Safety challenges await females who travel alone

By Shelby Banks

Based on Nancy Chesworth’s experience of travelling alone during a trip to Vietnam, she concludes that a woman travelling alone is not the best option.

“In the last 10 years people have tried to drug me twice. They didn’t succeed, but I was one step ahead. They almost did one time, but I figured it out really fast,” says Chesworth.

Both men and women should be careful while travelling alone, but Chesworth suggests women have a much harder time and have to be more careful.

“I tend to be very, very careful and since I have started travelling I learned to develop eyes in the back of my head really fast,” she says.

Chesworth, who is an associate professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in the Business, Tourism and Hospitality Management department, held a session on travel at the Halifax Central Library Tuesday evening, called “Sleep and Save.” More than 30 people attended.

During her session she suggested women should not travel alone due to some serious risks involved.

“I do not recommend that women travel on their own, if you do at least bring a friend with you.”

The Canadian Government agrees with Chesworth. An article on its website which includes a safety guide for women travelling alone.

“Women travel for countless reasons, whether to discover new frontiers, pursue business opportunities, or simply to rest and relax – not unlike men. But when it comes to health and security, and how travellers are affected by the religious and cultural beliefs of the foreign countries they visit, there’s a huge difference between women and men. The truth is that women face greater obstacles, especially when travelling alone,” says on the Canadian Government website in the article “Her Own Way – a women’s safe-travel guide.’’

The women’s safe travel guide includes information on how it is different for women to travel alone compared to men because of the different cultural and religious beliefs in countries.

The guide also provides a list of safety information during travels such as: always keep an eye on your drinks, find a safe hotel where you can check in every night, be mindful of your surroundings and they advise women to wear a whistle necklace in case they run into troubles and have to make a loud noise.

Recent graduates of Dalhousie University, Rob Sanderson and Brody Crosby, decided to go together to travel across Canada and during their trip, they made an impulsive decision to travel to Asia before heading back home.

“We were pretty street smart during our travel and always travelled as a pair. But we are two strapping young men so I don’t think anyone would mess with us,” says Sanderson.

Sanderson and Crosby only had one concern – and it wasn’t about their safety.

“Food poisoning was our only concern. We definitely got vaccinations beforehand – you pretty much need those,” says Crosby.

Opposite from what people are told during traveling, Sanderson and Crosby made their decisions a bit differently.

“We were experts on saving money, but also experts on making expensive impulse purchases,” says Sanderson.

“To save money during the road trip we would sleep in the car or sneak into camp sites without paying. But rather than renting hotels we camped the whole way and cooked our own food using a camping stove.”

During their trip, Crosby mentions that the key to being safe was just to remain in contact with other backpackers that they came across while traveling, especially in Asia.

Chesworth says while people travel they need to follow and pay a lot of attention to their gut reaction to situations.

“If you encounter someone and you don’t feel good with that person and you feel like there is something wrong, you have to pay attention to that. We have been taught not to do that so now we have to start teaching ourselves,” says Chesworth.

“The guy could turn out to be nice as pie but you don’t know that, and you are not going to know until you get to know this person and by then it may be too late.”