Friday, March 30, 2007

Why Is There a Stigma Against a Solo Woman Travelers?

OK, the cat's outta the bag. My little trip kicking off Memorial Day weekend I wrote about in this post: Quirky-Kitsch Girl's View: S2S 2007 is no longer a secret (yup, I have an issue with secrets). You see, I'm just soooo excited about it and just had to share it with my family and the office. It's San Francisco to Seattle via Portland, OR. I've been plotting my route, collecting maps, vacation guides and finding off-beat hideaways.

I'm trying to do it as cheaply as possible, too. Trying to keep the whole thing under $1,000, including air, car, hotel, meals and sightseeing. Yes, being a road warrior has its advantages: getting to stay in swanky hotels and collect the hotel points and AMEX points to redeem for pleasure.

(Speaking of reward points, I just learned about Best Buy's Reward Zone, a pretty sweet rewards program. Since we need to buy electronics for work as giveaways and expense them via our credit cards, it only make sense to register and enjoy the perks...I digress...)

Because if I were traveling on my own and paying the tab, I'd either be in a hostel or Motel 6 where they'll leave the light on for ya...

While I'm excited about the trip, I'm still annoyed with the response some women have given me when I tell them I'm going on a solo trip. Even today I got another, "Awe. That's so sad."

What is so sad about a solo woman traveler? Yes, I admit I feel alone sometimes and last weekend I was in my "what's wrong with me"..."I'll never find anyone" mode. (Weddings tend to do that). But I usually don't feel lonely.

It also baffles me when I tell people about the Rotary program which sent me to Japan for a month. I encourage young women to locate a Rotary District and join a Group Study Exchange program but I get, "Oh, I couldn't be away from my boyfriend for that long." Or, "My husband wouldn't want me to be away that long." IT'S A MONTH. NOT A DECADE.

I enjoy doing things by myself because I can enjoy it at my own pace. Traveling solo ensures I see and do the things I WANT to see and do.

It's also a bit empowering and builds confidence. The first time I had to eat a meal in a restaurant by myself was horrible. "Just one?" the hostess asked.

Over time, I got over it because I realized I could either have room service in my hotel room and miss out on what's happening or go enjoy life.

I've spent a good part of my life waiting for others to make a decision and I've missed out. Traveling solo puts me in control.

During the Miami Herald Travel Show last April, I met author Lea Lane who penned Solo Traveler: Tales and Tips for Great Trips. I picked up a signed copy (which sits next to my signed copy of Stephen King's "Cell"). I admit to not having read it but will do so prior to my trip.

So I ask, is it sad for a woman to travel solo? Or am I just a social deviant?

5 comments:

cwac said...

What people are concerned about is the "safety factor" of a woman traveling alone ( especially in an area she has not been before) - not the fact that she is not sharing the trip with someone.

Matthew said...

It's traveling the US... it's pretty safe to go it alone. Unless you stay at that awful hotel I found outside DC for my friend's wedding a few years ago.
I used to enjoy going it alone. I'd still like to give it a try in China, but I'm always worried my language skills aren't good enough.

Paula said...

I do a lot of solo day trips - otherwise I'd see nothing of the areas we end up in. Eating alone can be tough, but I ALWAYS overcome it - I do love to eat :)

There are so many times when I am not alone, and I dreamily think "if I were alone, I would get to see this or that........."

Solo, everything is up to me. There are so many times I wouldn't have it any other way. I have made some fantastic friends around the world - that I would have otherwise never met.

I'm kinda worried about these people who respond to you with "awwwww, isn't that sad" Oh, trust us, they have no idea! It's not sad, it's empowering - even if it is not always easy.

For the safety factor - the only trouble I've ever had was in Bologna with a couple pick pockets - and I wasn't alone, I was with my new Italian friend Ericka - and she chastised this group of hoodlums, and then translated for me "Please, boys, don't make me break your balls" LOL

Bless you for going solo. You have my admiration and respect (as always)

Surly said...

I'm as safe traveling alone as any man. Anyone can be robbed - doesn't matter who you are. I went to Europe for 2 1/2 months alone in 2002. BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE! Traveling alone ENSURES that you meet tons of people. In fact, every time you sit down, the person next to you becomes your new best friends. I met people along the way who invited me to their country to visit, had dinner with me, showed me around Ireland - guys, girls, old, young... it was great! I'm going back for a month this year. I'd love a companion, but it sure as hell isn't going to stop me from going if I don't find one!

Anonymous said...

I travel alone all the time. I have been to Europe, Mexico, Hawaii, and all over the US alone. I road-tripped alone for 4 1/2 months one year... and the only question I was asked was "weren't you lonely"... not one person asked me how my trip was.

I am definately not on the same page as the last poster who said that "traveling alone ENSURES that you meet tons of people." and "the person next to you becomes your new best friend" That has never happened in all of my travels. I guess if I were that magnetic and outgoing, I would already have plenty of friends to travel with, and wouldn't be alone in the first place.