Over and over again on this trip, I’ve had people tell me that I am so brave for traveling alone.
I’m in my own car, in my own country. Familiar with the currency. I speak the language. I have a cell phone – and have signal most of the time.
When I was 21, I moved to Germany with my ex-husband, courtesy of the US Army. I drove all over the place in Southern Germany – where I didn’t speak the language other than the ability to order two beers or some french fries, and to ask how much something cost. We didn’t have cell phones yet. I never thought twice about hopping in the car and going somewhere.
One summer while I lived in Germany, while my husband was deployed to Turkey, I got a Eurorail pass and traveled with a childhood friend around Europe, taking a lot of night trains so we didn’t have to pay for hotel rooms.
That? That was brave. Both my trips around Germany and around Europe. What I’m doing right now? Not so much.
I find it fascinating how much we let fear rule us these days. I think that overall, as a society, we are actually safer than we were 20 years ago. Driving 12,000 miles – so far – doesn’t seem that brave at all to me.
Why is it that people act like if a woman does a road trip like this it is brave, but if a man does it it is no big deal?
There have been moments where I have had to be alert and aware, of course. I’m camping in National Parks. There are bears. I have seen exactly one bear, but that doesn’t mean I’m not staying alert and watching for them. There was the evening I drove across Utah on a 2 lane highway with no cell phone signal. I saw two people walking on the side of the road. A few miles later, I passed their car – they must have been going for gas. I wondered what I would have done if it had been me. I would have pulled over and waited until the morning – in the evening, the road is pretty quiet, but during the day there are a lot of truckers going through. I could have flagged one down to get help sent to me.
Do you have to be smart about it, and pay attention? Of course. But no more than you do in everyday life.
I should add, I do make sure I top off the gas tank a lot more often than I do in Houston. Especially after that night in Utah.
Have you ever traveled alone on a long distance road trip? Did you consider it to be brave?