Last travel piece we sort of opened up a blog miniseries: Traveling in numbers. Previously, I put out some pros and cons when traveling as a group. Today we’re whittling your globe-trotting patrol down to two.
Two women, a woman and a man, or two men: What they have in common is they’re the most intimate form of adventure-seeking. But that’s about it! What they don’t have in common loves to howl their differences. Keeping with the theme of the miniseries, we’ll primarily address safety.
Let’s start with the ladies.
Ladies, many countries don’t view you as equals. Stow the #s, yesss sometimes in first-world countries too. But we’re talking about stuff here like not being able to walk into a public building owning a vagina without someone owning a penis accompanying you. But I’m not too concerned here. These are the big ones—the in-yo-face ones. I doubt these places are capable of surprising you. I think you’ll see these coming from a mile out, and if you choose to go to these places be sure to simply balance your curiosity by abiding to their social norms.
What I think is more important is understanding a few cultural differences that aren’t always so forceful (at least they don’t start out that way). The two places I’ve seen female tourists get jammed up the most is the Middle East and good ol’ Latin America.
Hell, Miami is good enough for the latter. When you enter Latin culture, be prepared for machismo. Rather harmless; the cat-calls, the whistles, the honks. They’ll come flooding at you if you’re dressed in anything less than a NASA space suit. The police will do it too—if that gives you any sense of things—and if you don’t believe me and/or want to cry out “you ___ist!” Check out some Lonely Planet posts sometime about being a tourist in Central America.
A bit more dangerous can be certain places in the Middle East. Dress like you’re going to the club to bag an oilfield prince and chances are you’ll be propositioned as a prostitute. Remember, it’s not big a deal there, and you’re just flagging yourself without realizing it. But this can get ugly, fast. Case and point: An old friend who’ll never go to Dubai again.
She was some big-wig for Orbitz and told me in confidence (oops) when she was earning her hospitality degree that she used to fly to LA to do porn so she could pay for her classes—and slept with the statistics professor later for good measure. God bless her. So anyhow, I want you to picture her right now. Got it? Good. Well, she hadn’t changed much by the time she was attending a meeting in a hotel conference-room somewhere near the Burj Khalifa.
It went down like this; a man decided she was a hooker, she decided to correct him, he decided to try and drag her out the hotel lobby by her hair, she decided to kick and scream, the UAE cops showed up, and the person that got the closest to going to jail was—who? You guessed it: the disrespectful woman still aiming to show all those loose morals.
You can be an easy target abroad, ladies. If you go as a twosome watch out for one another and I’d suggest not trying to break down too many barriers in one trip.
Much of this can also apply to a couple partying it up abroad.
This option is one of the most popular, and for good reason. Whether freshly married or you lucked out and landed a partner who loves freezing their ass off in a tent as much as you do, couple-travel can be one of life’s most fulfilling endeavors. As a couple, the woman is safer than on her own, but the man is perceived as softer than a man traveling by himself. Read that sentence again.
Human predators are usually pretty pragmatic. When they’re looking for victims these maxims are two that they tend to live by: (1) a man alone may be too wild to keep a woman, and a man who is legitimately wild may give me a real hard time. (2) A man with a woman is likely willing to give up his wallet and watch to avoid his wife catching my wooden club to her head.
I know some of you married guys are salivating right now, so let me say this: Of course this isn’t always the case! Battalions of married men frequent MMA gyms and jujitsu academies. But remember, its appearance we’re talking about, and not all of that training changes how others will perceive you when traveling with a woman. If you’re up for it, hit up the comments section with your agreements, disagreements, and how your own experience confirms or denies this.
And speaking of badassery, lastly, traveling as two men.
From my experience, this option is the safest as well as—by far—the most dangerous. What did Nietzsche say, “in times of peace the warlike man turns on himself”?
A couple of hombres prowling the streets can be as apex as the local predators themselves. The women may turn their heads. The thugs and sneak-thieves will definitely think twice.
Then the guys will totally blow it, get stinko drunk, and get cleaned out by their hooker’s little sister while they snore from the floorboards.
It’s the ultimate double-edged sword. The nuclear hand-grenade. If you are a man and traveling with another man, you possess all the tools to armor yourself and all the tools to rip off that same armor. With a buddy, the bar fight is somehow worth it. With a buddy, heading into that dismal brothel isn’t disgusting—it’s adventurous.
Welp, that’s about it. Pick your poison. Stay tuned for the next tip where we’ll go over the good, bad, and the ugly when it comes to doing it solo.