Advice for female travellers
Carey, the founder of go-girl travel site Broads Abroad, had a really interesting chat with Mookychick about what it’s like to travel the world when you’re female, and gave us some really hot travel tips too for how to make sure you come back to tell the tale.
When did you catch the travel bug?
At the grand old age of 12! I came home from school one day and my mum announced she was taking me travelling around India, Pakistan and Nepal for 6 weeks. I wanted to stay at home and play with my new rollerboots 🙁 However, the trip proved to be invaluable and it opened my eyes at a very early age to what was out there.
Are girls safer travelling alone in a western (first world) or third world country?
Women are safe travelling in most places as long as we respect the various different cultures. Do as the local women do in that country. If they dress conservatively, then so should we. Don’t mistake curiosity for threatening behaviour though.
Despite thoroughly enjoying my travels, there are situations I would have rather not have been in. Men in my bedroom with carving knives whilst I sleep and men kindly showing me their ‘wares’ (and I think you know what I’m saying) whilst I take in more interesting of monuments are not what I had on my itinerary!
What makes an ideal travelling companion in your eyes?
Someone who is happy to give you a day to yourself and understand! No-one can be with the same person 24 hours, 7 days a week. Occasionally we all need space, even if it’s just for an afternoon. Besides, it gives you something new to talk about once you meet up again!
Any basic safety precautions for girls who want to go travelling?
Follow the local womens’ behaviour.
Wear sun glasses when alone (avoiding unwanted eye contact).
Invest in a cheap, plain gold band and wear it on your wedding finger.
Never look at a map when alone on a street. This sends out signals you are unsure of your whereabouts. Look for a local toilet to do it in.
Finally, look and act confident!
What three things would you pack if you were going to a third world country?
Some crayons or hairbands – the children there are fascinated by the simplest gifts.
My sun factor 50 – Vain perhaps but I don’t want to look 60 at 32!
A local language guide – People are thrilled if you at least TRY and speak their language. Even if you make no sense, you gain the locals’ respect.
Do you think the idea of women travelling alone or with each other has changed over the years, from what you’ve seen?
Very much so! As women have gained more confidence in their independence, they are taking far more control of their lives and following their dreams. My mum went travelling alone around Hong Kong 20 years ago and may have then, been seen as slightly eccentric to travel without a man.
Two years ago, I travelled home from Australia and stayed the night in Japan. At breakfast, 70% of the guests were female and on their own. Statistics show the average leisure traveller is now a 55 year old woman. Something to think about!
When you go travelling for a while (say 3 weeks or more) it’s tempting to pack 3 small bikinis and an elephant. Any tips for travelling light?
Remember, most places (except third world places of course) have washing machines or, failing that, a sink!
Pack a small bottle of clothes hand washing liquid.
Everyone has their favourite t-shirts, trousers and tend to wear them again and again so why bother taking stuff you MIGHT wear?
Linen is a godsend! It’s light and dries quickly in the sun.
One bikini or 2 at the most is enough. If you are travelling around, who is going to see you twice in it anyway??
Are there any myths about women travelling abroad you’d like to explode?
Luckily, most myths are dying out. Women are just are competent and independent at travelling as men. We have the added advantage of being able to ask directions too!
Is there anywhere you haven’t gone that you’d love to go to?
On safari! I absolutely love the idea of seeing the Big Five. I also want to work on a Lion Reserve in South Africa for a while. The wonder of travel to me is that almost nowhere is out of reach these days. The other side of the world can be visited in less than 24 hours and that includes a brief stop in another country along the way!
Have you heard of couch surfing? Have you ever done it?
I have a Couch Surfing forum on Broads Abroad. It’s an easy way to get cheap sleeps and perhaps a free tourist guide! Make sure you speak to the person who is offering a couch, on the phone first though and always have a back-up plan.
Couch surfing is the practice of sleeping in the homes of acquaintances or other helpful people on a rotating basis, from home to home. Couch surfing is typically done by a person who is either traveling or homeless for the time being. The couch surfer may be temporarily unsettled or homeless for a long time, and is young, more often than not. Love, the Mooky Eds xxx
What kind of gals use your site?
The female kind! Broads-abroad is aimed at all women from gap-year students to the more mature Thelma and Louises…