THE TRUTH BEHIND ‘FEMALE TRAVEL’
There’s often a lot of negative stigma surrounding what people like to call ‘female travel’.
When I hear this term, I often question what makes people believe that travel is different for every gender. We all leave our home, explore new places, meet new people, tick off bucket lists and have the greatest adventures of all.
So, is there really any difference between male and female travel? Or are we just creating more of a gender divide than what we already have?
I’m here to share the truths with you.
Do women travel differently to men?
No. Women and men both travel the world in the search of something new; relaxation, adventure, exploration, soul-searching or excitement. There isn’t one sole style of travel, nor is there any difference between how a specific gender defines their travel experience.
Travel styles are entirely dependent on the individual person, not the gender.
Should women fear solo travel?
No. All you have to do is google ‘female solo travel’ and you will be fed to the brim with women telling you to not be afraid of travelling alone.
There’s no doubt that we will all experience fear from time to time due to being a woman, but I think this needs to be looked at in a different perspective. Yes, being a solo woman in an under-developed country often makes you vulnerable. But rather than blaming travel as the reason we fear, it’s important to remember that in most circumstances it’s not the actual travel that makes us afraid.
I’ll go into this a little more down below.
Do women need to take extra precautions?
This is a tricky one.
Overall, women need to be precautious wherever they are in the world – (yes, it sucks, and male privilege is a real thing). Bad situations often happen to women all over the world, and more often than not they occur in their home of origin. Although, there is no doubt that travelling makes women a little warier.
Being away from the comfort of your own home is scary as it is, and this is exceedingly heightened when in dangerous situations. In overly sexist countries, the fear becomes a little stronger and the precautions that need to be taken are a little higher too. But that’s not a travel issue; that comes down to the countries government, economy and overall developmental state.
I don’t want to walk alone after dark in my hometown, so to label this kind of fear as a specific travel issue is definitely arguable.
Should there still be a ‘female travel’ label?
In reality, no there shouldn’t.
Travel is experiencing the unknown – and exploring the beautiful world around you; regardless of your destination, your nationality or your gender. But it’s true, and very very unfortunate, that travelling to certain countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or India (for example – these are often the countries with the most concerns), will often give very different experiences depending on your gender.
Having the label definitely makes it easier for women to confide in each other for advice, support and travel knowledge. So of course, if it’s helping women who struggle with travel, there is absolutely no harm, right?
But when you really think about it, the label is just another proof of gender inequality. We need support because women experience gender-biased behaviour all around the world.
Sexism is a real issue, and it’s been around the travel scene for a long time.
Is there really any difference?
It’s not the difference between the way that men and women travel that creates a divide… It’s entirely the way that women are treated.
If sexism, male privilege and gender discrimination were non-existent, so to would be this discussion.
Women would be wearing any style of clothing desired without the fear of harassment. Women would be walking around at midnight without the fear of assault. And women would be travelling around the world without gender labels or fear.
To me, this is exactly the same as the saying:
“We live in a society that teaches women not to get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape”
This is a similar issue. We are teaching women and girls to fear travel due to things that may occur, rather than addressing global issues such as gender inequality and poverty, which is often what perpetuates harm against women – especially in the countries that are frequently labelled as “the most dangerous”.
Of course, this is never going to be an overnight change, but it’s something that needs to be discussed. And I certainly think that the way that ‘female travel’ is approached is a little concerning.
The first step to living in a world where women and men work, live and travel the same, is simply to address the issues.
What can we learn from the facts?
I’m a strong believer in defying the odds.
Knowing that travelling as a woman can often be dangerous, should never be the stop sign at your will to experience the world. I often think about the women who live in the ‘dangerous’ countries that experience gender vilification on a regular basis. They often don’t have the ability to stand up for their rights, or to travel the world – but you do.
I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve never experienced fear whilst travelling, but I certainly do not see that as a travel issue. It’s important to try and remember that travel is and always will be just travel.
The issues, fear and sometimes dangerous situations are not due to where we are in the world, but simply because we are women – and that is a serious problem.
Of course, safety should always be a priority, but where is the hope if we all stay at home and let a label define our dreams?
” I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say ‘yes, women can!’ ” – Dilma Rouseff
Being brave is a powerful thing. Standing up for issues rather than hiding behind them is just as powerful too.
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