The World is Not as Dangerous As You Think

Last Friday I was contacted by a reporter from the Daily Mail, asking my opinions on “dangerous countries for female travelers.”

Me: Solo in Laos in 2011

Now, as an avid internet procrastinator I’m pretty familiar with the Daily Mail and their sensationalistic brand of journalism. I had a pretty good idea where this article was going when I agreed to contribute, but I thought just maybe I could interject some reason to counteract the eventual fear-mongering. I sent the reporter my article on why solo female traveler is not the problem, as well as my honest opinion:

“I’ll also be up front that I strongly believe that most of the perceived dangers to solo women travelers are overblown and sensationalized by the media. Traveling as a woman is different than traveling as a man but I don’t think it’s inherently less safe.”

The article came out on Sunday, you can see it here: Sex attacks, muggings and harassment: World’s most dangerous holiday destinations for women (and some of the places may surprise you)

Sigh.

I’ll admit, it was pretty cool to see my name in such a big publication- even if it was misspelled as Stephanie Yodel (“London based blogger Stephanie Yodel”, in fact) [Edit: This has now been corrected]. My friend Amanda Williams was quoted too, and considering that we are both pretty strong advocates for female solo travel, I’m sure she was as disappointed as I was at the final product. Actually I know she was, because she responded with this.

Aside from the truly unfortunate title, there are a few reasonable moments in the article, mostly quotes from travel bloggers who understand that of course women need to think more about their safety than men do, but that this shouldn’t be a deterrent to seeing the world.

The rest of the article is textbook scaremongering, complete with stand alone anecdotes and shoddy figures. Most of the data in the article is pulled from a website called YouGov, an internet based market research firm which seems to specialize in opinion based polling. This becomes apparent in the weird sidebar on “Cities with the Most Unsafe Transport Systems for Women.”

Basically, when YouGov says Bogota has the world’s most dangerous public transportation system, what they mean is that people polled THINK Bogota has the most dangerous public transportation system (in truth, Bogota doesn’t have much of any public transportation system).

Attempting to bike in scary/notscary Bogota

That is some staggering misinformation.

I feel a little bit terrible ripping apart an article that quoted me, but I think we need to call out bad journalism when we see it. So, I will combat misinformation the only way I know how, by steering you towards better information. Let’s go down the Daily Mail’s list of The Most Dangerous Destinations For Female Travelers:

India

Mariellen in India

I understand why India made the list- a lot of women have anxieties about visiting, especially after a couple of very highly publicized rape cases in the past year.

I haven’t been to India myself, so I can’t speak to the experience of traveling there. However, I do know quite a few women who have traveled extensively through the country without problem. Most notable is Mariellen Ward from Breathe Dream Go who loves India and spends months at a time traveling alone there. She is definitely your go to expert for India safety tips.

Brazil

Kay in Rocinha

Brazil definitely has a lot of social problems, however most of them are a problem solely for the poor and disenfranchised Brazilian people. This is a classic example where widespread crime affects locals disproportionately to tourists. You will see this again and again on this list, and it’s an important lesson on keeping crime in perspective.

Our own staff writer Kay Rodriguez traveled extensively in Brazil during her year of study abroad.

Turkey

Kay in Turkey (she gets around too!)

Turkey was a popular punching bag a few years ago when Sarai Sierra went missing (link). People were quick to jump on her for visiting such a “dangerous country.” It turned out that what happened to Sierra could have happened anywhere in the world- she was murdered by a drugged-up homeless man.

Blogger Katie Nadworny, who I met in Sri Lanka, blogs about living in Istanbul. Christine Gilbert from Almost Fearless, one of the smartest ladies I know, is currently traveling in Turkey alone with her two young kids.

Thailand

New friends in Koh Samui

I have literally no idea why Thailand is on this list, other than that it is a place people like to go. I felt extremely comfortable traveling alone in South East Asia. The article offers this:

According to Thailand Domestic Violence Information Center, violence against women is a growing problem in Thailand, fuelled, in part, by the widespread availability recreational drug Yah Bah as well as alcohol.

Domestic violence may indeed be a serious problem but violence against foreign by thai people is still extremely rare.

Alana Morgan lives in Thailand (and dates a Thail man) and wrote this on her blog:

Of course you need to be aware of your surroundings, who you’re with and what you’re doing, but I’ve never felt unsafe, threatened or in danger in Thailand. As a woman, I’m barely even given a second look by most Thai men and as a whole places (and people) are safe and welcoming. I’ve been catcalled more in the past month in the U.S. than I ever was in Southeast Asia.

Egypt

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To be perfectly honest: of all the places on this list, Egypt probably gives me the most pause personally. I have heard a lot of stories about street harassment in Egypt from women traveling alone. It’s also true that it’s a country experiencing a significant amount of political unrest right now. Liz Carlson wrote about her experiences being harassed in Egypt awhile back. Does this mean you can’t go? No, but you should do your research first and know what to expect.

Colombia

Popayan, Colombia

Then there are countries on this list that just make me shake my head in disbelief. I know it’s a popular scapegoat, but throughout my 9 months in South America I never felt safer anywhere, than I did in Colombia. In Argentina and Ecuador I was constantly watching my back and my posessions, but in Colombia I felt safe and relaxed, even when I was alone.

The arguments in the article are weak. A callback to the weird public transportation list from earlier and this:

But while the country is undoubtedly far safer than it was even 10 years ago, sexual violence against women remains widespread, particularly against displaced women in poorer areas.

I have no doubt this is true and supremely unfortunate, but it conflates two different issues: violence against local women and  foreign travel to Colombia.

South Africa

Kate in South Africa

South Africa’s terrible rape rates do give me pause. The article states that

More than 66,000 sexual offenses were reported in 2012-2013, a rate of 127 sexual offenses per 100,000 population.

Adventurous Kate is a big fan of South Africa and wrote a great article on safety there. According to her, it is possible to travel safely alone in South Africa, but you do need to take certain precautions.

Morocco

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Lauren in Morocco

I think the DM may have been running out of steam at this point because even they admit:

Although the Foreign Office advises that violent crime isn’t currently major issue, it’s common for female tourists, particularly those travelling on their own, to be routinely harassed by men.

This actually fits well with what I’ve heard, which is that street harassment is common, which can be exhausting, but not dangerous. I like Lauren from Never Ending Footsteps advice for women traveling solo there:

My time in Morocco was challenging but it was rewarding, too. As long as you’re fully aware of what to expect, stay positive, dress respectfully and take time to rest when the hassle gets too much, there’s no reason you can’t have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Mexico

Home Sweet Sayulita

I wish I hadn’t saved Mexico until the end because now I simply don’t have the energy to get worked up about this mischaracterization of a country I called home for nearly a year. Go back and read my article on safety in Mexico if you want some righteous indignation. Bottom line: as long as you’re not traveling through a conflict zone, Mexico is extremely safe, welcoming and wonderful, even for solo females.

The bottom line

Traveling solo in China in 2010

Here’s the major problem with this article: It’s not just that it’s misleading, it’s that it’s actively harmful to would be female travelers. This scaremongering cloaked in concern isn’t designed to help anyone. It’s meant to validate outdated opinions and to scare people.

And aren’t women scared enough already? Most women I know are scared all the damn time, of things real and imaginary. That is WHY solo travel is such an important tool: it forces you to separate the hype from the reality and to really get to the truth. It’s empowering.

Another important point I told the reporter which wasn’t included: the one time I’ve felt truly unsafe on my travels wasn’t in Mexico, or Thailand, or South America. It was in London, when a man followed me down the street begging to take my picture. Bad things can, and do, happen everywhere in the world. That alone can’t be a deterrent to travel.

If you happen to be one of the people that clicked over to this blog from the Daily Mail article, I hope this will be your takeaway: Think for yourself, do your own research and don’t let fear stand in the way of your dreams.

Steph

Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! She is the co-founder and editor of Why Wait To See the World. Learn more about her here.

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59 thoughts on “The World is Not as Dangerous As You Think”

  1. I am from Colombia (currently in Argentina), I’m 32 years old. and 11 of my high school friends have been killed in different types of crimes, most of them by car thiefs or kidnapping , and reading this article you have written kind of offends me.
    A first world woman that spent some weeks in a country believes she knows everything… Thats very irresponsible

    1. Hi Rebeca,
      I’m very sorry about your friends. This does not reflect my time in Colombia, which, you are right, does show a certain level of privilege. Traveling through a country as a foreign visitor is definitely a world’s different experience than living somewhere as a local, which is what I was trying to get at in my article.
      Likewise, my husband’s family is from Buenos Aires and they have experienced a serious increase in crime over the pasty few years. His uncle was even taken hostage while buying pet food!
      If you don’t mind me asking, would you encourage people to travel to Colombia? What about Argentina?

      Thanks for commenting,
      Steph

    2. Rebecca,

      I am also sorry to hear that you’ve lost friends to crime. It is very sad when there is senseless crime anywhere in the world. I have lost friends to senseless crime in Canada as well, but I would never ever tell people not to travel there.

      I hope you will revisit this article though and look at it slightly differently. It is specifically talking about tourist crime and pointing out that although places may be known for their crime, it is not regularly targeted at tourists. So to tell the world not to visit a place because of the crime is ridiculous. Domestic violence in Thailand may be a growing problem, but the fact is that it is ‘Domestic’ which means that it is not a reason for people not to visit Thailand.

      Most female tourists won’t have to deal with car thieves as they won’t be driving or a passenger in a local car, unless it is a taxi (which I’m aware have their own problems). That doesn’t mean visitors to Colombia (or wherever) shouldn’t be cautious, it just means that the media talks about crime in general, but doesn’t bother to point out who it specifically targets. In *most* cases, that is not tourists.

      You are 100% right that Stephanie would be a first world woman, but please understand in pointing that out, you are also pointing out that your friends who were killed were not. This doesn’t make anyone better or worse than one another, but it does mean that they look and act differently from one another. They make different choices when traveling and they are perceived differently by the locals in that country. That also means that it isn’t fair to compare locals being senselessly killed or abused to tourist travel, which was the entire point of Stephanie’s article.

      Try to keep in mind that Stephanie is speaking from a tourist / traveler perspective which, even if we ‘live’ in an area for a long time, we are always viewed as an extranjero. The locals will never really view us as one of them, which is understandable. I don’t think Stephanie was trying to say she knows everything because she lived there. Just simply stating that she was in a country for a long time as a solo traveler and was able to maintain her safety and still enjoy her travels.

      If the only articles we ever see are the ones like the Daily Mail, then women everywhere would be scared to travel. It is people like Stephanie who show the other side who give women the inspiration to see for themselves.

      Although I completely understand that you may not have found the article helpful, I did and I truly believe others will as well. It is incredibly important to show both sides to every story. This article does an exceptional job and showing what the media did not.

      Of course … all of this is In My Humble Opinion …
      I have never met Stephanie, so I’m really only expressing how I viewed the article.

      Signing off from my solo travels in *scary* Mexico.

    3. Rebeca, así como tú te ofendes por este artículo, a mí me ofende que creas que todos los colombianos vivimos tu misma experiencia. Soy colombiana, he vivido la mayor parte de mi vida en mi país, y no he tenido una experiencia ni remotamente parecida a la tuya. No niego que en Colombia el nivel de violencia es muy alto, pero negar que la violencia en Colombia ha tenido matices regionales es negar el mismo origen del conflicto. Viví mi niñez en una ciudad intermedia -150 mil habitantes-, con tasas de asesinato similares a la de Buenos Aires -y créeme, menores que las de Rosario-, una familia clase media-baja, segura, sana socialmente hablando -sin la marihuana, las drogas que están tan presentes en la juventud porteña-. Puede que mi caso no sea representativo de Colombia, como tampoco es el tuyo, así que deja de generalizar que me parece tremendamente irresponsable.

  2. RIDICULOUS. I’ve traveled solo and with other women to a bunch of these countries–including Turkey, Colombia and Thailand–and I had amazing, fulfilling experiences. Even though I feel very safe in New York City, I’m generally more concerned about crime (particularly crimes against women) in my home country than I ever am abroad. For both men and women: travel responsibly, be aware of your surroundings, be respectful to your host country, don’t drink too much–and you’ll most likely be fine (IF NOT WONDERFUL). Bad things (and good things) happen everywhere, and this type of fear mongering is just so distasteful because it’s so unfounded.

  3. I really do appreciate you writing this blog post because the media does indeed perpetuate these horrible stigmas on these countries when traveling. I recently traveled to New Delhi, India, and yes this city in particular has dealt with a lot of issues, however while traveling on public transportation and walking in the bustling areas I did not encounter any tension or harassment. The metro system in fact has a women’s section if you are traveling solo and when walking in the dense areas of the city you will not be harassed. I think for any traveler it’s always keen to be aware of your surroundings but please don’t let the media hinge your need to travel to these amazing destinations.

  4. I’m so glad you wrote this follow-up, because that article was just horrifying. My friends and family have always been really supportive of me traveling, but I have a lot of solo travel planned for this year and now I’m realizing that, for them, traveling with boyfriend = inspirational; traveling solo = unsafe. It’s sad, and it’s articles like this that perpetuate this idea.

    I also found it super-bizarre that Tokyo is on their list of unsafe transport systems. Japan is literally one of the safest countries in the world. There’s not even a word in the Japanese language for mugging. I’m assuming Tokyo was chosen because there’s a problem with men sometimes purposefully brushing up against women in the subway. This behavior is definitely upsetting, but I also think there’s a big difference between “I need to move a car over because of this creepy guy” and “I feel like I might be in danger in this situation”.

    1. Yeah, I find it kind of humorous. I can go places like Colombia and Mexico with my husband and people are like “no problem,” but I go to Canada for a weekend alone and all of a sudden it’s “be careful!”

  5. Great post. I find a lot of this stuff overblown. I’m currently planning a trip to Turkey and there’s been a lot in the media here recently about the risks of travelling there, and it’s a bit unnecessary. People come back from them, with nothing having gone wrong, all the time and awful things happen here at home. I think all the places on your list are relatively safe – you should exercise caution (as with anywhere really), but don’t let fear stop you from going, just think about how you’re going to do so.

  6. Thanks for writing this, Steph. I was quoted in the article as well, and while I wasn’t misquoted, it does bother me that I went on and on to this woman about how safe I felt in Turkey and Thailand, and how traveling as a female, especially if you’re solo, can be a huge confidence booster, but none of that made the article. I agree with you completely, I have no idea why Thailand was even on her list. Domestic violence and one or two other isolated incidents does not make it unsafe to travel there. I kind of wish I wasn’t included in an article that pretty much discourages women from traveling.

    1. Yeah, she didn’t misquote me either but she definitely left out most of my very reassuring information and experiences and just put in the one sentence about when I felt uncomfortable. I was excited to be in such a large publication but now I also kind of wish I’d skipped it.

  7. I didn’t even bother reading the Daily Mail article; that sort of panicky scaremongering is so far removed from reality. Istanbul is a big city, and yet I feel safer here than I often do in New York! Good on you for writing this, we need a little bit more reason so people (and especially women) won’t be scared to travel 🙂

  8. Well done for doing this, and for calling out bad journalism. This is why travel blogs (and blogs in general) exist, so we don’t have to rely on this type of nonsense. Just for the record, I am one of the many women who has travelled alone in India, Turkey, Thailand (and many more, just mentioning those listed here) without ANY problems, ever.

    1. When interviewers ask why there is a rise in solo female travel right now, I always point to the blogs. I think getting those first hand accounts makes such a big difference!

  9. Great Read Steph!!! I’m quite new to reading these blogs but this article really caught my attention!!
    Such a good and truthful read, I lived and worked abroad for 6years, mostly in Turkey, Egypt and Dominican Republic! Luckily in 6 years I had one incident and am aware of a small number of others, compared to the level of tourists visiting this is nothing! The over exaggeration of things drives me crazy sometimes, lucky not all of us believe it, some take it with a pinch of salt but your right in that some people would listen to every word of their article and be totally set back and put off from something they would love!! So many people miss out on so many experiences these days because of media influence! I myself have definitely felt more unsafe since returning to the UK, which is simply ridiculous… but it doesn’t stop me!!
    Research, prepare before you go and make the most of every moment, enjoying every aspect of discovering a new culture!!!

  10. Katrina the Two Week Traveler

    These are the kinds of articles that make our families so afraid every time we travel solo! Despite what our actual experiences are, people who haven’t traveled much only see pieces like this and think the worst, even after hearing from us how safe we felt!

  11. I was sad to see that article. Glad you and Amanda responded and highlighted that your words have been twisted. A reader even messaged me to ask if I had seen this!

    It is SO strange that Thailand was on that list. Many of the others as well. I’m solo traveling in South Africa now and crime is high here, but with the right precautions nobody has to be a target.

  12. The DM article is really disheartening. There are so many amazing things about the countries listed that I’ve been to and I really hope this doesn’t cast a shadow for prospective solo female travelers. If anything, this makes me want to visit the countries listed that I haven’t been to even more. I’m confident I’ll also prove them wrong!

  13. Just as importantly, why aren’t we talking about the terrible stock photography in that article? It is mesmerizing, but not in a good way. Who among us has walked “ballet style” while holding an umbrella on a clear day in front of the Taj Mahal? And who wears a hoodie in India? IT’S TOO HOT FOR THAT!

    1. I really wanted to comment on that but I had already written SO MUCH. Really, really weird pictures of blonde white girls who don’t even seem like they are actually in the place described.

  14. This is such a great post. I’m glad that you’ve highlighted the fact that some articles are often sensationalised and the “data” may be misconstrued for certain gains. Whilst it’s a shame that you’ve been caught up in this sensationalised media problem, It’s great that you have done this post and that you link your arguments to other articles by travel bloggers so we can see real people with real experiences and real opinions on the matter. Keep up the good work!

  15. Thank you! I’ve been to a few of these places and have felt safer there than in my own neighborhood here in Los Angeles. Do women have to look out for themselves when traveling? Yes! But men do just the same. We all have to be aware of our surroundings. Bad things happen everywhere, but that shouldn’t keep a person from leaving their house. Its sad that the media puts out so much fearmongering but as we all know, that’s what sells. I’m glad you stood up for yourself and all women travelers.

  16. The Daily Mail are not known for being a reliable source for…anything really.

    Thank you for writing this piece, I am honestly tired of reading about places I should avoid, just because I happen to be born with vagina. Come on! I’ve traveled to plenty of the places listed, never had a problem. Turkey? Seriously?!

    I did a two-week solo journey through Iran in December and had a blast! Not to mention other places I’ve visited in the Middle East on my own, including the Palestinian territories – not a single incident. But every time I pack my bags to go on a solo trip, it’s always the same – I get articles like these in my inbox from concerned friends.

    And the irony is that the only time I was attacked was in 2010. In Manchester. So

  17. Thank you for this and all of your examples of women traveling solo in the places from the Daily Mail article. Problems can arise anywhere, we just have to be smart about where we are and what we’re doing. The most threatened I’ve ever felt was right here in my home base of Pittsburgh.

  18. Fantastic objective article Stephanie! I loved how you’ve shared honest advice from real solo females…and how sometimes they admit how these places, sure, still aren’t perfect.

    I just got back from five weeks alone in Brazil and although I learned that it has so many more crime and social issues than I previously knew, I never specifically felt unsafe. In fact, I felt like Brazilians were always looking out for me. Many times I’d take my phone out to snap a sneaky photo during a celebration and I’d be told to put it away. I felt like they were being overprotective at that point, but I totally appreciated it.

  19. It’s silly and annoying. I write about Belize and travel around ALL THE TIME by myself. Woman, male…group or not…as long as you take basic precautions…like don’t flash $100 bills in front of criminals or walk on the beach at 3am…you are fine.

  20. The comments section kind of sums up the intended audience – “Never leave the country, vote UKIP.” Love this rebuttal, especially the pictures!

  21. I agree! I believe everywhere comes with a pinch of danger, some more than the others but I don’t think it’s fair to highlight only very specific countries. Nobody should just stay at home or skip the countries just because a newspaper article says so! With mindfulness of your surroundings and plenty of common sense, I’m sure solo women travellers will go far. Things will happen but things happen just about anywhere.

  22. I’m a 22 year old Canadian studying in Thailand and to be honest, there are certain areas where prostitution and heavy alcohol use is encouraged/practiced. But if you are aware and informed you will probably never feel unsafe. I see tourists every time I go into the city (because I’m a student I chose to live a little outside Bangkok to help me focus more on school than fun) Hopefully everyone who wants to travel solo (me included) does their research and joins forums! P.S – In the past 3 years Ive had 2 bad experiences where I felt harassed/unsafe and they were both what I assume to be American or English tourists, I didnt let those experiences stop me from enjoying solo travel although I am now waaay more cautious around old men who come to Thailand for the obvious illegal sex trade. Danger can be anywhere, even in your own backyard. Doesnt mean you should confine yourself! The world is a beautiful place people!

  23. If one bad thing happens in a country doesn’t mean the WHOLE country is dangerous. Bad things happen in America all of the time – that doesn’t stop people from traveling to America, does it?

  24. Poor Sarai Sierra. Every solo traveler knows this woman’s name. Because her life was ended in a way that allows naysayers to have something to throw in our faces. It is just sickening. I had just booked a trip to Turkey when she died. People used her to tell me to not go. I live in New York, she was from New York. More New York women die in New York than in Istanbul. Am I supposed to move too?

    I am so sick of women being told not to go here or there because they are women. I am also sick of hearing how brave I am for going to China of all places alone. What the hell is scary about China other than the bathrooms on long distance trains? People need to read less articles like the stupid Daily Mail and do more finding out what the world is like for themselves.

    Sigh.

  25. Thank you for writing this piece. I understand what it’s like to be quoted in a sensationalistic piece of journalism (it’s all for the ratings.) I was in the Philippines during Typhoon Haiyan and was offline for three days during which time the media thought they shall imply I was likely dead.
    The piece I wrote on it is here:
    http://lightscameratravel.com/2014/01/22/typhoon-haiyan-day-became-missing-person/

    But back to female solo travel: it is so important for bloggers such as yourself, Amanda and Kate to clarify that we do in fact, live in a safer world that the fears instilled by the rating whores.

  26. Another fine example of cheap, bigoted, right-wing journalism. Not journalism really. Brain puking on a paper. The moral of this Daily Heil story is that women should sit on their bum at home and make babies and never cross their country’s border. (That way UK might potentially avoid new migrants too, so win-win for Daily Heil) I was born and raised in Turkey, and had enough of this orientalist shit about my part of the world.

  27. Great post! I’ll be leaving on a solo trip in the Caribbean (where I’ll turn 53) in April and then Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea for the summer. I’ve enjoyed the fact, as I get older, that the general street harassment goes way down. In my early 20’s, traveling with a male friend, I found Egypt very difficult with the frequent commentary from passing men and occasional gropes in crowded places. And no, I wasn’t dressed inappropriately and my friend was always with me. On my most recent trip, I wasn’t sexually harassed at all, just the usual harassment of street vendors, etc. wanting to sell things to me.

  28. I make a point of not clicking on Daily Mail articles after reading so much trash from them, so I haven’t read the original article but obviously their excuse-for-a-journalist is wrong. There’s only two of these countries I haven’t travelled to as a solo female (Mexico & South Africa) and while I was hassled and felt uncomfortable in most of them at times, that’s exactly how I’d feel if/when a few random men decided to shout catcalls in any other country in the world. To reiterate many of the women here, I’ve often felt more threatened in London than I have in any other country.

    Also as a side note – can people who haven’t visited PLEASE stop perpetuating the reputation of Colombia as a wholly dangerous country?? Of course I haven’t lived there to the extent of your first commenter, I do known that large swathes of the country are now infinitely safer than they used to be, and it’s possibly my favourite country I’ve ever visited.

  29. Oh no! That is so disappointing that the Daily Mail published such a sensationalist article. I’ve had my criticisms of the Daily Mail and by no means was I surprised when I read this post but it always pains me to read that such big and powerful publications depend on and perpetuate shoddy journalism. On another note I find it kind of ridiculous that a few of these countries made their list. I agree that traveling alone can be scary and intimidating and, in certain situations, dangerous. But seriously, Thailand?! That’s just laughable. It irked me to see Colombia on that list. I spent two months there last summer and fell so in love with that country. I know that certain areas can be dangerous but I felt so utterly safe during my travels there. It pains me to know that people will read articles like the Daily Mail’s and be deterred from traveling to amazing (and perfectly safe) countries like Thailand and Colombia. Kudos to you for speaking out about it.

  30. I commented on Amanda’s post that to be frank in the UK the Daily Mail is highly disregarded as “journalism” & that the Red Tops have a better reputation. It is a pile of utter shite, and it’s a real shame that your comments in there have been used the way they have.

    That said, having lived in the Canary Islands (which has a high population of Moroccan immigrants), I wouldn’t travel there, or any of North Africa alone. It doesn’t mean I won’t go someday, but perhaps it will be a trip I take with my boyfriend instead of solo.

  31. Hi Stephanie I found this article through a link from Mariellen Ward of breathe dream go. I have been travelling solo and with my husband over the past 30 years and the place I have felt the most unsafe is at night in North America the US and Canada. Night is a time of socializing in most parts of the world and Asia it is often the busiest time as it has cooled down enough for people to get out and about. FEAR is so powerful and finding yourself is letting the fear go and knowing that people all over the world are the same…they want food, shelter, peace and a better life for their children and themselves. Are there dangers travelling? Of course there are, just like walking out your house door is dangerous if you let it be. Knowing that the majority of the world is filled with kind, generous and caring people can go along way in opening the world of travel to many. With the caveat that COMMON SENSE and listening to your inner voice regarding truly safe and fool hardy ventures, is part of not only the travel experience but life experience.

  32. A Girl Who Travels

    Ugh, I saw that article! The issue of safety was so ridiculously blown out of propoertions that I couldn’t even read it until the end. Let’s be real here – statistically speaking, you’re more likley to die in your home town than abroad. It’s a shame because article like this have the potential to put women off travelling solo.

  33. The Daily Mail is such a disgusting website! Every time I’ve visited it I am shocked that it can get any worse! I hate giving them any traffic, but I had to click after reading your post.
    They are so irresponsible and the epitome of everything that is wrong with the media.
    Citing domestic violence figures and vague studies is so irresponsible. The only thing more shocking than the ‘journalism’ on the site are the comments.

    That is so funny about the photos used, I was wondering about the ballet dancer with the umbrella! 🙂

  34. Thanks so much for writing this, Stephanie. The media can really twist things around. I have a BA in Journalism and I am very cynical about the media. So many media outlets love to sensationalize to sell papers; they rarely think about their societal responsibility.

    I have spent the last few years vigorously advocating for female solo travel and defending India against what I think is a “smear job.” Yes, there have been some terrible incidents; and yes India is not at the level of western countries in terms of rights for women. But the media makes it sound like there’s a gang of thugs waiting at the airport for every woman who steps off the plane.

    I have spent a total of two years altogether travelling solo in India, meeting the warmest people I have ever met. I have no fear of travelling solo here because I know these people will rescue me if I’m in trouble. I have no doubt about this. It breaks my heart to see the entire country stereotyped because of the biases of the western media.

    I also want to say this fear mongering is a form of oppression; it is intended to keep women in the house. Statistics show that women are in more danger of abuse, attack and rape from partners than strangers.

    The whole thing makes my blood boil. Thanks so much for kicking back.

    1. I agree, fear mongering IS a form of oppression, although a more subtle one. The goal is to keep women scared and make sure they “know their place.”

  35. Great post! I totally agree with you. I’m heading to Greece in May and my father keeps telling me not to go there because its dangerous due to their economy. He also told me not to go to New Orleans last year because it’s the so-called murder capital of the US (at least in his mind). I can’t stand the media. I take it with a grain of salt now.

  36. I hate sensationalistic journalism like that. I think the sad truth is that women do just have to be aware wherever they are, but with proper precautions the world is really a very safe place. Plus I often find that as a solo female people watch our for me a bit more.

  37. Its amazing how many ladies that I know are afraid to travel, in part, because they are a women.

    I always stress the fact that I have met more solo ladies traveling then men. Not sure how many I have convinced but hopefully at least one!

  38. Great article thank you. South Africa was the one place I was most aware of danger .15 years ago and I was with a group of friends at a wedding. It was the locals who constantly highlighted the dangers and were concerned for our safety. I have learned a lot more about the world since then and have solo travelled in Peru and Istanbul and Thailand and parts of Europe…definitely empowering. And I’m alive and well

  39. I find these scaremongering articles so distasteful. They just feed into fears and stereotypes to drive up page views. I was actually in Istanbul last month when that female suicide bomber attacked a police station near the Hagia Sophia. I only learned about the incident when I got back to my hotel that night and saw a bunch of FB messages from concerned friends and family. But I wasn’t scared or worried at all, and I would travel to Istanbul again in a heartbeat. Everyone I met there was incredibly kind. Sadly, these types of attacks can happen anywhere – look at France and Denmark! We actually saw “je suis Charlie” written on a wall in Istanbul the next day. If we stop traveling and living our lives out of fear, the terrorists win.

  40. Hi Rebeca,
    I agree that these articles hype and sensationalize things to scare people. I think a better approach would be to tell people to do research ahead of time, be aware, and know how to respect the local culture. Although I haven’t been to these places, they are all places I’ve done more research in as I am interested to travel to them. I’m definitely an introvert and have worried about being on my own sometimes, but once I get where I’m supposed to go, I LOVE being on my own and feel that confidence you’ve talked about. These incidents happen in the United States and in some areas and cities at even worse rates, I’m sure. Take a look at our gun violence, for example. So why believe everyone when they tell you that you can’t doing something because you’re a woman?

  41. I’ve been to a lot of these countries as a solo female traveller. In Colombia, I met people every day who were really friendly and helpful. Mexico is one of the easiest countries I’ve been to to get around in. It’s such a shame that rumours spread that put people off travelling, and it’s great that you’re setting them straight!

  42. I’m thinking part of why Thailand was on the list may have to do with recent British backpacker deaths on Koh Tao…there was a double murder in in September (one girl) and another British girl just died last month (of natural causes).

    Of course crazy, terrible things happen in Thailand just like any other part of the world, now after almost 4 years, I still have never felt unsafe or threatened living here (thanks for the quote, by the way!) and believe it’s one of the easiest and most enjoyable places to travel solo!

  43. Very interesting article. I am from Chicago and sometimes when I’ve traveled abroad & people asked where I was from, they would be horrified I was from Chicago and would ask how I am even able to leave my house. Because all they know about Chicago is Al Capone and gang violence. I think the media just loves to only show the violence and every city has violence and bad areas you just have to be aware of.

  44. William Walker

    I am currently a student in high school, and I am hoping to be able to travels to these places in the future. I completely agree with you can people should go out and explore the world more. I can’t fully identify because I’m not a female traveler, but I can really relate to the fact that the world isn’t that scary once you go out and experience it. Great post!

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