“Don’t be afraid to walk alone. Don’t be afraid to like it.”
Traveling solo, whether male or female, is one of the most rewarding experiences in the world. By traveling alone you are forced to meet and befriend more people, both travelers and locals, and you gain a sense of independence you will never have if you travel with someone else. People are much more willing to invite you into their homes, and you get to do what you want, when you want, something that makes solo travel very liberating.
That being said, as a solo female traveler (and a young small one at that), there are certain extra precautions I take in order to ensure my longevity as a cyclist in all parts of the world. In India I am extra cautious, even rude sometimes, when there are men around, especially if there are no women. I won’t stop to eat in a village unless I see at least a few women, and I don’t usually talk with the men at all. I always have my pepper spray within reach when I am camping alone, and I sometimes put a few stones just outside my tent as well (though, this one is mostly for the dogs or monkeys). When men ask if I am traveling alone, I always say “friend coming,” so that they don’t continue to bother me. In places like the USA or Europe, I am still careful not to wander around too much alone at night, but for the most part, I usually feel completely safe.
Especially in Asia and South America, the idea of a female traveling alone is flabbergasting. In many of these countries women are never seen outside their homes without their man, and they truly can’t understand how or why you are traveling alone. Though sometimes they are scared or wary of you, for the most part, they are hospitable and kind (and often invite you for a cup of tea or to stay the night), and just simply amazed by what you are doing. I feel it is a great thing, for women and men alike, to see a young girl like myself cycling alone. It shows them that women are capable of doing anything, and that our world is in fact better than we sometimes think. As a women you also also have an in with the other women in a way a man wouldn’t. I have gotten to cut grass with the ladies, help others in the kitchen, and join the girls for a marriage since they felt comfortable having me around.
There are times I find myself frustrated, thinking, if only I was a guy I could sleep their safely, but I try not to let it stop me. Sure, I have to be more careful since I am alone, but it is well worth all the extra experiences I get in compensation. And sometimes you just have to trust. I have taken rides from guys before, I have even slept in their homes, but it is up to you to judge the situation and trust that your instincts will tell you what you need in order to keep you safe. So, if you are a solo female, don’t let that stop you, in fact, let it encourage you to set out and do whatever it is you have been thinking about doing.