When we first started writing guidebooks for female travelers, people would ask us all the time what the differences are between how men and women travel.
Well, this post is for you. Unfortunately, it’s just a fact: there are things female travelers have to think about that men don’t.
I’m not going to go on a rant here about gender equality, I’m just going to point out 5 things female travelers have to deal with that men don’t have to worry about, and how to deal with them.
1) Finding Feminine Products
Tampons are not commonplace in South America.
For most of us, this is a serious issue. I personally don’t like worrying about leakage or something akin to diaper rash when I’m on a hike or exploring the city.
It is best to pack an abundance of your favorite brand before you embark on your South American journey. However, tampons can be found in pharmacies throughout the continent. They will be pricey and they often only have the OB tampons without the applicator.
They also tend to be behind the counter as if they are some sort of dangerous drug, so you’ll have to ask for them.
Sorry, dudes, but this is something only female travelers will ever have to deal with.
2) Finding or Traveling with Birth Control
For what ever reason you use birth control, you know how important it is to have, especially while traveling.
If you are lucky enough to have a doctor that is willing to help you stock up for the duration of your trip, you’ll be set. If you’re not so lucky, there is still hope!
Birth control does not require a prescription in South America.
If you bring along the piece of paper that describes what your pills are made of most pharmacies can provide you with a close match.
As much as men would probably enjoy it, they simply do not have to deal with being verbally accosted every time they walk outside.
Women, on the other hand, can hardly walk 2 blocks without hearing a few comments. Catcalling, a form of street harassment that might include commenting or yelling things at women, is an exclusive problem for female travelers.
Catcalling happens all over the world, from New York to Buenos Aires.
Honestly, the best thing you can do is ignore it. Walk with your head high, don’t look scared and never look the prowlers in the eye. A lot of guys will mess with you more if you look prude, so just try to look as natural as possible.
(Read my February post on How to Deal with Catcalls for more tips!)
4) Constant questions about boyfriends or lack there of
South American men and women are constantly curious about your marital status.
The men want to see if you’re available, the women want to know why you haven’t locked one down. It’s annoying, but inevitable.
You will have to decide on your argument, memorize it and be ready to repeat it several times. There is also the option of making up a boyfriend all together, but that’s a judgment call.
5) Finding clothes that fit
In some parts of the world, it can be difficult for women to find clothes that fit. For example, if you are traveling through South Korea and are above a size 8, good luck.
While this might not always fall exclusively on female travelers, I’ve yet to meet a man worn out from a day of trying to find a bra that would fit him in Thailand.
If this is you, you’ll want to hunt out small shops and avoid shopping malls. Also, look for and befriend a good tailor in your area.