Let’s get straight to the point here. There are two types of male attention that us glorious female creatures can attract. Wanted attention and unwanted attention. Whilst we all love a bit of the former, it’s a sad fact of life that we will inevitably have to deal with the latter type at various points throughout our lives. Traveling can see us experience a lot more unwanted attention from men, for various reasons, not least because often we appear exotic and different to the women who live in the countries we are traveling in.
Whilst it is our belief that women should be able to travel free from hassle and objectification, the truth of the matter is that we need to be prepared for it rather than wistfully wishing it wasn’t so. This post has been written to give you the best chance of dealing efficiently with any unwanted male attention that you might encounter on the road.
Strut your inner sass
Whether you feel it or not, one of the best ways is to adopt a “don’t mess with me” attitude. If you walk with confidence and determination, the guys looking for a girl to mess with, are much more likely to pick the fading wall flower behind you who looks as though she’d let a guy get away with murder than dare to even hold eye contact with you. Act strong and you will not only feel strong but you will appear strong. The kind of men we’re hoping to avoid here are not looking to harass a strong woman, they looking for an easy target. Don’t allow yourself to be one.
Never tell the truth
There are not many situations that I would advocate dishonesty but in dealing with unwanted attention from men never tell the truth if you are single and travelling solo and they ask any of the following questions. Do you have a boyfriend? Are you married? Are you traveling alone? Are you with friends? Yes you do have a boyfriend, fiancé or better still a husband and no you are not traveling alone, you’re meeting with your husband and friends very soon. These might all be lies but trust me, if a man is asking you these sorts of questions the only way to avoid ongoing harassment is to lie. I made the mistake when I first got to South East Asia of answering these questions honestly and I learnt that lesson pretty quickly I can tell you.
We would never say don’t travel alone. It’s every woman’s right to travel solo and I personally have travelled all over South America and South East Asia without a partner or friend in tow. Having said that, it’s definitely safer and more fun to spend time on the road with people. If you are traveling solo then make friends in your hostel or hotel or get to know the local women in your area.
If you are traveling between places by bus, train or even plane, look out for fellow travelers and make contact, you are less likely to get hassled by men or robbed if it appears that you are traveling in a group. It also means you can leave your bag with people when you go to the toilet rather than trying to negotiate peeing in a hole in the floor at the same time as trying to hold your rather heavy backpack (I’m speaking from personal experience here). Without wanting to alarm you I have heard of female travelers waking up on bus journeys to unwelcome advances from male local passengers. If you see a fellow traveler on a bus or train, go sit with them, it’s definitely the safest option.
Travel during the day
It’s not always possible but where you can avoid traveling or arriving in unknown places in the middle of the night. The advantage of travelling during the day time is that most of your fellow travelers are awake most men won’t feel comfortable making a pass at you with an audience. It is also easier to shout for help or attract attention to a difficult situation when people are awake and alert.
Wear a wedding ring
This ties in to the advice given earlier, wearing a gold band on your wedding finger can be enough to deter some (but not all) men from making a move. Be aware that in many cultures just being engaged will not deter a man from making his move but being married is in most cultures a strong signal to men that you are very much off bounds.
Even if you follow all of these tips the chances are you might still get hit on by men while you are traveling so the most important tip I can give you is to be prepared for it and don’t let it ruin your trip. We would all love it if women could travel without this kind of unwanted attention but the truth is that it’s a part of life. Accept it and prepare yourself to stand up to it firmly and confidently and you’ll be just fine.