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Stop Saying This to Women Who Travel

Words Matter: How to Talk to Women Who Travel

Relax. This isn’t one of those articles that wastes a thousand words on shaming you. Women are shamed enough, and that’s not something I want to encourage. The truth is, we have all likely said one of the following statements to women who travel to exciting places, while we were stuck at home or work. Yes, myself included. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20, and now that I have embraced my passion for travel, adventure and exploration, I truly can’t bear to hear any of the following statements said to me ever again.

In an effort to be proactive, I reached out to a handful of women who travel for their input on hurtful things that are regularly said to them (primarily by other women) when they embark on a new adventure. We discussed the possible reasons for and outdated concepts behind each statement, and came up with some recommended alternatives.

Read on to find out if your words are helpful or hurtful when talking to your best girlfriend about her next adventure.

 Women who travel, feminism,

 When talking to moms who travel

Do you say:

  1. Who’s taking care of your kids?
  2. Where are your kids?
  3. Won’t that be hard on your kids?
  4. I could never spend that much time away from my kids.
  5. How will your kids get to school?

These are just five of the aggravating and hurtful comments that we regularly say to moms who make time to travel regularly! Deep down, when we say these things, we know that acceptable arrangements have been made for the care of the children. The real message we are sending, regardless of what exactly we say, is that by taking time to travel without them, the children are being neglected. And that’s just not true.

The ‘why’ behind the words:

Mom guilt is a real thing, and the last thing our girlfriends need is to have the wind taken out of their sails by a cutting comment from a trusted friend. So, why do we say these things when we know our friends are good parents? It is likely a case of envy. Perhaps, in the midst of our own parenting mayhem, it’s hard to be happy for our girlfriend’s moment of joy. Maybe it makes our own need for a moment’s escape feel that much more intense.

Say this instead:

Next time you catch yourself on the verge of asking your friend a question about their kids after they’ve shared exciting travel plans with you, try asking them instead about the details of their trip. You can ask how they went about planning and making arrangements for the household if you want, but make it clear that you want to know because you could use some tips for your own future travel plans.

women who travel, feminism

When talking to wives (partnered women) who travel

Do you say:

  1. What does your husband think?
  2. How does your husband feel about being left at home alone?
  3. Does your husband worry about you running off and spending time with strangers without him?
  4. My husband would fall apart if I left him alone for that long.
  5. Wouldn’t you rather travel with your man?

You get the point, right? Men are far less likely to be questioned about going off on their own without their female partners. The concept of a woman traveling on her own around the world, on the other hand, is foreign to many and quick to draw a raised eyebrow. But these comments, while they may seem harmless enough, can undercut a woman’s confidence in herself. If your girlfriend is turning to you to talk about her travel plans, chances are good that she’s looking for some positive reinforcement.

The ‘why’ behind the words:

While relationships are fulfilling, they can also be stifling. And it’s not easy to tell your partner that you want to go on an adventure without them. Perhaps again, there is some jealousy there. Or, maybe you truly worry that your friend’s partner will become angry at them, or worse yet, cheat on them while they are gone.

Say this instead:

Regardless of the why behind your words, your job is to support and encourage your friend’s dreams. If you catch yourself on the verge of uttering any of the statements above, stop and say this instead: “Imagine the passion you’ll be met with on your return!” or, “You get to go on an adventure AND have the best reunion sex of your life when you return. You are so lucky!”

Or, there is always the tried and true: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”


Women who travel & money

Do you say:

  1. Doesn’t that cost a ton of money?
  2. How did you save enough to pay for that?
  3. I could never afford a trip like that.
  4. Wish I had the cash to take time off work.
  5. Too bad I have a job I have to go to every day.

Traveling is expensive. It’s likely that your girlfriend had to pinch pennies to make her trip happen. She doesn’t need you to remind her of her financial stress.

The why behind the words:
You’re stressed about cash, I get it. Maybe you are even bitter about it. But, don’t take it out on your best friend! Own your frustration and find a later date to lean on your friends’ shoulder about it. Just wait until she’s done sharing her own excitement with you.

Say this instead:
It’s a simple response that requires little thought. When you feel envy creeping in, look your friend in the eye and say, “Good for you, you deserve this!”

women who travel, feminism

Fear & women who travel

Do you say:

  1. By yourself? Don’t you think that’s dangerous?!
  2. What if something happens to you?
  3. Aren’t you afraid of getting robbed or raped?
  4. Aren’t there a lot of diseases you could catch overseas?
  5. Wouldn’t you be safer if a man went with you?

A new #MeToo story makes the headlines every day. Your friend doesn’t need you to remind her of the horrors that lurk in dark corners. The truth is, traveling is potentially more dangerous for a woman traveling alone, but that shouldn’t stop women from traveling alone. The more women who explore the world on their own, the safer that world becomes as it’s forced to adapt to their needs and the rules governing their safety.  We need women to push those boundaries, or it will never be safe for us.

The why behind the words:

It’s reasonable for you to fear for your friend’s safety. But, saying things that undercut her confidence won’t make her safer on the road. In fact, an overt sense of self-confidence is one of the things that will keep her safer, no matter where she is.  If she feels like a victim, and acts like a victim, she is more likely to attract the attention of a predator.

Say this instead:

A few simple phrases that will go a long way and make a huge difference in how your friend feels while on her own are: “You are a badass!” and “I really admire you.”

And there’s always an honest: “You got this, and I always have your back.”

—Annette Benedetti





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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.