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Advice Solo Travel Stories

Overcoming Getting Robbed in Paris

On December 1st, 2018, I woke up to a robbed hotel room. My camera, lenses, laptop… everything I require for my livelihood.. gone.

A normal seeming day turned into a whirlwind disaster that felt like the ultimate cherry on top of a very challenging year for me. After dinner I came back to my hotel room, I awoke, glanced around and noticed something I had overlooked before resting. Over $8,000 worth of my gear was missing. As the blood rushed to my head, my blood turned cold. How had this happened? My heart shattered as tears began to fall.

Today, I wanted to share my experience of getting robbed abroad with the hopes to share the lessons I’ve learned from this horrific event.

Needless to say, I’m still so thankful that I was not hurt or violated physically. So many things could have gone even worse than losing material objects… but, it goes without saying that this type of incident was an ultimate violation of security and safety. The courage I once felt from being able to explore Paris on my own was replaced by anxiety and fear. I found myself feeling so afraid walking the streets of Paris when I once was empowered by living in Paris alone. I began to question everything. As an advocate for solo female traveler’s safety, I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I was devastated. The overwhelming sense of sadness and loss was so hard to deal with.

Even worse, I received absolutely zero help from the hotel (La Pigalle Paris) or the French police. No cameras in the hallway to view, no remorse or apologies. Nothing. I felt completely isolated, violated and betrayed. How could any place not show any concern for their patrons? “Here’s your police report, there’s nothing else we can do at this point, it’s just for insurance purposes”.

The one take away from this lesson that I want to really push for is this – never skimp on travel insurance. It may seem like a frivolous expense to add when planning your adventures… but it can be a literal life-saver when you’re traveling in a foreign country.

A $50 policy can include $500,000 of Medical Evacuation coverage! But it’s important to read the fine print (or talk to someone in the industry) to really understand what you’re purchasing. For example, most comprehensive policies include thousands of dollars for Baggage Loss coverage but it’s important to note there’s almost always a special limitation on cameras and electronics (usually around $500). Do your research. Trust me when I say, it’s worth it.

The wonderful folks at Yonder Insurance were a guiding light throughout this whole horror. And I’m so thankful for the time and effort they put into assisting me through this. Their kindness and attention they gave to my case restored so much of my hope. I couldn’t love or recommend a travel insurance company more! Do yourself a favor and book a plan with them next time you’re traveling.

The businesses I respect the most are the ones with heart and soul and Yonder is defintely one of those businesses. Founders Terry and Ryan returned from a trip to Myanmar where they witnessed the struggle of the refugees, with a commitment to provide a week’s worth of food to a child refugee for every policy sold. So you can travel well, and do well when you go Yonder.

In addition to giving Yonder a HUGE thank you, I’d also like to give a big shoutout to Adorama, who kindly helped me with replacing some of my equipment. It’s the companies like this that helped me change my perspective and feel more grateful than ever for the good people in this world.

I hope if you’re reading this that you can see just how important your safety is while traveling. There certainly are beautiful moments and life changing experiences to be had while abroad, but its so, so crucial to be prepared and informed on safety and never overlook your well being when exploring. Now that some time has passed, I can look back at this experience and acknowledge how much personal growth has occurred for me. I’m still so empowered by traveling solo around the globe, and I have a keener sense of personal and material security. My anxiety and fear has slowly adapted into deeper awareness and less nervousness. As days and months pass, I’m reminded what joy and beauty comes from travel… and that although this experience was painful and sad, I am capable of moving past it with grace and courageousness to learn more from this world.

Thank you so much for reading my story. I hope from the bottom of my heart that none of you ever have to experience getting robbed while abroad (or any other type of safety issue).


Have you ever had to overcome getting robbed while abroad? How did you deal with the repercussions?

P.S. more safety tips for female travelers can be found right here!

Advice Solo Travel

Explore Unafraid: 16 Savvy Safety Tips For Women Who Travel

One of the most popular questions we receive is – what do we do to ensure that we’re staying safe when traveling solo? It’s a horrible, but accurate fact that women traveling alone will face more danger than any of their male counterparts. So, how do we do it? How do we continue to explore this world with compassion and curiosity? Simply put – we exercise intelligent caution and always stick to these 23 savvy safety tips for women who travel.

Book Hotels With Lots Of Reviews

Do your research. If your lodgings is too good to be true – it probably really is. Shady hotels and AirBnbs will offer great prices in prime locations, but without the cost you’d expect.

If you’re feeling unsure about a place, read through the reviews carefully and with a discerning eye. Most lodgings should have twenty or more reviews from confirmed guests just to start! See if any reviews are coming from women traveling solo. Their thoughts will guide you the right way!

Ask Flight Attendants & Female Concierge Staff About Their Feelings On Safety

It may seem a little uncomfortable for us shy travelers, but it could make a world of difference. Ask the women you encounter throughout your travels on their honest opinions on safety. A female concierge, flight attendant, waitress, hostess, etc. will tell you what to look out for or if they’ve had any scary incidents in the area you are staying in.

Never, Ever Use An Unmarked Taxi

You may be tempted by a cheaper, less stressful ride… but DON’T do it. Unmarked taxis are completely unmonitored and unregulated, leaving you unprotected in a potentially horrible situation.

Know Your Destination’s Emergency Phone Numbers

Do a quick Google search before you depart. Saving your foreign emergency phone numbers into your phone could save your life! Especially in a situation that requires you to act fast.

Take Note Of Sunrise/Sunset

Make sure you are aware of when sunrise and sunset will be occurring. Just check your weather app! If you know you’ll need to be navigating by foot (hiking, taking a long walk when there’s no public transportation) in an unknown area, you’ll know when you need to be on your way.

Research If There Is A Front Desk Open 24 Hours

Hotels with a 24 hour concierge will most likely be monitored by guards or security. Plus, you can rest assured that someone is always present downstairs in your hotel providing protection while you rest peacefully.

Hang Your “Do Not Disturb” Sign Even When You Are Gone

When you hang your “please make up room” sign – it’s a dead give away to thieves that you are not inside. So, do the opposite! If you hang your “do not disturb” sign 24 hours a day, thieves are most likely to overlook your room because they won’t want to risk you being inside. Call downstairs and ask for your room to be cleaned instead of making your room a potential robber’s easy target!

Be Wary Of Your Purse At All Times

I once put my purse right below my feet at a cafe, only to find a man behind me slowly pulling my crossbody strap towards him. Catching him red handed gave him a shock and really gave me the insight on how relaxed I had gotten on tracking my purse! No matter how comfortable or safe you feel, be wary of your purse, ladies! Keep it on your lap in cafes, hands resting on the top zipper while you maneuver through busy streets, and on your body when you use the bathroom.

Walk Confidently With Eye Contact

Men looking to cause harm to a woman search for signals that they will not fight or cause a scene. Do the opposite. If you’re feeling uncomfortable with a person walking towards you on a quiet street, walk confidently and lock eyes with them. Predators looking for an “easy” target will be more likely to leave you alone.

Pre-plan Your Way Through Public Transportation

Before you head out for the day, research your methods of getting around using public transportation. Which stops will you need to take? How long is your journey? How many blocks will you need to walk? Just having the knowledge of what to expect on your way will give you the confidence to maneuver through the city and avoid any dicey characters who want to offer you “help.”

Leave Your Travel Details With Family/Friends At Home

Always, always, always leave behind your travel details with someone at home. Things you should include are: your rough itinerary, the places you’ll be staying (hotel name, address, phone number, host, etc.), the flights you’ll be taking (flight numbers and airline, destination and arrival airports, layovers, etc.), emergency phone numbers of your destination and any trains, busses or other means of transportation you’ll be taking.

It may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it could save you your life! One trustworthy person knowing your schedule will eliminate many headaches and worries should anything go wrong on your journey!

Exercise Caution When Posting Your Vacay Pics

It can be tempting to immediately share your vacation pictures, but exercise some caution. Let me explain!

Sharing your vacay Instagrams signal to robbers back home that you are not there (leaving them with an abandoned home to shop from). And, in addition to that, it also gives a timeline and location for anyone wanting to do you harm. Be careful about tagging specific locations, including the hotels you are staying in! If you have to post on your journey, choose more vague location tags or wait a few days until posting. It may seem overly cautious, but do you really want to risk it?

Exercise Caution To Anyone Being “Too” Friendly

Optimism has gotten me into trouble in my past. Be careful with anyone who offers you anything too good to be true, or too friendly without any natural friendship made or conversation had beforehand.

What I mean is, if you’re struggling to print your boarding ticket – don’t accept help from a random person who isn’t getting a ticket themselves. If you’re having problems handling your suitcases and backpacks – don’t accept help from a person who isn’t also carrying one and on their way to their station or gate.

Of course you are going to make random conversations with people as you travel, and you are going to meet many friendly, safe and helpful locals and explorers alike. But, unfortunately, you might also come across extremely helpful people who aren’t necessarily there to be a friend. If you have the sense that someone is being “too” friendly and something is up – move on.

If You’re Lost, Ask A Family Or A Woman For Directions

Let your intuition guide you, but if you are lost, ask a family with children or a woman your own age for directions.

Always Mention That You’re Meeting With Someone

Just a quick “yeah, I’m meeting my friend there,” or “my boyfriend is expecting a call from me” will immediately cause a trouble maker to slam their breaks. Knowing that you have someone who is awaiting you to be somewhere or check in will raise a red flag.

Trust Your Gut

Last but not least, never doubt your intuition. If something is telling you to leave, if your gut is telling you something is up, if you even have a nagging voice warning you that you are unsafe – listen to it. Don’t doubt yourself.


Obviously, this is just the beginning of safety tips! There’s so many simple, yet effective ways to ensure your own safety while out on the road.

Be sure to check out this post on more simple, safety tricks specifically for solo travelers too!

Advice Solo Travel

“Where’s Your Boyfriend?” How To Handle Micro-Aggressions Towards Female Travelers

“You’re traveling alone?” a curious local asked me while I boarded a bus to southern Peru.

“Yup!” I respond.

“What does your boyfriend think?” he continues, unprompted.

“I don’t have one,” I reply, not as spunky as my initial response.

“Why don’t you have a boyfriend? You are attractive?”

Regardless of how well I speak his language, I don’t think I would still be able to explain that I prefer to travel alone, and I truly don’t need a boyfriend in order to do so.  

It wasn’t a big deal,  and I politely smiled and found my seat. I stared out the window as the bus began to move and tried to roll the microaggression off of me.

Micro-aggressions are “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group.”

But, these are little comments that can build up over time, like salt on a wound. Micro-aggressions can frequently make people of marginalized groups feel confined to traditional social roles. Women can be faced with questions or assumptions that make them feel inferior or sexually objectified. We can begin to question our decisions; am I doing the right thing? Should I be focused on a career? Should I be having children?

These micro-aggressions can build up over time and hit you at your most vulnerable moment, where you find yourself calling your ex-boyfriend at 2am New York time shouting that you’re on the next flight to be with him and settle down in West Chester. The decisions we make as women to pave our own unconventional path by our own footprints and intentions can be scary. Then hearing other’s question our abilities or our choices can lead to doubt and inhibit us to go farther.

With a large upswing in women using their independence to travel more fiercely, there will always be those who tenaciously hold onto societal norms and question our ability to travel without the shadow of a man beside us. If you haven’t faced any yet, fantastic. And if they come up in the future, here is a handy little list of the most popular micro-aggressions and how to politely dismantle them.

“Why Don’t You Have A Boyfriend?”

This seems to be the most common one women face. It’s a personal favorite because as soon as I reply “I don’t have one” the inquisitor will quickly proposition the closest man with a pulse. Like either of us are that desperate. This seems to be the most common because women, historically, have been defined by the men in their lives. Our roles have been that of wives and mothers, confound to the home. We have needed permission from men to navigate the world, and to be able to make true decisions on our own is a relatively short-lived concept.

Your relationships status is not anyone else’s business, regardless of the cultural differences. There are women who travel without their husbands, who are intentionally single, or don’t prescribe to heterosexual relationships.

There are plenty of stories of women being wives and mothers, and we can begin to incorporate more options to the female experience.

What To Say:

  • If you are comfortable, take a moment to explain your situation.
  • “I would rather not discuss that.”
  • “I feel empowered by traveling on my own.”

“Isn’t That A Honeymoon Spot? Don’t You Want To Wait To Go With Someone?”

Sure, some places are traditionally thought of as more romantic or are swarming with honeymooners. But just because you are traveling solo does not mean that certain places are roped off to you. There is no need to wait to have someone to be with (unless you of your own volition want to) and limit the opportunities you have now to explore the world.

People go to beautiful places to honeymoon so they can bond before their next great adventure- there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that with yourself.

You can have times of self-care and reflection anywhere in the world and knowing how to have intimate moments with yourself is a valuable skill to hone.  

What To Say:  

  • “I enjoy traveling anywhere I go at my own leisure.”
  • “I’m treating myself!”
  • “I like doing exactly what I want to do.”
  • “None of my friends or family wants to go with me, but that is no reason to wait!”
  • “I thought this spot would be perfect to recharge in.”

“Won’t You Get Lonely? Don’t You Have Any Friends To Go With?”

People often believe that traveling alone is synonymous with being lonely, when they aren’t, which makes being alone look like it’s a problem, when it isn’t.

Being lonely is being saddened by your isolation, whereas being alone is being comfortable, if not joyful, that you are by yourself. If you have ever traveled alone, then you know how freeing it is and wonderful it can be at times to do exactly what you want to do at that moment. No need to compromise with someone else’s bucket list or impatiently wait for someone to get ready in the morning.

What To Say:

  • “I’m perfectly happy being alone for a while.”
  • “I enjoy my own company.”
  • “You don’t ask me that when I’m home. Why would you ask that when I travel?”

“You’re So Brave / Aren’t You Scared?”

I have gotten this question while I have been actively traveling for months, and people still seem incredulous. I can see their brains scanning through all of the unfortunate things that can happen to me when I am alone. But am I supposed to pause my life for potential risks that I would be facing?  Am I supposed to stay at home and find myself crying uncontrollably during an Anthony Bourdain episode because my urge to travel hasn’t been satiated? No one grew without taking some risks.

This question is laden with double standards because I highly doubt that men are told that they are brave for traveling solo. Being brave is expected of men, and it isn’t of women. It is assumed that men can probably handle themselves, whereas women are historically perceived as unable to defend themselves and are vulnerable to attacks. The limitations of the female strength are only a societal pressure- not a personal one. We need to travel solo to show the world evidence of our strength + wit to travel safely alone.

So women traveling alone are seen as brave, and honestly, it is. But the challenges that most solo travelers have faced are not someone attempting to attack me but having to work through their internal issues and grow as an individual in ways that they can’t at home. So yes, it is brave of us to travel alone.

I have also found that the world is often more protective than predatory and people tend to watch out for you, whether you know it or not, when you are traveling alone. People recognize the risks that you might face and keep an eye out for you.

What To Say:

  • “Bad things happen everywhere. Am I not supposed to take risks?”
  • “I’ve researched where I’m going and know how to take care of myself.”
  • “Do you worry about my safety when I am home? The world is dangerous for women in general, regardless of whether I’m traveling or at home.”
  • “Why are you surprised that I am brave?”
  • “Would you say the same thing to a guy?”
  • “Do you doubt my strength?”

Unwanted Sexual Advances Or Comments About Your Looks

Just because you are alone does not mean that anyone has the right to solicit unwanted sexual advances. Enthusiastic consent is the same in every language.

This also goes for when people (men) make comments on your looks. Your looks have nothing to do with your ability to travel safely and independently. Your looks should not influence how great of a time you have. Regardless of your size, don’t believe that your body has any influence on whether you are able to travel safely and happily.

What To Say:

  • Thank you (or nothing) and then walk away. If there is someone making you uncomfortable just separate yourself from them and start talking to someone else nearby.

Isn’t That Irresponsible ForYour Age?

No one is in any position to question how someone else chooses to live their life. However, if you are “too young” people might be questioning your choice to start a career late or “all the good men will be taken” by the time you’re done traveling. If you are too old you could, again, ruin potential growth in your career or miss the time to have children. Like our life is defined by the work that we do, not the peace that we find or the experiences we have.

We can always get another job, but we can not get our youth, energy, or time back. These are finite resources.  

I think that travel allows times of deep reflection of where you are going in life, and it is an opportunity to find some clarity and direction, regardless of your age.

Additionally, everyone chooses what to do with their money and time differently, if your savings is going to a plane ticket instead of a college fund, don’t think that your choices are wrong because everyone is doing different things with their money.

Fun fact: It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, how successful or not, we are all faking it to a certain extent. None of us truly know what we are doing. Those who flaunt success might have used work to escape the inner issues that harbor within them, the issues that show themselves day one of traveling alone. So get out, become better.

What To Say:  

  • “You spend your money on your house and your children. I spend it on myself and travel.”
  • “Travel is a priority to me.”
  • “I can always get another job.”
  • “I need some time to refocus and re-center.”

Conclusion

Don’t let the micro-aggressions get you down. Personally, I think for the majority of these questions come from ignorance – not malice.

We are still told stories about what “women” and “men” are supposed to be like, and when we see people outside of those roles, people question it. That is why it is imperative for us as solo female travelers to go out and show the world our strength and abilities to explore the unknown parts of the world independently. Let’s rewrite our story.

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