This would never have happened in Regency England: The Dangers of Travelling Alone

Flying to visit family alone.

Taking the bus alone.

Staying on the overnight train alone.

Getting on the subway alone.

No one blinks an eye when girls travel alone nowadays-in fact sometimes it’s seen as a sign of independence. My mum was travelling to France alone when she was just 13. I use taxis alone all the time. And yes, while such it can be convenient and/or efficient to do so, perhaps we are also forgetting the dangers of women travelling alone.

 In the 19th century, women would never be allowed to travel alone and would at the very least be accompanied by a maid or another family servant. To travel alone would be to put a woman’s reputation at risk and expose her to gossip about her virtue. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet shocked the Bingley sisters when she showed up at their house all alone. Even General Tilney in Northanger Abbey did not allow Catherine to return home alone, even though he was angry at her and had her banished from his house (though the movie version showed otherwise).

I had an experience today which made me rethink the so-called privilege women nowadays have, in being able to travel alone. I was returning home on the bus and when I got off a man followed me and started talking to me. He asked me to spend the weekend with him because he was lonely and told me that he wanted to treat me. He said money wouldn’t be a problem either. Naturally I refused and said I needed to be home but he persisted and continued to pester me to follow him. At one point, he even took out his wallet to show me his money, and I got a flash of a contraceptive. At this point, I was starting to get desperate and very, very scared. The man was a lot bigger than me and looked a lot stronger. He was also passive aggressively begging me to go with him. I decided to try another tactic and told him my grandma was sick and then tried walking away. Finally he let up and asked me for my number so he could see me on Sunday, and said he hoped I didn’t have a boyfriend. Thankfully, I said I did and he backed off and said bye.

I wonder how many women have been similarly accosted in this way, and in broad daylight, no less. I kept thinking that if someone had been with me, the whole encounter would never have happened. I count myself lucky that he stopped when he did cause things could have gotten a lot uglier.

The feminists can argue all they like about how women are independent and should be able to travel alone but at the end of the day, it’s safer to travel with someone, if you’re a woman. Would you rather be safe then potentially harmed?

So ladies, take a tip from the Regency ladies:  Try not to travel alone-you never know what can happen.


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  1. I don’t like to travel alone; even if it’s somewhere as commonplace as the grocer’s. I get lonely, and start talking to the vegetables about their freshness and colour if I have no one else to talk to. 😛 But especially abroad. It just feels so much safer to have a companion. My sense of direction is deplorable, too, but even if I have a fool-proof map, I’d much prefer to have company.

    I wish the Regency standards were more adhered to in that regard, so people wouldn’t think me crazy when I ask, “But I can’t go alone! Who’s coming with me?” Thankfully, my brothers were raised to be suitable safeguards. 🙂

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