A One (Wo)man Traveling Act
Travel. It can help us broaden our horizons, improve our communication skills, and, ultimately, it can encourage us to develop a better understanding of ourselves. Traveling to a new and unknown place allows us to take the time to question who we are and the strength to discover who we want to be. The benefits associated with travel are shown in films and movies, talked about in conversations and stories, and written about in books and journals. There is so much good that comes from stepping out of one’s own safety bubble. Yet, so few of us feel comfortable enough to go off on our own. A large source of this discomfort stems from the dangers we, as women, are warned about.
The video “Gender Inequality and Violence” was filmed by students enrolled in an advanced Sociology course at James Madison University. For the purposes of the video, the filmmakers ask several students on the school’s campus how they protect themselves from sexual assault. Across the board, the female interviewees provide similar responses for minimizing the risks. These strategies include, but are not limited to, not walking alone at night, being aware of where the blue emergency phones are located on the campus and ensuring they know they are in a safe location at all times. On the other hand, the male interviewees admit they cannot think of any strategies they utilize to protect themselves from sexual assault. A few admit they do not think about the risk of being sexually assaulted at all. One male interviewee stated that the only time he thinks of the dangers of sexual assault is if it concerns his girlfriend or sister being victimized.
This video is a prime example of how many women are frequently warned about the global threat of sexual violence against them. While men typically do not receive the same sorts of warnings. Instead, a large number of males are encouraged to leave home, travel for fun or business-purposes and to meet new people. The flip-side for most women is that they are encouraged to stay where it is safe and that taking risks equates to potential harm. This is not to say that women should adapt their mindsets to not caring about the harmful what-ifs which undoubtedly exist. However, women, and other individuals who feel afraid, should not let these fears hold them back from accomplishing what they want and expanding their sights on the world.
There are many safety precautions women can employ in order to ensure their well-being, while still having the freedom to explore. A number of Women Travel Groups and Tours can be accessed through the internet. These groups range from different ages, physical fitness abilities, experience levels, nationalities and travel types (i.e., vacation or adventure). Additionally, I am an advocate for booking one’s own travel trip (including what activities to do, the sights to see, the restaurants and foods to try and the destination spots to visit). I have found that booking my own traveling experiences allows me to see and do the activities that I want to do, and at the pace my own pace.
When traveling alone I recommend booking a stay at a credible hostel. By credible, I mean it is important to check that the hostel has an up-to-date website. On the website, it is essential to note whether the hostel has recently received certifications for its safety and sanitation. Additionally, on the hostels’ main web pages, one can find the amenities it has (i.e. free Wi-Fi, washers and dryers, free breakfast, etc.), check in and out times, security lockers and its previous guests’ reviews. Hostels allow a community-based environment in which individuals can interact with other travelers in a shared living space. Many hostels offer several different types of sleeping accommodations. They offer the choices for a mixed-dorm (a room in which both men and women sleep), a women’s-only dorm or a private bedroom. Dorms typically include several bunk beds, and many rooms can hold approximately 6-10 different beds. I prefer to stay in the women’s-only-dorms.
Hostels are great living space for travelers, at least for short stays, because of the excellent services staff members provide. The staff often post local attractions and events on their bulletin boards. They also have excellent information and suggestions for exciting travel spots. Additionally, the other guests at the hostel make for wonderful conversations. Guests come from all around the globe, and they visit for different purposes. Some travel for research, some for an adventure, and some for an escape.
It is important to remain safe and to feel comfortable, but that does not mean one must sacrifice their dreams to do so. It may take some extra time and effort to research, but some accommodations and communities can ensure a safe and exciting trip to see the world.