Travel as a Woman: What I’ve Learned

travel as a woman

Sometimes it’s hard to travel as a woman because just about everywhere you go, you’re still a woman.

Most, if not all of us have experienced the pitfalls of femininity in our travels and at home.

From harassment in the streets to disguised discrimination, falling in line (or staying out-of-line) with society’s expectations prescribes punishments of its own.

I know every woman reading this is reflecting on dealing with expectations — how we push past them, how we conform to them, how we don’t, and hopefully, how we desire to overcome them so the future can be a little less s****y.

Travel as a Woman
The female-dominated Learning Enterprises crew — it was great to have other women from similar cultures to share experiences with abroad in Panama. Photo by Tamara Pantic

Travel as a woman let you experience your identity within a new cultural atmosphere. The experience I have is not just of a woman either, but that of a young, white woman. 

If there is one phrase that sums up my perspective, it’s that expectations are not simply escapable. Another generalization of my perspective is that women hold it down despite where we fit in the expectation spectrum.

Depending on where you are from, your economic background, race, and so on, life in a woman’s skin can be a breeze, a treacherous uphill battle, or something in between, like dealing with annoying traffic every day, but hey, at least you have a car?

Travel as a Woman
With my old performance group »Happy Is» — both Sol and Lilith continue to inspire me (and others) by pushing through expectations and doubters, doing as they damn will. Photo by Jason Mahaffey

I like to think that most of us fall along somewhere in the middle, although I know this isn’t true for many.  For example, an elementary education that may seem so simple to obtain may not be thought about twice if a daughter can fill a role elsewhere.

Had I grew up in a household where my brother’s education was put ahead of mine or I had to take care of my siblings, a simple elementary education could not be so simple. I certainly wouldn’t be here today.

Taking a mind trip through books such as Half the Sky explains these harsh realities. Just knowing girls in the world are denied education, wedded off at the age 12, or are publicly murdered demonstrates how being female by nature can have dire consequences.

When people say they don’t believe in feminism or mock it, it shows disrespect to all of us, and it shows ignorance to human rights violations that can be normal practice in some cultures.

Travel as a Woman
At Santa Libraba with Madre, Abuela, y Bisabuela — three women in Panama who SERIOUSLY held it down working, taking care of family, and hustling.

Being a female has many layers to it and we can understand them more by experiencing our skin around the globe. The issues I experience being a woman in my part of the world may vastly differ from another’s experiences. 

Something we may all find in common though, is that we’re lucky if our issues even get a place on the back-burner.

Being a woman is a bittersweet life.

It comes with power (whether or not we realize it), and the fact of the matter is that female power is channeled into something worth-less. And maybe this because I have yet to visit or live in a country where women ‘s issues are taken seriously. Instead, I’ve experienced the realities that demonstrate how women are exploited. 

To all my women travelers out there —  yes, we all have different cultural experiences and lives and yet, we will always have something in common.

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