We all face challenges whether we are traveling solo or with friends. But for years, I have come to realize that as a female traveler, I face more challenges than men. People always remind me to be vigilant at all times, because the world is a very dangerous place for a small girl like me. It is a sad fact that there are obstacles that only applies to women.
Thinking about all of it, I summed up three major challenges that I currently face as a female traveler.
1. Dealing with period.
My guy friends are totally uncomfortable talking about this ‘womanly body issue’, but I am not. It is a natural thing and people should talk about it more often, especially women. If you are already uncomfortable talking about it, imagine us female travelers who have to deal with it every now and then. You see, all women have different cycles and experiences in terms of their monthly visits. Some only have to deal with it for three days, while others have to suffer for a week or two. Some girls don’t experience any pain at all, while others almost dies every month.
I, for instance, suffer from horrible menstrual cramps every month. Yes, you read that right. Every feckin’ month. When it’s already that time of the month, I really don’t have a choice but, cancel all my plans. One time I was invited to join a rock climbing activity with other travel bloggers, but because my period arrived that day, I had no choice but to stay at home, sulk, and cry.
But it’s not about just the pain, the process of changing napkins/tampons is also painstakingly irritating. That is one huge dilemma for female travelers, especially for someone like me who climbs mountains. When you are on a multi-day trek while on your period, it is pretty challenging to stay clean and fresh. Mind you, it feels stuffy at this time of the month.
And another thing, this is also a time when girls get a little too emotional. Craving for sweets is also at its peak at this time of the month. Imagine having to deal with the things I mentioned above, all at once. And imagine dealing with that while, let’s say sitting uncomfortably in a cramped bus or in an overcrowded, dirty public toilet in a foreign place.
So guys, the next time you see a female traveler dealing with this problem, be more understanding. If you can’t give her a box of tampons, or a box full of chocolates, give her a pat in the back at least. 🙂
2. Finding a hidden spot to change clothes.
This is one of my main problems whenever I go on a day hike with my friends. It is much easier if you go on camping because you can always change clothes inside the tent. But us female travelers have to find a perfectly hidden spot first, because we can’t just take off our clothes in front of everyone. It’s just sad that us female travelers need a bit more privacy than men, because we do not want those unwanted attention.
One time, a guy friend and I spilled a chocolate drink on our pants while we were hiking in a nearby mountain. The drink absorbed inside my undergarment, and it was starting to get icky, so I had no choice but change. The problem was, we were on an open trail. There were no big rocks or trees nearby where I can hide and change clothes. My guy friend only had to remove his clothes in front of us, while I had to wait for a few more hours to see a well hidden spot.
There are times when I don’t really care about other people, but most of the time, I always think about this because I do not want guys to stare at me. It’s bad enough that some guys stare at my boobs when I am fully clothed.
3. Safety. When you have to use whatever you have in hand as a weapon.
As a female traveler, whether I am traveling alone or not, safety is number one priority. The risk of being kidnapped or raped is sadly higher to women than men. And that is frightening. So every time I travel, I’ve always had this mindset to be always wary of people around me. And if I have to use whatever I have in my hands to fight off someone, I will use it no doubt.
I remember one time when I brought my friends with me to Santander. One night, two of my girlfriends, a guy friend, and I, went to a nearby sari-sari store in the middle of the night to buy some ice. All of a sudden, there’s this drunk guy who kept on following us. My friend Jflor and I’s first instinct was to grab hold of this hard chunk of ice in our hands, use it as a self-defense just in case this old drunk will touch us. I’m just glad that drunk guy left us eventually.
Just recently, I came home from a weekend getaway with my friends where a crazy guy followed me too. I went to a nearby Starbucks first to buy myself a hot cappuccino before I headed home. It was already around midnight and I was walking alone towards home, when I suddenly noticed this suspicious looking guy trailing behind, and kept on catcalling me. I thought, “If this guy is going to touch me, I swear to God, I am going to spill this scalding hot coffee on his freaking ding dong!” Seeing my overpriced coffee burning the skin between his legs is going to be one hell of a picture. I was saying those words in my head while running for safety. It was frightening. It still is.
Over the years, I’ve learned to be more fearless when traveling. That doesn’t mean I no longer get scared. I still do, and I think I will always do.
Only now, I’ve grown thicker skin and learned how to adapt or change whenever I am in a new place. Me being a small female has never hindered my love for the outdoors. Only, it is quite hard because, we women, whether we like it or not, can deeply get affected by religious or cultural beliefs of the places we visit. Women do face greater obstacles, especially when travelling alone.
Are you a female traveler reading this? What are the challenges you face when traveling? Share your thoughts below. 🙂