Opt-out Female Goes to England?

I have been considering writing a travel book about (and for) women of a certain age going solo to visit England from America. There are quite a lot of us here. You can find us chatting with bus drivers, giving money to beggars, and not caring whether our hair is mussed in the wind. I can practically guarantee that when I overhear a friendly conversation between an American female and a male from anywhere else, it’s a woman my age (and often wearing my backpack purse, sensible shoes, and scarf — but I hold the monopoly on the red M&S trench coat).

The title “Opt-out Female” refers to the TSA wanting me to go through the backscatter radiation scanner, and me “opting out” (which you have a legal right to do at the American end). I’ve done this many times, and because I’m female, they yell, “Opt out female!” at the top of their lungs to get a female TSA officer to pat me down. I then wait up to 45 minutes for someone to come.

There are already websites on how to travel alone safely if you’re female, but they tend to emphasize youthful travelers. They have advice on how not to attract too much attention, how not to drink too much, how to stay with a group, etc. Although we-of-a-certain-age are certainly not immune to unsafe situations, let’s just say it is a lower concern than things like: where can I get dried fruit now that I’ve eaten all these carbs? how do I get my heavy bag on and off the train? do I try to converse with the TSA woman in the blue gloves running her hands up and down my thighs?

I am an expert on renting cheap rooms at universities, cooking quick meals from Sainsbury Local, and finding airline-size bottles of Famous Grouse whisky. I can get a bus to almost anywhere (except Holy Island, it seems, because of the tides), so I’m not going to clutter up the book with train advice (except for historic steam trains, of course).

Since I see these other women at all the places I go (second-hand book shops, museums, art galleries) I think there’s an audience. Hmmm. Well, at least if I do it, I’ve posted it here first!


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