The tragic news of the Sarai
Sierra, the American woman killed while on vacation in Turkey, has captured my
attention, as it has so many other people around the world.
One reason I am intrigued by this
story is because, like Sierra, I was traveling alone in a Muslim country
(Morocco) when the news of her disappearance first broke, and because, again
like Sierra, I am a wife and mother of two who left her family at home in
pursuit of what I refer to as my “jobby”
– a little more than a hobby, and a
little less than a job.

Many of the comments accompanying
the news stories about this tragedy are disheartening, revealing racism, Xenophobia and an antiquated view of marriage and
motherhood
.  Those comments questioning
how Sierra’s husband could “let” her travel alone, or suggesting that she was
“irresponsible” or “selfish” for pursuing her passion, really struck a nerve.
Here is a small sampling of
comments from an article on Huffington Post:

“She should have been at
Disneyland with her kids, not in a country where Americans are hated”.

“Can we say ‘irresponsible’?
Her poor little children”

“Why did she have to go alone?
For a HOBBY? REALLY? Where are her priorities?”

“What ‘mother’ leaves her
children to ‘explore’ her hobby?”

“I won’t let my wife travel
alone”

I travel extensively with my family, from Disneyland, DisneyWorld and Disneyland Paris to Istanbul and Egypt, documenting many of these trips on blog, my previously referred to “jobby”. But there have been times, however, when I’ve traveled alone, as was the case when I went to Marrakesh to run the half marathon.

While I will admit to feeling conspicuous during my time in Marrakesh, as I often do – I have found that traveling while black garners as
much attention, if not more, than being a woman – I never felt unsafe.
Since I was traveling alone,
I took precautions that would help keep me safe anywhere, but specifically in a
country whose traditions and customs differ from those of both my native
country and the country in which I reside.
Some of those precautions
included:
  • Not wearing flashy jewelry
  • Wearing clothing that is appropriate for the destination, and doesn’t draw negative and unnecessary attention
  • Being conscious of where I
    went, and careful not to go to areas/neighborhoods off the beaten path
  • Carrying a bag with a strap
    that went across my body
  • Not staying out too late in
    the evenings, and having evening meals in restaurants in well-lit areas that were in
    close proximity to my hotel

In general, I just used
common sense, something I consider to be a travel necessity, and which I will take with me
on my next solo travel adventure. Because believe me, there will be a next time.

Be safe and…