I’m a female biracial solo traveler with tattoos. When I talk about my travels people ask, “Isn’t it dangerous?” Isn’t it dangerous to be alone in a foreign country as a woman? Well, yes. It is dangerous but is it more dangerous than living everyday life in any western country? No, not really.
I saw an article that was, “Safest Places for Female Solo Travelers in Europe,” and I thought, where isn’t safe in Europe? Most countries are fine though Italy, France and Spain are infamous for having grabby men. But there’s plenty of grabby men in my hometown of Albuquerque, NM too.
When I first visited Europe I was harassed in every country I went to. Why? Well, other than being female I think my tattoos, my height or just the fact that I’m busty, might have something to do this.
One situation that was particularly scary, I had my first solo trip to Barcelona for a week. I had an unfortunate incident with a cab driver that was trying to get me to exchange sex for a free ride. He asked me, “When was the last time you had sex?” And I said, “None of your business take me to my hostel.” “You seem stressed. Sex helps with stress,” he kept patronizing me. “Dejame en paz, quiero ir mi hostel! (Leave me alone. I want to go to my hostel)” I shouted at him. Finally, he took me to my hostel. If I had been more drunk, less on my guard, if I didn’t know Spanish: things could have been a lot worse. But sadly, this exact same situation happened to my friend in New York City, where she lives. This situation isn’t isolated by country. It’s just an overall view that women are weak sex object.
Yes, I’ve been catcalled, my ass grabbed on the metro, I’ve had my hair pulled by a stranger, been cornered, been followed but all of that happens in my hometown as well as in my travels. I’m sure it’s worse in other countries but the fact remains I’m in fear for my safety whenever I walk out the door. You just can’t win! As women we are taught our simple existence means, “We are asking for it.” This attitude is prevalent in so many cultures. However, I’m not going to let it run my life.
Since my first time in Europe I’ve learned a couple of things: if I show a my body, my tattoos or my American accent, I’m a target. I can avoid alcohol, I can cover up and I can be assertive but I still might be harassed. Traveling alone as a woman is not more dangerous than walking around any major city.
My point is, it is scary being a woman. But a life lived in fear is no life at all. There are things you can do to protect yourself. And by simply being and speaking about your life on your terms, you can change the narrative. I’m a female biracial solo travel and by doing what I do, I set an example to other women, they can do it too. And more of us are going out and traveling. And we should keep striving to see the world and show people that we can be independent, strong and survive until it is the norm. Until everyone across cultures can be able to say, “I’ve met a strong woman that travels alone.”
My tips for female solo travelers:
- Try to blend in. Try to dress like a local or at least be a bit covered up. You don’t want to cause attention to yourself.
- If you have tattoos people can be a little grabby so if you can, it’s a good idea to hide them.
- Don’t drink much. You need to be aware.
- Have your information and accommodation written down in two places in case you get lost.
- Try to learn the phrases in whatever country you are in. In Spanish Leave me alone, “Dejame en paz.” Or help me, “Soccoro.” Or just the word, asshole, “pandejo.”
- Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. You can tell a guy to fuck off. IF you are nice or politely ask them to leave, most European men don’t listen. They only understand a slap to the face or a stern fuck off.
- If you are going out at night, go with a group. I like to go on pub crawls for this reason. But even if you are in a group still don’t drink too much and if someone is bothering you tell the guide and if it continues leave. Don’t stay in a bad situation.
Keep exploring and don’t let anyone get in the way of your goals.
Other blog posts you might like:
Solo travel: https://sangriastainedlips.com/2015/05/28/reasons-why-solo-travel-isnt-as-scary-as-it-sounds/
Resources for trip planning: https://sangriastainedlips.com/2015/06/24/resources-tips-for-trip-planning/
Pros and Cons of Pub Crawls: https://sangriastainedlips.com/2015/10/26/pros-cons-of-pub-crawls/