Thursday, November 15, 2007
Safety on the Road
It's not that I'm soooo brave. It's not that I'm an idiot either. I travel alone very, very wisely.

Here are my tips for traveling alone.

On the road:
  • When I'm stopping in a town, whether for gas, food or sightseeing, I park out in the open. I don't park behind trucks. I try to park on the end so I can watch my car from where ever I am.
  • I only drive during the day. Driving at night especially across long highways is pretty unsafe in general. Too many sleepy drivers. If I'm going on a day trip, I make sure I am back by sunset. After all, sunset in the canyon is so beautiful - I try never to miss it.
  • Go to family friendly places - when I say truck stop, I do not mean a huge parking lot of 50 trucks and my PT Cruiser. I mean a Denny's, Cracker Barrel-type place. Especially if it's not a chain. My favorite! Sometimes the souvenirs in those places are freakin' priceless!
  • Triple freakin' A. I've had a membership since before I started driving (I'm serious). I could change a flat if I needed to, but getting on my back on the highway is not my idea of a good vacation.
  • Don't roll down your window for anyone. I don't help strangers stranded on the side of the road - I'll keep driving and call the police but I won't get out of my car. Even for a woman. I don't accept help from strangers. You never know. Sad but important.
In the Canyon:
  • Scope it out beforehand - I went to the Grand Canyon with a pack of queers before going by myself. I had no idea I would love it so much. About half-way through my trip I decided to come back alone so I could explore at my own pace.
  • The National Parks cost $$ to get in. You can't just drive up and assault someone without people knowing you're there. This makes things quite a bit safer since the output of $25 bucks just to do something illegal seems ... somewhat futile. Anyway, it tends to screen out some sick people. Also, you can't camp without a permit so there aren't a bunch of crazies out there in the night.
  • Since I have been there before, I know where I am going so I don't tend to wander around lost.
  • I walk confidently. Walking like you have somewhere to be is a big turn off to criminals. They usually aren't going to chase you down and they don't know who is expecting you.
  • I don't look like I have wads of cash. My shoes are not new. My sweatshirts are certifiably antique and my jeans are every day jeans. I would not be a prime target, since I don't look like I've got anything good to get. If there are people paying $25 bucks to rob the tourists, I don't look like I have anything worth their effort. Believe me, there are busloads of tourists who DO look like they have stuff worthy of robbing.
  • I know where the closest ranger point is. If I need to run, I know which way to go.
  • I have a pretty heavy backpack and a fine imagination of what I could/would do to anyone who tried to throw down. Water bottles in a backpack is an excellent weapon. So is your elbow.
  • I park in open areas and take the shuttle. The Grand Canyon has a natural gas shuttle that runs from dawn to after sun-down. The drivers are all lovely and I won't get out with someone creepy unless there's a crowd. The drivers also don't care how long you can ride around for hours if you want.
  • I take knitting and headphones. If there's someone weird, annoying or loud on the shuttle, you can always pretend not to hear them.
Honestly, most of the time I don't worry. Even on a quiet day in the canyon there are plenty of other tourists around and I generally stay within the confines of the park for the majority of my trip. I've met people from all over the world but I'm there to be with myself so I am mostly by myself. Although some people have tried, mostly older couples who feel sorry for me, I don't allow myself to get dragged along into other people's adventures.

It's not for everyone but if you have a desire to travel on your own, I can tell you it is worth every moment.

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Blogger Grits said...

Hi Faith,

Thank you for the great travel tips. I hope you don't mind, I stole your "kiss my ass, Mr President" tag. I'm going to put it on my blog, too. ;-)

Blogger Allison said...

Great travel tips! Not just for solo traveling, but just in general. I can't wait to take my first solo trip as a mom. It will probably be just an overnight, but I'm really looking forward to it. I am so happy for your vacation - can't wait to hear all about it and see the amazing photos!! xo

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