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Critically discussing and evaluating the impact the female gender role has on solo travel experiences linking to social media and the effect of positive and negative story-telling.

Critically discussing and evaluating the impact the female gender role has on solo travel experiences linking to social media and the effect of positive and negative story-telling.
Author: Megan Warner
2 Commentries
The female gender role can have an impact on the decision-making process of solo travelling. The idea of solo female travelling is to obtain empowerment and push the boundaries of the individuals which will result in personal self-growth and development.

Keywords: social media, positive and negative story-telling, gender, experiences, solo female travelling

This conference paper will look deeper into the previous challenges that women had to face because of their gender. Furthermore, it will discuss the current influences of social media and positive and negative story-telling can have on these experiences.

In the late 1800s, women were not encouraged to travel even if they were accompanied by another person. They were encouraged to stay at home and perform roles women should be involved in such as cooking and caring for their family. The reason behind this gender inequality was due to the fact that women were seen as less valued and perceived as being weaker therefore, unable to protect themselves in case they were involved in a dangerous situation. Although, this is only applied in certain countries, there are still countries that gender inequality is occurring in due to their culture, family beliefs and views.

Kinnaird and Hall (1994) discuss that due to the difference between the gender roles they would have only been encouraged to participate in their specific gendered activities (Frew and Shaw, 1999, 196). For example, this links in with general stereotypes that people have created like the fact that men should participate in sport and women should be involved in dance and home-economics. Therefore, because of these stereotypes, gendered tourism has been created where a destinations activity would be gender based and suited to one particular gender. However, society is forever changing and women are becoming more confident to travel to destinations without the advice and reliance of another person that previously would have been unheard of (Myers, 2017, 163).

In order to secure the most valuable results from the study the use of primary research was decided in the form of a semi-structured interview. Data was collected from this interview and further analysed, the form of the questions in the interview focused on aspects of safety, perceptions, social media and other travellers influence. This analysed data was then separated into research themes of influence of the internet and social media and the influence of positive and negative story-telling.

Social media can have a high level of impact on solo female travellers as it has the potential to change the decision-making process. It has the power to bring lots of solo travellers together and discuss about new un-thought of destinations to travel to. Therefore, the threat of being unsafe on one’s own in a destination is lessened as on platforms such as Facebook, groups have been created by female solo travellers in particular destinations for any other females to join.
The influence of positive and negative story-telling can be through the platforms of blogs or in person. Whether the story be positive or negative it depends on how the traveller informs the others when telling the story. This can affect how strong the influence is by the way they tell it. Stories from travellers about travelling alone as a female can affect their decision to travel to the same destination. Being alone as a woman at night in an unfamiliar destination can cause some difficulties with the opposite gender (Lepp and Gibson, 2003, 608). Therefore, a lot of research should be completed prior to travelling to the destination including, cultural traditions, dress and safety. This would ensure that women they are not willingly putting themselves in situations which could cause them harm. Despite this, unexpected events such as any form of harassment could occur no matter the level of research completed prior to the travel.

Furthermore, despite the influences of social media and story-telling, the interview clearly highlighted that female travellers should not be discouraged by either of these factors. Everyone is different and can deal with these negative situations differently. It was made clear that not everyone’s experience is the same and the journey is about transforming the individual and obtaining self-confidence. There are some clear gaps in research that were realised, in the future academics could focus on the risk perception factors that solo female travellers have to face and overcome.

Frew, E.A. and Shaw, R.N. (1999) The relationship between personality, gender, and tourism behaviour. Tourism Management, 20 (July) 193-202. Available from https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0261517798000818?token=FA4828E804BD981431C7D2DE64DCBEB985B3506E87A50DB364AC7417E3A8113B94DA7170F78759BD709E49707D21773F [accessed 15 March 2020].

Lepp, A. and Gibson, H. (2003) Tourist roles, perceived risk and international tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 3 (3) 606-624. Available from https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0160738303000240?token=558A2ED99A5CA84CCA23F8559B853C3F821BBE5C29A55C4C7D43680C869B71530D390B37963FF0074BFADB15E3710601 [accessed 4 April 2020].

Myres, L.M. (2017) Independent women travellers’ experiences and identity development through multi-sensual experiences in New Zealand. In: C. Khoo-Lattimore and E. Wilson (eds.) Women and Travel: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Oakville, Canada: Apple Academic Press, Inc.

Commentary on: Critically Discussing and Evaluating the Impact the Female Gender Role has on Solo Travel Experiences linking to Social Media and the Effect of Positive and Negative Story-Telling
Author: Eloise Richardson
I have decided to comment on the paper presented by Warner on female gender roles and solo-travelling, as this can be considered a clear issue within the modern tourism industry. The freedom associated with solo-travelling can be a major contributor to the tourism economy and therefore this premise must be open at all.

It may be suggested that women and men experience and involve themselves in tourism differently (Swain, 1995) and because of this tourism can be vital to the empowerment of women (Small, 2007). Warner suggests that social media can aid women when solo-travelling in their decision making process, this is arguably due to the credibility associated with the word of mouth of others (Gretzel and Yoo, 2013). It may also be considered that some social media post such as pictures to Instagram, may influence the decision making process of a female solo-traveller, as this can act as a form of electronic word of mouth also. Additionally, social media adds to the convenience of an information search (Tham et al, 2013). Therefore showing that social media can prove extremely useful for women when solo-travelling as it can act as a way of protecting themselves.

In contrast however, further research has shown that media can be a source of fear surrounding the idea of solo-travelling. This as some nations use media to highlight the dangers of travelling on their own, for example many countries offer additional guidance to female travellers whilst abroad (Wilson and Little, 2008). This is seen on the UK Government website (UK Government, 2020), as well as in many travel blogs. This suggesting that women may need to act differently whilst abroad to ensure their safety. This suggesting that there is an element of injustice within solo-travelling.

Research into this topic will prove vital to ensure a fair and safe environment for women. Overall a well presented paper by Warner.


Tham, A., Croy, G. and Mair, J. (2013) Social media in destination choice: Distinctive electronic word of mouth dimensions. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, 30(1-2) 144-155. Available from: https://www-tandfonline-com.proxy.library.lincoln.ac.uk/doi/pdf/10.1080/10548408.2013.751272?needAccess=true [Accessed 13 May 2020].

UK Government (2020) Advice for women travelling abroad. London, UK: UK Government. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/advice-for-women-travelling-abroad [Accessed 13 May 2020].

Wilson, E. and Little, D. E. (2008) The solo female travel experience: Exploring the geography of women’s fear. Current Issues in Tourism, 11(2) 167-186. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2167/cit342.0?needAccess=true [Accessed 13 May 2020].
Commentary on: Critically discussing and evaluating the impact the female gender role has on solo travel experiences linking to social media and the effect of positive and negative story telling.
Author: Lacey Moore
I found this piece informative and interesting; the relevance to today’s society with the use of social media and the subsequent impact on the tourism industry makes it relatable, too.

I chose to conduct a commentary on this paper due to the relevance to my dissertation research as well as personal interest. It was interesting to discover that women weren’t encouraged to travel due to it being a form of male’s exploration and pleasure. Even when the words ‘tourist’ and ‘tourism’ began to be used more in the 1700s, women weren’t even included in those definitions (Thomas & Mura, 2019)! Whilst shocking and disappointing, it’s comforting to see female tourist numbers increasing yearly due to them appreciating the benefits it can provide.

The recognition of the everchanging state of society and how females now have the confidence to travel to destinations completely alone, when this would have been completely unheard of merely two centuries ago is a welcomed comparison. The gendered tourism that comes as a result of a history of sexism and patriarchy is still visible even now in 2020, so it’s also worth recognising that each individual is affected differently by this (Chambers, 2017).

The discussion of the positive or negative story-telling aspects of pre-travel and the consequent impact this can have on their destination choice and experience is also something rarely focussed on in current literature. Similarly, it was found that many worries and challenges faced by solo female travellers originate from their family’s concerns! As a result, females end up doing a lot of research, resulting in changing the way they dress, safe and unsafe parts of town and simply being on high alert at all times (Wilson & Little, 2008).

The relevance of modern-day society paired with links to the foundations of females in tourism gave the piece an interesting, historical edge. Overall, a well constructed piece of academia.

Chambers, D. P. (2017) CTS 7 Keynote Address: Are We All In This Together? Gender Intersectionality In Tourism. Critical Tourism Studies Proceedings, 148. Available at: http://digitalcommons.library.tru.ca/cts-proceedings/vol2017/iss1/148 [accessed 24 Apr 2020].

Thomas, T.K. and Mura, P. (2018) The ‘normality of unsafety’ – foreign solo female travellers in India. Tourism Recreation Research, 44(1) 33-40. Available from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02508281.2018.1494872 [accessed 24 Mar 2020].

Wilson, E. and Little, D.E. (2008) The Solo Female Travel Experience: Exploring the ‘Geography of Women’s Fear.’ Current Issues in Tourism, 11(2) 167-186. Available from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.2167/cit342.0?needAccess=true [accessed 22 Apr 2020].