Author Topic: Women travelling alone (not for work)  (Read 1336 times)

Ladychips

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Women travelling alone (not for work)
« on: October 03, 2018, 11:56:53 AM »
I have no idea where to put this question...or even if I can articulate my question.  A few days ago I read about a professor who asks the men in his class what they do every day to avoid sexual assault.  At first there is awkward laughter, then someone says "I stay out of jail" and then finally someone says "I don't do anything.  I've never even thought about it."  Then the professor asks the women what they do every day to avoid sexual assault and the answers come flying out: "i carry my keys between my fingers; I park under a light; I don't go out alone after dark; I watch what I wear; etc., etc., etc."  This was a really powerful story for me. 

I'm thinking long term about my future in which I am maybe interested in traveling, mostly to nature areas (Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, etc.).  But it is likely that I would be traveling alone.  I've thought about buying/renting one of those tricked out vans and staying in it while I travel.  But I am having a hard time getting past the thought of traveling alone.  Apparently, I'm a big. fat. chicken.  I don't worry about sexual assault so much as just general assault or even just unpleasant confrontations.  I don't walk around afraid in my regular life but I have a large support system.  The thought of being ALL ALONE scares me.  And I hate that.

I know there are women who travel alone (@spartana).  I'd love to hear your thoughts about my concerns.  Unfounded?  Are there steps I can take that would make traveling alone safe and enjoyable?
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 12:00:35 PM by Ladychips »

Mrs.Piano

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2018, 12:09:44 PM »

DHMO

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2018, 07:58:33 PM »
What part of being alone is scariest to you? The way you approach the fear will change based on what drives it.
Is it the possibility of crime or unpleasant behavior?
Is it being away from people that you trust and can be "open" to?
Is it having nobody who can immediately come to your aid?

If you want to travel alone, you'll have to decide whether it is worth the effort of overcoming the fear.
If it is crime/unpleasantness, you might do some reading and try to understand the trends and how the behavior manifests. Certainly the people who catcall twenty-something women are not the same as the people who see Grandma and decide that they can "take her on".
If it is something else, you may target that in other ways. You might experiment with handling regular life problems without seeking help from your support network, and build an understanding of what you're capable of and how you react. It may also help you figure out whether you'd be comfortable with secluded nature areas, or if you want to stick to well-traveled areas.

I don't have tons of non-work travel experience, but I have moved for jobs post-college and lived alone as a young female in a new place. My sticking point was "having nobody who could immediately come to my aid", and it took me several months to make peace with it.

Freedom2016

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2018, 08:13:53 PM »
A great book you might want to read is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. She hiked portions of the Pacific Rim Trail all by herself and her writing is so vivid, you feel like you're right there with her. It might give you some useful perspective on the risks she faced traveling alone (granted, it was several years ago now) -- plus it's a great read!

In my twenties, I traveled alone in France and Italy. I was fine. A few years later I went to Morocco with a girlfriend and we were harassed frequently. Not sure I would do that again.

EricL

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2018, 10:48:37 PM »
Just because youíre a guy, that doesnít mean youíre invulnerable.  It just means thereís less of a reason to get attacked. It also means you get to grab your nuts and claim youíre too bad ass to get attacked Ďcause youíll whup some ass if they try (or run real fast and claim you whipped ass) And it means society will take slightly less notice if you go missing. 

In the end it really boils down to chance and situational awareness.  Go and travel. Just keep your eyes open, head on a swivel and donít be afraid to whup some ass if you have to.

expatartist

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2018, 12:10:22 AM »
I've traveled on my own for 2 decades. Mostly to cities, some in the US, mainly Europe and Asia. Typically I had a framework (excuse) for travel: studying, internships, art projects, research, around which I did other trips. This helped keep me grounded even during challenging times.

As a woman your experiences will vary dramatically depending on location but also your age. Travel in my 20s - mid-30s involved a good deal of fending men off, it's gotten much easier since. My mother began solo travel in her 50s, like me she usually had some structure: volunteering, wandering en route to visiting family or friends.

Both of us feel much safer traveling outside the US than in it.

expatartist

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2018, 12:15:14 AM »
A great book you might want to read is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. She hiked portions of the Pacific Rim Trail all by herself and her writing is so vivid, you feel like you're right there with her. It might give you some useful perspective on the risks she faced traveling alone (granted, it was several years ago now) -- plus it's a great read!

Great book, I recommend it too. Excited to see her speak at a literary festival here next month!

In my twenties, I traveled alone in France and Italy. I was fine. A few years later I went to Morocco with a girlfriend and we were harassed frequently. Not sure I would do that again.

Yes Italy the harassment was constant in my 20s, especially Naples, but fine. In my late 20s I worked for a travel company and did a week's solo travel to Morocco and a week on one of our trips to the Sahara. I've never been anywhere before or since where men stared *so hard* you could feel how desperately they were undressing you with their eyes. The only incident was a colleague who stuck his tongue down my throat our last night there...

ETA: Where are you thinking to go? Mainly the US/Canada?
« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 08:42:18 AM by expatartist »

Ladychips

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2018, 08:31:23 AM »
@Mrs.Piano - thanks for the site.  Very interesting.  @Freedom2016 - thanks for the book recommendation.  I'll check it out.

The part I'm afraid of is someone hitting me in the head and taking my backpack/keys/money/etc. not the catcalls (I'm way too old for that!).  I see it as a concern when I am hiking alone and/or sleeping in a van by myself.  I think a rottweiler and a can a bear spray might alleviate some fears but it's got to be difficult to travel with a dog.  There are just going to be so many places I can't take the dog.  And I'd hate to leave him cooped up in a van all day (and I don't know enough about van travel to know how I'd keep him warm/cool).

Keep your thoughts coming please!

GuitarStv

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2018, 09:11:38 AM »
Just because youíre a guy, that doesnít mean youíre invulnerable.  It just means thereís less of a reason to get attacked. It also means you get to grab your nuts and claim youíre too bad ass to get attacked Ďcause youíll whup some ass if they try (or run real fast and claim you whipped ass) And it means society will take slightly less notice if you go missing. 

In the end it really boils down to chance and situational awareness.  Go and travel. Just keep your eyes open, head on a swivel and donít be afraid to whup some ass if you have to.

Yes, and no.

I'm a guy, and at 6ft and about 190 lbs I'm not a particularly small one.  I've never been afraid that someone would attack and rape me.  Like ever - this is not a thought that has ever crossed my mind even while out walking at two in the morning in a bad part of town.  However, I have been attacked three times in my life.  Each of attacks seemed to be for no reason (not a mugging, not a person I knew, not a person I had slighted in any way, just another guy who decided it would be fun to shove or hit me and see what happened).  Each of the attacks happened when I was just quietly walking somewhere on the sidewalk on moderately crowded streets.

While you should try to be aware of what's going on around you at all times, there is a limit to what situational awareness can do to help you.  I have trained in several full contact martial arts over the years and have pre-formed a strategy in mind to escape scenarios that I consider to be most likely.  (For any woman, I'd strongly recommend taking classes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and learning escapes from a large opponent pushing you to the ground and getting on top of you.)  Be aware of ways to run away, and try to surround yourself with companions you trust.  Your goal is always to disengage and escape.  That's basically my strategy and I think it universally applies to everyone, man or woman.

Zikoris

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2018, 05:13:15 PM »
Maybe try treating it like any other phobia? What if you had a terrible fear of flying but absolutely needed to fly regularly in the near future? What if you were unemployed and desperate for money, terrified of clowns, and the only employer hiring was the circus? I think you'd find some way to work through the phobia, whether that was with a therapist or some other means, so you could move on with your life.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking this phobia is some inherent part of being a woman - I'm as female as they come and if someone asked me what I do to prevent sexual assault (or any assault), my answer would be "Nothing, it doesn't cross my mind".

EricL

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2018, 05:20:49 PM »
Just because youíre a guy, that doesnít mean youíre invulnerable.  It just means thereís less of a reason to get attacked. It also means you get to grab your nuts and claim youíre too bad ass to get attacked Ďcause youíll whup some ass if they try (or run real fast and claim you whipped ass) And it means society will take slightly less notice if you go missing. 

In the end it really boils down to chance and situational awareness.  Go and travel. Just keep your eyes open, head on a swivel and donít be afraid to whup some ass if you have to.

Yes, and no.

I'm a guy, and at 6ft and about 190 lbs I'm not a particularly small one.  I've never been afraid that someone would attack and rape me.  Like ever - this is not a thought that has ever crossed my mind even while out walking at two in the morning in a bad part of town.  However, I have been attacked three times in my life.  Each of attacks seemed to be for no reason (not a mugging, not a person I knew, not a person I had slighted in any way, just another guy who decided it would be fun to shove or hit me and see what happened).  Each of the attacks happened when I was just quietly walking somewhere on the sidewalk on moderately crowded streets.

While you should try to be aware of what's going on around you at all times, there is a limit to what situational awareness can do to help you.  I have trained in several full contact martial arts over the years and have pre-formed a strategy in mind to escape scenarios that I consider to be most likely.  (For any woman, I'd strongly recommend taking classes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and learning escapes from a large opponent pushing you to the ground and getting on top of you.)  Be aware of ways to run away, and try to surround yourself with companions you trust.  Your goal is always to disengage and escape.  That's basically my strategy and I think it universally applies to everyone, man or woman.

My point was there's no automatic self defense bonus to being a guy.  There is a lot of male perpetuated myths about male invulnerabilities. 

Preparation helps a lot.  But you can't prepare for every contingency.  Situational awareness is still your best bet.  Soldiers walk into ambushes all the time.  Military training, body armor, assault rifles, grenades, armored vehicles, etc. don't help them near as much as going down another route would.  Likewise I know ordinary women who "noped" out of bad situations because they had their eyes open and/or intuition dialed to 10.  The two situations, one war time; one peace time, don't sound like they should be compared.  But when you consider the women "won" by living to tell the tale, the comparison is significant. 

As for chance, sometimes you've got it on your side; sometimes you don't.  In the end almost everything is a risk.  I wish the OP the best.

Nickyd£g

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2018, 06:30:19 AM »
I've traveled alone to Greek islands, Turkey, Egypt, Kenya and Austria, starting in my late 30s to now (age 47). I take the usual precautions, don't get drunk, don't wander around after dark, stay aware of my surrounding and only once have I ever felt unsafe (Kenya, in a jeep with a driver, facing a broken down jeep with 8 guys with machetes. My driver ended up bombing past them as I clung on for dear life!).

I've been in souks, ridden in tuk tuks, went on trains, boats, buses and long walks and honestly, 99% of people I have met have been lovely. People are interested when you are alone, they chat to you more - in fact, I was on a Nile cruise and had at least 4 women come up to me to say they wished they had left their partner at home!

Be brave! You will see amazing things, you will meet interesting people and your life is enriched by travel.

jrhampt

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2018, 08:39:03 AM »
I donít do a whole lot of international traveling on my own, but Iíd imagine itís similar to running alone.  I have loads of friends who are afraid to run alone, and I hear the stories every couple of years of women raped and/or killed on running/biking trails I use, but Iíve considered the risk and wouldnít do anything differently.  If people are being attacked on well-used trails in reasonably populated, low crime areas in broad daylight, Iím not sure thereís anything that I could do to mitigate my risk short of always running with someone else (huge hassle, not going to happen), or carrying a weapon.  I have considered the risk and I enjoy running solo so much that while Iím aware of it and try to avoid creeps, im not going to give it up.  I feel the same way about doing other things alone - I enjoy it and Iím not going to stop.

spartana

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2018, 08:49:45 AM »
I travel alone most of the time and really enjoy it. I think safety issues often depend on how you are travelling. If I'm staying in a hotel, hostel, room rental or public campground I feel very safe since there are usually other people around and I can do things to limit unsafe activities. Sometimes you get harassed, hit on, cat called, etc but it's rarely dangerous. I have been followed back to where I've been staying before but felt safe once inside and even while out as people are usually around.

However I do feel less safe and much more vulnerable when camping (especially tent camping) or travelling by bike or hiking remotely (which is the majority of the type of travel I do now including long distance solo trail running, hiking and biking). At least in the US but much less so in places like Europe. So I tend to stay in public campgrounds more often now. I have had several bad experiences (one very bad one where my window was smashed and I was drug out of my car in a remote area. Got away though fortunately) but they are rare. So I do take a lot of precautions when doing solo camping car/bike/hike type trips in the US now such as being armed (I don't recommend that except for experienced people). I did bring my dog(s) with me often but they do restrict your activities a VERY large amount so also wouldn't recommend getting a dog just for that reason.

So bottom line is that overall I think its safe and that there are many things you can do to mitigate potential problems. I did a 2 year solo backpacking trip pre-FIRE in some rougher areas of the world and felt safe but harassed a lot, which gets old fast, but nothing really dangerous if I took precautions (didn't always as I hitchhiked often or got stranded at night in some sketchy area without a place to sleep for the night). Now I'm better at making plans and wouldn't hitch hike as a woman alone. If you think you might like van travel I think you'll find that very safe. You can choose where to sleep and stay and have the ability to lock yourself in or drive off if someone is threatening you. If travelling in foreign countries you can join groups in more dangerous or sketchy areas to travel with temporarily.

 If you are doing true solo travel where you will be alone doing an activity for long periods of time you might have to take some extra precautions. For example I have a friend who's doing a 6000 miles solo bike touring trip now and being a lone female out on the road bike camping for months might pose more danger than a woman travelling in a bus or in her own van.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2018, 09:05:35 AM by spartana »

NotJen

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2018, 09:55:39 AM »
I also travel alone and love it.  But I am also very okay being alone in my daily life.  And twice I've moved away to places where I didn't know anyone (hoping for a third time soon!).

Most of my trips lately have been hiking trips to National Parks (Montana, Utah, Arizona).  I day hike and stay in motels.  I do lots of planning, so I always know in advance where I'm staying and how I'm getting there (rental cars, pre-booked shuttles, etc.).  I've done a little international travel alone as well, but did opt for a group tour when in a country where I didn't speak the language.

While I do experience fear before any trip (mostly just fear of the unknown), I've never really specifically been afraid of other people.  I'm more concerned about getting hurt on the trail and needing assistance (so I try to wait to start a hike until I see other people getting on the trail, research the heck out of the terrain, fill my pack with what will keep me healthy, etc.).  Traveling doesn't seem much different from daily life - a random stranger could do whatever at any time, and I generally don't spend time worrying about that possibility.  I am *not* an outgoing person so I mostly keep to myself when I travel, though I do find that other (friendly) travelers tend to talk to me more when I'm alone than when I'm with my BF.

I've got hundreds of miles of trails under my belt, and have not had a scary (or even mildly sketchy) encounter with a person yet.  I've carried bear spray on a lot of my hikes (Montana grizzly territory), and it's literally never occurred to me that I might have to use it on a person!

Many of the people in my life (male and female) seem to think its some great feat to travel alone - and express jealousy - I just tell them how awesome it is to get out and see pretty places, and that they are completely able to do the same.

People are interested when you are alone, they chat to you more - in fact, I was on a Nile cruise and had at least 4 women come up to me to say they wished they had left their partner at home!
I met 4 women at the bottom of the Grand Canyon who were there as part of an annual get-together (they go different places each year - sounded like a cool tradition they've kept up for a long time).  They each expressed to me that they wished they were hiking alone like me - it really is so much easier to hike alone rather than with part of a group (even a group of 2!) - there's a lot to be said about being able to go at your own pace.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2018, 10:02:50 AM »
I've traveled with my Ex, and I've traveled alone, and traveling alone has generally been easier.  Only downside is I have to be both driver and navigator when I drive, which means more advance prep.

Megma

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2018, 10:18:03 AM »
First, I think there is huge variation related to the type of travel - outdoorsy travel to parks/nature has different dangers and considerations to international travel.

Outdoorsey travel - I have never done this alone and in this case I would be worried not only about assault/robbery but injuring myself and no one being around. Tell someone where you will be going and check in with someone regularly (parent/sibling/friend/anyone who would worry if you didn't call as planned).

International travel - I have done this alone a lot, primarily for work. Occasionally, the very vulnerable thought that I don't know anyone in the entire country I'm in who would help me in an emergency hits me and scares the crap out of me. Really though, a lot of total strangers would help you in an emergency. The majority of people are decent and caring.
I take a lot of steps to ensure my own safety while doing this, including:
1) keeping some of money/ID in a different place than my main money area (usually I leave something at my hotel)
2) Avoid sitting next to single men on planes so much as possible. This is hard to achieve often but sexual assault happens on planes. Aisle seats are better than windows as they are more visible.
3) Tell someone where I will be generally and when I should get back home. Check in regularly with someone, for me it's usually my husband.
4) Don't walk alone at night. Take a taxi/uber if needed, if you even question if it's needed, do it.

Nothing bad has ever happened to me but I have had a few things that freaked me out or close calls over the years.

Miss Piggy

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2018, 11:00:54 AM »
Don't fall into the trap of thinking this phobia is some inherent part of being a woman - I'm as female as they come and if someone asked me what I do to prevent sexual assault (or any assault), my answer would be "Nothing, it doesn't cross my mind".

Really???!!!! I can't even fathom NOT having my...ahem...healthy paranoia for staying safe. I admit I may be overly cautious, but I just can't imagine a "Nothing, it doesn't cross my mind" mindset. There's gotta be a happy medium, though.

NotJen

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2018, 11:17:28 AM »
Don't fall into the trap of thinking this phobia is some inherent part of being a woman - I'm as female as they come and if someone asked me what I do to prevent sexual assault (or any assault), my answer would be "Nothing, it doesn't cross my mind".

Really???!!!! I can't even fathom NOT having my...ahem...healthy paranoia for staying safe. I admit I may be overly cautious, but I just can't imagine a "Nothing, it doesn't cross my mind" mindset. There's gotta be a happy medium, though.

I feel the same as Zikoris - it really doesnít cross my mind.  Not sure why, except I feel like Iím generally ignored by most people.  I guess someone forgot to instill that fear in me?

moresprinkles

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2018, 12:52:02 PM »
So, what did you decide? Are you going to go? Traveling alone isn't for everybody, that's for sure. I think it all depends on your disposition. If you are a people person and get your energy from being around others, then maybe traveling alone may not be for you!

Otherwise, if you are content with being alone... then the way I travel alone is to foster a "I know where I am and I know where I'm going" kind of confidence while I am out. People won't bother you unless you are open to be bothered. Once inside the safety of where ever, you can lay down on the bed and go..."damn, that was tough, but I did it." Best thing about traveling alone is you don't have to confer with someone else about what to do next. Let's go hiking! No, let's go fishing. That part isn't so much fun.

I've never really felt "unsafe" while traveling..well maybe once or twice but that's because my curiosity takes me to the places behind the tourist curtain that maybe should be left to the locals.

Let us know what you decide!!


gaja

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2018, 01:19:05 PM »
Don't fall into the trap of thinking this phobia is some inherent part of being a woman - I'm as female as they come and if someone asked me what I do to prevent sexual assault (or any assault), my answer would be "Nothing, it doesn't cross my mind".

Really???!!!! I can't even fathom NOT having my...ahem...healthy paranoia for staying safe. I admit I may be overly cautious, but I just can't imagine a "Nothing, it doesn't cross my mind" mindset. There's gotta be a happy medium, though.

I feel the same as Zikoris - it really doesnít cross my mind.  Not sure why, except I feel like Iím generally ignored by most people.  I guess someone forgot to instill that fear in me?

I have never experienced anything that should warrant it, but media and cultural expectations has installed some of the "normal female fear" in me. I know it doesn't make logical sense, so I came up with a illogical solution for when I travel in the campervan alone or with my two kids: I bought a ridiculously large knife, that in some ways is quite similar to Crocodile Dundees knife. When I get those doomsday thoughts, I imagine pulling the knife out at the imaginary attacker and saying the famous lines. https://www.fjellsport.no/knivsmed-stromeng-samekniv-8.html?___store=fjellsport_no_nb&nosto=nosto-page-product2&refSrc=70552

Most of the time, we use the knife to cut bread and chop wood.

spartana

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2018, 07:21:17 PM »
Also alone doesn't always mean "always alone". I join meet up groups to hike or socialize with when I'm on the road. Its fun to meet new people, have partners for activities with, especially things like hiking, yet still be able to have your own schedule when travelling.

sparkytheop

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2018, 01:30:31 PM »
Most of my travel has been as a single mom, with my child.  However, during international trips, he has sometimes stayed in the room (wiped out!) while I was still wide awake and ready to explore.

Generally, I've felt pretty safe wandering around a foreign city at night by myself.  I've done a 10 pm to 2 am walk around Bruges at night by myself.  Never once felt unsafe-- it's a city with a lot of night life and a lot of people around.

I've also walked around Berlin, Edinburgh, Paris, and other large cities late at night, alone.  I feel more safe walking those cities than one close to home-- Portland, OR.

I did my first 5 day long, solo road trip from Oregon to Utah this summer.  I slept in my car (Subaru Forester) for two of the 4 nights.  Once in a campsite in the middle of nowhere (next to Swan Falls Dam, in Idaho), and another in a truck stop parking lot.  I covered my windows with cardboard I had cut to fit.  No one walking buy would be able to tell who was in the car, which is partly why I did it (the other reason being I like it completely dark when I sleep).

I also carry my gun (Utah permit allows you to carry in multiple states).

I'm against getting a "large dog for protection".  You are a dog lover and want a dog, or you don't.  A large dog may or may not offer you the protection you are looking for, but it's not fair to the dog if that's the only reason you got one.   Just my opinion.

I feel like I have a healthy fear of my surroundings without being paranoid, but I know I am way more comfortable in solo situations than many people are.  And I often scare my father! (He's a retired sheriff...)  He never took issue with making me walk home from work near midnight as a teen (he wouldn't let me get my license, but then, 5 years later, he and my mom drove my brother the same route during daylight hours because it was "too dangerous" for him to walk, until he finally got his license at 21).  I think my dad, being overprotective in many other areas, but not over this (for me anyway), has helped me to "not care".  Of course, now that I "don't care", like he didn't, he's concerned...

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2018, 07:06:17 PM »
I donít do a whole lot of international traveling on my own, but Iíd imagine itís similar to running alone.  I have loads of friends who are afraid to run alone, and I hear the stories every couple of years of women raped and/or killed on running/biking trails I use, but Iíve considered the risk and wouldnít do anything differently.  If people are being attacked on well-used trails in reasonably populated, low crime areas in broad daylight, Iím not sure thereís anything that I could do to mitigate my risk short of always running with someone else (huge hassle, not going to happen), or carrying a weapon.  I have considered the risk and I enjoy running solo so much that while Iím aware of it and try to avoid creeps, im not going to give it up.  I feel the same way about doing other things alone - I enjoy it and Iím not going to stop.

This seeing as I do both, travel solo and run solo.  Also run solo while traveling solo.  Plus random attacks by others could happen when I'm neither running nor traveling, they could happen anytime I'm out of my house, heck they could happen anytime I'm in my house. 

As others have mentioned situational awareness is king.  I'll use a run in Topeka, Kansas as an example.  And I'm not from Topeka, I was there traveling on business.  There was a running path outside my hotel near the river.  The neighborhood was not bad but it wasn't the best.  I went for a run.  At one point I spotted someone who looked sketchy to me.  Said person was on the path under a bridge that crossed the river.  So instead of sticking to the path I detoured to the road and jaywalked instead of passing underneath. 

Ladychips

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2018, 07:32:25 PM »
I appreciate you all sharing your opinions, perspectives, and especially your first hand experiences.  I'm a few years away from this kind of travel but you've all given me much food for thought.

Many, many thanks!

Aegishjalmur

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Re: Women travelling alone (not for work)
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2018, 08:55:01 PM »
Ladychips,

I would see if I could find events like this:
https://www.cheaprvliving.com/womensrtr/
It would be a good way to meet people who travel extensively and learn tips and tricks from them.

I travel full time with DW in a van, so far 6 months in we have not had any issues with people making us feel unsafe. What we have encountered was very friendly people: the fire department that came out to the rural county park to let people know about the tornado to the east of camp as they knew there was no cell service and to advise everyone to keep an eye on the creek as it could flood in bad storms and cut off the road in both directions.
The fishermen inviting us over to share their catch as it was too big to eat by themselves. The former county parks worker who was the volunteer camp host who would bring goodies from his garden(tomatoes, okra, bell peppers).

It is interesting though, people keep on asking us if we feel safe doing this, as there are bad people out there who want to hurt us and take our stuff. I used to live in a major metro area with a multi million population. We like to boondocks and consider it a 'busy' area if we see more than a couple of other vehicles. Just based on the numbers, I like my odds of not encountering someone out to do me harm.

Like others said, be aware of your surroundings. If you get a bad vibe, leave. You can download apps that will map out stores that allow overnight parking so you can find options in a city well passing through nthat well not glamorous enough to appear on a vanlife Pinterest feed, it is somewhere to park and sleep where there will be others around.