Ecuador travel for women can be a truly unique experience.
Ecuador travel can be very safe for women. I personally have been traveling on my own since I was a teenager and have always felt very safe. And even in unnerving situations, I feel very confident that the Ecuadorian people would be there for me if ever I needed help.
Standard travel precautions will keep most dangers from becoming reality. Being out alone, late at night can be dangerous, as can be true almost anywhere. And there have been reports of "date rape" drugs being used in Ecuadorian bars and night clubs. So if possible travel with a friend or keep your roaming to the daytime and early evening hours. For more safety precautions click here.
Ever been watched by the paparazzi? This may be your chance to feel to a small extent what it would be like. Men in Ecuador are like the paparazzi in that they are always on the lookout for the next pretty girl. Don't think you're a knockout? They do. Any girl that stands out gets some harassment. Not just blonds either.
If you hear a strange hissing noise near you during your Ecuador travel, you've been spotted. I've always felt it was more like how you would call your dog than the way to get a girls attention. Some call out to you with endearing names. "Mi reina" (my queen). "Mi vida" (my life).
So what do you do with all this unwanted attention? Ignore them! Don't turn to see who's hissing. (The hissing is a common way for people to get your attention. In a situation where we would probably whistle, Ecuadorians hiss. So it can be hard to know when you're getting a legitimate call. But I always figure, if its one of my friends calling they will try other ways to get my attention as well.) The guys who are pestering you aren't usually brave enough to say anything more than their few words. You don't need to be concerned for your safety or anything. I'm sure there are some bad eggs out there, if you ever feel threatened ask for help or dodge into a shop.
Another way to keep some of the annoyance at bay is going around town with a man. Whether it's your brother, your husband, your boyfriend or just a friend, the guys seem to lose their nerve when you've got a body guard. But don't think you need your guy friend at you side 24-7. Just be aware that this annoyance is out there. Ignoring them seems to do the trick. ;)
When traveling, we girls always have a few extra things to take into consideration.
Feminine Products: You can find a good assortment of pads for menstrual issues. But if you prefer tampons, they are harder to find. A few years ago, commercials started running on TV promoting tampons, but I don't know if it's really caught on yet. You should be able to get a hold of a box in pharmacies in most bigger areas. You're best bet though is to bring some from home. Update 2015: Most pharmacies carry tampons now.
Hair/Skin care: Just ran out of your favorite conditioner? Ahhh! It's ok. Again in bigger cities you can find a good assortment of hair care products in bigger pharmacies. I love the Konzil conditioners for my crazy curly hair. Update 2015: Pharmacies are a good place to look for hair care products. There is usually a pretty good selection.
As to skin care...bring sunscreen! You can get sunscreen in Ecuador, but you'll have better (and cheaper!) options back home. Also any special creams that you like, you should also bring from home. The products carried in Ecuador are either completely different brands than we're used to or in a Spanish form that you may not recognize.
Birth control: Pharmacies in Ecuador have access to many prescription medicines. It a good idea to bring a legibly written copy of any prescription that includes the scientific name of your medication. An empty package containing the name can also be helpful. They should be able to get you a refill.
Most places won't require a prescription. But it's a good idea to have it in case they do.
When Ecuador travel take you into the mountains, be aware that wearing shorts isn't looked at well. This doesn't apply as much to really touristy areas. But in small towns the people don't like it. Shorts are considered apparel only for prostitutes...which is interesting, because short skirts don't seem to bother anyone at all. ?!?
If you really prefer to wear shorts, the longer the better.
For more info specifically for women traveling alone check out this great website: www.women-on-the-road.com
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