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5 Experiences That Have Shown Me That Solo Female Travel is Not as Dangerous as the World Tells Us

There’s a lot of negativity flying around lately about solo female travel. The Huffington Post just released a list of the most dangerous places for women to travel alone, so I took a peek. I was surprised at some of the names, having been to 3/16 cities and never experienced anything worse than the usual. I know plenty of other solo female travellers who have been to more of these places and are equally confused.

It’s difficult to read a piece like that, when I, along with so many others, am trying to break the stereotype that travelling alone as a woman is dangerous. It makes it hard to write about how my time alone in Paris made me realize how in love I was with travel, or that New York City is the perfect place for a Girl’s weekend, when these cities are flagged as some of the most dangerous places for women to travel.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying travelling as a solo female is a walk in the park. I get harassed, I’ve been followed, and I’ve been scared. But, the same things have happened to me at home. Sadly, it’s a part of being a woman, and although some places are supposedly better than others, there will always be a couple of jerks who make things difficult. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel or visit certain cities any more than it means you shouldn’t walk out your front door. You just need to be smart and practice general safety; the same as you probably already do in your hometown.

So, in yet another effort to encourage solo female travel, I’ve compiled a small list of personal experiences I’ve had while travelling that have shown me the good in the world. With over 6 months on the road, there have been more than I can count, but I chose these ones because they had the potential to go wrong and, if I can be so dramatic, turn into the next ‘Taken’. But they didn’t. Because despite the media and the couple of jerks that are out there, the world is a good place. People are kind and willing to help. And sometimes it takes being a young girl alone in a strange place to realize that.

Here are five personal stories showing why I believe that solo female travel is not dangerous.

solo female travel is not dangerous

photo credit: Kelsey Meagher

 

  • Lost on the Canals in Venice

During my first visit to Venice in 2013, the docks for the vaporettos were under construction. In the confusion, I took the wrong one and instead of cruising down the Grand Canal to my B&B for the next few days, I ended up going out to the islands. I watched my fellow passengers get off as we continued. Time kept ticking and despite scanning every sign at every stop, none of them matched the words on the piece of paper in my hands. After over an hour on the water, we pulled back into the main dock and I realized that, in true Hannah style, I had taken the wrong vaporetto.

I wasn’t the only one that noticed I was lost, and the young Italian driver approached me and asked where I was going. I showed him my instructions and, upon a quick explanation that the dock for that vaporetto had moved, he grabbed my bag and told me to follow him.

Young girl, lost in Venice, following a strange Italian man through a construction zone away from the crowds… What would happen?

He told me his name, chatted about some great places I should visit, and led me to the exact vaporetto I needed. He even told the driver I wasn’t quite sure where I was going,and asked him to point out the stop to me. I ended up giving my new friend (Giacomo) a hug and thanking him for being so kind to me.

The Grand Canal in Venice

The Grand Canal in Venice

  • Going the Wrong Direction in Switzerland

Also in 2013, I took the train in the wrong direction in Switzerland and instead of heading back to Geneva I went into the interior of Switzerland; about 2 hours in the wrong direction, at night, alone. I had no idea what to do other than knock on the conductor’s door and explain what happened. He told me to sit tight and he would tell me when to get off and where to go. And, when we arrived, he even walked with me to the office to show me the schedule, telling me what train to get on when.

The next train came along and, making extra sure, I asked if it was going to where I needed. Turns out it was…sort of. I had to go to another main station and get a bus. Like the conductor before, this one was equally helpful and got off the train with me to find a bus that would take me to Montreux, where I could catch a train to Geneva. It was late, I was the only person needing a ride, and yet one driver agreed to take me, and wouldn’t take any money for it. There I was; a solo female alone in a strange country, with no one else around, relying on strange men. And it all worked out. Not only did they help me, but they went above and beyond in making sure I got where I needed to go safely.

Swiss Alps

Swiss Alps

  • Knocking on a Stranger’s Door in Rural Germany

Keeping with the theme of taking the wrong train, in 2011 I ended up in a small farming village in rural  Germany instead of the fairy tale walled city I was headed for (the difference between Rothenburg, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber). After walking up and down the main road for about 40 minutes I realized that there was no way this was the right place. But I was in a little town, not a city. There were no obvious restaurants or hotels. So, I did the only thing I could think of and picked a door and knocked on it.

Luckily, the woman who answered spoke English and quickly brought me inside to find the proper train schedule for me. Turns out I was hours in the wrong direction, in a place so completely random that if someone wanted to, they could make me completely disappear. But no, the kind woman filled my water bottle for me, printed out the train schedule, and sent me on my way with a smile and warm wishes.

 

Road sign in the small town

Road sign in the small town of Rothenburg

  • Broken ATM in Punta Cana

In 2012 I spent an awesome week being a beach bum and dancing the nights away at a resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. While the resort was all inclusive I wanted to go out on some excursions, but was pretty surprised to find out that my credit card had been compromised ($1000 dollars in music purchased from Lichtenstein) and, as my luck would have it, the ATM at the hotel wasn’t working. I spoke to a man at reception and next thing I knew I was on a golf cart being taken off resort (heaven forbid) to a local area where all the staff lived. The only white girl in the area, I waited my turn, took out my cash, and chatted with some of the employees I recognized from the resort. When I was done, I waved goodbye and was safety returned back to the front desk where I could book my snorkelling adventure.

The Caribbean

The Caribbean

  • Reliant on a Cab in Dublin

My first time abroad was me moving to Ireland. Unfamiliar with the area I took a cab to the train station in Dublin, rather than trying to figure out the bus system. I got a friendly driver who was quick to ask about my story; where I was from, and what I was doing in Ireland. I told him everything, I had a work visa, it was my first time abroad and I was headed to Galway. In return he gave me some great tips and told me how brave I was, which turned into a conversation about his little girl. As we arrived at the station he took out his business card and wrote his cell phone number on it, telling me that if I ever needed anything at all to please give him a call. Alone in a new country, that meant the world to me and, three years later, I still have his card.

Temple Bar, Dublin

Temple Bar, Dublin

I’m not saying trust everyone. I’m not saying don’t be careful. But I do encourage everyone to consider the stories that media doesn’t tell us; the stories about the good in the world, the stories like the ones I shared above. Most of all, I encourage you to get out there and make your own observations and decisions. I think you’ll find that the world isn’t quite as scary as some make it out to be.

Solo Female Travel Is not Dangerous

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42 thoughts on “5 Experiences That Have Shown Me That Solo Female Travel is Not as Dangerous as the World Tells Us

  1. Anna

    I love these stories! So heartwarming to read about the kindness of complete strangers. 🙂 Getting on a wrong train and getting dumped off in the middle of nowhere is one of my worst travel fears (and luckily, D makes sure that never happens), but your stories show that it’s not the worst to happen, and that people are kind. I have been in situations before where I feel like strangers went out of their way to help me find what I’m looking for. I really do believe that people in the world, in general, are more kind than not. 🙂

  2. Nikita

    I love reading about the kindness of strangers! I have a ton of these stories compared to the handful of harrassment ones, and none that consist of actual danger. Also, my first experience abroad was also on a working visa in Galway. Honestly one of the best places to experience the kindness of absolute strangers!

    1. Hannah Logan Post author

      GALWAY TWINS! Haha Love it! And it’s so true, everyone is always asking if anything bad happened to me but really, I have WAY more good stories to share. People need to start asking more about that.

  3. Francesca @onegrloneworld

    Thank you so much for this Hannah… it really encouraged me! I am an avid solo female traveler, but I’ve retired that hat for the last couple years so the media was starting to get into my head again! That article of most dangerous places was complete trash by the way! It’s sad that so many “resources” like that exist, because it can be really discouraging! Especially for those who haven’t traveled before. Your stories are heart warming and have reminded me of the moments I experienced kindness from strangers on the road. Thank you!

  4. Jenny Tam

    Loved it! Your writing is amazing! You have so many readers and I hope to grow mine and spent more time sharing my personal stories as you have on yours. I’ll be waiting for your next post 🙂

  5. Meg Jerrard

    Amazing article Hannah – I’ve admittedly only been to three of those countries listed in the Huff Posts list, though totally agree that traveling if safe no matter who you are as long as you practice common sense. So glad that for every discouraging articles there’s one like this which pops up in it’s place.

    Thanks!

  6. Meg Ten Eyck

    I love this. I’m constantly being asked “aren’t you afraid?” when I talk about my solo adventures. thanks for sharing some of the kindness of the world.

  7. Steph

    This resonates with me! I felt as a solo female traveler, people are more likely to help than to hurt!
    Especially in Asia, I found that people (especially women) are so curious at what you’re doing, and maybe sometimes even a bit inspired. I had women tell me that they would have never thought to go see the world on their own, and congratulate me.
    I think a lot comes down to your attitude, too. If you approach people with openness, they are more likely to help and be happy to (rather than if you immediately assume they are trying to harm / take advantage), and if you live with openness and a smile, others are more likely to approach you as well!!

    Congratulations! Beautiful post 🙂

    1. Hannah Logan Post author

      Thank you Steph 🙂 I love that this post is resonating with so many people, but also that SO many agree with me and have their own good stories to add- just proves my point!

  8. Ashley

    I think the hardest part of Solo travel is getting up the nerve to actually do it. I love your stories and I hope it inspires other women to take the leap and travel!

  9. Diana

    I just checked the list and I have to agree with you. I am surprised they added NY, Tokyo, Seoul, Paris, London, since I have been to those cites and they do not feel unsafe. On the contrary, some of these places make me feel the safest in the world!

  10. Rajam Roose

    Great article, thank you! Out of curiousity, I checked out the lists for the most dangerous places for women and noticed Venezuelas was #3. Not my experience, I hitchhiked around there with my dog for almost five months with no problems. Well, the worse problem I had was trying to find some work!

  11. Sally

    Great, interesting post! It annoys me when people say solo travel is not safe. I got robbed in the Essex countryside… In 7 cities on the Huff Post list I have been fine (touch wood)!

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  13. Brianna

    I believe that while its important to be aware of your surroundings that the majority of people in the world are good. The stories you’ve shared definitely show that!

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  15. Adora

    This is wonderful! I really enjoyed reading this. It’s a fine balance between being wary of strangers, and to recognise kindness when it is offered eh?

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  19. Gesmay Paynter

    There is too much confusion about how dangerous it is for females traveling alone. I can only speak for myself. To date, I’ve traveled to 50 countries and 27 of those had been alone. We have to take precaution and responsibility for our action wherever we are.
    I have great travel experiences wherever I’ve been in the Middle East, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, 12 countries in Central & South America, several Caribbean countries, North America, Africa and Indian Ocean.Respect plays a big importance in traveling to new countries around the world. In fact , I love traveling alone as you have to make more effort in interacting and connecting to people of the countries you’re visiting.
    ” Travel is Love. All travelers whether they want or not are changed. No one can travel into love and remain the same”. Travel with confidence. Enjoy!

    1. Hannah Logan Post author

      I agree 100%. I think the best way to help battle some of these stereotypes is to share the good stories, like I’ve tried to do here. Theres too much focus on the bad

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