There are real challenges to being female and on the road, like sexual harassment, including being touched or groped or receiving inappropriate or uncalled for remarks.
When women travel solo, they are more likely to be the victims of theft, too. However, a majority of women say that personal security issues are their number one concern when traveling alone. Or even with female companions.
But it seems that the joys of travel are so strong, these women would rather travel alone than not travel. Here is some of the best advice we've heard for women of any age who travel solo:
- Perhaps the best tip is to ask directions from other women or women with families, and not from men. A woman’s take on what’s safe, particularly in a new town, is very different from a man’s.
Marybeth Bond is a bit of a legend among women travelers, and indeed among all travelers, because she more or less opened up the discussion about women road warriors.
- Bond's site, The Gutsy Traveler, is filled with all kinds of useful and important tips facts and advice for women (and families) on the road.
- Smarter Travel has a list of female-friendly places, with tips too. Check it out. They always suggest you make sure hotels are near easy transportation with well-lighted parking lots and lobby areas.
- Some experts say women should sport a wedding ring to discourage unwanted male attention, especially in male-dominated cultures. Other women say this is “sexist” advice, and is giving in to the image of the “helpless woman.”
- Experienced female travelers do suggest avoiding unwanted advances simply by remaining silent when approached; not making eye contact and simply moving away from the source of irritation.
- Dress is critical. Remember that what you think is OK to wear at home or for a night out with women friends, can be provocative in other places. Take your cues from what the local women in the culture wear. What’s standard dress for them?
- Rick Steves has some very good, soft advice for women solo travelers that include keeping up with the political trends of the destination you’re visiting and getting some language skills in place. He recommends certain kinds of backpacks to carry to avoid theft.
- If you want to travel without men but not necessarily alone, there are several all-women tour groups offering women-only trips and travel, like Well Arranged Travel.
Despite the hassles and safety concerns, women continue to choose to travel with other women… and happily leave their men at home.
They say it’s a different kind of travel and rewarding in different ways. And that the rewards far outweigh the risks.