Our new year has dawned and we are greeting 2017 with open arms. Let’s face it, 2016 was a tough year. To say it was a year of seismic shifts in our political and social fabric is an understatement. A surprise Brexit vote was only the beginning that saw the year come to a close with the election of Donald Trump. Both will have repercussions for years to come far beyond the UK and United States respectively. My own native Italy saw its government turn over as Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned after losing a pivotal referendum designed to shift power in Italy’s government. Wherever you looked, change was afoot. Travel is obviously a global business and the new year is a perfect time to look forward and see how travel will change for women in the years to come. Women have always had to factor their personal safety into their travel planning especially when traveling by themselves. However with the election of Trump there is a high likelihood that we are returning to the “bad old days” of intolerance. With a President occupying the White House with hostile and demeaning attitudes toward women, there is no way to tell how that could spread and become a new status quo. With this as a backdrop, women traveling both domestically and internationally should approach their travel with fresh eyes. I have listed some guidelines that should prove essential in a Trumpian world.
The world has seemingly become less friendly. Conflicts rage across many regions that are clear physical “no go” zones. Psychologically, the rhetoric against outsiders makes even traditional tourist haunts seem less welcoming. Under these conditions it is more important than ever for women travelers to stay connected. Ideally travel should offer a respite from the pressure of social media and email. But these are not ideal times so our suggestion is to remain more connected than you might have in the past. Of course, Instagram posts are fine, but the recent robbery of Kim Kardashian in Paris has shown some social media tools might actually invite danger if used recklessly. Instead regular email correspondence with family and close friends is a better option. Make sure someone at home has your inteniary as best as you have it arranged. Even if you have not turned on the roaming services on your phone connect to wifi wherever you can to stay connected. Make sure beyond email, you have access to Skype, Whatspp, Facebook and Google Chat. All of these can be used to let those closest to you know where you are and that you are safe. Take a look at this list of traveling apps for the solo female traveller.
Whether traveling alone or with a group, diligence is your best friends. You should stay informed of current local events in order to have a sense of what is happening in the country/region you are visiting. Try as best you can to plug into local news sources as they are the best guide for what is going on locally. Obviously, there might be language barrier depending on where you are, but do your best to keep a finger on the pulse of your environment.
Being prepared is just not the adage of Scouts it should be yours as a woman traveller. Beyond the usual recommended travel items a woman traveling either by herself or in a group should have, be prepared with essential items to stay flexible, safe and mobile in every sense of the word. Travel by its nature should be spontaneous but we find that “luck favors the prepared..” so do not mistake spontaneity for lack of preparation. Don’t forget to carry items, that many take for granted such as: a photocopy of your passport and important documents, universal adapter plug, a pen and a notebook, antibacterials wipes, sewing kit and first aid kit to name a few.
When we are faced with challenging times it can appear as if our voices are not being heard and we are not represented. These are the exact moments we need to amplify our voices. Now is the time to travel more, not less. Women should not be discouraged to travel solo despite an environment that is less receptive to the female spirit. Our confidence and fearlessness is going to be essential. It doesn’t matter whether the mountains you seek to climb are physical or mental. What is important is to keep climbing.