5 Ways To Safely Connect w/ Men While Traveling

Connecting with fellows travelers while on a journey can be a great experience or one that becomes a challenge depending on circumstances. I’ve had nice times with couples, gals, and guys but this post will focus on safety for women when the camaraderie involves men as on a recent Death Valley getaway where I enjoyed platonic camaraderie with two guys and felt comfortable and at ease. Please understand that this is the perspective of a female solo traveler who enjoys alone time so adjust accordingly for what it is you desire.

Mowgli time
Beware of guys in trees, JK as this one happens to be my beloved cousin! 🙂

1) BE SAFE – I encourage safety by sizing up the situation and avoiding connection with males traveling alone with a few exceptions (if large groups of people are around and it is a busy area and the solo guy makes very casual and sober conversation). It’s been my experience that several men together, in their SUVs, and especially if they appear to be family guys, are more likely to be polite and in possession of social skills that render it less of a possibility that they are engaging in behavior dangerous to me and/or are a current Son Of Sam (definitely dangerous to me). I’ve heard of serial killers, in rare instances, traveling in pairs but not of them in groups of 3 or more – yes, I realize I just invited my mom to send me an article 😉 I also consider my comfort level and if the guys are exhibiting energy that includes racy banter, profanity, and excessive alcohol consumption, I distance myself immediately.

2) BE CENTERED – This may sound airy-fairy but I have learned to be clear about what I like in travel and I am only open to situations that are compatible. I like to share that I am in a relationship early on so that it is communicated that I am not traveling to party. I believe most men hear this and are respectful of it and if they are looking for romantic possibilities, move on politely when it’s very clear that, that is not on any agenda. The evening I spent around a campfire with the two gentlemen I got to know in Death Valley was polite, humorous, and respectful with interesting stories and travel information swapped and when I excused myself early on all three nights to retire to my tent and read, they remained at the campfire talking quietly. The energy of the evening never veered from calm and chill.

3) BE ALERT – Ignore the childhood rule about eavesdropping being rude. Listen to the convos around you. I was on a patio and am here to tell you that two different tables of men were having two very different conversations and both tables were in the same age group (40s-50s) and out to ride dirt bikes for the weekend. One convo was pretty raunchy continuously while the other one was about the wives, kids, school choices, and a hilarious mishap on the purchase of encyclopedias right before the internet made the $600 purchase obsolete.

Watch alcohol consumption (yours and others) when flying solo and I will be perfectly transparent here, I enjoyed only one drink in the evening, around the campfire on my Death Valley trip and the guys were conservative in their alcohol consumption also. Over-consumption too often can lead to off color banter at best and off color behavior at worst from people who would not act this way when sober.

4) BE CLOSED – Say what? Initially, I keep to myself in order to, as I mentioned above, size up a situation and if I decide I am not interested in the energy around me, I use barriers to communicate. No, I don’t construct a literal wall but I have found that having my books, camera, and journal and focusing my attention on those will generally halt any interaction I am not open to. I also have discovered that a hat with brim can work as a way to shield from unwanted eye contact and allows me to feel a sense of privacy when I desire it.

5) BE SPECIFIC – Mixed signals have no place when traveling so I am clear when I communicate. The guys I met in the desert had individual agendas that included separating daily, with one going for adrenaline filled dirt bike rides while the other went in search of back-road photography on his motorcycle. I was very enthusiastic about solo hiking and spending time with my books and camera, with idle chat being put aside for the bulk of my day. All three of us got what the others were after and the crossover only happened at the campfire. This worked for everyone and when I neglected to stake my tent down the first night and navigated wind, I borrowed a hammer from one of the guys but handled staking in the stubborn rocky ground myself. Part of being empowered for me when traveling, is handling myself and not sending mixed signals of male/female connectedness in what can sometimes become a confusing manner.

Finally, I know there is a lot written about clothing choices and I realize I am barking up a tree here that might appear anti-feminist but it feels disingenuous and irresponsible to not share that I choose different clothing when traveling alone as opposed to when I am with my guy. I wear jeans cut off just above the knee and string tops when alone on the trail but generally wear these same bottoms and a t-shirt when around other travelers and when I went to the Panamint deck which has a bar and restaurant on my Death Valley trip, I donned jeans,  a t-shirt, and my hat. My cutoff shorts are reserved for traveling with my family and/or my guy or when I am not around other travelers. I am at an age where unwanted attention is not anywhere as common as it would be for younger travelers and I enjoy the anonymity that my age encourages but at any age, strategy can be put into place to up the odds of a comfortable experience.

Please enjoy yourself, be practical and be safe but don’t bow to the fear-mongering that often takes place around hiking and solo travel. To reassure yourself just compare the stats on crime against travelers and the stats on heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure from sitting at home in front of the TV.

Rock on and have fun!

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