Where is it safe to travel alone as a woman?

Elizabeth Meade discusses her own experience as a focal point for educating others about the dangers women encounter when they travel alone

Elizabeth Meade
8th March 2021

As a woman who has frequently traveled alone, I often tire of hearing people talk about which places are safe for single female travelers to visit. A lot of ideas about whether it's safe or not to travel to a certain country are largely based on vague public perceptions of crime levels or the effects of war in a certain place which may or may not be based on reality. For instance, it's common for people in the US to assume that Eastern Europe is dangerous, despite the fact that plenty of people have traveled there without facing problems. While there are certain dangers that female travelers face, the harsh reality is that violence directed at women is an issue in most parts of the world, and if one is concerned about large conflicts, it would be best to look up the most current information about a specific place, rather than to go on possibly-outdated ideas of where there is supposedly a war going on.

Also, while women should undoubtedly be careful when traveling, some discussions about solo female travelers imply that the problems women face abroad are caused simply by them not knowing any better, and not by larger societal factors that create an unsafe environment for women. Growing up knowing how common it is for women to be targeted for violence if they are walking alone, walking at night, drinking alcohol, in a quiet and isolated place or wearing a certain outfit, I don't think anything would convince me that I don't need to be careful in a particular place--I've felt unsafe on campus, I try to stay aware of my surroundings in my own hometown and other parts of the US and that instinct doesn't go away just because I am somewhere that I've been told is somehow more 'progressive' or 'safe for women'. It would be great if I could easily predict the possibility of violence, theft or other crimes based on vague knowledge about a city, but that sadly doesn't match the world we live in.

So when I travel alone, I keep possible dangers in mind and use common sense while not assuming that everyone is untrustworthy. In reality, most people don't want to hurt women or commit crimes; but the consequences can be highly negative when they do. I think it's important to keep an open mind despite the presence of crime because even with increases in the number of solo female travelers, serious crimes against them are relatively rare.

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
(she/her) Head of Current Affairs (News, Campus Comment, Comment, Science). Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking. Wrote the first article for Puzzles. Probably the first Courier writer to have work featured in one of Justin Whang's videos.

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