Nowadays, it’s easy to get caught up in the fear of traveling alone.
Buying a flight ticket without a travel companion is like jumping into a pool backwards. There are moments when you linger on the verge wondering if you should actually do it, and many times, you back off. There’s certainly a lot to think about — where will I go? How will I get there? What hotel will I stay at and what are the directions from the airport? You can’t rely on anyone to make decisions for you anymore, and it all comes down on your shoulders. And to top it off, the tragedies in India and Turkey frankly don’t have me jumping for my passport.
Every female traveler knows that there are risks when going abroad. Yet we also know that these risks can’t stop us from exploring the world outside our doors. The good news is, these are great times to be a woman traveler. And here are five reasons why:
5. The “Local” Experience
Have you ever been stopped on the street and asked for directions in a country you’ve never been to? Maybe you were taken by the hand of a perfect stranger and brought right to the location you’d been hunting around for? Let’s face it: sometimes, women are just more approachable.
I’ve been the recipient of many random acts of kindness while traveling, and I don’t doubt that my being female has something to do with it. Sometimes, it’s a free drink from the bartender, or a free song at an old Portuguese fountain, sung by an 80-year-old fado amateur (don’t ask). Sometimes it’s appreciated. Other times we could probably do without it. But the experiences that happen upon us are memorable, nonetheless.
4. Female-Friendly Hospitality
It’s easy to scoff at anything marketed specifically towards women — the feminist in me cringes when an assumption is made that we all like any one thing because of our mutual sex. Yet at the same time, an all-female environment is soothing on the road. It can be really nice to relax with the girls, and the hospitality and tourism industries are taking the hint. In fact, websites like HostelBookers.com are going above and beyond by offering female-friendly accommodations, which earn their merits through ratings in safety and comfort.
3. Role Models
Katniss Everdeen, anyone? With powerful, independent female figures in television, books, movies and — oh yeah — real life, these days our media is chock-full of appreciable role models (and they don’t even have to take their clothes off!). In the travel community, I’d point to the Globetrotter Girls, who have been on the road since 2010, and Pola of Jetting Around, who travels so heavily you would think she does it full time (and yet she still manages to keep a day job down).
Here at Go Girl, there’s Jules, who quit her job to join a traveling circus, Safia, who is one of the only female helicopter pilots in Abu Dhabi, even Kate, who fearlessly left the comforts of her home to settle indefinitely into rural Morocco. If these women aren’t inspiring, I don’t know who is.
2. Barrier Breaking
Visiting a new community allows us to bend a few gender stereotypes. When I founded Go Girl on the back of my blue motorcycle, cruising the streets of São Tomé and Principe, I had a good laugh at the astonished looks on the faces of the men I rode by. There’s something freeing about doing something that traditionally, women don’t do (as long as you’re being respectful of culture and actual laws, of course — we don’t want anyone ending up in jail because they’re “living on the edge”). Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone a little bit — sometimes it’s out in the world that we discover an energy we didn’t know we’d always had.
1. The Sisterhood
I remember the first time I visited Portugal by myself, conveniently during “that time of the month”. I didn’t speak Portuguese yet, and was staying with a cousin who only spoke a few words of English. She watched me go back and forth to the restroom with great concern, not knowing if I was all right. When I had finally been able to communicate what was happening, her face softened. We may not speak the same language, eat the same thing for breakfast, pray to the same divine being. But we all (or at least most of us anyway) get our periods, and we all understand that simple part of human existence.
It is these things that bring us together as women on the road — the discussions about experience, about biology, about society that we share. It makes me proud of our network on www.sheswanderful.com. But most importantly, it makes me proud to be a female traveler. There is so much out there in the world to see. And being able to do it is, truly, awesome.
Editor’s note: HostelBookers has generously provided compensation for this post in order to help continue spreading the voice of women around the world. However, the opinions we express are our own, and we are proud of them! Click here to read our full disclosure statement.