15 April 2012

Bravery, and Traveling Alone As A Woman

I have never been described as ‘brave’. I’m the kind of person who rehearses all of her conversations in advance. I only rode my first upside-down roller coaster after about 12 years of persuasion. I have to get a second opinion on everything. As such, I’ve always demonstrated characteristics that are the opposite of what it takes to make a person courageous.  
I've always aspired to live life like this internet meme character. 

But, the more I travel across Europe, the more I hear people using the word ‘brave’ to describe me and my adventures. When I first started traveling, it never really occurred to me that getting on a plane and traveling to exotic places on my own was something that most women my age would not do. It’s just that I don’t normally have anyone that will accompany me on my travels, but it doesn’t stop me from going anywhere – and being a young woman doesn’t make me fear traveling on my own.

I really don't know why I feel so differently about travelling than I do public speaking or carnival rides. But, as a woman who has traveled several places on her own, I have discovered that there is - in fact - nothing to fear. I’m 5-foot even and weigh about 100 pounds, and I have actually never felt threatened while going on about my travels in Europe. I suppose I do a few special things to make myself feel a bit safer, so I'll share them with you. So, if you're a little worried about being a lady and travelling alone, I hope that employing these tactics will make you feel a little more secure:

1. Protect your belongings. Make sure there is a safe in your room so you can store all of your important documents and only bring as much money as you plan on spending when you leave the hotel. Keep your money close to your body (sometimes, I keep it in my bra or in a pocket on the inside of my jacket) and hold your purse close.

2. Dress appropriately. If you travel during the summer, it will get hot, but keep your bits covered up. Showing lots of cleavage and wearing shorts that leave little to the imagination may not be a big deal in the UK, United States or Canada – but it can be misconstrued abroad. Take some tasteful dresses and shorts that extend beyond your butt-cheeks.

3. Be social and friendly. When you seem make yourself seem guarded, locals can be put off, thinking you are being rude. So, just relax, make eye contact, say hello and keep walking.

4. European men are notorious lotharios and you will find that you get approached more often than you would at home. When this happens, don’t be rude or act guarded. Just be friendly and turn down their advances. In case of especially persistent suitors, learn the phrase ‘boyfriend’ or ‘husband.

(If you are particularly hot stuff, buy a fake wedding band/engagement ring from Primark or Claire’s. It’s really good man-deterrent.)

5. Be smart. Act the same way you would at home. Don’t accept drinks from men you don’t know. Don’t walk around lonely areas at night (save money for cabs or stay in a hotel in a busy area). It’s also a good idea to memorize the number of the hotel and be sure you know how to use a payphone or make roaming/international calls from your cell. If you get into any trouble, hotel receptionists can be very helpful.

1 comment:

  1. Good comments as so many women alone tales are over careful. When I 'ran away from home' at a late age friends thought I was either Crazy or Couragous to travel alone. I was neither, just wanted to travel - and did so for a year with no plans or bookings, and then again for a year, and another year - reinventing myself as a nomadic travel writer. (

    Now - for the very first time, I am going on a trip ( as the group leader)with 4 others .. cruising from Amsterdam to Budapest for a couple of weeks! As one of my books is called 'naked in Budapest' and the cruise finishes there, I hope to be naked there again!!