As a woman, travelling solo is one of the most empowering things you can do. It builds confidence and shows you just how independent and resilient you truly are. More than that, you get to adventure on your own terms and do what you want, when you want. That being said, as a woman, traveling solo can be scary and awkward at times. More than that it can be down right dangerous too. As a woman, you’ll find yourself in situations that a man may not necessary find himself in if he were travelling solo either. Here are five totally awkward solo travel situations that women find themselves in and how to handle them.
Locals wonder why you’re unmarried at your age
Living in china for two and a half years of my life, I found myself having this conversation a lot. I want that old to begin with – I was in my mid-twenties so for a western woman, this was the prime time of your life to be travelling, exploring and having all sorts of adventures. Not the case in China. I often found myself being underestimated by the males in the school I was teaching at because I just was not married. It was like marriage and kids would unlock another area of “acceptance” in society. So how do you handle these situations?
What to do
Start by being mindful of the cultural differences between you and the country you’re visiting in. Often many of the comments and questions you’ll get that make you feel uneasy are spurred by cultural curiosities. It’s easy to get frustrated at locals when they make comments like “Oh you should be married by now” or “Isn’t it too late for you to have children” or “you shouldn’t be travelling without a husband”. Put to down to cultural curiosities – the locals are just as curious about you and your culture as you are about them. Answer the awkward questions as best you feel and move on to having a great trip.
You’re being followed by a random stranger
Travelling solo as a woman can be dangerous at times. The world is full of creeps and its best we just admit and accept it now. It’s the hard reality of the situation but that shouldn’t stop us as women from travelling and having adventures. We just need to be even more prepared, smarter and vigilant that we usually would if on a group vacation. So, what do you do when a random stranger doesn’t leave you alone, or worse, creepily follows you around?
What to do
The quickest and easiest thing you can do is to keep yourself surrounded by people. Make your way to a crowded place and stay there until the person disappears. Tell someone trust worthy around you, like a waitress, store owner or if you can, find a policeman. Go into a hotel reception if you have to. If none of those are options, stop a taxi and get as fast as you can.
You get asked where is your partner or when is your partner arriving
Picture this: you walk into the hotel lobby after a long flight, ready to check in. the concierge staff asks when is your husband arriving. You’re on a tour guide and the couple next to you ask: where is your partner. You answer with, “Well actually I’m travelling alone on this trip” and get the most awkward look in response. Yes, it happens ladies.
What to do
Accept the situation for what it is. You are travelling solo and there isn’t anyone arriving. Remind yourself what you’re doing this solo in the first place – because you’re a strong independent woman. Smile, answer and move on. Sometimes answering and then asking a completely different question in response changes the conversation direction and lightens the mood. Either way, don’t feel offended. These questions will always come up so own it, and move on.
You wander into an unknown area that makes you feel unsafe
One of the greatest things about exploring new and unheard-of places is that if you wander far and deep enough, you will find something beautiful. That being said, sometimes wandering may lead you down a dark alleyway or on to a shady street that makes you feel unsafe.
What to do
Be smart about your choices. As much as I’m up for exploring off the beaten path places, if something feels dodgy to me, I’m going to get out of there. Don’t be afraid to cut short your explorations if you feel unsafe. Trust your intuition and turn around as fast as you can and walk back to the nearest busy street. If you find yourself lost without any idea of where you are, then call yourself an Uber.
You’re invited on a night out on the town with random strangers
So, you’re traveling solo and you meet a great group of people. The vibe feels great and they even invite you come out for some drinks and to go dancing with them. Sounds like a great idea! I mean even though you’re travelling solo, going to a bar along can be a bit of a drag, but at the same time, you feel a little apprehensive because, well, you’re a female. Anything could happen.
What to do
Your apprehension is right – anything could happen at a bar and well, you just don’t know these people well enough. That being said, you just need to be extra cautious about what’s happening around you. The unsaid rule: Buy your own drinks and never leave them unattended. Always be wary of the people around you and keep your drink covered. Drink to enjoy yourself and not to get drunk. The reality of the situation is, if you do get drunk and lose control of your senses there isn’t anyone you can trust around you to make sure you get home okay.