Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Women Who Travel Alone

*Ever since the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” was released twenty years ago, women everywhere have flocked to Jamaica trying to find their own versions of an island paradise. And rather than bring sand to the beach she leaves her man at home – if she has one – opting to travel alone or with her girlfriends.

Although my mother and I travel together frequently, this year I went without her. In July I went to Bali, Indonesia alone. Even though I almost ended up in China by accident, I had a great time.

In September I went to Cairo, Egypt alone, my first trip to Africa. During my nine days abroad I took a seven-hour bus ride through Egypt to scuba dive in the Red Sea. I hired a personal tour guide to show me around Cairo. And when I wasn’t with him I walked or took taxis everywhere I wanted to go. I had such a great experience I plan to go back in the near future.

So a few weeks after my return home when I read an article about two Detroit women who were raped at gunpoint while on vacation in Jamaica, the news caught my attention. It was just the latest reported crime of women who were robbed or raped while on vacation there. Reports claim it’s gotten so bad Jamaica is ranked the third most dangerous country for female travelers. Cairo was ranked the most dangerous place for women to travel. When I read that my mouth fell open! I just left Cairo and I couldn’t have had a better time.

Another woman suggested that I vacation in Cairo because she too had a great experience. None of the sites I researched during my vacation planning warned against traveling to Cairo. Sure there were a few reports about social unrest in certain parts of that country, but nothing to make me feel unsafe.

When it comes to safety, America should be posting its own alerts warning travelers about the rise in gun violence, since people are getting gunned down at worship services, the grocery store and even at home minding their own business, but I digress.

Here are some things I do to increase my chances of having the best time while traveling: I plan ahead as much as possible for my hotels, transportation and excursions. You get the best deals online and can do cost comparisons without on-the-spot impulsive spending, and you can read customer reviews to choose the best and safest locations. I let trusted friends and family know my itinerary so they know where to start looking if I come up missing and I keep in touch with them throughout my travels. Everybody else – so my home won’t get burglarized while I’m away – will find out details after I return. Although I’m friendly to locals and other travelers, where I’m staying and who I’m traveling with is none of their business. I don’t do drugs or get drunk or hang out at night, so that makes me much less likely to be seen as a potential victim. My idea of fun is doing extreme activities while on vacation. That and the fact that I’m 5’11”, physically fit and it would take at least two people to try to force me to do anything I don’t want to do keeps opportunists at bay. Don’t start none, won’t be none!

I love to travel, experience new cultures and build memories along the way. And I would advise you to do the same. I’m not about to stop living my life based on somebody’s random ranking of dangerous locations. What I’ve always done and will continue to do is practice common sense safety habits, especially while vacationing in a strange place.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] with comments, questions and speaking inquiries.

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