Experiences as a Solo Female Traveler in Petra
I am infatuated with traveling on my own. I vastly prefer it to traveling with any other people. I get to do exactly what I want on my own schedule, I can eat gelato 4 times a day without anyone there to judge me, and I basically live by my own rules. I've said it before but I'll say it again, it's the most freeing and independent experience I could ever have, and if I'm not doing it, I'm constantly daydreaming about it.
Petra, though, is the only location I've encountered where I wish I hadn't traveled by myself. I really do dislike writing negatively about any place... I only have my experiences to base things off of, and any other visitor will undoubtedly have different encounters than my own. Who am I to generalize an entire destination off of just my unique experiences there? With that being said, I do want to keep this blog as truthful as possible, and not sugar coat or fabricate that traveling is perfect all the time, 'cause it's really not. So here goes, my negative experiences in Petra as a solo female traveler:
I was drawn here for obvious reasons: to witness with my own eyes the magnificent Treasury of Petra, a massive ancient temple carved out of a rock face, and a Wonder of the World. Don't get me wrong, Petra itself was breathtaking. I can't quite put into words the feeling of getting that first glimpse of the Treasury after the long walk through the canyon. I stared up at it, unable to look away, stupid smile spread across my face, feeling like I had traveled back in time. I had a fantastic time at the site, chatting with local Bedouin men who live in the desert, riding camels, and taking photos.
It was more of the surrounding town that was a problem. I am generally used to your average harassment while traveling; a lot of people are a) curious why I'm by myself or b) want to rip off a solo woman who they think probably doesn't know any better, so I get approached with questions quite a lot. Petra was another level though. When I would walk around town, I had people in passing cars exit their vehicles and follow me for 15 minutes on foot, insisting that I purchase their tour of Petra even though I told them no consistently. The worst was when an older taxi driver who drove me to my hostel when I first arrived actually REMEMBERED where I was staying, showed up there the next day, invited me to dinner, and yelled in my face calling me a "dirty slut" in broken English when I declined the invitation. I had never had anything like that happen to me on my travels before, and I was shaken for a few days after it.
I like to consider myself an adaptable person, and usually this stuff doesn't phase me. I sympathize with locals in developing countries, especially in the Middle East who have suffered from the decrease in tourism recently, so I understand the hustle of residents who must make their money off of comparatively wealthy travelers. The local economy in Petra is totally dependent on tourism, and sadly their revenue is at an all time low from unstable neighbors and bad reputations. Still, I couldn't walk 5 feet without being approached, subsequently harassed to buy things and then aggressively hit on within a 5 minute window. It got exhausting and downright upsetting after my 2 days in Petra. Once I left Petra and ventured to the capital of Jordan, Amman, I had much better experiences and felt no harassment whatsoever.
Overall, I'm glad to have gone and had the experiences that I had, but next time I'd like to take a friend or two with me for added support. To those that are thinking of solo traveling to Petra, I hope this was informational. I will never encourage someone to NOT visit any place, so by all means, see for yourself because it's natural beauty is downright astounding. Just arrive a bit mentally prepared for what could be a challenging vacation.