Solo Travel Safety: My Kind of Strangers

Orson Wells in the 1946 film, The Stranger.

Orson Welles in the 1946 film, The Stranger.

I learned this way back when.

Way back when I was a Brownie.

Does the rest of the world have Brownies? In Canada, Brownies come before Girl Guides. Anyway, I remember very clearly one meeting when we learned that a girl had been followed (or some toned down version of the actual facts) and how we were to deal with the situation if we ever felt we were being followed.

Among the things we weren’t told was to walk in pairs. And so I continued to walk home alone about a half mile after dark.

What we were told was, if we should feel we were being followed by someone, we were to go up to the first house with a light on as if it was our home or that of our best friend. We were told that the chances were good that it would be the home of a good person who would take care of us. My interpretation was that, if I needed a stranger, I should choose him or her myself.

This incident frequently informs my safety choices:

  • It is part of my strategy for entering a club solo. This is not necessary on all occasions but, when overwhelmed by a scene as I was in Havana one time (and I really wanted to go to this famous club), I entered with the assistance of the strangers of my choice.
  • It helps me navigate new cities safely as it did in Memphis. In The Gifts of Fear and Anger I describe how, being unsure of my bearings I went into an architect’s office for assistance rather than wait for someone to approach me.
  • It shows up as #2 of my Five Principles of Safety in which I specifically say that it is more likely that an inappropriate person will choose me than I will choose him or her. Bottom line, choose your stranger.

Yes, that little lecture given when I was eight years old has served me well all my life. When in need, I look around and find my kind of stranger.

Now, you just have to watch the trailer for The Stranger. It’s a classic.

  • Madame Papillon

    I followed that rule one night in Paris, I was walking alone back to my hotel room and felt I was being followed…I saw a family (mother, father, two teen kids) across the street from me, went over and walked very close behind them until I was close to the hotel.

  • islandmomma

    My pleasure :)

  • Janice Waugh

    Thanks for my lunch hour laugh!


  • islandmomma

    I just never realized that Orson Welles was ever young :) LOL

  • ruby

    I have never heard that advice, but it’s great. Thank you for sharing.

  • Elizabeth Avery

    When choosing a stranger, i would opt first for a couple. in some cultures approaching a stranger of the opposite sex might be misunderstood.

  • Jensy143

    a simple statement is more easily remembered. I like it….””Choose your stranger”.
    Great advice.

  • Priscilla

    Perfect advice as I head to some new cities myself!

  • Ourjourneytothesea

    Great advice

  • Janice Waugh

    Thanks. I was thinking that post may have been too simple but I guess that was a good thing.


  • TravelnLass

    Choose your stranger. How simple, yet so brilliant!

  • Weston super Mare

    I agree, best to make your own judgement on strangers first as intuition has always done me well when I’ve been traveling away from home!

  • Jonathan Look, Jr.

    Good advice for everyone!