10 Awkward Moments Only Female Travelers Can Understand

An adventure may be worn as a muddy spot or it may be worn as a proud insignia. It is the woman wearing who makes it the one thing or the other.
— Norma Shearer

We are still celebrating Women’s History Month and this post is a funny ode to my sisters that have gone through the struggle bus of being a woman on the go in unfamiliar territory.  I see you.  I salute you.  I empathize with you.  We are still strong and beautiful even when we might not feel like it.  I hope this makes you snort from laughter and gives you great memories in hindsight.  If you have any other awkward womanly moments, definitely leave them in the comments so we can bond.

Sorry boys…


Forgetting to pack the proper bra(s).

As you know, I am a proud member of #TeamCarryOn.  I am proud of the transition I have made from a packrat only flying Southwest so that I could carry more towards still having room in my duffel bag when I take a six week trip.  However, when I am taking a quick trip like a weekend getaway, I constantly am forgetting to go through my list to ensure I have the proper undergarments.  There is nothing more maddening than having a sexy sundress ready to go and you forgot your strapless bra.  WHY?  And you know good and well you are NOT getting ready to drop that money at Victoria’s Secret for another one.  So you do like I do and pray that you can tuck the straps in without looking too crazy, go braless, or shed a thug tear and formulate another outfit that does not give you the same smile.  Girl, I know.  We will do better for the next trip (probably not, but it’s worth a shot).  

As many items as I wore like this. Not having a strapless bra could have been extremely awkward. I've heard it's quite American to show your bra strap. Photo taken in Barcelona, Spain. July 2016

As many items as I wore like this. Not having a strapless bra could have been extremely awkward. I've heard it's quite American to show your bra strap.

Photo taken in Barcelona, Spain. July 2016

Repeatedly wearing the same articles of clothing and wondering if they smell or if you should post the outfit on social media.

Let’s be real ladies.  How many times have you worn an outfit and paused to post it on Instagram because your followers have seen it already?  *raises hand* I’ve been there.  I think I have been rotating the same set of bikinis tops for far too long, but my followers aren’t paying my bills (yet).  While packing for my trips, I try my best to pack in a color scheme so that I can rotate outfits but after awhile, I know that favorite black skirt is going to get its shine on the ‘gram.  And even worse, sometimes you are traveling and places do not host laundry facilities so you either have to suck it up and handwash or pretend that an item doesn’t have a slight stain because you are simply too LAZY to do chores while traveling.  I’m not judging you too hard, but if it smells, sis, wash it.

Looking for feminine care products in another country.

Y’ALL.  I. CANNOT.  Yes, it is hilarious in hindsight but when I went to Europe last summer, one of the most horrifying moments was learning how to use a tampon without an application.  When I tell you I searched high and low in The Netherlands to find what I needed and realized I had to succumb to the local culture and get with the program, I was devastated.  To make matters worse, I truly thought I had brought enough with me to get me through a cycle while I was in Europe.  Joke’s on me.  That was not the case and as modern as The Netherlands was, there are some cultural differences that I was just not looking forward to.  

Here’s a tip.  If you know you will be traveling for an extended time, go ahead and get yourself a Diva Cup, some birth control, or bring double the amount you think you need.  All is funny once the situation is over, but what you are not trying to do is feel uncomfortably bloated and paranoid in another country.  Talk about looking like a tourist.

Related Post: 40 Days in Europe: The Not So Glamorous Side

Creating a fake life at the bar.  

So, this could be a thing in Dallas if I feel like the person I am encountering is all the way OFF, but when I’m visiting a city *cough* Vegas, I do not mind making up an alias for the weekend.  Hi, I’m Ayesha, I have a boyfriend of 3 years that couldn’t come on my trip due to work but we Facetime every evening.   Or, the small fib you repeatedly state about totally traveling with your sister but she is sleeping in the room and could not join you for dinner.  Every. Single. Night. You are not alone, female nomad.  I understand and ultimately your safety is the number one concern.  As long as they do not try to become your Facebook friend (which DEFINITELY happened to me in Barcelona), go ahead and flourish with your new alias and if you don’t like that name, try a new one tomorrow.

Thankfully, the people I met at my first pub crawl in Europe were fun.  They didn't mean Ayesha and had fun with CJ instead. Photo taken in Porto, Portugal. June 2016.

Thankfully, the people I met at my first pub crawl in Europe were fun.  They didn't mean Ayesha and had fun with CJ instead.

Photo taken in Porto, Portugal. June 2016.

Dealing with catcalling and feeling like going through identity crisis.

Be honest.  Once you have lived in a city for quite some time, you feel like you run the streets.  You know the culture.  You know what buttons you can push and what laws officials pay more attention to than others (or is this just me).  Bottom of the line- you are COMFORTABLE where you are.  If someone says something slick, you don’t have a problem rolling your eyes, flipping them off, or giving them a piece of your mind.  

All that changes when you are in another city or country.  You are busy trying to adjust and let alone you are seeing the glares, you hear the whistles, and you see a gentleman flashing money at you because he thinks you are a prostitute (this is a true story people).  Normally, you could add some sass to the situation but something halts you because you are not home.  You could get killed and some countries would not blink their eye and would say it is your own fault.  Identity.  Crisis. However, sometimes you have enough and give people your authentic thoughts, and I too, have been there.  Too many times.  I remember when in Italy I was so fed up I eventually just started giving everyone the bird (sorry Mom) and when a gentleman in Berlin thought he had the right to touch me, I pushed him into the street.  Anger happens but it is always best to stay calm.  There’s nothing like dealing with the law to ruin the euphoria of your vacation.  Stay safe, my sisters!

Shaving your legs when you are staying in hostels so you eventually just stop caring.

I understand the power of a freshly shaved leg.  You feel silky and don’t mind when the right person rubs on your leg.  You sing the “I’m your Venus.  I’m your fire, your desire” commercial in your head repetitively as you strut your stuff.  But, now you are in week 2 or 3 of your trip and you are noticing the appearance of your legs.  It’s a bit prickly and you no have the commercial’s jingle playing.  Instead, you are questioning whether or not you take the ultimate chance of attempting to shave in your hostel’s shower.  After a failed attempt you say “screw it” and decide to keep it moving.

People, I am almost 5’10”, so I have a whole lot of leg and I’m going to tell you now, when I was in Europe for 6 weeks, shaving of the legs did not happen.  It was too much to deal with.  And guess what?  I still wore shorts and dresses.  I didn’t scratch anyone while dancing (that I know of) and I do not think the hair on my legs was visible in my pictures, so it was all good.  Maybe I could have gotten them waxed prior to departing, but with a million things on my list prior to departing, it was just a blessing from God that I was able to shave my underarms. That’s all I have to say about that.  

Don't feel like shaving? Wear a maxi dress. You get the best of both worlds. Photo taken in Panama City, Panama. November 2016.

Don't feel like shaving? Wear a maxi dress. You get the best of both worlds.

Photo taken in Panama City, Panama. November 2016.

Showing too much skin at ceremonious places (i.e. monasteries, catholic churches, temples)

Confession: This has NOT happened to me, but I have heard about it from plenty of women that I do know.  You are out and about and decide to visit a cathedral or a temple and after waiting in line, you are denied entry because you are showing too much skin even though you think you could meet your man’s mother in that hour.  Guess what, beloved, dress codes exist and humility is a requirement sometimes.  Trust me, I love a good crop top and maxi skirt, but when you are in another area, try to do your research and find out the customs before you are embarrassed.  Friendly tip, always travel with a scarf.  It can serve many purposes and can save you when guards are insinuating you may be showing a little too much shoulder.  

Attempting to wear makeup and having it melt away because it’s ridiculously hot where you are.

Let me tell you right now.  Let it go.  That foundation, concealer, highlighter, and whatever else.  Get you some sunscreen instead.  There are some places that do not believe in air conditioning as a religion like the great state of Texas, *cough* Italy, and as badly as you want that perfect selfie, your makeup probably won’t last.  It is probably going to melt off and make you feel sticky.  My own best bet was going with some eyeliner and lipstick if I was feeling froggy.  

I also remembered a conversation about deciphering what country European were from.  Some women of a particular region were known for their natural, fresh faces while others were notorious being beat down with vivid eyeshadow colors.  I know I would already stick out in certain areas with my afro and did not always want to draw too much attention to myself.  Besides, from the inner joy I was feeling, I think I still looked freaking fabulous with my makeup-less face.  

Because during that one time I tried to be cute in Spain and wear eyeshadow, I proceeded to melt it off on the subway. Yikes. Photo taken in Barcelona, Spain. July 2016

Because during that one time I tried to be cute in Spain and wear eyeshadow, I proceeded to melt it off on the subway. Yikes.

Photo taken in Barcelona, Spain. July 2016

Going on a date and needing to use a translator... Or being proposed to multiple times.

American men, do better!  Kidding… or maybe not.  But why is it that in other countries, men are so willing to woo you, propose to you after 5 minutes, and remind you of the queen that you are?  Granted, some people have malintentions but your intuition should kick in around then.  I vividly remember going on a date in Paris with a gentleman, speaking French with him, but every now and then we needed to use Google translate to get through the conversation.  I still had a wonderful time but I can envision Issa Rae saying “awkwarddd” in the background when there were moments of silence.  Was I that desperate back in the day that I needed to be validated in another language?  The world may never know but I do know that I had a great time and really should start counting how many proposals I have had in foreign territory versus the States.  *insert side eye here*

Learning how to squat and use the restroom

This is another one that has not happened to me yet but it is indeed a moment when I am insanely jealous of men and their ability to (prayerfully) aim and release.  We do not have that same luxury.  Now, I have seen all sorts of things like funnels specifically for squat toilets, but I have not had that endeavor yet.  However, I can only imagine the delicate concentration it takes to be able to use the restroom in an area where you are praying that you do not ruin your outfit because you need to wear it again.  I know as I continue to expand my travels there will come a point in my life when I will meet a beast of that device and I can only hope that I make the toilet gods proud.


Even through the hurdles we go through, I still love feeling like a liberated lioness after every trip.  Keep traveling, sisters. Photo taken in San Juan, Puerto Rico. January 2017.

Even through the hurdles we go through, I still love feeling like a liberated lioness after every trip.  Keep traveling, sisters.

Photo taken in San Juan, Puerto Rico. January 2017.

I ain’t sorry if I grossed you out a little bit and I hope that you cringed with memories, but that is the fun thing about travel.  It is not always as glamorous as the Instagram posts but it is ALWAYS worth it in the end.  Even though as women we might go through some extra battles men will never have to endure, I would not trade it for the world because I have been blessed with the opportunity to live my dream and chase the wind across various continents.

What are some awkward moments you have experienced as a female traveler? Let’s talk about it and laugh.  I will NOT publicly shame you.  

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