A couple of months ago, I shared some of my difficult experiences with sexual assault and traveling with you.
It was hard for me to write, but the support I received from all of you in this community reminded me of how important it is to discuss these issues. Traveling can be scary, and scary things can and do happen both at home and abroad. But I will never stop traveling, and I will always encourage women to get out and explore the world.
Yesterday, I took the plunge and shared my story on Huffington Post Travel. Doing so was terrifying. The days before it went live, I went back and forth on whether or not to just delete it all, dreading the barrage of ridiculous comments I knew would come.
And come they did. Some of the most ridiculous were things like:
Which is statistically not true at all.
And things like:
Which I don’t even really understand (the gay 90s?) And:
Now, I have some pretty thick skin. Most of these comments I shrugged off as whatevs (haters gon’ hate), but when the overall thread is: stop traveling– I have a big issue.
Is this really where we are as a society? After Sarai Sierra was murdered in Turkey, the internet exploded in a discussion about solo female travel and safety… didn’t we already cover this ground? Haven’t we proved that travel is vital to personal growth and self discovery for both sexes? Are we really still here?
Traveling has given me so many beautiful strengths.
Though some of those experiences have been less than stellar, I would never throw in the towel and stop traveling altogether. The good has always far outweighed the bad for me.
Go! Girl Guides was created to help inspire and empower women to travel the world. Yes, there are risks in going abroad, but there are also risks in going to your local grocery store. Our guidebooks are tools to help reduce those risks, but things can and do still happen.
When my initial post on this site went live, I was floored by the amount of comments, emails and tweets I received from women who had similar experiences. It’s not a pleasant topic, and it gets swept under the rug too often because it happens abroad. I hope by speaking out, others feel comfortable and encouraged to do the same.
Mostly, I’m saddened that other members of our society are still in the mindset that women shouldn’t travel. I guess in a way it’s reaffirmation of the importance of our latest project, the Women’s Travel Fest, where we will bring together 400 women to talk openly and honestly about all aspects of women’s travel, including health and safety.
We can support one another by sharing. By sparking dialogue and raising awareness. By continuing to travel.
Awareness spreads. Add to the dialogue.