I can 100% guarantee that the ladies reading this post have experienced unsolicited physical contact and gazes while out and about at least once in their lives – whether they were in a foreign country or not. And I’m sure we can all agree that the fear of being kidnapped, raped, beaten, and other frightening, unimaginable experiences is a very real thing, especially when you’re all alone in an unfamiliar environment.
One of the biggest myths about traveling as identified by New York Times best selling author Nomadic Matt is that travel is dangerous for women.
“Men and women both face risks on the road, but women do face additional hazards men don’t and have to be extra cautious in certain circumstances. However, the “if it bleeds, it leads” approach to reporting highlights only the negative stories and bolsters the perceptions that the world is so scary that solo female travel is very, very unsafe and murderers lurk behind every corner. That’s not true at all. You have a higher chance of getting hit by a bus than you do of ending up like in the movie Taken.” – Matt Kepner of Nomadic Matt
As a woman of colour who shares the same passion for traveling as Nomadic Matt does, I can tell you that I completely agree.
Speaking from personal experience, the people you meet while traveling – no matter where you are in the world – generally have good hearts and have the best intentions for you.
But we should still take precautions as solo female travellers.
I thought I would share some of my frequently used bold-faced lies I’ve unapologetically told in the interest of my safety and well-being while traveling.
My hope is that you ladies will find the following lies useful in defending yourselves from unwanted attention, and my dream is that one day, we will live a world where we no longer have to use them!
Lie #1: “My husband is on his way!”
The fact that men don’t respect your decision to say “no” until they realize you are in some sort of relationship with another man still puzzles me to this day. In rural areas, I’ve even gone as far as to purchase a fake wedding ring to deter men who just don’t get it. You must be strategic about the ring you purchase, too. The diamond must be large enough so that people can see it glisten on your left ring finger, but not so large that people will think you have a lot of disposable income – otherwise they’ll just take advantage of you especially when it comes to bargaining and cab rides.
Lie #2: *Picks up phone* “Yup, I’m almost there!”
Whenever I get into a cab, I pretend I’m on the phone with someone who is going to be meeting me at my destination. It even helps to say how far away you are from your destination, your current location, and your estimated time of arrival. You can use Google Maps to keep track of your route to make sure your driver isn’t going out of his way to scam you – or worse. And always take a photo or make note of the cab license plate before getting in.
Lie #3: My current location on social media
For bloggers and other social media fanatics, resisting the urge to instantly share the most glamorous (and admittedly highly curated) pieces of our lives can be quite a challenge.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to be in the loop. I like watching Snapchat and Instagram stories. And I like creating Snapchat and Instagram stories, too. But if Kim Kardashian’s recent Paris hotel robbery has taught us anything, it’s that it’s perhaps better to keep our whereabouts private during the day. It’s the same reason I turn my Snapchat data off during the day and upload my stories simultaneously when I get home. It’s also why I will probably never use the new live video feature on any platform. After all, I can always keep in contact with family members through private messages to let them know about my itinerary.
Try not to post anything on social media until you’re safe and sound. You still had an awesome day – it’s okay if people don’t know about it right this second. Besides, cultivating an air of mystery around your activities keeps people on their toes. They’ll start looking forward to your next post to see where you end up next!
All the above aside, my best piece of advice when traveling alone as a woman is to listen to your intuition. Like I said, most people are good people. After all, you’re out seeing the world! Have fun! Live a little!
Just remember that your gut is pretty damn good at discerning between those who want to help you, and those who want to hurt you.
All you have to do is trust it.