Riding solo / by Shana Berenzweig

 Horsebend Bend, Arizona | August 2018

Horsebend Bend, Arizona | August 2018

“So is it just you and your dog?”

“Where’s your husband?”

“Are you meeting up with friends?”

“Wait, you’re out here all by yourself?”

“I could never do that, don’t you get scared?”

These are just a few of the questions I get asked pretty much every single solo trip I take. Both from well-meaning friends at home and strangers I encounter on the road.

 Somewhere in western New Mexico, September 2018

Somewhere in western New Mexico, September 2018

I realize that the vast majority of these people are asking from a place of love and concern. And it is always nice to know people care about you and are interested in your life.

But.

(There’s always a “but,” isn’t there?)

Sometimes it feels like they are projecting their fears, insecurities, and judgements on me.

I’ve written about traveling solo before (here and here), but it feels like society gives women only three options for travel: with a significant other, usually a man; for work; or with friends or family. The notion of solo female travel, even in 2018, still feels radical somehow. Or at least based on the responses I’ve experienced.

Not nearly often enough does someone lead with “Wow, that’s awesome, I’m jealous!” or share their own solo adventures, or something similarly positive. This generally applies to acquaintances and strangers, but either way I wish more folks would start with this sentiment, rather than one that is fear-based.

 West Texas | September 2018

West Texas | September 2018

“Do you have a gun?”

“Do you wear a fake wedding ring so people won’t think you are alone?”

“How can you trust strangers?”

These are a few more of the types of questions I get asked all the time as if I don’t take any precautions when I set out alone. Just because I don’t want fear to control my life, doesn’t mean I don’t take steps to stay safe. For example, I always tell someone my itinerary and check in when I get somewhere. I also always trust my gut and if a stranger’s demeanor is shady or their questions too invasive, I’ll lie about my travel plans and details. Even though I’m a proud independent woman doesn’t mean I am stupid.

But.

(Y’all knew there’d be another “but.”)

I wonder how often a solo man on the road gets asked any of these questions?

 Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, Arizona | August 2018

Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, Arizona | August 2018

Back soon with more photos from this summer’s epic seven state roadtrip!

XO