I have been travelling since I was around 17 without my parents. Five girls excitedly sat on a plane towards the European quarters of Greece and Spain. Sure, I got myself into a couple of scrapes (all my own fault), but I took care of myself, and we took care of each other. Since then I have spent four months in Greece, a few months travelling India and graced a number of other European cities.
Now, I am travelling the world for nearly three years. And right now I am in Colombia. OK, so I am with my partner, who is half-Colombian, but we are living in a country that has been described as one of the most “dangerous” places to travel. And yet, this being my second trip here, I have always found the realities of this statement to be entirely false. Last time, on a backpacking trip to the north coast we met a solo female traveller from France, a truly inspiring lady who was afraid of nothing, she would sleep anywhere to extend her travels and could climb and eat anything. She was incredible. And in the city of Cali where I am living now, I have seen a number of “Gringas”, the name for all white female tourists, American or otherwise, in the “scary” bar area of the city that remind me a lot of me and my friends in the bars of Greece or Spain over ten years ago, enjoying an exciting new place.
These examples are just two of many here in Colombia, and I am not denying there aren’t threats in this country, there are threats everywhere, particularly in cities. But why is this threat exclusive to women? For a long time now women have been able to travel freely around the world, finally, an achievement for womankind to grab hold of this freedom, but now we are faced with the restrictions of where and why. Did you know that statistically women are more likely to face violence from their husband than from travelling solo?
The violence against women is placed as a threat to women, on the shoulders of women. Why should a woman hold back on her dreams because there COULD be some dangers to her? It’s like never driving in case someone crashes into you or not going for that job in case you don’t get it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t all of the same dangers apply to men? If people really mean that these dangers apply only to women, than they are implying they are of a nature that could not possible happen to men – except we all know that’s a lie, and even the most grotesque acts most definitely could happen to men.
The taboo around female travellers should have finished decades ago. We cannot create entirely safe environments for anyone anywhere, of course, abuse and misunderstanding of different cultures, gender and race happens everywhere. But what needs to be recognised, is that its the lack of education causing these threats that is the main issue, not female travellers.
I have also seen disturbing articles about places that black females travelling alone should never visit – including avoiding continent-sized countries China, Russia and even the USA. In my view, the world is everyone’s oyster, and the more people travel it, the more educated people will become. It’s our right as women of all races and cultures to experience the world. When I visited India I was of course the only blonde woman in most places, but the intrigue and interest from the Indian people was heart warming and even if it was occasionally a little scary, all of us came away having learnt something – that we are all women. And that we are all people.
If you plan to travel solo or with a group as a woman it’s time to go for it – what you will gain from travelling the world outweighs the risks of travelling every time.