam Neeson), I recommend watching it. It’s a real eye opener to the dangers of traveling as a woman.

Make no mistake ladies, no matter where you go in the world, there will always be violence against women. There will always be crime and there will always be danger. You’ve heard the countless horror stories. That doesn’t mean you have to become the next news headline or the latest missing person. After all, dragons are fought with swords and shields, so when traveling alone, it’s best to bring your street smarts.

There are a few rules I like to live by when traveling – some taken from common sense, others borrowed from the unfortunately long list of examples we have. The first one I’d like to borrow from Taken: Don’t ever share a cab with a stranger, or tell a stranger where you’re staying/going. Basically, don’t give anyone you don’t know too much information about your situation. It’s also a given that you should lock your doors at night. Remember, keeping a little mystery about yourself is a good thing!

The second one is mainly for us women. When you’re going somewhere foreign, it would be a good idea to do a little research into the culture and customs of wherever you’re going. Politeness and observance of these customs shows respect for the country and its people. It’s much better than accidentally offending someone and ending up in a bad situation. For example, when visiting Japan it is considered impolite not to remove your shoes when you enter a dwelling like a household or certain spiritual temples. Usually there are signs asking you to politely remove footwear. It’s a good idea if you do, as it shows respect for your host.

A second example of following certain rules is the ever-present dress code. Last year I took a trip to China, and of course I was advised not to wear immodest clothing and to be respectful. Basically ladies, be aware of what you’re wearing. The clothes you wear convey a message, and they can sometimes attract unwanted attention. Yes it’s nice to look fun and flirty, but be aware that you are a guest, and some may find your attire less fun than you do.

My third rule is much like my solution to bullying or harassment: Stand up for yourself. If someone is bothering you, let them know firmly, but not forcibly. I normally don’t condone outright violence, especially in a foreign place where you may not speak the language. You can, however, get your point across to someone by your tone and body language. If someone bothers you, tell them off or simply remove yourself from the situation. In the worst case scenario, seek help from someone or, on the chance you know karate or tae kwan do, put it too good use in self-defence.

Traveling alone can be an exciting and immensely beneficial experience; however, it isn’t without its challenges and dangers. It doesn’t have to be feared, as long as you are well prepared and knowledgeable. The most important thing is to be aware. Be the knight and say yes to the adventure. Get out of the tower room and get swept off your feet by the amazing adventure.

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