Why Women Should Travel

By August 3, 2013Travel

First off, everyone should travel. As the famous Saint Augustine saying goes, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” I focus on women in particular because I’ve received numerous comments since announcing my round-the-world journey that center around warning me of the dangers of solo woman travel.

They go a little something like this:

  • “Central America and South America are dangerous! You’re a woman traveling alone, and you’re going to get kidnapped!”
  • “You can do this, but don’t go out at night. Stay in your room. Keep a blog and write every single day where you are and what you’re doing. Have a ‘code’ word, so your friends know if something is wrong during your travels.”
  • “Why don’t you go to Europe or Australia or New Zealand? That’s a safer travel destination [for a woman].”

Well, I’ve been to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. I would like to see more of the world…

Sand Sculpture in Spain

Sand Sculpture in Spain

I understand that all of these comments were delivered out of sincere concern and care for my wellbeing. Every traveler, regardless of gender, age, or background should be aware of one’s surroundings when entering any new environment. And although I wish it weren’t the case, there are certain aspects of being a woman traveling alone that one must definitely pay attention to, but it shouldn’t stop any woman from seeing the world.

If I bought into the idea of not being able to travel because I’m a woman, I would never have been able to live in China for 3 years (one of them in rural Hunan province), go to India, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Holland, Italy, Malaysia, sail in Mexico and numerous other places. Also, as most backpackers know, traveling solo does not always mean you’re alone. Most often, you meet marvelous people along the way and make connections that last a lifetime (or at least become Facebook friends).

Sailing in Mexico

Sailing in Mexico

A few tips for happily & safely traveling solo (applicable to men as well):

  • Hostels are a goldmine. Not only are they cheap, but you almost always meet fellow backpackers and new friends. Do some research prior to your trip from some well-known travel sites, blogs, or books on high-rated places to stay. Barrel Hopping, Lonely Planet, Nomadic Matt, Worldette, & Nomadic Chick are all great resources.
  • Network ahead of time. The world is a much smaller place, so if you’re semi-online savvy, there are loads of opportunities at your fingertips. I always post something on my personal Facebook page and send an email about my next destination to my friends and ask for advice. Often times, people have been or connect you with someone who has and in some cases, you’re able to meet up or stay with someone locally.
  • Be Kind & Respectful. This is good advice for life in general but is especially important when traveling. Remember that you’re a guest in another country and culture. Whether you want to or not, you are representing your own culture as well. In other words, have a good time, but please don’t be that girl (or guy) who gets completely wasted and acts like a jerk.
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

  • Be Prepared. Depending on where you’re going in the world, you might need vaccinations, a certain type of gear, or a visa. Take the time to learn more about where you’re traveling ahead of time. Find local expat bloggers or expat community sites who know about the area and are usually more than happy to share their knowledge and experience with you via forum or email.
  • Pay Attention. It is important to be aware of one’s surroundings, especially when first settling in. Know things like the address of where you’re staying and how to get back to your hostel. Let other people back home know where you are as you travel. Keep your cash and credit cards in separate places, so if something gets stolen, you have a backup. Above all, listen to your gut. If a street looks weird or something feels “off,” find a way out of that situation pronto.
  • Be open to adventures! Don’t have your schedule so tightly organized that it doesn’t allow room for last-minute adventures. One of my best solo travel experiences happened because I met a fantastic travel writer at one of the hostels in New Zealand. She invited me on a one-day road trip, and we had tons of fun!
rock climbing

Climbing in Thailand

So ladies (and gents) I urge you to get out there and experience the world! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Either I or some other wonderful travelers I know, can point you in the right direction. The more women who travel the world show others that it’s possible to have all sorts of incredible safe adventures while abroad!

Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • CeCe says:

    Before I did my first solo international trip I first went to the movies by myself (now I LOVE to do this), and then I went to a city in the US by myself.

    Now I am totally comfortable with the solo traveling aspect and have met lots of friends all over the world.

    My biggest tip for a woman is to leave your fancy hand bags at home and get a solid cross-body bag, and be aware of your stuff (this is more pertinent for places where theft is a major problem, like Spain, Egypt, areas in South East Asia, etc)!

    I told a friend once who was flabbergasted as to why I travel by myself, “I won’t let being unable to find anyone to travel with hold me back from going where I want to go.”

    • Jacqueline says:

      Great to hear from you, CeCe! I love your step-by-step process to getting comfortable being alone. Ironically, the only time I’ve ever been to a movie alone was in Shanghai. It was a great experience! I also remember going to a nice restaurant and eating alone in New Zealand being a big deal as well.

      Also great tips for the ladies in traveling! I use a messenger bag when traveling, and I love it. Double as a purse and make a great hiking bag and one for last minute cycling opportunities. And finally, love that quote! Going to share on Twitter! 🙂

    • I am admittedly sometimes concerned for my female friends when they tell me they’re off to travel (if on their own). I never tell them they shouldn’t or that they ‘can’t’ but I do feel concern for the reasons you mentioned above. Thanks for highlighting some constructive advice I can give to traveling friends of mine (female OR male!). 🙂

  • Go travelling now, while you are young and have a totally flexible body. When you reach the senior portion of your life, you may have time and money to travel, but some body parts will have seized up, slowed down, or otherwise weakened. It sneaks up on you. You think you can go somewhere, and oops, you have to accommodate a body part that ain’t what it used to be. Go now.
    Vicki

  • Lisa Kramer says:

    The well-meaning advice from others drives me crazy. It goes along with the idea that women shouldn’t do anything that is outside what someone perceives as appropriate. Why? We should be creating a world where it’s safe for everyone to travel, rather than telling a woman to stay in her room and never step out into the amazing world out there.

    Kudos to you for being an intelligent female traveler.

  • Anitra says:

    I enjoyed your blog, Jacqueline! Great eye opener for those of us who are afraid to travel alone. I must say, until I came across your article, I was one for not wanting to travel alone. I m not sure if I m ready to travel alone yet as I m used to traveling with Women Travel Clubs. But I’ve really enjoyed the key points you shared!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thanks Anitra! I’m so glad to hear it! I believe that travel is always a combination of stepping out of our comfort zones and doing what feels right, so if you’re not ready to brave traveling solo yet, that’s totally fine. Maybe you can start with small trips domestically to see what it’s like and then go from there to bigger trips. Either way, would love to hear where your travels take you, so be sure to let me know! 🙂

  • Kelly Rogers says:

    I agree that we should respect the people and culture of the places we visit. And I guess we should not expect too much from the experience of others to be the same as ours. Otherwise, we would be very disappointed.

  • Cebu Tours says:

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    And speaking of Philippines, you try Bohol or Cebu.
    It’s so nice there. If you need help.
    Just check out our website at https://www.cebutours.ph/. Thank you!

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