Very recently a woman went missing in a fairly central London area. She was walking home after dark on her own, and sadly she never made it. My heart absolutely breaks for her family. Staying safe as a woman in the 21st century is no easy feat, especially compared to the indifference that men have.
As a staunch feminist and a solo travel lover, it very much brought to mind all the things that I and my female friends do to try and keep as safe as possible, even in the 21st Century, that men would never think twice about.
This is what we have to think about every single time we go out or travelling.
Not going home in the dark, effectively having a curfew.
Deciding on travel routes not with speed in mind, but how many shadowy corners you may have to pass.
Telling your mates to text you when they get home and meaning it.
Holding your keys in your hand pointing out as a potential self defense weapon.
Crossing the road when men walk even anything close to you.
Picking a seat on the train away from any one else, but close to any other women who may be there.
Spending more to travel home.
Fake calling someone.
Watching the cab route home in real time via Googlemaps or the app through areas you don’t know just in case the driver decides to not take you home.
Ordering two meals worth of food when at home on my own so the delivery person doesn’t know I’m alone.
Texting your mates when you do get home.
Wearing practical shoes just in case.
Wearing headphones with no sound in them so you can stay alert.
Jumping at every moving shadow.
Keeping your hands free as you walk, just in case.
The lessons from old self defense classes that you took as a student many moons ago.
Always making sure you’re sober coming home so you can be more aware.
Making sure your phone is always charged.
Knowing exactly how much it would cost you in cab fares if you missed getting out at your train stop late at night.
Twitching whilst sitting at the train station, waiting to board as there is literally only one security guard making occasional rounds.
Not making eye contact with anyone.
Not staying in mixed hostels (I stayed in one when I very first came to the UK and some dude tried to follow me into my room. Luckily my room mates chased him back out.)
Catching morning or afternoon flights to avoid flying into a new country in the dark.
Studying the car insurance manual just in case the car breaks down.
Always having your phone charged.
The cost of staying in airport hotels to avoid catching transport in a new country in the dark.
Having to stay in very central hotels.
Checking in every day with family to let them know you’re safe (and enjoying the location.)
Being back at base by twilight.
Missing out on night life, unless you happen to buddy up with other travellers.
Wearing a fake wedding ring in some countries if you’re single.
Keeping your head down.
Thinking “is it even safe walking down this street?”
Reading EVERY piece of literature about travelling solo as a woman.
Researching if pepper spray is legal in
Ordering room service or getting food delivered instead of eating out or in a restaurant.
Hopefully this give you some insight into our world. Does this sully solo travel as a woman? It could do.
It’s the 21st Century, and women are terrified to walk home. So much needs to change.