Women Who Travel Alone: A Reading List

My friend Mish is hiking the Appalachian Trail by herself. She hiked the northern portion first, and now she’s almost in Georgia. She’ll be home soon. In celebration, here are six stories about women who travel alone.

1. “A Little Honesty … On Safety and Solo Female Travel.” (Shannon O’Donnell, A Little Adrift, June 2013)

“I believe I have the right to travel, that despite criticism and skepticism that I can and should be on the road as a solo woman, that there are ways to travel with safety in mind. And even in the face of tragedies, I will encourage other women to travel, be that solo, with friends, or in a couple.”

2. “Traveling Solo: A Manifesto for the Modern Woman.” (Ann Friedman, New York Magazine, July 2013)

Did you know that the average traveler is a 47-year-old woman? Probably not, because society conditions us to believe that women who want to travel alone are impulsive, naive or suicidal. Friedman explores the dearth of modern narratives available to women adventurers.

3. “Talking to Kelly Lewis, Professional Solo Female Traveler.” (Lindsay King-Miller, The Hairpin, January 2014)

Kelly Lewis’ first job out of college was coordinating Lord of the Rings tours in New Zealand. She’s been in love with travel ever since. And she’s helping other women realize their dreams of world travel; she created Go! Girl Guides, travel guides with practical, witty and warm advice for women.

4. “A Female Hiker Grapples With Mysterious Mount Tam Deaths.” (Grace Rubenstein, KQED, April 2014)

In this beautifully writ observation, the author’s sacred spot becomes fraught with fear.

5. “Dangers of Traveling While Female.” (Tara Isabella Burton, Salon, August 2013)

Don’t let the vague title fool you. Burton analyzes the privilege inherent in the trope of the adventuring white man, contrasted with the fear that women feel daily, whether traveling or at home. The things that make a successful male traveler, she explains — saying yes to new opportunities, staying in sketchy lodgings, talking to strangers — can be a death sentence for women. Does this make for lesser adventures? Not at all: “My silence, my care, my hyper-awareness, allow me to recede into the background, to allow the people I observe to become the true subjects of the stories I tell.”

6. “Please Step Over Here: The Perils of Traveling as a Trans Woman.” (Mari Brighe, Autostraddle, July 2014)

Transgender women face specific challenges while traveling that cisgender women do not. Here, Autostraddle contributor Mari weighs in on the trouble with TSA, rural road trips and more.

Photo: francois