My husband Dave and I have been traveling the world since 2009. We’ve been to more than 100 countries on seven continents, and even though our travels have been as a couple, we’ve noticed many differences between male and females travel styles.
In our latest video for TripIt, we discuss the gender barriers for women traveling. I believe that the number one difference between men and women when they travel is how they look at safety. Women naturally think about safety, but it becomes even more of a concern when traveling. Before going to a destination, I think to myself: “Is this country safe for women to travel to,” “What sort of precautions should I take when traveling,” “Are there certain customs or traditions that I need to be aware of to not offend or provoke attention?”
When I asked Dave if he thought about safety when visiting a country he said, “Not really.” Sure he thinks about crime and civil unrest, but general safety isn’t a concern. As a man, he travels with more comfort and less concern than I do. I tend to constantly think about scenarios and ways to blend in.
I like to know what I’m getting myself into and to know what I need to avoid. He’s a far more relaxed traveler than I am because he can be. I think that men are harassed far less than women when traveling. I’ve been ogled, groped, leered at and touched inappropriately during our travels, even with Dave right by my side. It’s a fact that I need to be aware of who’s around me and to follow proper dress codes so as not to invite attention.
When it comes to traveling in the Middle East or certain parts of Asia and Africa, I make sure to dress appropriately so as not to stand out. Dave on the other hand, chooses to dress in traditional clothing because he likes to, not because he has to. He would be just as comfortable in shorts and a T-shirt as he would a Longi in Myanmar or a scarf in Jordan. I wear long skirts and shirts to keep from calling attention to myself. Even though I like dressing in traditional clothing, it’s done for a completely different reason than Dave.
I’m very aware of my surroundings compared to Dave. He’s actually quite relaxed in any situation. Recently, I asked him if he was ever nervous when we went out for early morning sunrise photographs on secluded beaches. He said he’s never thought of that before. I on the other hand, keep a lookout from the corner of my eye for groups of people or approaching cars. I want to know if we’re about to be mugged.
Is it more ingrained in a woman to worry about these types of things? I think so. I think that men go through life generally less aware of their safety. I, as a woman, am constantly thinking about walking down a deserted street alone or sitting in an empty subway station.
After we finished shooting the video, we kept the conversation going during our drive home and we realized that there are even more differences that we didn’t think of during our time sitting by the waterfront of Lake Ontario on a sunny day.
Women tend to travel for more personal reasons than men. We tend to look at travel as a way of soul searching. I like to take courses or attend retreats that offer quiet time to reflect. Dave likes to go on adventures and keep moving. Don’t get me wrong, I like an adventure too and Dave loves doing yoga on the beach; but, when setting out to plan our travels, I tend to think of the time to meditate and contemplate life first, while Dave will go through the checklist of all the adventures to be had. We’re lucky that there are two of us because we end up having a very balanced travel experience.
From our own experience, we’ve concluded that women generally also want to connect with people more. We look for interactions and moments. Dave likes to meet people too, but he doesn’t set out looking for meetings. I’ve come to realize that’s why I like going to markets more than Dave. I like meeting locals and understanding their customs. Dave enjoys standing back and observing more. I think that’s why he loves photography. He enjoys capturing a moment that he has witnessed. I’m more interested in delving into the story of the place. We complement each other well for blogging, just as we do in life.
Dave and I are quite opposite personalities just as we are travelers. I’m grateful that men and women are different, and that Dave and I are different. It makes for excitement in our travels and constantly pushes us outside our comfort zone. It also helps keep Dave a little safer on the road. While he may not worry about illness or health on the road, the nurturing woman in me worries enough for the both of us.
Do you agree? Share your experiences with us on Twitter by tweeting @ThePlanetD & @TripIt.