Circulating the internet are two different travel blogs. One that acknowledges men, titled 'Date a boy who travels' and one that recognizes women called 'Don't date a girl who travels'. Both articles are beautifully written, each line teasing the senses as they describe in perfection the characteristics of a lifestyle of movement and exploration.
Describing the girl who travels as ‘the one with the messy unkempt hair colored by the sun. Her skin with multiple tan lines, wounds and bites here and there. But for every flaw on her skin, she has an interesting story to tell’ I smiled as I thought about the lines deeply engraved around my eyes from the many hours spent on Goan beaches. I even laughed outloud when I read that this girl ‘is the one who is a yoga teacher, she doesnt work like a robot all day, she goes out and takes what life has to offer’ remembering how I counted down the days until graduating from University, knowing in my heart I would find my true passion in life while in a context far outside of Durham, New Hampshire.
Yes, I thought the author is describing me perfectly. A girl who’s free spirit is happier in nature and among genuine people who have the same passion for experiencing new places and cultures. But after re-reading this article a few times, I realized that although the author had a fearless and independent tone of voice, the article had a negative connotation towards women who travel. Almost as if warning men to beware of this woman, because she will surely break your heart and choose hostel life over home life.
This became even more apparent as I scrolled to the bottom of the article and clicked on the next recommended article, titled ‘Date a boy who travels’. Describing the boy who travels as ‘the boy who treasures experience over toys, a hand-woven bracelet over a Rolex’ and ‘the boy who will hold your hand in silence when you see something beautiful, in awe of the history of where his feet stand, and the fact that you’re with him.’ Yes, I agreed, this is my kind of boy. One that enjoys the simple pleasures of life and is more concerned with absorbing the present moment together, instead of impressing me with a dozen red roses. I continued to read. My hesitation about the two articles and their opposing perspectives was confirmed as my eyes scanned the words written in bold ‘Buy him a beer. Once he gets home listen to his stories. Bask in his enthusiasm’.
I was shocked. It was a total double standard.
How could these two articles, both with the intention to offer a positive message about the men & women who experience life through traveling, have such subtle yet powerful underlying messages?
Instead of uniting the two genders who equally share a passion for travel, the articles completely segregate the two genders and place them back into the neat little boxes society placed them in years ago.
The article about women leaves the reader imagining a female who has the word ‘caution’ tattooed on her wrist instead of ‘love life’. One who will be bored with a man and never satisfied unless she is moving. The title alone reinforces that woman who travel are ‘not the normal’ and you should instead look to date the woman who is content in the same city her entire life.
However, the article regarding males leaves the reader fantasizing over their dream guy ‘the one who will one day ask you to marry him while swimming with sharks and take you on a triumphant honeymoon to Mt. Kilamanjaro’. Taming my inner feminist who was getting bored of the sexist attitude presented, I switched perspectives and thought: if you are the lucky woman to marry this fearless guy, I can only imagine you are equally as amazing and adventurous!
Women who travel should be given the same respect and encouragement as men who travel, with articles written in a positive light, defying the outdated mentality of a society of fear and oppression.
I know from personal experience that you can be a woman who loves to travel, one who has wanderlust deep within her heart and isn’t afraid to take risks on her own…while also being a woman that will love a man and is willing to compromise a nomadic lifestyle for a relationship, if it is with the right person. Ideally, this woman will find the man who respects her love of the world and will support her in her own personal goals and adventures. And most likely, she will find this man who has this same philosophy for experiencing life because they met while traveling. The experiences they will share together don’t have to become mundane and the ‘American Dream’ from half a century ago, instead they can live a life together which is constantly challenging them to continue their journeys. They can share a life where they embrace everyday experiences (no matter where they are) with the same mentality as if they were half way across the world, seeing things for the very first time.
Yesterday, I was sent a newly published blog post from a friend titled ‘Date a girl who travels’ written by a courageous author who felt the same need to express the limited mentality presented by these first two pieces. Her article is definitely worth a read, as she cleverly maintains the expressive and poetic rhythm by adjusting her words with positive endings.
Thinking back to a recent conversation I had - both parties (both genders) agreed that we cherished freedom most in our lives. Freedom on all levels, large and small…the freedom to travel, the freedom to express our opinions and ultimately the freedom to choose our own happiness.
We all are unique and individual beings which makes the world such an incredible place to live in, so whatever your personal definition of adventure and happiness is, go live it…single, with your best friend or with your partner. Instead of isolation through archaic gender roles, let’s praise people as one for ultimately living the life they want.
Keep exploring, it's a big & beautiful world out there!
LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here