Solo Travel for Women – Yay, or Nay?
Many of us enjoy dining or traveling alone, but others hate it. Some love a work-related getaway, considering it a break from the regular schedule of dealing with both work and home responsibilities. Others dread traveling away from home while alone and feel “at risk” due to being a woman.
Both points of view are valid, but we talked to two Mississippians — one who travels alone and one who doesn’t — to explore ways to make solo travel as comfortable and relaxing an experience as possible.
Sometimes, there’s no way around it: Solo travel is a requirement. Jobs often demand it. Due to her work for a pharmaceutical company, Diamondhead mom Amy Jacobi travels alone on a weekly basis.
“I cover three states — Mississippi, Alabama and Florida,” She said. “When I travel alone, there are a few things I always do. I try to do everything in the daylight, from pumping gas, checking into hotels, and picking up food… and I NEVER do any of these things while talking on the phone.”
“I find criminals target distracted people, and phones are the number one culprit.”
Fellow Diamondhead mom to two, Melissa Carrigee, has the luxury of always having a travel partner. She visits many conferences for her work with coast-based publishing company, Brother Mockingbird. She usually travels either with her spouse or with an author who is also attending the conference.
Benefits of having a travel companion, in her situation, are that it “helps with the expense…women can share rooms, meals, gas, driving…and that helps, but it also helps with having another person there with you for security.”
“There have been times when I would have not felt comfortable had I not been with another traveling companion.”
We won’t mention the city aside from saying it is one of Mississippi’s largest, but Carrigee said an incident stuck with her and has made her more fearful of solo travel.
“We were told at the front desk of a hotel not to walk downtown alone, and if we wanted to walk to a restaurant, then they wanted us to walk with one of their hotel employees,” she explained. “I think they were having trouble with homeless people harassing or scaring people as they walked. I don’t know…it was a little unnerving, though.”
The flipside of the coin is Jacobi, who has become accustomed to solo trips; she’s put a lot of thought into organizing things with safety in mind. While she’s less spooked about it than Carrigee — no doubt, because she’s had to become that way — she still admits she feels fear when out alone in certain places while far from home. Not all places people visit for work are like tourism districts, heavily-patrolled streets designed for visitors. When on the job, there are all sorts of places solo women travelers might need to venture, and keeping employed depends upon being ready, willing and able.
Jacobi makes it work by having caution and following safety rules. She said she might carry personal protection if her employer allowed it, but it isn’t allowed in her company vehicle. Instead, the weapon she uses is complete situational awareness.
“I try to stop at the big truck stops where I know there will be a lot of people, such as Flying J or Love’s,” Jacobi said. “I never stay at a hotel that has rooms that open to the outside, and I never stay on the first floor. The access to the general public is too easy. I don’t like to eat alone, so I always order in or get room service.”
Jacobi gave an easily-overlooked suggestion parents often use for their teens and tweens, but often forget for themselves.
“Make sure you always have your location services on your phone and/or iPad turned on,” she advised. “If you have Life360 with your kids, make sure they can locate you, too. It may be a good idea to let the front desk know you are traveling alone.”
Even though Carrigee always travels with another person, she, too, suggests utilizing hotel desk employees as a part of any safe travel plan.
“I do rely on the hotel staff for recommendations on which places to eat and which areas are not safe to be in,” Carrigee said, adding she always opts to stay at the hotel where the conference is being held. “I don’t try to save a buck and stay down the street.”
Carrigee sounds as if she won’t be venturing out alone any time soon the way Jacobi does. She did, however, offer wise advice that holds true whether we’re alone or in a large group.
“I think having knowledge about a place is what it will take so you will not feel so vulnerable,” she said.