The internet has exploded. Or at least the part that I am looking at seems to have. Why? Because recently a 33-year old New Yorker, Sarai Sierra, who was travelling in Turkey went missing. Her body was just recently found.
Sarai’s death is very sad. It’s sad that someone’s life has come to an end prematurely. It’s sad that her family and friends have been left behind. It’s sad that she won’t be making any new photographs because man the ones I have seen are great. And it’s sad that she did not die peacefully of old age while she was sleeping (or however else you envision a peaceful and normal end of life).
Did Sarai’s death make me stop and think “gee was I lucky all of those times I travelled alone” or “I better not travel alone anymore” or even “sheesh, it sucks to be female”?
Yet, Sarai’s death, or in particular the fact that she died whilst travelling as a solo female, has brought out exactly these comments from others – in particular the second comment and in particular in the comments of a certain NBC article.
“Stupid is as stupid does,” was one of the more minor ones – if minor and that comment in this context can actually be put together.
The thing is, travel is like many things we do in life. It requires (or should!) research, preparation and decision making. That doesn’t change if you are male, female, travelling solo or travelling in a group. Just as I wouldn’t join a group of people who had decided to head to the fan club bar dressed up in a main rival’s football colours, I equally wouldn’t head to a country (any country) without making sure I was clear on what things/locations/behaviours might be just as offensive and risky as the football example.
I don’t do that because I am female or only when I am travelling solo. I do that every time, in every circumstance. I don’t do it because the world is a scary place. I do it because it makes me a responsible traveller.
So if you were thinking of travelling solo or know of someone who was and had changed your mind/tried to change their mind after Sarai’s death, please don’t. Travelling solo can be fantastic. You don’t need to worry about missing out on seeing things just because your travel buddy doesn’t want to do the same things you do. It can boost your confidence and it is a great way to see more of the world and meet new people.
Just continue to do your research, preparation and decision making. But we’re all doing that anyway – right?