This Blogger Encourages Women to Travel Independently

Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay

Leyla Giray Alyanak is a solo traveler that has traveled the world over—and is still hungry for more. Over the years, she managed to get lost in a Mozambican minefield, paddle her way out of a Philippine flood, and survive an elephant cow stampede in Nigeria—meaning, she learned the art of taking care of herself on the road or in any foreign city. Her goal now is spread her knowledge with other women who want to travel on their own.

“This entire website should NOT be necessary,” she writes on her website. “Solo female travelers should not need to take special precautions, travel with greater awareness or behave in certain ways just because we are women. But sadly, the world is a less than perfect place, and we do have to be aware of those differences. I won’t let them stop me from traveling on my own, and I trust you won’t either.”

Her blog—titled aptly Women on the Road—is a safe space that provides women with intelligent travel planning tools, creative tactics for spending less, and advice on making money to fund your travels, alongside essential information to help women stay safe and deal with unfamiliar situations on the road.

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First stop in Bangkok: pad thai (check!) Second stop: Chatuchak Weekend Market for a bit of emergency (and colourful) shopping. Although it’s called a weekend market, there are some shops open during the week – but I’d stay away and wait for Saturday or Sunday. There isn’t a thing you won’t find here, from goldfish and live snakes (no thank you) to lamps, clothes, antiques and plants. It’s Thailand’s largest (and one of the world’s largest), with thousands of tiny stalls – some say 8,000 and others 15,000 (either way – huge). It’s size and impenetrability – tiny alleys and confusing directions – make it intimidating but only for the first minute or so. Soon, a food stall with coconut ice cream or meat balls will catch your nostrils and you’ll be doing what Thai people do: snacking. It seems unruly at first but there’s a method to all the madness. Its 27 sections are relatively organised – you’ll find home decor in sections 2-4, antiques in sections 7-9 and clothes and other decoration in section 10-24 (beware, this is also the pet section, in case you happen upon a crate of puppies or a reptile or two). That said, you’ll find antiques stalls among the clothes and food in the middle of it all, so the sections are, shall we say, a ‘general guide’. Other than the reasonable prices and abundance of goods of all ranges, Chatuchak is a sensual experience: your eyes simply don’t know where to dart and taking it all in is impossible. The smells of street food carts weave their way through the alleys and up your nostrils, until you forget you’re looking for a bag and follow your nose instead. And it’s loud, as any structure this size would be, with the delightful sound of a dozen languages thrown into the air. In ‘winter’, which I’m in now, the heat is bearable, pleasant even but at the height of summer, beware – it is flattening. It’s the kind of place I want to revisit over and over – but leaving the bulk of my money at home…

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Women on the Road exists to help women with the nuts-and-bolts of solo travel: how to plan a trip, how to stay safe, what to take, how to budget, how to avoid getting lonely—all the things you face before, during, and after you travel,” writes Giray Alyanak. “We are curious, smart, enterprising, enthusiastic, inspired or dynamic—we are women who want to see the world on our own terms.”

Based in rural Eastern France, Giray Alyanak continues to travel and encourages women to do the same. “Forget the partner, forget the doubts—you can own this!” she writes.

And while international travel might not be encouraged these days, she might just inspire you to travel locally, and on your own.