The Ugly American: My Three Biggest Gripes About Traveling While Female

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I can’t stay in cheap-ass dive motels on account of how I’m female and prone to a higher likelihood of getting raped and murdered if the door of my room doesn’t face an enclosed hallway. Hotels with interior hallways are safer and therefore more expensive. I personally like cheap-ass dive motels, they remind me of the Route-66 trips my family took with my traveling trailer-salesman dad, but I will never check into one seeing as how I’m not looking to commit creative suicide just yet.


I have to deal with inconsiderate dicks like the one behind me while I was checking into a hotel at LaGuardia recently. The hotel courtesy-van driver had left us waiting late at night for 40 minutes—and by “us” I mean me and my daughter—when he was supposed to be picking people up and dropping them off at the hotel, which was a half a mile away, in a continuous loop. Let me explain why a delay like this this sucks so bad. One, it causes guests to accumulate so that the shuttle gets packed with 30 of us, and then we’re dropped off at reception all at once, and then we have to wait another hour as the desk clerk deals with the onslaught. Two, it causes consternation among the guests, because some of them didn’t wait 40 minutes at airport curbside like me. Some of them, like the asshole behind me in line at reception, were fortunate enough to have their arrival curbside coincide perfectly with the arrival of the hotel shuttle. So while I’m voicing my complaint to the desk clerk, I have to listen to Mr. “What’s Her Problem?” bitch about how it’s late and he wants to get to his room and can I just stop complaining and move it along, which emboldens the desk clerk to be not at all patient or apologetic. So then when I get to my room I’m all pissed off and can’t sleep and I end up writing this crappy uninteresting entry in my column. But I just want to say that it matters to a single mother traveling alone with her daughter—it matters more than to a married man traveling alone with his wife—to be kept waiting in the dark in a strange place for 40 minutes, and it’s shitty when some random other dude doesn’t get that, condones the abuse, and makes the ordeal even worse. Get it? I hope so.


whenever I travel alone to a Caribbean locale—which I like to do when I have a book due because the decent resorts are relatively cheap and the food is sufficiently hideous that there’s no danger of overeating—the hotel management tends to eye me like a fugitive, certain I’m gonna host a total train of heroin-needled gigolos in my suite throughout my stay. And then, when something does happen, like the time a mystery guest had super loud sex on an exterior balcony late one night, I get blamed for it, which pisses me off even more because here I have to endure the disapproval for being a horny cougar without getting to experience any of the fun for earning the stigma. (I swear, it wasn’t me on the balcony that night.) (It wasn’t.)

Hollis Gillespie writes a weekly travel column for Paste. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, coming out soon. Follow her on Twitter.