Women in the World: How to Travel as a Female

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This one goes out to all you female backpackers out there. We all know that being a woman travelling the world can bring unique challenges. There will be many times where you feel uncomfortable or targeted in public.

But we can’t and won’t let that stop us!

The way that women travellers are treated in comparison to men is actually quite different. So ladies! Depending on the countries that you are choosing to travel to you are going to need to prepare yourself for this. I have some tips for you on how to travel as a woman in the world!

Fashion blogger photos can be very misleading. Travel is not always glamorous!

NO! Backpacking is not this glamorous. But sometimes you need to have a little fun 😉

Let’s get real. Most days on the road I will look like this…

Yep. That’s more accurate!

You might as well own it!

As a female traveller it is almost inevitable that you will draw attention to yourself. Whether you are a guy or a girl, locals will always be interested in you! But as a woman, it’s best to take extra precautions.

I can’t personally speak from a solo female travellers voice because more often than not I am glued to Jordan’s hip, but the couple of times I have ventured off on my own I realized how different women are treated when they are on their own.

For example, in Cuba the one time Jordan left to go look for a taxi and I was asked to go to the main square to look for our friends who were running late my bum was slapped by a passerby. Mind you there have been countless times I’ve been catcalled in public, harassed, or even followed. And this is only from the handful of times I was exploring on my own.

So here are a couple of things that I do to ensure that my trips aren’t spoiled by unwanted attention.

Do your research

Being kind and staying positive will help to attract more kindness.

One of the best ways to avoid unwanted attention is to do your research before heading to a country to get a better understanding of what certain gestures mean. Sometimes it’s normal for local people to be openly friendly on the streets and approach you to chat. That may be culturally acceptable in their country. However, it’s also good to read up on tips for recognizing common behaviours or scams that could target you. 

Small details you might not consider could make the world of difference. For example, when travelling to Morocco I knew that it was important for women to wear clothing that covered their shoulders and knees. Covering up is viewed as a sign of respect, and being mindful of these practices will be noticed and appreciated by locals. So know the places you are going to!

Be aware of your surroundings

Alizé treated me like a close friend. Remember there are more good people out there than bad.

Now, this piece of advice goes for all travellers but as a female you should take this one a little more seriously. It’s easy to be really excited when you get off that plane and are out exploring a new place, but it’s also easy to get too carried away and end up in an unwanted situation.

While connecting with locals is one of our favourite things to do when travelling you need to listen to your senses to make sure you aren’t putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Of course, it is ok to talk with someone who approaches you on the street but if they ask you to follow them to show you around or offer their help you really need to use your best judgement to make sure you are not put in a stressful situation.

Now I am not saying to completely isolate yourself from everyone because where is the fun in that? Honestly, one of the best nights Jordan and I had in Cuba was because we trusted our local friend Alizé who brought us to a private salsa club. We talked with him for a while and got a good sense of his character. He was also willing to offer us the address of the salsa club if we wanted to go without him. It was an honest gesture, so we decided to tag along with him and ended up having the best time!

Trust your instincts

This is a big one, girls. If your gut is telling you that you should not be here right now, or this guy is giving me the creeps. YOU SHOULD LISTEN! Your body is giving you a sign that it is time to go.

For this I have another salsa dancing story… maybe dancing is the real culprit here? Anyways, we had another group of fun locals show us a couple of steps while hanging out along the Havana seawall. As soon as one man became a little too forward with his gestures… I’m out of here!

You have to trust yourself and know that you are making the right decisions for you. This also comes with being aware of your surroundings and noticing a bad situation before you are caught up in it. 

All I am saying is the best thing to do is to trust your gut and remember, it is ALWAYS ok to say no. Just politely decline the offer and continue on your way.

Don’t let it get to you!

Okay, THIS is the most important tip!

I know that this may seem easier said than done because trust me, I know how annoying it can be to just be viewed as eye candy or a walking dollar sign. Don’t let it get to you! If you spend your entire trip worried about catcalls or hustling that is all you are going to remember about the country you are visiting!

All the world needs to know is that you are a confident, badass woman doing what she loves.

This is actually a reaction to a really, REALLY bad pick-up line someone shouted from the street. Keep things light and laugh!

One of the best ways to avoid this from happening is understanding that…yes, it’s bound to happen! You always need to look at the bright side of things! You are in a foreign country, exploring places that a lot of other people only dream of doing!

Some people are going to be rude and it is best if you brush it off. Keep your chin up and only interact with people who are worth your time. There is tons of fun to be had on your backpacking journey and the focus needs to be on that!

Don’t look awkward like me. Shoulders straight, stand tall, and explore with confidence!

One thing I know for sure is that there is strength in numbers. Even if you are backpacking on your own, there will always be tons of other female or male backpackers that you can join up with on your journeys. You never have to be alone.

That might not be your style, and that’s okay. Many of the tips I have shared will also help you on your adventures. Otherwise, the one thing that you should take away from this post is to be the strong, confident woman you know you are and take on this crazy world. That is how you travel as a female.

Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments below! I would love to hear from your own experiences.

Check out our Instagram page @brightintheworld for more female travelling inspiration! Until then, keep chasing your dreams and stay bright!

Happy International Women’s Day 2018!

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  1. Hi Lindsay, what a wonderful article and tips on travelling to different places, cultures and customs especially for the women travellers!. WELL DONE! A very interesting read…Papa would be proud..
    Respectfully and with love..

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