Why I Don’t Let My Fears Win When I Solo Travel

Only Irish magic could have moved the chess pieces of fate and adventure and brought me a stag party of seventeen to escort me between the pubs and bars of Galway’s narrow cobbled streets on a cold Irish night in March 2015 on my first solo travel trip abroad.

That evening, I walked into the King’s Head, a pub, alone with the hope that I would have some kind of adventure or at least an interesting conversation with someone to add to my memories of my first solo trip.

With a pint of Bulmer’s (Irish cider), I sat at a table near two other women and tried to look interested in the Gaelic soccer match on TV. I’d never been to a bar alone but in American bars it never took longer than ten minutes standing with a friend for someone to walk up and talk to me. I was determined to push myself beyond my comfort zone which was the entire point of my trip, so I sat there and waited, not once thinking that I could start a conversation with someone.

Ten minutes passed and nothing. At thirty minutes, I was still sitting alone with a half-pint of cider and a blow to my self-esteem. I was a lone, attractive woman surrounded by men. I texted my mom: What’s wrong with me?

I made up my mind to leave after I finished my pint. I was the only “lone” customer in the pub and I was too nervous to start a conversation with a group of people. This social experiment of trying to meet new people at a bar in a foreign country was a failure. Around the forty-minute mark, I took a sad-faced selfie and was photobombed by a guy. Lo and behold, someone was finally talking to me!

He was a nice enough guy who had the misfortune of being known as “Pecker.” It was hard to understand him with his thick accent and love of using a lot of Irish slang. I did manage to understand that he was from Wexford and was visiting Galway with friends. He pointed to a group of men that he was with and said something about one of the guys. I thought I heard the word “stag.” As we continued talking he pointed out the same guy again and said he was getting married. Suddenly, it clicked.

“Wait, is this a bachelor party?” I asked.

“Yes, a stag party.”

I had come across a stag party and it seemed there was 17 of them.

“American bachelor parties usually involve a strip club,” I said.

He replied, “We went to a strip bar last night. I spent 35 euros and I didn’t even see anything!”

To which I replied, “It’s too cold to take your top off in Ireland.”

Next we were joined by a rambunctious pair of middle-aged women at our table, Mary and Jane. Yes, those were their names. They were a riot with a penchant for dirty sexual jokes (from what I could understand) and they engaged Pecker in a bout of Irish banter.

Soon after, Pecker introduced me to all 17 of the stag party. They were from Wexford and were a mix of late 20’s and early 30’s men who worked as farmers, welders, builders, bus drivers, car salesman, and other forms of public servitude.

I planned on returning to my B&B by 10:00 pm because I had to drive back to Dublin early the next morning. When Pecker asked if I wanted to join the guys, I was quite hesitant and said no. One girl in a group of guys — 17, no less. I had never had the fortune of having many guy friends in the U.S. and wasn’t sure how to act around them. And it was a bachelor party — how would they act toward me?

But eventually, I allowed Jane, Mary, and Pecker to convince me to bar hop with the stag party. and before I realized it, I, a single, lone traveling female, had joined a bachelor party. (A perfect premise for a Hollywood Hangover spin-off?)

I figured if anything “bad” happened, I could leave. I also didn’t plan on drinking that much and the bachelor party didn’t seem rowdy, drunk, or crazy like I was used to in the States. If anything, they reminded me of wholesome country boys who seemed just as afraid to speak to me as I was to them.

Hanging out with the stag party was a little awkward. Like I said, I hadn’t had a lot of experience being a lone female in a group of guys so I was intrigued with the social experience that I found myself in.

At the bar we went to next, I got to know a few of the guys a little bit more and they asked me about myself and why I was in Ireland. Most were surprised that I was traveling alone and when they found out I was there for my birthday, they all sang “Happy Birthday” to me. Seventeen Irish accents singing just for me! Talk about a dream come true.

At the third bar, one guy asked me what I was most surprised about in Ireland and I had to admit that it was how men and women of dating age interacted. He told me that Irish guys are quite a bit shier than American men hence the forty minute wait at the King’s Head. However, the men did seem to gain liquid courage as the night wore on and it was funny to watch them talk to girls from the vantage point of being “in” the bachelor party and not on the other side as the girl being hit on. They even confided in me about their pick-up line failures—had I become one of the boys?

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I laughed when they jokingly blew me kisses during the night or danced horribly off-beat. Most of the night involved good conversation, dancing, pints, and a lot of laughter. At 1 a.m., I walked back to my B&B under the calm skies of a cold Irish night and I was happy with the outcome of my evening.

The evening hadn’t gone exactly as planned, but how can you plan to meet a large bachelor party in Ireland and have a good time? Still, I had pushed myself beyond my comfort zone, met 17 super fun guys from Ireland, and had an exciting experience that wasn’t impeded by our different genders or where we lived in the world.

As a solo female traveler, I discovered that, whether traveling abroad or at home, I could have positive, fun, and affable experiences with men which is a comforting thought since most women are taught to fear men and the prospect of traveling alone. If I had allowed my fears to overrun me that evening I would never have had this epic experience.

By letting her fears win, this solo female traveler wouldn't have had a fun and amazing experience on her first solo trip to Ireland.

 

Alex Temblador
Alex Temblador is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fempotential.com. She’s a full-time freelancer with dreams of being a full-time novelist and blogger.
Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fempotential.com. She's a full-time freelancer with dreams of being a full-time novelist and blogger.

3 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Let My Fears Win When I Solo Travel

  • July 11, 2016 at 1:10 am
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    My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content to suit your needs? I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write in relation to here. Again, awesome site!

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    • July 12, 2016 at 12:01 pm
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      We do allow guest writers. Please check out our “Contact” section at the bottom of the front page for information on how to get in contact with us. 🙂

      Reply
  • June 30, 2016 at 3:56 pm
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    As a female solo traveler and a womens self defense instructor I’d like to share a safety tip of my own which I hope your female readers will read, remember, and share with many other women and girls far and wide.

    I have been teaching Krav Maga to women and girls for over 5 years and we teach a very effective technique which I feel should should be in every woman and girls arsenal. We are a women only event, run by women, for women, and there is an extremely effective technique what we teach to women of all ages, which I feel we should all share as far and wide as possible.

    The technique is the “groin grab” self defense technique which is to be used against a male attacker, which is now taught in many womens self defense classes, and there is actually a little trick to it…

    To execute this technique, you’re going to take your hand and quickly grasp between the attackers thighs underhand. Its going to feel like you’re “cradling” the testicles. Quickly grab hold of, or snatch the testicles and dig your fingertips into the fragile skin BEHIND the scrotum. Then, once you have a good grip, you turn your hand into a vice, with your fingers digging inwards, around the back and over the top of the testicles. If you do it right, you should feel the testes INSIDE your hand which is holding the scrotum. You want, whenever possible, to hook your fingers over and around at least one testicle. One of them is enough.

    Then, with your hands in a claw and your fingertips latched around the testes, you turn your hand sharply, as though you were turning a doorknob. Simultaneously, squeeze hard and pull the testicles away from his body as fast and as hard as you can. DO NOT LET GO OF THEM. This is very important. What happens then, is that your assailant usually screams out in pain and then tries to grab the wrist of your hand holding him in a futile attempt to try to get you to release him. DON’T. He then quickly loses one of the natural advantages he usually has over us (his strength) within a matter of seconds. Vomiting, curling over, collapsing and convulsing is common. Shock and unconsciousness can set in within 8 seconds. If he initially starts to fight back then you tuck your head in and keep squeezing his testicles until he faints. This only takes a matter of seconds. When he collapses, which he will, you get away to safety as quickly as possible and call for help. I’ve heard of two older women who dragged their attackers to a place of safety while holding them by the testicles. It may sound odd but testicles are so vulnerable and sensitive that this technique also works.

    It’s never too late to perform this technique at any stage of an attack, and that even includes the option of reaching down if he’s on top of you, but it is easiest to do when the testicles are exposed and closest to you where you can grab hold of them. I’ve actually met several women in my life who have fought off their attackers in this way and one did it when her attacker was on top of her and raping her at the point he lost control. Don’t ever hold back. Some women scream while they are doing this, and some women think of a loved one being harmed to help overcome any bad feelings of hurting someone else even if they are being hurt themselves. Do whatever you have to do if you feel it helps.

    If done properly, and done with enough force, this technique can even lead to the testicles rupturing. It’s actually easier to do than most women believe, and just about all of us have the capability to injure an attackers testicles in this way – whether we are young girls still of school age, or whether we are great grandmothers. We, as women have no part of our bodies as vulnerable as a mans testicles. After all, if you think about it testicles are just small objects of extreme vulnerability to pain squishiness wrapped in a delicate layer of skin which offers them no protection at all from this kind of counterattack by a woman. Most importantly, this fact holds true no matter what size your attacker is, nor how strong he is. And no matter how angry he is, and how much he’s threatened what he’s going to do to you, he’s going to drop. Don’t let anyone (usually men who are very uncomfortable with thoughts of women beating them in combat) try to convince you otherwise.

    I once worked with a group of Somali women who informed me that grandmothers, mothers, and daughters between generations shared this powerful method of fighting off men. They even have a name for it in Somalia and they call the move “Qworegoys”. They were surprised that women in the West didn’t seem to share this information as much as they expected, and even more surprised that most women didn’t even seem aware of this technique.

    I know that this advice would have been a difficult read for many women, but our lives are worth far more than a rapists testicles and we should be prepared to do whatever it takes to get away to safety. Please help to share this advice with as many other women and girls in any way you can. It could one day be a life saver.

    Reply

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