Damn, this is a tough one. First of all, I’d like to recommend to ALL (I don’t give a damn about your gender, everyone needs to know how to stay safe) of you to listen to @shelbystanger’s podcast episode with “Outdoor Defense with Nicole Snell” featuring @adventuresofnik. Nicole also has a YouTube channel („Outdoor Defense“) where you can learn more about self-defense but …. As you would guess… with visuals. 😉
In my opinion (and Nicole agrees with me) your gut feeling is the most important tool you have to stay safe. If your instincts are telling you something or someone is “off”, don’t stick around to see if you’re right. If you think it may not be polite to leave now, let me tell you: your safety is more important than someone else’s short-term feelings. (Nicole also backs me up on that one.)
This is especially important for those who identify as a woman. Most likely, you grew up being told to “be nice”. Well, If “being nice” jeopardises your safety, you have my full support and encouragement to turn into an absolute Valkyrie. If the other person has a problem with that, they should have tried “to be nice(r)” themselves first.
If you ever considered taking weapons with you (full disclosure, I did: a knife and pepper spray), know how to use them (full disclosure: I didn’t). Nicole explains it better than I can why that’s a bad idea. If you have never used a weapon, you’re probably not going to successfully use it the first time you try – especially if adrenaline is involved.
I have since then taken a self-defense and a kickboxing class. It’s not the cure-for-all, but I absolutely feel safer using my own body as a weapon than what I did before.
The last tool I would send you on your way with is this: hide well. Set your tent in places hard to reach by car. Make sure it’s not easy to find your campsite if someone saw you go off trail. It’s not something I always do – for the reason why, go to the first paragraph.
Trust your gut. Always.
And in terms of convincing your parents that bikepacking is safe: they might trust you and your skills enough one day to believe it. Or they might never feel calm and happy about it. That shouldn’t keep you from going out and exploring, if you feel like you’re ready.
More experienced bikpackers : please descend upon my comments section (on Instagram) if you have more tips!!! Thank you! ☺️