Advice for Women on the Art of Travelling Alone
by Mikaya Heart
(I travel constantly.)
Mt Hood, Oregon (photo Mikaya Heart)
When I was much younger I realized that waiting for other people was wasting a lot of time. And so, being an adventurous person, I have chosen to do many things on my own. In recent years, that means travelling alone—and I must say that the few occasions when I have travelled with someone else have left me feeling that travelling alone is a wonderful pastime. It's not just that I do exactly what I want when I want and perhaps change my mind ten times a day. It's also that I actually make better decisions when I'm on my own. I set my own timing and don't have to think or worry about anyone but myself.
It's much easier to connect with other travellers and locals. My judgement isn't clouded by the presence of another person requiring explanations from me. A woman alone constantly has to make snap decisions about who to trust, who to avoid, what to believe, where to turn. When I am alone, I make those decisions much more immediately and without wavering. They can't be explained because they arise from that wonderful female trait we call intuition. They have very little to do with thinking something through logically; although that is also at times a very useful ability, it's more fallible than intuition.
I believe this is a very safe world, and that belief is based on my history. On my own, I have walked to the edge of volcanoes, camped for weeks in the wilderness, wandered in the Egyptian desert, had my car stall in the middle of a (supposedly) crocodile infested river, been face to face with a mother bear and cubs, kayaked across Prince William Sound, driven a tiny 2wd drive car on ridiculously muddy back roads in the middle of nowhere in Brazil, been stung by stingrays and by a Portuguese man of war, swum through a flash flood to rescue my kayak, stood on a rattlesnake, got swept out from shore on a windsurfer and only just managed to get back. I survived all those without any serious problem. My most unpleasant encounters have been with men. I've been attacked and held up at gunpoint a number of times—always by men (the jellyfish and the stingrays can claim they were acting in self-defence, which the men cannot). Men are far more likely to be problematic than any other animal on the planet; and since there are more of them in the cities, those are the most dangerous places.
So what tips do I have for dealing with men? Avoid cities. Dye your hair grey if it's not already, cultivate wrinkles, wear shapeless pieces of clothing, and on no account use make-up or style your hair. It's also a very good idea to get some visible tattoos, since they give off a tough vibe. Develop a disarming smile, and be very ready to say please, thank you, and I'm sorry, in a tone that is absolutely genuine but carries not the slightest sign of deference. Really, that is just about learning to treat everyone with respect. You will be astounded at how you are treated with respect in turn. And just for those very few occasions when someone unpleasant accosts you, learn to fill yourself up with steel and say "no!" or "go away!" in a very fierce tone, leaning in towards the person as you snarl in his face. It is perhaps this ability that makes everything else work, because even when you are not using it, the fact that you know you have that power up your sleeve enables you to walk with confidence in every situation.
One other word of advice: never be in a hurry. Relax. Allow things to unfold in their own time. When things don't go the way you planned, it is always an opportunity to experience something new, different, and delightful. Enjoy it.
Ed. Note: Mikaya Heart is an author and a life coach and can be found at www.mikayaheart.org.