Dear (self-identifying) woman,
I usually don’t have solid advice as hitchhiking is very different woman to woman and I don’t think of myself as someone in the position to give you advice, especially the unsolicited kind. While traveling – whether that be by hitchhiking or not – you’ll be in situationsI have never encountered and some of my experiences will never happen to you, despite our general similar experiences of going through life (being perceived) as women. The advice I’ve given you on “only listening to other female solo travelers/hitchhikers” is more about “not listening to men’s advice”; they’ll either tell you it can’t be done as a woman because it’s too dangerous, or they’ll tell you it’s completely safe because they claim to have had this experience – they haven’t. Those *two things men advice you – unsolicited or not – translate very roughly into “don’t leave your front door, you’ll be killed” and “I have no clue what I’m talking about, but go jump from a rooftop, I turned out fine”. Clearly, if you listen to either of these, you’re not gonna have a good time..
The point is that men don’t and can’t have the experience you’ll get as they don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in a public space – and traveling/hitchhiking is like being in public space permanently. I could elaborate on how public spaces are considered men’s spaces if you’re not familiar, but other people have written on that better than I ever could. My actual advice? Develop an instinct for bullshit, don’t do things directly because other female solo hitchhikers/travelers are doing it, make your own system of what works and what doesn’t by learning from every experience you have on the road. Simplify things when necessary, learn effective hand gestures to communicate while being culturally sensitive at the same time and get the hell out at the first signs of trouble, while not doubting your decisions. Your safety goes first and you’ll need to do whatever you think is best. Never panic, don’t show fear, always be in control. If you want to do something and you’re seeking advice, think about who you’re asking in the first place, and whatever they say next: take it with a grain of salt, as it is your decision in the end. Out there, your mere presence is power – and empowering others to strip away constraints of their own.
Peace, love and tranquility,
Iris/Mind of a Hitchhiker
* Third option!
Maybe you get lucky and a guy tells you “I don’t think I’m the right person to ask”. This guy deserves a cookie/high-five/adaboy/whatever you think is appropriate.
A little explanation:
I wrote this piece for someone who was seeking safety tips for hitchhiking and she asked me where it was on my blog. So far there wasn’t anything tackling this or clarifying my position, so I decided to copy paste my answer to her from Facebook on here and add and edit a little. This blog is not about giving (unsolicited) advice to other travelers/hitchhikers (m/f/o), it’s about sharing my experiences while hitchhiking and inspiring other people from their electronic devices with pretty awesome pictures and badass stories. I’d never incite someone to hitchhike by telling them “it will change your life!! Just do it!!” as I think that’s incredibly irresponsible and plain stupid. If these posts encouraged someone to hitchhike (while solo while female) it was their idea to begin with and I just showed that it’s not that radical of an idea (yet it somehow still is). All the Q&A and other “advice” you might find on this blog should be read as a “What worked for me..”sort of thing, not an absolute truth.