07 June 2015

women and wanderlust

In northern hemisphere summer has come. During this season many people are taking the vacations and heading off the road. Either it's to take "All Inclusive" and relax at five star hotel or to hitchhike and Couchsurf it will be an adventure!
There are many ways of how to travel and one of them is solo traveling. Many people choose this way to challenge themselves and explore unknown and why not to, we know so little about ourselves!
Although in recent years the number of women solo travelers have increased it is still considered to be more difficult and dangerous for female than male wanderers. It's a pity how fears of unknown can stop us from so many life changing experiences but does the fear always tell us the truth?
Unfortunately the women who can enjoy traveling and wandering are not the majority of women. The world is rich in cultural diversity that we want to see and learn about but sadly cultures have created conditions that restrict women from traveling. It can be based on economical point of view or to patriarchal "ethics". Some women can feel relieved and be thankful for the ability to travel while other can't but at the same time not really. The same conditions will also apply to any other person who wants to enter this kind of culture. For example, in Saudi Arabia it's made almost impossible for young and unmarried women to enter the country without a male assistance. The government simply won't issue the visa. Similar situation is in UAE and Qatar if you are planning a longer stay. In Lebanon female travelers can apply for the visa on arrival if they can prove that they formerly have not taken job as an artists. Ridiculous truth and there are many more countries that are very skeptical to issue visas for young women, especially the ones who travel alone.
Women face many gender-based restrictions during their life-time but the fact that you can not exit or enter a country hits very hard. It's a horrible feeling and it feels very wrong.
Not so long time ago we could never imagine a women traveling alone. Now there are many woman out there that are having nomad life style and it's beautiful that they can fulfill their dream. We have to keep traveling and fight to open borders and give this chance to evryone. It's still not 100% safe to travel as a female but it also applies for men. While female are facing to be beaten up in the same situation a male is in a danger to be killed. While majority of woman are risking to get raped only few men are.  It's always a risk and it's a choice. Not everyone is made to sing and not everyone is made to travel but the same as singing traveling should be gender neutral.

Overly Helpful Stranger Danger
You have to trust yourself to be able to learn how to trust others. First and foremost important rule is to follow your inner feeling. It works! If you have even the tiniest suspicion do not accept the help from a stranger and do not feel guilty about saying no. By connecting to strangers you will learn how many amazing, kind and openhearted people are in the world!

If you are healthy and not pregnant you will get them anyway  so why not on the way? If you are usually suffering from very uncomfortable moments during the menstruation maybe it's time to change the environment, it can help! You can still use your favorite hygienic products or to try out menstrual cup which is reusable and more environment friendly. Just one golden rule - hygiene is the priority. In case you do not have the access to clean water intim area wipes can be a solution
Rape Danger
When you will start to travel you will realize that not every person wants to rape you. Yes, there are dangerous people and dangerous situations. Yes, we need to be concerned and aware but the media always is giving us the negative image of everything and it sticks to our minds. In fact, there are much more amazing people who want to help you than the ones who wants to harm and benefit from you.
Eyes Open

Always be in charge of your own stuff. Pack light so you don't need assistance to put on or carry your bags. Don't forget to look around you to see what is happening. Either you are in a big city, rural village or forest make sure that you have the control over the situation. When you are in a public transport try to memorize people around you and see if there is someone who seems interested in you. It can be great start of friendship or a way to escape. Never brag around about traveling alone and don't be afraid to tell that your friend is somewhere near even if it is not. Also, do a regular check-ups with family or friends so they know how are you , where are you and that they need to react if you are not giving any news.
Money and Documents
Don't keep your money in one place but spread it along your stuff. Put them at the least money-keeping places but don't forget where you put them. Have an emergency money. Always have copies of your passport and other travel documents. Hard copies, saved in memory stick and some internet storage you can access from any computer. Other than that make sure that your documents won't get wet either it rains or your bag falls into the water. 
If your friends and family are trying to scare you with horrible hitchhiker stories take them as lessons and thank them for caring but don't let it scare you off. In fact, to be a woman hitchhiker sometimes it is easier than to be a man. Also drivers are people that can be scared of strangers and woman might seem less harmful, just like female drivers might seem. It's sexist and it's a reality that female can get help much easier than male.

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