This surge in solo travel began soon after the U.S. emerged from the last economic recession. Shortly thereafter my inbox started receiving emails from women sharing their stories of the solo trip on which they were about to embark. Since then books have been penned, Facebook pages have been created, non-profit causes have been funded, and lots of news articles written—by yours truly as well—chronicling some of the incredible journeys of female solo motorcycle adventurers thus inspiring others to do the same.
This has led to one of the most common questions I’m asked by women riders:
Here is my personal list of safety tips. Yours may be different. I’d love to hear from you if have something to add.
My Calamity Jane mentality, that live-free wanderer alter ego, doesnt join me on my solo trips. While I love to camp and escape the confines of necessity, I never camp when I’m alone. Unlike the infamous female pioneer who was known to lay her head down wherever her travels took her throughout the West, my body ends up in a bed in a room, not a bag in a tent.
This means I avoid lonely, desolate roads even if my motorcycle and I look amazing all alone against the incredible earthen backdrop. (“Wheres the movie camera hiding?”) While I love back roads and believe like most riders do that those paths less traveled are where the neat discoveries happen I take extra caution to not get lost and to not end up on a secondary road where I’m likely the only vehicle for a long time. “Awww. That’s no fun,” you say. “You’re a chicken, Genevieve!”
I try to stop at rest stops and gas stations where there are other vehicles so should some shady characters drive in Im not alone. Sometimes this is difficult to plan and I may end up the only person at a rest stop, so if I have to stop where I’m the only vehicle, and others then pull in, I follow rule number 4.
When its called for I don my Wonder Woman suit, meaning I wear my tough girl demeanor, respectfully smiling and conservatively engaging with others if need be. My body language shows I mean business. Remember, my goal is to mitigate the risk of finding myself in a compromising situation.
Just as Wonder Woman can escape a sticky situation in her invisible aircraft, I always leave myself an out. So for example, if I’m sitting on a bench outside a convenience store drinking water and eating a snack I stay aware of what’s going on around me, meaning I don’t get lost in my emails or Facebook on my cell phone oblivious to my surroundings, even for a moment. If someone sits down next to me and engages me, I make sure a) there are others around at all times and b) I can safely get on my motorcycle to leave when I’m ready.
6. “Cute Genevieve” stays home.
I enjoy my Rock Revival jeans and cute shirts just like the rest of the girls, but when I’m riding my motorcycle in out of the way places, I downplay my femininity so as not to invite unwanted advances. For me, this even means the difference between wearing my fun bright red or pink lipstick versus just making it a Chapstick day. Get it?
It’s nice to say you want to “get away from it all” and park yourself in an out of the way location for the night, but a solo trip is not the time to be careless about your lodging plans. Map out your riding route such that you end up at a hotel or motel that’s located in a safe part of town. How do you know if that part of town is safe? Ask people at gas stations, shops, etc., before venturing to an area with which you’re unfamiliar. Most people are kind and helpful and will steer you in the right direction. My motto is not knowing is not an excuse.
I plan my day so I’m not pulling into a hotel lot after dark, this way I can see clearly the area where I plan to spend the night, and if I don’t feel comfortable after checking in, I have the option to find another place while it’s still light out.
The topic of whether to carry a weapon is a controversial one. Back in the day when I wasn’t married to a motorcycle rider and took more trips by myself, I always carried a switchblade in my pocket and pepper spray in my purse. Say what you will, but it gave me a measure of comfort knowing I had some form of self defense at my disposal.
For a long time, I was of the belief that carrying a firearm “invites” bad things to happen, but in light of the world in which we live now, I see where it could save me if I had to use it. I’m knowledgable on concealed carry laws as I cross state lines and know how to use the weapon in a self defense situation. If we didn’t live in the fallen world where there are bad people, I could solely rely on my rule #10.
I pray to God each and every day and night to protect me on my travels, and I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my steps, my words, and my decisions. I also thank God for the many blessings He’s bestowed upon me for that day.
That’s my short list. These actions have kept me safe for many miles of solo travel and I have never ended up in a compromising situation. Again this is my personal list.
I’ve started the conversation. Now I’d like to hear from you on what things you do to stay safe. Post your thoughts in the comments section below.