Talking about differences in gender is always problematic.
It is not just the differences between men and women only. Talking about any group in general terms is problematic. Nobody is an exact composite of a group and there are always outliers. Plus, my advice will not necessarily correlate to just any woman.
But from my personal experience traveling with Meg and from the research I have linked to below, I truly believe that every man should experience traveling with a woman. Even though I am married, my beliefs hold true for even platonic friends.
Traveling with a woman just enhances the overall experience (try not to get defensive fellas).
Women Are Better At Planning Trips
I have enough anecdotal evidence in my life to prove this point, but let’s look at the research.
A 2009 Survey of The American Consumer, reported by Gadling, showed that while men and women had about the same number of domestic trips and spent about the same on travel, the WAY they traveled differed.
Women spend significantly more time than men planning a trip and they also enjoy the process of planning more.
But why is that important? Maybe men are just better at quick decision making and like to be spontaneous (easy fellas… remember, we’re trying not to be defensive.)
It is important because, as the New York Times has reported, numerous studies have shown that a majority of individuals achieve their greatest happiness leading up to a trip (when they are planning and anticipating) instead of from the trip itself.
So not only does planning a trip in advance give you more stability by having a room and transportation booked, it also might make you happier and enjoy your trip more. Even if you don’t partake in the planning with your female travel companion, you at least will have some slight structure built into your journey which definitely reduces stress.
If you are traveling long-term (like we are), planning does not mean booking your entire trip in advance. Meg and I often do not know where we will be in two weeks. But while you are on the road, you should take time to map out a few of your next moves.
Women Are Better At Communicating
There is a myth that women talk more than men. But it is just that. A myth.
Communication, however, is not just talking. It is the ability to express yourself appropriately given the situation and to effectively understand others. This is where women excel. From birth and on into adoloscence, girls show greater empathy and language ability.
Some studies have shown that women in social situations are less likely than men to talk just for the sake of talking, use small words, and give predictable compliments.
Why is this important when you travel?
Almost every interaction you have on the road will be social. Everyone is new and if you are traveling outside of your country, you will most likely experience a different culture. This means it is extra important to listen closely and clearly express yourself. As women tend to be better in this arena, you might learn from your female travel buddy and use their techniques in your future travels.
Women are also more adapted to finding friends when in a stressful environment… and travel definitely qualifies as stressful. From security lanes at airports to sleeping on floors when your room doesn’t pan out, stress is ever-present.
In stressful situations, men typically rely on that old axiom of “fight or flight” while women “tend and befriend.” Only discussed in the last few years due to a lack of study into the evolutionary psychology of female behavior (a fascinating oversight where mainly men were studied for decades and the results then assumed to be the same for women), women actually have a different hormonal response to stress then men.
This means that women are not just better at communicating when on the road, they are more inclined to make friends. So travel with a woman and expand your social horizons.
Women Are Not OVER-confident
I’m a dude. I totally get it.
There have been numerous times where, in hindsight, I realize that ________ (insert any number of stupid things I’ve done, like bodysurfing during a riptide warning or taking that last shot of tequilla) was not the best idea.
Yet, it is only the rare occasion when I use the powers of foresight to stop myself from such ridiculousness.
But I can’t help it! Science has shown that it is down to biology and the “winner effect,” where when two men enter into competition (like taking shots at a bar) their testosterone increases, thus increasing their appetite for risk. This leads men to be overconfident.
Women have only 10% of the testosterone of men and seem much less susceptible to the “winner effect.” This has even proven true during the last financial market crash when women were shown to be better investors.
There is no place where overconfidence can hurt you more than in the new situations you face when traveling. When you travel with a woman, you collaborate more on your decisions and tend to avoid the situations that have too much risk.
All I really know is that Meg has enough foresight for the both of us… and thank goodness for that.
The Problem Is Admitting It
As a man, I don’t want to think that I need improvement. In less insightful moments, you even might catch me denying that I am anything less than perfect.
But perfect I am not.
And while many differences in men and women are superficial, there is something to be said for traveling with someone who has such different life experiences. Someone who instinctively reacts differently than myself, even when facing the same situation.
If you travel to not just learn about the world, but to also learn about yourself, then you might want to travel with a woman for awhile and see what the experience might teach you.
Your turn: Am I wrong? In your experience, are men typically just as good as women at these things?