I’ve had the chance to do a small bit of travelling around South America as a solo female traveler over the last few months, and it’s reminded me how vulnerable I feel on these excursions. I found myself not taking as many risks as I would like, not engaging with new people as much as I would like [which sucks if you like talking to strangers as much as I do], and just not feeling completely relaxed in general.
There are various things I am worried about:
- being pickpocketed
- being robbed and physically assaulted
- being raped
- being drugged and raped
- being kidnapped
I realise none of these risks are unique to being female, or traveling alone, but personally I feel like such an easy target, physically unable to put up a good fight.
Despite the standard measures of taking radio taxis, traveling during the day, staying away from quiet side streets, and never carrying too much on me, I was often left wishing I had taken self defence classes, or had a pair of these sexy underwear on.
When I thought more about it, I noticed that I felt the most anxious when
1. accepting an open beer bottle
2. getting into a taxi alone
3. walking in isolated places
I realised I really only have one fear: disappearing.
Maybe it’s naive of me, but I don’t really worry about being robbed or assaulted. I’ve survived enough life scenarios to make me believe that I can recover from almost anything.
But if I’m kidnapped, or drugged and wake up somewhere I don’t recognise, or don’t wake up at all… then my family and friends have to deal with the consequences. I don’t want the people I love to go through such trauma just because I wanted to “travel around a bit”.
Yet despite this fear, I wasn’t willing to say no to the open beer bottle, or take a photo of the taxi’s licence plate and email it to a friend, or skip seeing some beautiful, isolated, places. I didn’t want to cause a fuss, make taxi drivers think I didn’t trust them, or miss out on a great experience.
So if I’m not going to change my behaviour, I figured there had to be a solution that would put my mind and the minds of my parents at ease. I thought a location device that would show the people I love where I am at all times would be pretty awesome. Then if I was drugged by the beer, stolen by the taxi, or disappeared in an isolated place, at least someone would be able to access my last known whereabouts. That combined with kidnappers insurance when in more dangerous places, could be a cool combination.
Check out my solutionventing of a low cost safety location device for a solo traveler here.