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How to travel the world by yourself … as a woman! Part 2

Women's taxi company in Teheran

Today, the second part of Adriana’s article where she shares her tips on how to travel alone as a woman… or just in a girls band…

Transportation. In some countries because of logistical difficulties and crowded public transport single women or women-only groups are better off to hire the services of a local tourist agency or at least a car (always with a driver! In India get one that does not believe in reincarnation :)). For example in India if the budget allows you would feel much better in a private car or in a first class train car than in a third class with too many people fighting over few seats. You will become the object of curiosity of the whole train-car or maybe even the entire train with the few English speakers acting as translators: they will ask where you are from, if you are married, how many kids you have, etc. I learned the tough way that not married women absolutely need to invent an imaginary husband that is eagerly awaiting their arrival at the destination for some peace and quiet. Otherwise more explanations will be needed as to why you are not married and some men will even dare to propose. In Iran to the contrary the public transport is usually comfortable and efficient and the few questions from fellow passengers are usually polite (warmly recommend air-con buses, planes, even over-night trains). There are women-only cars for trains and metro where nobody will bother you and your all female travel companions (if they speak English) will tell you more about how to handle Iran as a woman alone.

Where to go – taking a guide. The common sense rule I go by if to keep to places where other women are (tourists and locals) – a cheap eatery full of shisha-smoking men would be slightly uncomfortable as all eyes will be on you. You will not feel lonely on the streets in Teheran (plenty of women) but you might have an issue on the streets on North India. The first days after you “land” in a foreign country, things can be a bit overwhelming. A guide would make busy places with higher potential for harassment easier to explore for women: enlisting the services of a guide would be a good idea in Marakesh & Fes (especially medina); Istanbul & Cairo (esp. old city & bazaar); Delhi Red Fort and pretty much everywhere on the subcontinent (except south India & Sri  Lanka); Atena and Napoli might not hurt! The first day the guide can help you get a feel of the place … if the guiding services aren’t top notch, at least your guide would make the other “would-be” guides leave you alone. Local travel agencies, your hotel and reputable travel guidebooks (Lonely Planet or Rough Guide) can help you choose a decent guide.

There are really few places in the world of today where women are not allowed at all and men are: Athos Mountain in Greece, few very orthodox monasteries in Ethiopia. If you know of any other, do let me know. In Muslim countries men and women are more or less separated in public areas: la strandurile termale din Iran (intotdeauna acoperite) nu vei vedea nici o clipa o persoana de sex opus in costum de baie. Women are generally allowed everywhere men are; just single men are not allowed into female or family sections of malls and restaurants e.g. in Saudi Arabia. If you visit mosques (some of incredible beauty) usually there is a separate entry and praying area for men and another one for women – ask at the entry and they will help you. Don’t forget the dress tips! In some countries all non-Muslim tourists women and men are not allowed into mosques (seen it in Morocco, Tunisia; in Saudi Arabia non-Muslims are not allowed in Mecca and Medina).

Hotels. Women travelling alone would feel better in higher quality, family-oriented or family-owned hotels where the staff will take care of them (higher chance of having women in family hotels staff). A business hotel would be cold and impersonal (populated by men in business trip); a cheap hotel might have other business lines in “private entertainment”.

In my opinion as per my experience although it may seem complicated it is really worth battling visa, dress or logistical difficulties to discover wonderful countries and very special people. What better way to discover more about the life of women in other parts of the worlds that travelling there – as a single woman you will get far more access to other women (e.g. various women only areas) that any men or group with men ever will. I will never agree with any form of discrimination against women … even when it comes to clothes, but that should not stop me from travelling – other women may meet me and get some courage to try to do it themselves … it is worth it just for that! Good luck with your travels!

Egyptian guide with an European female traveller in Cairo

Highly protective guide in Egypt

Women's metro car in Teheran

Special metro car in the Teheran metro

How to buy cosmetics in Iran

Where you can also do some shopping

Taxi for women traveller in Teheran

Women’s Taxi in Teheran

 

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    My name is Cezar (where the nickname "Imperator" comes from) and I have travelled to 105 countries around the world. In this blog, I would like to share with you stories, memories, travel tips & tricks and news to help you plan your journeys !

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