Warning: I have had wine.
Jason and I picked up some travel booklets today, one of which was called ‘Bon Voyage, But …’ (Essential Information for Canadian travellers.) On page 9 it starts a chapter called ‘Women Travelling Solo’ where it says:
Our booklet entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Guide to Safe and Successful Travel provides information especially for females, including those who travel alone.
So I picked it up too.
It starts off bad …
Now, more than ever, this booklet is a woman’s key to safe and successful travel. Since the first edition was published 10 years ago, the world of women’s travel has evolved. From young backpackers to experienced businesswomen, females of all ages are exploring the planet in growing numbers. They are venturing further and touring, studying and working in more remote and sometimes less secure areas than they once dared.
Could the tone get more condecending?
When doing your research for travel remember to:
Supplement the mainstream media with travel books, newsletters, magazines and websites just for women. They offer an understanding view of the health, safety, cultural and emotional issues experienced by females on the road.
So right away we get patted on the back for ‘daring’ to ‘venture’ out of our fucking kitchens into the big scary world and then told to hold hands in case we get all emotional about it. Because we will. We’re women. Emotional is our middle name.
The first pro tip is about luggage.
It is best to travel light. As a woman alone, you will be far less vulnerable and much more independent if you are not loaded down with heavy luggage and extra bags.
… Try to have at least one hand free at all times.
… Avoid expensive-looking camera bags and other showy accessories, which may mark you as a wealthy tourist.
… Seriously? Is this not information that is useful to ANYone travelling? Plus pretty fucking common sense? And the tone, the TONE! This is not just some silly group or company that has decided to put these stupid tips into book form, this is an officially issued booklet from our Government! It’s got the Foreign Affairs logo on it for fucks sake.
It gets a whole lot worse though. Some of the information is sound, and does specifically concern women, like pointing out that pads and tampons are not always easy to find or cheap in every country. Fine. But that took like what, 1/16th of a page? The rest of the information seems pretty generic. So what the fuck actually fills this 32 page booklet?
Shit like this:
Nancy’s first six months at a foreign university were fascinating, as she explored the beautiful city, got to know her community and improved her skills in the local language. But, little by little, her fascination turned into alienation. Nancy started eating compulsively, negatively stereotyping the local people, and feeling more and more miserable. Even so, she resolved to stick it out – at least for a while. Eventually, she felt much less depressed, regained her sense of humour and only occasionally yearned for home.
Christine was checking her email at an Internet cafe in Barcelona, when a young man sat down next to her and began to chat. As the stranger was leaving, Christine realized that her knapsack, containing her wallet and travel documents, had disappeared. She shouted, “jBasta!” and confronted the thief before he could escape. From then on, she never put her bag down for even a second in public areas.
When Odette met Hassan through an online ad, it was love at first sight. Her family was leery of the cyber-romance, but Odette felt alive for the first time in years. She sold her house, quit her job and cashed in her pension to pay for a move to Morocco. No sooner had she arrived in Marrakech than everything went wrong. Hassan was 20 years older than he had been in his online photo. Wedding arrangements began at once. Soon, Odette was trapped in an abusive marriage and had spent all her finances on an apartment for Hassan, who held her passport and refused to let her leave Marrakech.
Patricia and Laurie were spending Christmas on Phi Phi Island in southern Thailand when the massive tsunami struck. After fleeing up a wooded hill, they squatted for two days without food or shelter. When they returned to the devastated shore, they found that all of their belongings were lost, including their passports and airline tickets. Even so, they reached Bangkok by overnight bus, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and went straight to the Canadian Embassy. There, consular officials comforted them, advised their families that they were unharmed and provided them with emergency passports. A few days later, Patricia and Laurie were safe and sound back in Canada.
Do I even have to say it? WHAT THE FUCK?!?
As if the condescending attitude wasn’t enough, they can’t just fucking give us women the straight facts. No they have to weave these cutesy little tales that all sound like their coming from our fucking best friends ‘Patricia and Laurie’. That way, when we’re emotionally crippled by a scary situation we wont have to worry about our brains not being capable of critical thought, we can just rely on our fuzzy relationship memory to tell us ‘Hey I remember what Patricia and Laurie did when this happened!’.