When I was first starting to travel, I remember the warnings upon warnings I had received from others (mostly of a certain generation). This most often related to the fact that I was traveling on my own and, unfortunately, my gender. Since the first days of exploration at age 21 until now, I’ve been all over the world—sometimes on my own, sometimes with others.
I try to write a post a year on this blog to encourage women to travel. As a proud feminist, I’ve learned that one of the most empowering action we can take as women is to venture out into the world, to see how others live, and to see how we can change the world. Statistically, the average traveler is a 47-year-old single woman—and they are the most likely to participate in adventure travel or trips that encourage cultural understanding.
And guess what? Women are 73% more likely to travel alone than men.
Which isn’t to say we don’t face specific challenges on the road that our male counterparts do not. Sexual harassment, violence, and feeling unsafe is more likely too. But the best way to combat that isn’t to stay inside our homes and hide—the best way to change the world is to know what we’re facing and to prove to the world that we can do what naysayers say we can’t.
I’ve struggled as a female traveler, having been stalked by a man on a moped in Italy, walking on my own in the dark in Austria and hoping I was getting on the right train, to being publicly jeered at in Egypt. I’ve had to be careful, but I’ve also learned that the world is a much kinder place than I ever could have imagined. I had struggled with body issues and self-esteem problems years before I began my travels. Since then, the confidence I have I earned has come because I was willing to take a small risk for a great reward.
I did not choose to be born as this gender, just as many would not choose to be born within the certain confines of race, culture, or sexuality. But as my dear friend Ruth said the other day, I will have no “rocking chair” regrets. Living well is one of the hardest aspects of life that each of us has to discover, and I strongly encourage those of all genders, races, sexuality, and culture to travel if you have the privilege to.
Make the world a better place by seeing the world so you can know how you can help and your place in it.