August 6, 2009

Do men have better travel experiences than women?

”I think men have better travel experiences just because they're able to travel alone anywhere they want to go without fearing for their safety.” -

I’ve always wondered if men tend to have better travel experiences than women. So, I went ahead and posted a poll on, a free online polling site, where anyone can cast a vote.

According to the poll, 21 percent said that men tend to have better travel experience, and only 9 percent said the same about women. Seventy one percent, however, said that women and men have same travel experiences.

But this is a general understanding and belief that the experience is the same, but when one looks at specific countries to visit, men are safer than women in regards to traveling to the sites, which are in the category of “hot spots”, or dangerous.

Women would be reluctant to travel to, let’s say, Islamic countries, because of little freedom that women have in the Islamic society – such as dress code, expression and communication. Other countries, such as Thailand, India and Africa might be also considered by some women as “uncomfortable” countries to visit alone, because of preconceived notions of how men regard women and the small crime, such as pickpockets and theft that might fall upon anyone but women might be more stressed by them than men if traveling alone.

Things like dealing with local police and DMW is also easier for men than women, and easier if traveling in a group or couple. This also goes for experiencing a location at night, women to lesser degree would choose to walk at night alone or in a women-only group while men would be more open and brave to walk at night, be it in Paris, Tel Aviv or Rio De Janeiro.

When it comes to facing a risky choice, such as hitchhiking to a Maasai settlement in a rural area filled with armed men in Kenya, women are more likely to stay on the side of caution. Many women travelers believe that certain places and experiences are more open to men and not because women can’t do such trips or that women are somehow inherently more weak, cautious and fragile than male travelers, but because women do consider a risk factor before planning a trip.

Women tend to gather more information on safety on a locale, and prepare themselves for potential hazardous situations long in advance. They tend to look up all the information on local police, medical facilities and embassies, as well as inquire with a hotel clerk on how far is public transportation, availability of taxi and proximity to “bad” parts of a city.

I agree that travel is very often a gendered endeavor, but I disagree that the quality of my travel is lessened by my gender or the decisions I make regarding my safety. Solo travel is never "safe," really, so it comes down to what the individual traveler is comfortable with.

Over the past two years, women have surpassed men in the statistics measuring the total number of travelers. A nearly even breakdown in 2007 has changed to a 60 to 40 percent advantage in favor of female tourists. A significant portion of that 60 percent has chosen to travel solo. Even married women are increasingly traveling alone or with girlfriends.

The increase in women travelers is a fascinating trend. Even more so when coupled with the prospect of scores of female tourists wandering solo across the globe. In fact, an article in The Boston Globe was recently encouraging women to go at it alone claiming that locals would be eager to reach out to them. That being said, the main concern for women traveling solo continues to be safety. It’s important that solo travelers, especially women, take all necessary precautions to ensure a safe trip. The U.S. Department of State has a comprehensive list to help tourists.

And while I chose to travel alone more often than with my friends before, I now only travel with my boyfriend, and not only for the “safety” reasons. It’s always important to find a travel companion who shares the same drive, vision and sense of fun and exploration. (But this is a different topic for a conversation.) Thus, until you’d find a perfect travel companion, safety would be always one of the main reasons why women don’t go to certain locations alone.

Here are some of the responses the poll got in regards to “who has a better experience, a man or a woman”:

“I long to travel all over the world, but because I am a woman I fear for my safety in countries that have abysmal track records in the women's rights departments. I long to see the Middle East, but will never go as long as I have to fear for my safety while there.”

“Women do of course because they can choose who to sleep with.... where as the men must hunt and find willingly gal...”

What’s up with the last comment I’m not sure, but somehow this respondent was trying to make his point…

To cast your own vote, click here.

For solo travel, click here.

What do you think?

1 comment:

ouscaphil said...

I think the survey is difficult to access because it relies on one gender's perception of the other. I, for instance, do not know the travel experiences of women, nor do I know the travel experiences of other men, except based on the experiences they have shared with me. A better survey might ask questions about personal travel experience, i.e. would you ever (or have you) travel to another country alone, and then compare the results. This should give you a more reliable idea of a gender's travel experience.

I came across this blog because i was curious if women traveled more in general than men. I am currently living in India and see far far more women travelers (including those traveling solo) than men, so i was just curious.