44 responses

  1. Jessica
    October 1, 2013

    Your totally right! It’s easier for a man to travel. Especially in muslim countries. Would love to go to Iran someday. But for now it’s almost impossible for a woman to travel there. Maybe someday…..

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      October 1, 2013

      I know women who have traveled to Iran. The only thing they had to do differently was dress modestly and wear a head covering.

      Reply

  2. Sam
    September 20, 2013

    Yep. It’s a shame that’s the way it is, but it definitely seems easier for men. I made a good female friend while travelling in Syria and Jordan, and on multiple occasions, she told me (out of the blue it seemed) that I was suddenly her “boyfriend” for that moment/afternoon/evening in reaction to some unwanted attention from male tour guides, which I’d been completely oblivious to before. Unfortunately, it seems that in some Muslim countries SOME men (I’m trying carefully not to over generalise!) believe that foreign women somehow “don’t count” and are therefor fair game to treat in wildly inappropriate ways that they’d never consider doing with local women, at least not in public.

    P.S. “Travel is very safe for anyone who has at least half a brain” – love this; so true!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 20, 2013

      I have heard the same thing about the attitudes toward foreign women. They wouldn’t say or act this way toward local women but feel foreigners are fair game. Which is really sad on many levels.

      Reply

  3. Penny Sadler
    September 16, 2013

    Great article Talon. I have experienced some minor harassment, mostly in the US. As someone else said, I’m just not willing to travel where I feel there’s a big chance of having trouble. Most of my travels are in Europe and the US so mostly safe. The trains stations in Italy can be a drag, but I’ve no problem yelling really loudly and that usually does the trick.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 20, 2013

      I completely understand why you would feel that way. At the same time it saddens me that women even have to worry about it.

      Reply

  4. RenegadePilgrim
    September 13, 2013

    I’ve had some crap happen to me while I solo traveled as a female…nothing major and in retrospect, things could have happened if I had not been so aware of my surroundings. Before I set off on my 5 month RTW, I took a self-defense class. I listen to my gut. I’m assertive when I need to be, even when it makes me uncomfortable. It got EXHAUSTING having to deal with the touts and scams in SE Asia and India…so much so I was very happy to leave, even though I enjoyed those places so much!

    I remember one instance in India, I was out with an Indian man, a coworker of an Israeli woman I met in Jerusalem. He was showing me around, we met for coffee and hung out twice. I told him I thought I was getting overcharged for my autorickshaw and so he made sure the guy ran the meter and sure enough, I was getting charged double. Am I splitting hairs over a dollar? Yeah, I am but for me it’s always a principle thing.

    I knew I was being treated differently in many of the countries I visited because I was a woman. I tried not to automatically go there and give people the benefit of the doubt but after a while you realize it really is a man’s world outside the US (and often in the US) and it’s just irritating after that.

    I appreciate your words though Talon. Thanks for writing this piece.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 14, 2013

      Definitely irritating. I feel bad it’s the way it is.

      Reply

  5. Mary @ Green Global Travel
    September 13, 2013

    I’ve traveled with a girlfriend and I’ve traveled with a male partner. In my opinion, I am treated much better when I am traveling with a man, particularly a tall, large-framed, formidable “don’t mess with me man” kind of man.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 13, 2013

      Unfortunately, that definitely seems to be true for many women.

      Reply

  6. Terry at Overnight New York
    September 13, 2013

    As a woman who’s traveled on my own a lot over the years, it’s fascinating to hear a man’s perspective on (almost) solo travel. Sounds like it’s still more of a man’s world out there than you’d think.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 13, 2013

      Most definitely.

      Reply

  7. Micki
    September 13, 2013

    It’s so interesting to hear this from a man’s perspective. As a woman who travels a lot, I’ve also mastered the “leave me alone, I won’t take any crap” attitude, and it goes a long ways toward keeping touts and creepy guys at bay. Mostly, they’re just looking to harass someone who won’t fight back. Like you, I have a martial arts background, and I find that gives me the confidence to pull it off. I’d highly recommend self defense training (not necessarily martial arts training, but some sort of self defense) to any woman (or man).

    Your article did make me think a lot about how my travel experience differs from my husband’s experience. As I said, I’m physically capable of defending myself, and I have a lot of travel experience, and yet there are many situations where I’m very uncomfortable, just because I’m a woman. In Marrakech, it was my husband who walked out after dark to get supplies, as it’s just implicit that it’s much safer for him to go out alone. I constantly (and largely unconsciously) survey almost every man I meet, from taxi drivers, to men I pass in the hall or elevator, to shopkeepers in a deserted store, as a potential danger. I’m quite sure that he doesn’t need the same level of constant vigilance.

    We had a different experience in Marrakech with the touts. When we went out as a family (2 kids, a male and female adult), the touts weren’t too bad, but Charles reports that when he went out alone, he was absolutely swarmed by touts.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 13, 2013

      That’s interesting he was swarmed more when he was alone. I guess they think you’re easy pickings then. I just think it’s a real shame women have to be more concerned than men so many times.

      Reply

  8. Dale
    September 12, 2013

    Personally I’ve never had any problems during our travels that go outside the usual persistent sales techniques of market sellers and tea shop merchants, the same I can’t say for Franca.

    Franca has often told me about the men that leer at her and on one occasion in a particular country where a man actually asked her if she wanted to join him for some fun (I wasn’t around at the time). For the most part she doesn’t care, but there are times where it does make her feel uncomfortable but not all that much more than being eyed up by guys on a train in the UK.

    I’m glad to think that I’m there as her protector and that perhaps just my presence has been enough to deter someone, I just wish that it wasn’t necessary and that she could feel safe whether if I was there or not.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 13, 2013

      I wish it wasn’t necessary as well. I find it to be really sad.

      Reply

  9. Melissa
    September 12, 2013

    Important post. I think a lot about where I’d like to travel with my kid, and do have second thoughts about certain places. Fact is, I’m more nervous about HER well-being than my own. Already, she’s been leered at and cat-called. It pisses me off that I have to watch our backs because we’re female, even in our own neighborhood in NY.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 13, 2013

      That is really incredibly sad.

      Reply

  10. Nick Paton
    September 12, 2013

    I couldn’t agree more we definitely have it easier but as you said it all comes down to that basic rule of having your wits about you and you should be alright.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 13, 2013

      It is definitely a huge part of safety.

      Reply

  11. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas
    September 11, 2013

    It’s interesting to hear a man’s input, for sure. My boyfriend is a military pilot and travels to countries that I would consider unsafe for a woman, though my stubborness in insisting I travel to other places (Morocco and Jordan included) has him worried. As Elle said – what’s important is awareness.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 11, 2013

      Definitely awareness is a HUGE thing. Morocco and Jordan are at least some of the safer countries for women.

      Reply

  12. Derek Freal
    September 11, 2013

    Yeah I’ve often thought the same thing, that we men have it quite a bit easier when traveling — especially when it comes to solo travel. It is always disappointing to hear stories of our female friends being harassed or worse along the road. They don’t always have the luxury of being as carefree as us men. “Can I trust this drink?” “Should I follow this man leading me down a dark alley?” Etc…

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 11, 2013

      Yes, it’s such an extra challenge for women doing solo travel, which is really a shame. You’d think we’d be further along in the 21st century.

      Reply

  13. Kate @30Traveler
    September 11, 2013

    I had some guy try to follow me today (and not in Harlem, even though we’re living up here the next couple of months). Was super creepy. I basically won’t go places where sexual harassment is likely to be an issue.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 11, 2013

      Definitely can’t blame you!

      Reply

  14. Anis
    September 10, 2013

    Travelling IS easier and safer for a man, no doubt about it. There are loads of things I have to think of while I’m planning my trips, what more when I actually get there and I’m out on my own. Having said that, I enjoy travelling alone and I don’t plan to stop anytime :-).

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 11, 2013

      Definitely an increased sense of awareness and difficulty. I really admire women doing solo travel.

      Reply

  15. Yvette
    September 10, 2013

    Done the solo female travel thing for years, working in a very male dominated field. I always sort of figure life if you’re female in general is sort of like playing a video game on a slightly higher difficulty setting- you can still excel without question, you just need to pay a bit more attention and keep your wits about you. 😉

    No really, I haven’t been harassed too much while traveling solo in large part because I find there are a lot of lovely, interesting places to visit where it’s not too much a factor (and frankly a life in physics prepped me to ignore the low-level stuff pretty well…). I do remember visiting Egypt with my family at age 13 though and feeling *really* uncomfortable because old guys kept telling my dad how hot I was and what not- under the guise of “a compliment” of course. Yeah, that was weird, especially for a nerdy girl who’d never considered her looks much before.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 11, 2013

      It’s such a different world so often for women.

      Reply

  16. Travelogged
    September 10, 2013

    Very interesting — as a woman, I thank you for sharing the male perspective!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 11, 2013

      Thanks!

      Reply

  17. Tara
    September 10, 2013

    Honest post. I think I enjoyed some of the same experiences as you because I had Mike with me. Oddly enough, a male friend of mine went to Morocco with another male a few months ago and had a horrible time being harassed by touts. They ended up hating Morocco because of it. On the contrary, Mike and I enjoyed our time there. We ignored touts or said la shukran, and they mostly vanished. Interesting to see the different experiences based on gender.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 11, 2013

      It definitely depends where in Morocco you go. Some cities, like Fez, have very aggressive touts, and it can truly ruin the experience for you. We adored Morocco, but I wonder if I had been traveling solo if my experience would’ve been the same, especially in rural Morocco.

      Reply

  18. wanderingeducators
    September 9, 2013

    Thanks for this honest look at the realities of gender and being in different places. While we often assume that people share the same cultural values, it for sure isn’t true. Being aware is a good start.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 11, 2013

      Awareness is always so important.

      Reply

  19. Rene
    September 9, 2013

    Thoughtful post. Appreciate your perspective.

    When I was 21 and living in Paris, I passed as a man for three months. Then I freaked out, bought a skirt, and went out as a woman again. Finally my gf arrived with her best friend, a man, so I also had the experience of going in public as a woman accompanied by a man. The different between the three experiences: night and day. To this day I recommend passing as a man to any woman who can pull it off. Traveling as a woman alone is horrible in comparison–so annoying, inconvenient and sometimes a bit scary. As a man, other men don’t constantly bother and accost you. As a side benefit, you get better treatment in the shops. The only drawback is when you need to use a bathroom.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 11, 2013

      Wow, I didn’t know you did that. I can believe the experiences were quite different, which is rather sad.

      Reply

  20. Elle
    September 9, 2013

    I think your penultimate paragraph hit the nail on the head, “Pay attention and keep your wits about you”. I believe that is what sets “travellers” apart from “tourists” (the latter generally leaving their brains on the plane).

    I too am lucky that I have never experienced hassles anywhere I have visited, although I know some who have.

    I love your blog, and happily stalk follow… you and your lad as you wander.

    Elle x

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 9, 2013

      Thanks, Elle! Yeah, there is definitely a difference between the clueless wanderer and someone who is alert.

      Reply

  21. Rhonda @Laugh Quotes
    September 9, 2013

    I am a women who loved Morocco. Maybe it’s because I traveled with a man, or maybe it’s because I don’t expect to find Western values when I travel. Probably a bit of both. However, I agree that it is much easier and inherently safer to travel to as a man than as a women. And, of course, much cooler. We laugh now at some of the photos where the girls and I and are covered from elbow to ankle in the sweltering heat and hubby is in shorts and a t-shirt.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 9, 2013

      It is MUCH cooler. I had to wear one of those robes when we went to the national mosque in KL, and it was stifling. I don’t know how women do it in this heat!

      Reply

  22. Natasha
    September 9, 2013

    I’ve been fortunate to not experience extreme treatment as described in your posts. But I must point out that whilst I lived in Croatia – Split – for 3 months – I was the only brown person in the city. I felt very conscious of my presence then cos of the intense starring at me. Initially I thought it was about being in an mix racial relationship – but it was sadly not the case. No one was mean in other aspects but having such attention did not feel comfortable . Other than that – my travel experience has been wonderful

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      September 9, 2013

      It can be tough being constantly stared at for sure. I’m glad you weren’t treated poorly, though.

      Reply

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