Carnival and Trinidad for the Solo female travelers
After posting on many travel sites and blogs about Trinidad, I get a lot of questions. This page came out after a very good list of questions from one user on the Lonely Planet ThornTree Forums, I decided to create a special page in my Trinidad Travelogue, now of course this is the curious thing here, I am a big boy 5’10 240lbs, so of course, when I talk about safety from a woman’s perspective, it mght be a bit strange, but again I can give my opinion about this.
– What is appropriate dress for a woman in Trinidad? ( Should a single woman be more conservative for those solo?)
This is a very particular question. As a rule of thumb, when a single woman is travelling, she should tend to the conservative side as a matter of caution. Typical female dress in Trinidad is very breezy, light cotton shirts and thin bras. Please do not walk around braless in Trinidad, one it will offend many people, it will get men gawking at you and in general is just in poor taste. There is a reason why Trinis have a distaste for tourists, especially American white tourists who just come out from their shells and thing that cultural norms in the States will work in Trinidad.
If you are going clubbing or to a fete, well that is a different story, sexy wear, halter tops, tube tops etc are the norm, but this is when you have a crew of people with you. If you are single and going to a fete by yourself, this is already a dangerous option, since going to a fete alone, means you have to have a car or reliable transport that will get you there and home safely. If you are going alone to a fete, you should not drink anything that wasnt poured in front of you from a bottle. Date rape is huge and a very unspoken crime in Trinidad, but in Carnival, where is liquor and sex everywhere in party, the potential to get in bad situation is very high. Urban myths in Trinidad, include the homeless dancing in mud mas or J’Ouvert where security is very very limited, and girls being raped behind cars etc. These might be exaggerations but there are elements of truth to this.
I could provide examples of dress for Trinidad, but that would just be an opinion call. Any site like Triniscene.com will show you what is typical female dress in Trinidad. Men in Trinidad arent as aggressive as men in the Middle East, but we have a ‘sweetman’ culture, where men will catcall and will come up and talk to you upfront. This is to be expected, especially in Trinidad if you are a white female. It is almost a challenge to pick up a white girl in Trinidad. This is a whole different sociological discussion though.
Another thing to consider… There ARE NO NUDE or TOPLESS beaches in Trinidad. Do not go to any beach and take your top off, and expose your breasts. Besides the cultural stigma of being looked on as a whore, you will get a lot of negative attention. In Tobago, there is a bit more of this behaviour, but again the locals HATE this type of tourist behaviour. It is the few women who do this, who cause a lot of grief for regular decent tourists who respect the local customs. Trinidad is a multi ethnic, multitheistic culture and there are a lot of conservative people in the country. The difference in cultures between the north of the island and the rest of the country is marvellous, in that North Trinidad, is very much North American but once you pass Central Trinidad — the actual dividing line is turning south on the highway at Grand Bazaar, the culture changes significantly.
Other questions coming in a bit
– lying on beaches alone
– safety and security (what can one expect … in terms of theft, harassment, sexual innuendos, assault — even rape?)
– how helpful / useful are the local authorities?
– areas and/or times where specific caution should be exercised
– places / areas to avoid completely
– typical scams (general ones and any specifically targetting women?)
– will a woman traveling alone (or in small group) typically be seen as more of a target … or does it depend on attitude (for men and women alike)?
– good deterences of unwanted behaviour or attention
– women’s role in Trinidadian society
– other resources / references for women travelers in T&T
– Trinidad vs. Toboga – plus and minuses for single women travelers
– locals’ perceptions of
– women travelers/foreigners