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  The Chatter Box : Travel
Women Traveling Single by pandab on 6 August 2005 2:52am
Over in The Series, Orit brought up the subject of women traveling single, and I thought I'd open it up further here.

I'm a woman in my mid-40s, and I usually travel alone. Why? Because I like it better <G>. I can go where I want, when I want and I don't have to be considerate of anyone else's tired feet <G>!

Seriously ... Even though I prefer traveling single, I admit it requires some special thinking.

Personal security is one thing I keep in mind. A lone woman has to maintain a special awareness of her surroundings. I'm not paranoid about it, but I pay attention to who is around me. I've gotten quite good at picking out pickpockets in crowds.

Violent sexual assault is pretty rare in most of the countries I've been to, but I have noticed that a single woman is prey to less criminal interest.

Something about a woman traveling alone seems to signal "I'm looking for an orgy" to some people. While I'm not dog-ugly, I'm not Miss Supermodel either, so I was a bit puzzled by why I kept getting propositioned. Surprisingly, it was rarely by the "natives". It was almost always by another American on my tour and, on one memorable occasion, by our Italian female tour director. She waited until the tour was over, saying it was unprofessional to approach me during the tour <G>.

After confering with a fellow lone female traveler--and a chat with a French tour director (male that time)--I think I finally figured it out. Our society still has a thing about single women. We're all on the make, and we're just dying to have sexual adventures while traveling. At least that's what some people believe. And since I don't have a male tagging along, I MUST be lesbian, right? Either that, or I'm so desperate I'll jump at a chance.

The "invitations" are usually polite, and I admit to being flattered on occasion, but I've got better things to do <G>.

Any other lone lady travelers experience this stuff?
Re: Women Traveling Single by orit on 6 August 2005 10:34am
Well, I've never traveled alone for over a couple of days. I never considered it. But after reading your post I think I might begin to consider it. As a single woman I am used to being alert of my surroundings anyhow.

But you don't see many TV travel shows by women, do you? Other than the occasional woman traveler on Lonely Planet. Why is that then? We need more women travelers on TV.
Re: Women Traveling Single by pandab on 6 August 2005 9:18pm
While watching Michael Palin's travels on TV, I often find myself wondering how the experience would differ if he were a she. Think about it ...

In 80 Days, would Michael have been allowed to drive himself across the country as he did if he were female?

In Pole, how would traveling through the Sudan have been different if he were a she? I've just finished reading the book, so I know he had female crewmembers. Apparently, their presence, working and unveiled, caused quite a bit of tension with some of the locals. Suppose the female had been Michael.

It makes for fascinating pondering. I think more female Michaels would be a great thing.

Women traveling single have different experiences from men. Not bad, necessarily, just different.

Being a lone woman often works to my advantage. I think people tend to be friendlier to a woman, more polite and accommodating. The underlying reason is probably a little sexist (but in a good way <G>). Men will open doors for me, help me with my suitcase and such before they will do so for another man. Still, I appreciate it and say so!

Believe it or not, in some ways, a woman traveling alone is safer. In France last year, several waiters expressed an almost paternal concern for me. In London, a much-pierced, spike-haired teenager retrieved my dropped Tube pass in a crowded train with a "Let me get that for you, madam." Taxi drivers in Rome were very concerned that I not get lost--"You know way, yes?" or "Not that street. No, not good for you. Go that street. Much better." In Venice, on board a tightly packed water taxi, the young man who controlled the gangplank kept making sure I could see the landmarks we passed.

I don't know how much of all I've experienced is because I'm a woman or because I try my best to stay smiling and polite at all times to my "hosts". Maybe it's a bit of both. People usually respond to kindness and respect with the same in return.

Traveling alone can be fun. All you need is a little courage, a healthy dose of common sense and a smile!
Re: Women Traveling Single by orit on 6 August 2005 11:14pm
Well, if that's all I need I think I can manage then :)

In 80 Days, I know for sure that She-Michael would never have received permission to drive across Saudi Arabia.

I also experienced the kindness you were talking about. Walking in Barcelona with a female friend, a number of times locals stopped us and told us not to take the road ahead but to take a different one for fear of pickpockets. We always replied with a gracias and a smile and felt really safe.

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