Is Female Travel Really Worth Talking About?
In the past six months or so, many people have asked me why I write about female travel. The most common question was:
‘What is the difference between men and women travelling?’
I was even invited to answer this question on a morning tv show. Many people are surprised that THERE IS a difference. And differences exist. The easiest way to see them is to look for the specially designed products for women travellers. But let’s be more specific.
1 – FEMALE TRAVEL AND SAFETY ISSUES
It is totally safe to travel alone as a woman in most of the places around the world. Of course, it requires vigilance and to be informed about the destination you are visiting as well as to respect the local customs.
And still, catcalling is a usual thing in some of the destinations (my last such experience was during a morning stroll in Sicily).
The difference between men and women travelling solo is that female travel requires more attentiveness. A woman travelling alone makes deeper research about the place she is going to visit. She needs to know and better understand the place and the local customs in order to keep herself away from trouble. A man in a troubling situation can get easier out of it, as he doesn’t look as vulnerable as a woman does (in the eyes of others).
2 – FEMALE TRAVEL AND HYGIENE ISSUES
No one talks about the problems women face to keep themselves clean and out of embarrassing situation during their period. When you travel long hours and don’t really control how your body will react to the climate conditions (or hormone levels), you can feel quite miserable.
No one talks, except the product companies. There is now such a thing as a menstrual cup. I haven’t used it yet but some women swear that it makes their travel life much easier.
What’s the difference between men’s and women’s travel you ask?! Men don’t need to worry about such an issue!
3 – FEMALE SOLO TRAVEL
Solo travel is different for the two genders. While most of the choices solo travellers make are the same (like staying in hostels because of their social environment and affordable prices), others differentiate.
The difference, in my opinion, is mostly in the destination choices. If a man does not have a problem to stay at a destination that is perceived as ‘dangerous’ or at least ‘challenging’, a woman alone will be less wishing to go to such a place. I am not saying there are no women travelling alone in rape-famous India or Egypt. There are many courageous women whose curiosity and sense of adventure brings them to countries perceived as not safe for women. But these women are much lesser percentage than the men travellers, I believe.
4 – FEMALE TRAVEL AND FASHION
Unlike many female travellers, I believe a woman can (and should) stay stylish during her travels. It’s not about having a ton of fancy dresses in your suitcase. And I don’t mean you have to have an accessory for each of your travel outfits. It’s not that difficult to stay stylish. The secrets are three: use mix and match outfits; choose one statement jewellery piece to fit most of your travel outfits; pack easy to dry clothes.
Do men worry about their travel outfits? I’m not sure that this is even something they think about when packing! And here it is, the other difference between female and male travel.
5 – FEMALE TRAVELLERS AND THEIR CHOICE OF DESTINATIONS
When talking about the choice of destination, safety is not the only thing considered by the women travelling alone or in a company.
My observations show (and statistics back them up) that women prefer visiting destinations that are somewhat ‘romantic’, ‘idyllic’, or ‘sophisticated’.
Every woman wants to go to Paris, even if she has seen thousands of photos from the City of Light (and Love) and knows perfectly what to expect. Second place is for Italy and its lure of romanticism.
Men, on the other hand, tend to prefer destinations that are ‘challenging’ or create the feel of adventure and exploration. Again, it’s not that many women don’t search the same experiences. They do but they will probably go to the more challenging destinations AFTER they have seen Paris, Italy, etc.; when they become more experienced travellers, so to speak, and more confident.
6 – SPENDING HABITS OF WOMEN TRAVELLERS
Most of the digital nomads and frequent travellers are frugal shoppers. They will stay at hostels or visit friends, prepare their own food instead of going to restaurants and will use the best value-for-money transportation options.
However, you will agree with me that women are more inclined to buy that useless but sooooo cute koala souvenir from Australia or another fridge magnet because of the palm trees and sea colours that will always remind them of their unforgettable trip to Mexico? And even the most frugal female travellers are in a real danger to wake up one morning, after spending months on the road, and decide they need another pair of jeans (t-shirt , shoes, whatever it is) and go to the local H&M store for a little splurge.
Women are also inclined to spend more on culture tours or experiences. Men will spend their money on rock climbing, sea kayaking or other outdoor experiences.
7 – GIRLS’ GETAWAYS
There is no such thing like boys’ getaways. Well, boys do travel together and go out to have fun. But it’s not the same as girls dedicatedly organizing a trip TO BE together. As one friend of mine said, women travel together ‘to talk’. And yes, he was totally right. We NEED to talk and who can be a better listener than a person who knows how we feel in our skin? A recent research shows that girls travel together for several reasons – for a birthday celebration or a family gathering.
But the trend is that women like to travel together to bond and share experiences. And it is exactly why I love to travel with my girlfriends. In our fast-paced lives, we don’t have enough time to spend together. The time at a dinner seems never enough to share our stories, to ask for an advice or to laugh over some mischiefs of one of us. So, we find the time, usually once per year, to go somewhere together. And this keeps our friendship alive.
Men don’t seem to have such a problem. They don’t need to ‘bond’ in such a way in order to maintain their friendships.
“A getaway or an escape. … an excuse to run away for the monotony of real life, one typically filled with a hectic job, whiny children, and a husband who just doesn’t get it.”
Are these reasons enough to consider the female travel an important issue or is it just a small variation that does not need to be discussed?