- “It’s unsafe to hitchhike”.
Nope. Unfortunately hitchhiking has become scarce in recent years mainly due to irrational fears both from drivers and would-be hitchhikers but it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll be in any danger. There are far more good people in the world, who are simply happy to give you a ride than opportunistic murderers and rapists.
But, what about if you’re a woman? Being a woman in general has its risks, but being a female hitchhiker isn’t as risky as you might think. I’ve had drivers pick me up hitchhiking in the UK before simply because I am female and I seem less threatening than a bearded 6ft man, saying “I don’t usually pick up hitchhikers, but you don’t look dangerous” or the “I’ve got a daughter your age and I wouldn’t want a weirdo to pick her up” as if by them giving me a lift they’re rescuing me from the potential Buffalo Bill skin thief who’s inevitably lurking around the next corner. Let’s get real, nothing is without risk, we take risks every day, its part of life. How many of us have used an Uber driver alone, used an unknown babysitter, driven a car, taken medication, cooked with gas, climbed a tree, swam in a body of water … you get the idea.
It’s not unsafe to hitchhike in the majority of the world, but definitely read up on your destination first about local attitudes. Also, in some countries and states in the US it’s actually illegal. Use common sense and your gut instinct (e.g. does the car smell like an Amsterdam Café? Does the person smell of booze?) Remember, you’re not obliged to get in the car if you don’t like the situation, you can turn down a lift by simply making up an excuse. Or if you’re already in the car, just ask to stop at the next place. I’ve known plenty of people who hitchhike, usually fellow travellers both male and female, and I’ve never heard of any horror stories. Yes, if you hitchhike regularly it’s likely that you’ll have an odd-ball experience at some point, but more along the lines of conspiracy-theorist-hippy or socially-awkward-cat-lady rather than axe murderer. The chances of that odd-ball experience becoming dangerous is very slim (and sometimes the weird people are the most interesting!) Check out HitchWiki for some excellent hitchhiking tips.
- “You shouldn’t travel alone as a woman”
Similarly to the hitchhiking stories, there’s lots of scaremongering concerning female solo travellers. But the risks are far fewer than you’d expect. Women do face higher levels of sexual harassment and violence, but look into the statistics and you’ll find that surprisingly, we are more likely to be harmed by people we know.
“More than two thirds of women murdered by a man last year were killed by a partner or former partner … and 90 per cent were murdered by someone they knew” (Independent 2017)
OK, I don’t want to get bogged down in the dark and depressing statistics of violence against women, as this isn’t the purpose for my blog, I simply want to show you how as a woman, you are far more likely to experience violence at the hands of someone you know than a stranger. You’re by far more likely to be harmed by a partner, but does that stop you from having relationships.? Of course it doesn’t. There’s no doubt that as a woman you need to be sensible and trust your gut, but you shouldn’t let your gender stop you from travelling solo. Check out these awesome travel blogs about women who go solo:
- “You need a lot of money to travel”
You do need some money of course; you need some money to do anything. But it’s more attainable than you might think. The word ‘travel’ might conjure up images in your head of swanky hotels, fancy cocktails on an immaculate private beach and indulgent meals. Travel has become synonymous with Luxury, but of course this isn’t the case and you can travel on a very small budget especially in countries that have a lower living cost than your home country. If you really want to travel, you’ll find a way to save. Depending on your situation it might take longer and you’ll need to make sacrifices, but it will happen. Take a look at my blog post here about how to save money to go travelling. There are also plenty of excellent blogs about travelling on a budget, take a look at the following:
- “Hostels are only for young people”
Absolutely not true. Hostels are for anyone. I think here we have been misinformed by the commonly used phrase ‘youth hostel’ when talking about hostels. I have seen old, young, middle-aged, families, school trips and anyone in between in hostels. They are just low budget accommodation with more practical facilities than a hotel, such as kitchens and laundry rooms. At the ripe old age of 27 I’ve stopped staying in dorms now and opt for a private room, but there’s no rule. If your budget only permits you to stay in a dorm, then a dorm it is, whether you’re 18 or 62. Check out this great post from Nomadic Matt about a 72 year old backpacking around the world.
- “You can’t travel when you have kids”
Again, this is simply not true. I’ve seen families in hostels in South America, in beach huts in South East Asia and in RVs travelling the width and breadth of the USA. Yes travelling with children would face its challenges, but it’s still very achievable and introducing children to new situations from a young age will help. If travelling is a passion of yours, you’ll want to experience this with your children. As a childless person I’m by no means an expert, so check out these excellent blogs for tips on how to travel with your children: