• Fiona Taylor

What's the big deal about women travelling alone?!

There's a lot been written about women who travel. There's some great work being done to empower women but sometimes I wonder whether the focus on being a "female solo traveller" accidentally has the opposite effect to the intention. 

There's several women who have made a career from positioning themselves as female solo travellers and they've been paving the way for others and I do respect these women.

Truth be told, I probably prefer reading articles and blogs by female travellers (no offence lads), but it isn't because I need a role model or because I'd be too scared in the big wide world on my own without their words of advice. It's simply because I am a woman and therefore I relate easier to women. We often share the same sense of humour, morals, desires and sometimes it's simply as shallow as seeing what they wore in a certain place! The fact that they too have had the same comments as me, my favourite being "do you not want to settle down", also helps to bring us together. You see I love travel - reading about it, talking about it, writing about it, daydreaming about it and best of all doing it. I am a traveller and a woman, but I don't feel the need to define myself as a female traveller anymore than I would a female marketer, female lawyer or any other occupation or hobby. Gender is irrelevant. I can walk, talk, board a plane and enjoy the world as much as the next "man".

I find it quite patronising but it happens all too often and comes from both men and women and sometimes the very brands that should be empowering us. Last week for example, I got an email survey from one of my favourite brands, I've been loyal to this brand for years despite the fact they appear to be losing their touch of late. The survey was about having a "Female Traveller" section to their travel guides. I'm in two minds about having received this survey. In one sense it's good they're asking for their readers opinions but I'm offended that they're contemplating singling females out. Women fought for equality and yet we still apparently might need a seperate section of a book because we have boobs! 

Don't get me wrong, I do understand as women travelling we may encounter certain things men don't with regards to safety, dress code and customs but these should go in those sections of a guide, not separated by gender. One of the questions in this survey was around being able to find contraception while travelling abroad! Why would this be in a Female chapter? The last time I checked contraception was used by 2 parties having sex, girls with guys, guys with guys whatever floats your boat but it's certainly not an exclusively female issue! 

Women are more than aware there are differences between the sexes, we've grown up learning these lessons. Whether we're in our home town or in a far away place we've learnt to be streetwise, to appreciate our surroundings and to look after ourselves. Sometimes while trying to do or say the right thing people inadvertently land slap bang in the middle of the gender divide and push it wider. Any women who's travelled alone would be familiar with this conversation "Who are you here with.. Oh, You're travelling alone? You're so brave" I know they genuinely mean it as a compliment but would they say it to a guy? Probably not! Don't patronise us, just say "Your travelling alone? That's awesome!". Because it is awesome - man or woman, when you travel alone you make all your own decisions, go where you want, when you want and you can meet as many or as few people along the way as you choose!  

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