February 27, 2019

A strange thing happens when someone broaches the topic of globetrotting as a lone woman. All of a sudden, women are referred to as if they’re a monolithic tribe separate from the rest of civilisation, to whom the regular rules of travel don’t apply. It becomes unfathomable to imagine the fairer sex wanting and being able to handle a trip overseas on their own.

Blame it on the oversaturated reportage of the misadventures of solo female travellers, which has led to warped perceptions of foreign countries and gendered vulnerabilities. Reality may paint an entirely different picture, but half the population is still bombarded with the same questions and remarks that draw on and amplify the fears of solo travel. Here are 51 things everyone should stop saying to independent women voyagers.

1. “Who are you travelling with?”

2. “What do you mean you’re going alone?”

3. “Where is your boyfriend?”

4. “What does he think about all this?”

5. “You mean he lets you travel by yourself?”

6. “Won’t it be lonely?”

7. “You don’t even know the native language and you have no friends there.”

8. “What if you get lost?”

9. “What if you get robbed, raped and murdered?”

10. “What if you get into a cab and the driver takes you to a remote place and holds you hostage?”

11. “It’s different for guys.”

12. “These 188 countries, in particular, are dangerous for girls to visit by themselves.”

13. “Especially for a beautiful girl like you.”

14. “Are you doing this to ‘find yourself’?”

15. “Why can’t you ‘find yourself’ with a staycation? Why do you have to travel so far away from home?”

16. “You’re way too young to do this.”

17. “You look way too young to do this.”

18. “Even if you know Kung Fu, you still don’t look like you’re capable of defending yourself.”

19. “Even so, girls who know martial arts can still be kidnapped.”

20. “All it takes is for there to be more than one man to silence you.”

21. “I’ve seen so many news reports of women going missing overseas.”

22. “That’s what happened to my colleague’s friend’s cousin’s daughter!”

23. “Stop being so naive.”

24. “Gosh, you’re so brave.”

25. “I’m sure you’ve got tons of friends who are able to tag along with you.”

26. “You have to travel with at least two other girls, or a guy.”

27. “Why don’t you use all this time and money for something more purposeful?”

28. “You could focus on your career first, rather than jetting off for a month like that.”

29. “It’s such a pathetic thing to travel alone as a woman.”

30. “You don’t want to be viewed as a loner and a loser with no one to have fun with.”

31. “It’ll be so awkward eating alone at cafes and restaurants. How will you ever survive that?”

32. “Just postpone it for another three months. I’ll be available then to accompany you.”

33. “Can you really fit everything into just one luggage? Don’t you need two?”

34. “You should travel with a partner to help you manage the extra baggage.”

35. “Promise me you won’t go couch-surfing. And stay away from hostels.”

36. “Sometimes, you can’t really trust Airbnb apartments either.”

37. “Don’t go out after dark, unless you’re with someone you’re comfortable with.”

38. “You’ve heard about those mass shootings. It’s too risky right now to step into any country, where anyone could be carrying a firearm.”

39. “Guys are going to flirt with you and buy you drinks. You should, at all times, rebuff these advances. God knows those free cocktails might be spiked.”

40. “In fact, be wary of any guy who is nice to you. Nine times out of ten, they’ve got an ulterior agenda.”

41. “Just don’t get wasted. Don’t even get tipsy.”

42. “And don’t do anything too crazy, like going off the beaten track.”

43. “Go for a group tour. It will be much safer for you.”

44. “How about staying with your uncle in Canada? At least there will be someone you know to keep you safe.”

45. “Stick to populated places. Venturing into remote neighbourhoods is how people die.”

46. “This whole solo travelling thing is just a phase. I’m sure you’ll eventually settle down.”

47. “By the way, when’s that going to happen? The clock is ticking, and you’re not getting any younger.”

48. “Is someone funding your trip? A sugar daddy maybe?”

49. “To be able to travel like this, you must not have a lot of responsibilities to deal with back home.”

50. “First time travelling alone? Better get it out of your system now because when it’s over, you won’t want to do it again.”

51. “As your mother, I’m allowing this just once. You’re not doing it again after the first time.”