Recently, there have been a disturbing number of women, traveling to a foreign country, then murdered. I woke up this morning to the news of a Norway woman and a Denmark woman having been murdered in Morocco, a place I had recently spent some time planning a solo trip for in February. In the planning phases, I researched other female bloggers who had traveled to Morocco, some of whom had horrible experiences of men following them and throwing things at them, others said if one handled the situation properly the mannerisms of the locals are not that disturbing. In the end, I decided not to go, mostly due to the fact I would not be able to stay as long as I wanted to since my kids would be in school. Of course the issue of safety tickled my mind like an annoying itch in my throat that you worry will turn into meningitis. With all the foreign travel I’ve done, I’ve never traveled alone in a foreign country. Morocco is “advanced level traveling” and if I was to travel alone in another country, perhaps western Europe would be safer.
Ideally, our fears regarding travel are about things like a microflight single engine failing, or drowning while white water rafting class V rapids. Those travel risks rev up our adrenaline and risks we want to take if not to say we lived through them, and are part of the joys of travel. We sign liability release forms without reading them thoroughly, strap in tightly and pray.
But feeling safe is more important for women in enjoying travel experiences. We may pay for a more secure hotel, not go out at night, suffer through heat because we need to cover up to be less provocative to men. WTF? Why do we need to do this because men can’t control themselves? Because being assaulted are mostly out of our control – I only say mostly because we have the obligation to use our common sense, like any tourist (male or female), and not go to seedy neighborhoods or walk out late at night alone. Unfortunately, being a woman comes with the general truths that women are often physically weaker than the men who attack them and many women don’t carry weapons while traveling.
I have no solution to the fear of traveling solo. There are great podcasts and blogs covering this issue. As an avid traveler and an introvert, I’m deeply saddened by our sisters being lost to violence while finding their joys and truths in travel and learning about other people and cultures.