Next summer I’m going to Dawson City. A small town, because technically that’s what it is now, far into the Yukon that you can drive to from Whitehorse in about six hours or take a smaller plane from the two in a flight that takes about an hour, which is what I’ll be doing.

Dawson City isn’t on many people’s lists for travel but it’s been on mine for ages. I don’t know when I first heard of Dawson City but I know I heard about it from my dad and his lifelong goal of having the Sourtoe Cocktail, a cocktail which has a real mummified human toe in it that people can drink to the join the club (the toe just has to touch your lip). My dad achieved his goal last year when he visited Dawson in January (I’m told it was very good) and having the drink himself and now it’s my turn, or it will be next year.

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The toe in question.

When I tell people about my trip they either 1) haven’t heard of the Sourtoe Cocktail and 2) are immediately disgusted by it and think I’m some sort of crazy (and maybe I am). I’m not going to defend myself or say why I want to drink the Sourtoe Cocktail except that it seems like a cool and different thing to do, and it’s just a toe that touches your lips, it’s not like you’re eating a person it isn’t that bad!

So now I’m planning my trip and all I want to do besides having a drink with a toe in it, because there’s a lot to do in Dawson during the tourist season (unlike in January when my dad visited). From boating tours, an authors cabin, panning for gold, and a Casino with vaudeville inspired shows, I know I won’t be bored on my trip. So I’m writing everything down that I want to do, planning an itinerary way to early because another reason this trip is so exciting is that it’s the first time I’ll be travelling alone.

I’ve told my friends about this and I get a variety of responses but the most common are that they could either never travel alone and to tell me to be safe.

I don’t know what travelling alone will be like but I’m excited for it, I know it will be a kind of adventure all on its own. I’m responsible for what I do and I just get to do what I want too without worrying about someone else’s schedule. It almost sounds selfish, and maybe it is to a certain extent that travelling alone is, or maybe it’s just the introvert in me excited to have time alone in a place where I will be alone. Not that I particularly like loneliness but I’ve learned to live with it, I’ve learned to acknowledge it as an acquaintance of sorts. And it makes me kind of sad to hear my friends talk about how they could never travel alone because it just seems like such a freeing thing to do. Of course maybe once I do it I’ll change my mind, but I hope not.

And I know the “be safe” is a kindness of its own, but I wish it was something that didn’t need to be said, a fear I wish I didn’t need to have. Already planning what stories I will tell and practice in my head and who I will pretend to be visiting or why I am up their if a stranger asks me where I’m going, why I’m going. The little ways I’ve been taught to stay safe.

Which is overthinking of course, but that who I’ve always been. And as a woman travelling alone for the first time I need to think ahead, need to plan ahead, need to be careful and think of the ways to be safe. Chances are nothing will happen, but we’ve all heard the stories that trickle from the mouths of friends and neighbours and co-workers, from newspaper articles and news stories of all the things that can go wrong when women travel alone. Another face, another podcast to listen too.

I wish that planning for a trip I’ve always wanted and am finally going on didn’t include a safety plan. I wonder if men have to worry about this when they travel alone, I wonder if other women and people do to or if it’s just me and my head that won’t stop. But these worries, this extra travel plan won’t stop me from enjoying myself. I’m still just as excited for my trip as ever, it’s just something I wish I didn’t have to plan.

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