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Traveling with friends without a partner is NOT traveling alone

The news that two Argentine women were murdered during a trip to Ecuador in 2016 moved me for several reasons. One of them, obviously, due to the fact that I am a woman traveling alone. It’s impossible for us not to put ourselves in the place, not to think about the many and so many who go through this… We keep fighting so that it doesn’t happen again, but it’s also an internal fight to not let this kind of thing frighten us, discourage us and stop us from continuing.

The other reason bothered even more and turning and moving still happens. It was the media approach, with each news item emphasizing that they were “travelling alone”. The same speech was immediately repeated by people, who, deep down, also think so. “They were alone”. When, in fact, they were together. They were two. And even if it was just one and effectively alone, that doesn’t open a gap for crimes to happen. As the website Think Olga published at the time, in a text I shared on the blog page on Facebook:

“They weren’t alone, they had each other and yet they died brutally in two more stupid femicides. It is a shame, as a society, to admit that a single woman is easy prey. We no longer accept hearing that ‘That’s the way it is…’. Is not. We want not only to travel without men, but to walk and go out at night without men, to live a lifetime without men and to remain alive, not violated, without trauma, without fear. We want to exist alone, unaccompanied, without this being a risk.”

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Art: Carl Vander Yacht via Think Olga

From that episode I decided that I would talk more about the topic on the blog – until then I only shared general travel tips, without giving that focus. It still took a while to structure here, putting into practice the idea of ​​publishing not only my texts, but also reports from other women traveling alone. Talking about it became my main topic. I have participated in conversation circles, lectures, interviews…

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In one of these, a girl came to tell me that she always traveled alone. “Once a year, five friends and I travel alone”. It took me a while to assimilate that she was saying they were traveling without their husbands. This is just one of many examples, because it was not a few times I’ve seen people referring to women in groups saying “they were alone”.

At the time, I reinforced how valid what she did (because I really think, a lot!), but I took the opportunity to explain that I didn’t think it was cool to talk like that, that it would be better for her to say (and understand) that once a year she travels between friends and point. And I put my thoughts so that everyone present could think together: there is something very wrong when, even together, they consider that we are alone.

It is unacceptable that in 2020 (I make a point of emphasizing the date in practically all my texts on the subject, because I don’t know, maybe someone falls here by chance and thinks I’m writing directly from 1920)… but anyway, it’s unacceptable that the society still defines “lonely women” or “lonely women” as those without a man. It’s rooted, it’s that kind of thing that a lot of people say/do and don’t even realize. And that’s why we have to deconstruct. Ever!

Traveling alone with a partner

For those who are single, the question is always “but you don’t have a boyfriend/husband?” And for those who have, the question is “does your boyfriend/husband let you?”. Two women can talk about this issue much better than I can. THE Thais, from Traveling Womenand the Karilayn, from Kari Desbrava, who are committed, travel alone and write about it.

Kari’s text: 4 reasons to continue traveling alone even when dating

Text by Thais: And does he?

More texts to ponder

THE Fernanda, from the blog Are you going to?, who also travels alone and writes about it, wrote a text on the subject and pointed out some important things. The question she leaves is essential: “Why isn’t your friend’s company enough to be considered company?”

Complete text: Traveling with friends and without a husband or boyfriend is NOT the same as traveling alone.

In the publication of her text on Facebook, the matter reverberated. I took a phrase from Aline, from the blog Uma Sul Americana, another one from the list of bloggers who travel alone: ​​“It is necessary to break several concepts to understand that traveling with a friend is not being alone. These speeches or even this feeling is just a reflection of a society that places an immense responsibility on wives and mothers. It’s almost a handcuff. Now realize how there are no such posts about husbands and fathers.”

Other Aline, from the blog Come I Tell You, who talks about family trips and has a project showing that women who are married and have children can (and should) travel without their husbands and children, put an interesting point of view that only shows, once again, how the environment in which we live is still very sexist and burdens women in different ways. “For many women with children, the feeling of being able to travel without the children is so strong that their understanding, the feeling they have, is that they are really traveling alone. Of course, they are effectively not alone, but it is the feeling, the ‘freedom’. Detail that they do not think this way because of the absence of the husband, but because of the absence of the children.”

All this made me think of a type of text that I hate and that sometimes appears around, written by different people/vehicles, saying that traveling brings more happiness than marriage. First, because the choices are individual and second, because they are not mutually exclusive. But later, writing here, I found myself reflecting on how much, for some people – in fact, for some women! – are, indeed, exclusionary. Which is another reflection of structural machismo.

Read too:
Traveling vs Getting Married: A Comparison That Shouldn’t Exist
5 criticisms of the travel dictatorship (written by someone who travels)

What, after all, is traveling alone?

So we need to make it clear that traveling without a boyfriend/husband/wife, just between friends, is not traveling alone! I even understand the context, but people… just not. To say that is a disservice to all women who fight for the valorization of our independence, for the validation of our existence even without a man by our side. To say that is to reinforce a whole system of oppression that we are struggling to fight every day.

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I keep stressing that there is no value judgment, that each type of trip has its good side and its not so good side, that there is no right or wrong way to travel… And I say exactly so that no one gets confused, because it is kind of from this that comes a need to be inserted and say that she also travels alone, which apparently seems like a sum, but actually ends up generating the opposite effect and weakens the movement.

Want to go alone? Go! I guarantee you it will be a great learning experience. But don’t want or don’t need? Everything is fine. No one needs to say that they travel or have traveled alone just to be part of a movement that is on the rise, which is female empowerment. There are other ways to empower yourself, to deconstruct yourself, and it will be much more effective because it will be true. I talk about travel because it’s my experience, but there are many possibilities and each one is found in a different way.

Leia histórias inspiradoras de mulheres viajando sozinhas.

And, in the end, a woman traveling alone It’s not (only) about travel. It’s not a lifestyle – although it can be, too. But it is something much bigger. It’s breaking paradigms, it’s a political attitude, it’s resistance. It’s going against a whole system that has always been trying to show that we can’t. It’s fighting roles that society still insists on putting us on. It is a collective movement, but always seeking individual freedoms, the legitimation of all choices, including not wanting to.

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Main photo: Image of Joan Tura by Pixabay
Photo of friends at the beach: Image of Arek Socha by Pixabay

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