5 Unusual Tips for Female Travellers
As a woman, you will have heard the obvious safety tips when travelling, such as don’t go out alone at night, and always tell someone where you’ll be.
The truth is, these snippets of advice are useful for anyone. I’ve been travelling alone (first time in 2007 and 2008), and from this and extra research I’ve done, I wanted to give five tips for women that aren’t usually given on travel blogs.
1. Keep your TMI to yourself
I know that we’re all strong, independent women who don’t flinch at the word ‘tampon’, and joke about our periods loudly and publicly, as if we’re talking about baking a cake.
But in many parts of the world, a period is seen as a private – and even shameful – affair, and as much as you might want to stomp down the patriarchy and shout about your uterus until the cow’s come home, kindly refrain.
By all means, discuss it with your bunk-mates, or chat on Twitter about it. But try to bear in mind that when you travel, you are not the centre of everyone’s universe, and they likely don’t want to be eating a snack whilst listening to your graphic tales of uterine shedding, that weird combo of diarrhea and constipation, and your animalistic monthly craving for snu-snu.
2. Be prepared to be groped … by women
As women, we’re indoctrinated to believe that if we go anywhere alone, men everywhere want to touch us, harass us or worse. The truth is – and I’ve experienced this both at home, and when travelling myself – women are way more likely to ignore your personal boundaries and grab ‘the girls’ than any man in the room.
If you’re an ample-chested girl (like myself), you’re absolutely going to get flat-chested people coming up to you, giving them a good squeeze and wishing to the heavens they had your cup size.
By all means, frigging take them, they hurt my neck to carry around anyway.
3. You don’t have to be cute all the time!
I know, ladies, I know. We all want to be that Instagram-ready person, snapping glowing selfies, and always wearing something bohemian, chic, and adorable. The truth is most of us look like perspiring buffalo when we’re in humid climates, and trying to maintain your ‘face’ 24/7 is exhausting, and unnecessary.
Of course, I’m not telling you not to wear make up, or cute dresses, or that adorable sunhat you found at a market. I’m just saying that you’re on vacation, not on stage. You can let your hair down, wear that t-shirt you haven’t washed in a questionable number of days and just not care once in a while. Nobody is going to mind.
4. No means no – so SAY no!
This is something I’ve always been rather strict on. If no means no, then maybe must mean maybe, and yes means yes. In which case, if you’re approach by a flirty man trying to buy you drinks, tell him ‘no thank you’ in no uncertain terms that you are not interested.
You will be surprised how many will simply apologize or just leave without a further word. Most people only keep pushing you because they legitimately believe you’re playing ‘hard to get’ and like to be chased, since this is something many women enjoy.
I want to be clear: it is never okay to touch or encroach on anyone without their permission. Even when it has been given or implied, anyone is within their rights to say ‘no, I want to stop’. This applies to men, women and everyone else.
However, some people need a flat-out ‘no’ to understand that you’re not interested.
A ‘maybe some other time’ gives them hope that indeed, some other time, you’ll be interested.
A fake phone number might have been an accident, so they come back for the ‘right’ one.
A pause of uncertainty makes them think you’re considering their offer.
Anything but ‘no’ can give them a hope you don’t necessarily want to give. If you mean no, say no. If they still persist, get yourself somewhere safe, and keep saying no – shout it, if required. Most people are friendly and want to help. They won’t let someone harass you if you can’t get rid of them yourself.
5. You’ll be terrified, and it’ll be liberating as f*ck
The first time I ever travelled on my own, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d read all the horror stories, I’d watched Hostel perhaps one too many times, and I was utterly convinced that I had to play some kind of super-safe game in order to not get everything stolen, including my organs.
What I found, however, was that people do not care that you’re a woman. You’re not treated differently in most places and the one time I did have a French chap stop his car to come and talk to me at a bus stop, I simply spoke to him in English until he realized I couldn’t understand him, and he walked away with a stroppy look on his face.
He did not want to hurt me, he just wanted to chat me up. Most people are harmless and it’s in their best interests to treat you like as much of a human as anyone else. The horror stories you read in the paper are the exception to the rule.
Be scared, but get over it. You’re living the best possible life you can live, right now. Enjoy it!