So, I’ve decided to make this page after I added P.I.M.P.s to my Resources page. I realized that advice for women when traveling is different, and needs to be different, than advice given to males.

Traveling as a women requires navigation of potentially an entirely different set of cultural rules. By this I mean that men have less to worry about, are basically more welcome and better able to converse with new people (assuming no language barrier) than women. This is because of perceived safety concerns, differences in how women are related to in other cultures, etc.

The one story I can tell about my, most blatant, experience with this cultural difference was when I was in Malaysia with my dad. We had stopped to get a bite to eat at a kiosk and my dad struck up a conversation with the man running it. He- my dad- asked about praying and how that worked with running a kiosk, asked about Malaysia, the food we were buying, etc. The point: I was never once addressed, or talked to. Everything was filtered through my dad. I had read about public, social interactions in Malaysia prior to arriving in a Lonely Planet book so I wasn’t surprised. It just rattled me a little. I remember that I had asked my dad to ask a question to the man and this went fine. Afterward, I got angry because I felt that I wasn’t my dad’s property, I was my own person, etc. Although I still feel this way, I realize that interpreting the Kiosk man’s action as disrespectful is not entirely fair. How do I know that his actions weren’t actually a sign of respect? That by talking only to my father, that he wasn’t trying to be courteous and respect me as he knew how to. I don’t know the answer, all I know is that I can’t judge to quickly but that I can be critical of the interaction.

This is one of thousands of examples like this. I’m hoping that other women will add to this page as my experiences are limited. I would like to compile advice, tips, and stories that can be used by women looking to travel. Given the added level of cultural sensitivity that is required to travel as a women, I feel that this page is important and I wish I had thought of it earlier.

One response »

  1. This is such an important conversation to promote. And so culturally-specific – that is, advice for one location in one circumstance could change drastically as compared to another situation. (Hanging onto your own identity amid this kind of switching can get so confusing!)

    So – my first thought on this is to trust in-country advice from like-minded folk. Specifically: our program directors in Russia reminded us early on that if we ran into any trouble on the streets, the first line of defense was to alert the nearest grandmother. Seriously, this is not a strategy that Americans often consider (maybe we should?) – but one that absolutely is the way to go while in Russia.

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