Saturday, July 13, 2013

Misconceptions of the Solo Female Traveler

Yungas Road, Bolivia

Before I get into anymore of my stories and love of this magnificent world, I feel like I need to delve into the topic of 'Solo Female Traveling'. I have heard stories upon stories of females traveling and how they shouldn't go solo. Numerous friends and family members always yelling at me before each one of my adventures about going on my own.  
"It's unsafe. What are you thinking! Where do you think you are going? It is dangerous out there. I can't believe you. This is not one of your smartest choices. Just stay here; why do you need to go out there? Didn't you watch the movie Taken? (I did. Actually the first time was in Spanish and on a bus in Argentina. I found it a little too extreme.) Are you going to watch Taken 2? (No.) Have you watched Brokedown Palace? (No, but I'd like to.) Why don't you go with a friend or two?"
Teotihuacan, Mexico
Yes, I know there are issues in the world. People have been murdered, raped, held at gun point, and a more horrible list on. But why is this connected with traveling and that it is the travelers fault for being in these situations? I often tell my friends I felt more safe in Argentina than in some areas of my own neighborhood! That means that where I'm living is no different than any other state in the USA or any country in this world. Sure there are the statuses of the 'first world', 'second world', and 'third world' countries. But I happen to think that shouldn't matter.
I once looked at a list of the worlds most dangerous cities and I saw that Washington DC was on top of the list. And guess what? It's in the US, which is considered a 'first world' country. That's equal to any other country in a 'third world' country.
-Just for the record-
I don't consider or group countries/continents by 'first world', 'second world', 'third world', and so on. I believe every country is equal and I admire and appreciate everything this world offers. In fact, to me, just the offerings that each culture has to this world makes one richer than anything like money and power.
So what makes one tell me it's ok to go to Washington DC to visit the capitol and experience the historic landmarks there but I can't go to Mexico City because there is way too much 'violence'. Which I do believe to be true, but what about the violence and in our countries capitol? By the way, I did spend some time in Mexico City and I absolutely loved it. I felt very safe there and it felt normal. Just as normal as going down to Los Angeles.
Alexandria, Egypt
Why can't violence be connected with the people who make these sad choices and not be connected with those who appreciate our Earth and the beauty it offers us?
I love traveling. I grew up always wanting to learn something new. Very openminded. My parents would constantly tell me that I am a mixed race because I have a little of every culture in me. I of course appreciate my own, but I also am thankful for each person who has come into my life or who I've seen on my travels for the many things they can offer to anyone.
And I enjoy going alone. I am an independent person and I can assume most females who travel alone are also just as independent as well. We enjoy exploring new sites, heading off the unbeaten path, and gaining knowledge from places we probably would have never learned if we had stayed in the same place our whole lives. You can't learn this in any guide book (which I will never use!) and in any book you read throughout the years of schooling we are given.
I love the fact that I can go at my own pace, see what I'd like to see, and be open to last minute changes, which I'm known for doing! I like to do my research on the country I'll be going to but I usually figure out what I'll do once I get there because I find there are hidden gems in each country that you will not find normally within a regular search of your computer or guidebook.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Yes, as solo female travelers we do take extra care when we travel. We don't just go and head to dangerous zones or leave a night club on our own in the wee hours of the morning. We know better. We have good heads on our shoulders and we would never leave the country with the intentions of putting ourselves in harmful situations.
Sometimes I feel that I miss out on some things when I go alone because even I get extremely cautious at night and won't wander anywhere unless I know there will be a scene of people who are enjoying the night street food life and spending quality time with their friends. I do not attend night clubs anyway. My adventure style is to appreciate the peoples daily lives and learn more about their culture instead of partying the night away and waking up late the next morning.
Now I can probably assume you will bring up in the recent years the horrible events that have taken place in certain countries, states, and islands where there are females victims in the news and say, "Well what about them? I still do not agree with your choices and/or lifestyle." I refuse to talk about these stories in the news because I don't personally know what happened, where they were, and the precautions that were or were not taken. I feel very sad for these females and their families and I can't imagine what it feels like to lose a loved one in this kind of way. It definitely changes their perspective of travel and I completely understand their opinion.
But what I can say is that this is not an everyday occurrence. There are many in this world that choose to make unfortunate decisions that may cost someones life but you can't say that happens in only certain places. This happens everywhere. If we all lived a life scared of the world, what kind of world would we turn out to be? We cannot just live with the assumption that this world is a dangerous place and we, especially females, must not explore our land. Our Earth. It's pristine beauty.
So if you do know a female who wants to start out on her own adventure, encourage her. Give her love. Give her your friendship. Your safety tips but know she already has them in mind. Know she will email you, send you postcards, and will keep in touch to let you know she is having the time of her life. Once in awhile, you'll go a week or so without hearing from her. Before you worry, she may be in a beautiful new, off the beaten path land that has yet been touched with wifi/internet/computers/new technologies. Let her explore it and then as soon as she finds internet, she'll tell you all about it. Trust that you know what she's doing and always stay positive with her. The second you start to worry, she will feel it right away and that is the last thing you want to put on her when she is already gone. If she feels good vibes, she'll be a-ok.
Volcano Pacaya, Guatemala