“Tu no te puedes ir sola….”
Infamous words of my abuela. Whether it be to the store late at night, or across the world on my travels, I should never go alone. “¿Y Porqué?” – frustrated that I was always being told this.
“Por que eres una niña.”
Why does my gender suddenly make me incapable of protecting myself? Why is it taboo for me to be out alone, or travel alone, just because I am female. Men face just as much of a risk taking the train at 2 am. Men have been victimized abroad. So why are we a target, just because we are girls?
It’s not just abuela who worries. I’ve had friends and even strangers ask me, “but aren’t you scared/worried/afraid?” Absolutely not! Who’s to say something can’t happen to me in my own neighborhood? Why should that fear stop me from exploring and learning?
Don’t get me wrong, I️ have been followed, harassed, even gotten garbage thrown at me. My big mouth has gotten me into trouble more than I️ can count. So maybe don’t follow in my footsteps exactly. I’m the type of girl that will curse out cat-callers (and it’s not the smartest reaction, especially abroad!).
In an ideal world, men would understand to respect a woman and her body, that we are not objects or property. If anyone finds this perfect world, let me know how to buy my ticket! Chicas, let me tell you NOTHING you do, say, or wear will make you more or less of a target! Let me give you an example:
I went out one night with a group from my riad in Morocco. One girl in the group was wearing sweatpants and a hoodie. Nothing revealing, nothing tight-fitting, but she was blessed with curves. A man approached us very nicely and asked if we wanted to sit down and have tea in his café. No, but thank you, we replied. This. Dude. Went. Off.
“How dare you come to my country dressed like that”
“How dare you walk on the street”
“You whore, you should be ashamed”
Now you may be saying, “Well that story doesn’t make me feel better about traveling alone!” Yeah, I see what you mean, but I want to show that you can follow customs, not try and draw attention to yourself, take all precautions necessary, or not. At the end of the day, you have to be aware of your surroundings and try and make smart decisions in case of uncomfortable situations.
Abuela was raised in a different time, and I understand her concerns come from a good place. More and more women are following their heart to travel solo and realizing the rewarding experience it is! I’m a strong believer that you should be able to be comfortable alone. Traveling alone is an eye-opening experience, it allows you to truly push yourself out of your comfort zone. Plus, traveling alone means you can do and see whatever is on your list, without having to worry about compromising with a travel buddy!
Book that flight and explore that country you have always wanted to! Don’t ever let other peoples fears dictate your life, dreams, and goals. And if you don’t feel comfortable traveling alone, let me know why, or better yet TAKE ME WITH YOU!