Top Tips for Women's Safety in Turkey

Safety is a big issue for any traveller, and safety is an even bigger issue for women.

Drawing on Experience

The best advice often comes from those who have been through the thick and thin of it - so we spoke to World Nomad Jade Peters about her experiences as a travelling woman, and how best to navigate the sometimes sketchy streets of Istanbul.

Jade is a detective for the NSW Police Force in Australia. For her, being on-guard is etched into her muscle memory, so let's draw from her approach.

- When I travel on my own I do find I have to be more alert and aware of what's going on around me more. Being employed as a detective for an extended period has made this quite natural.

- My number one tip is when going out to remember to get the business card of where you are staying before you head out to show to the cab driver/tuk tuk driver/donkey to get home again.

- I make sure now that someone knows where I am and when they are next likely to hear from me again just in case something goes wrong in between. I take a mobile with me for emergencies when I'm on my own too.

- Its just about trying to maintain a balance between having a great time and keeping myself safe.

Why Women Should Be Extra Vigilant in Turkey

"I really really like Istanbul, it is a feast for the eyes and the senses; a charismatic metropolis bursting with energy and an unrivalled appetite for life. But it's not chaotic hustle and bustle, its clean, organised and above all fun. The people are very friendly and I'm not getting hassled anywhere near as much as I was elsewhere in the Middle East."

Although Jade's advice might bring a sigh of relief to travellers who may be hesitant to visit Turkey, there are always things to consider when you are on the road.

Here is the World Nomads' "general toolkit" for safe women's travel.

Before Leaving for Turkey

  • Pack as lightly as possible. As a lone woman, you'll be less vulnerable and more independent if you're not weighed down by heavy luggage.
  • Rather than residential details, put an office address (without the company name) on your luggage tags.
  • Before travelling, find out the general dress code for the country. Once you arrive, take note of what local women wear to get an idea of appropriate attire.
  • While on your flight talk to female flight attendants who are either from or know the country to obtain advice on areas to avoid.
  • Do not announce your final destination or length of stay to fellow passengers, as the information may be overheard.

Accommodation in Turkey

  • Try to stay in a hotel or guesthouse on a residential street that has a number of restaurants and late-night stores located on it. This is far safer than staying in a corporate area that will be quiet at night and so less secure.
  • When checking in, use only your initials and surname; avoid titles such as Ms or Mrs.
  • Enquire about staff services that escort guests to their room late at night.
  • If the door to your room is open or unlocked when you return, do not enter. Rather go back to the front desk and ask a member of staff to accompany you to the room.

Getting Around in Turkey

  • Never let on that you are travelling alone; inform inquisitive strangers that you are expecting your friend or meeting your partner.
  • If you feel a car is following you when you are walking, do a quick turn and walk in the opposite direction.
  • If you are travelling alone and don't want any company, there are certain measures that can be put into practice. If on a coach or train, sit on the outside seat, placing your handbag, coat and jacket on the window seat. If in a bar or restaurant, place your coat on the back of the seat opposite you to make it look as if you have company.

Avoiding Unwanted Attention in Turkey

A woman travelling alone may find herself the focus of insistent male attention. These advances can make a woman uncomfortable, if not fearful for her safety. The following points may help prevent unwanted attention:

  • Avoid wearing provocative, figure-hugging clothing.
  • If you are confronted with unwelcome attention, it is advised that you remain calm and remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. You might also wish to approach the nearest police officer or security guard.
  • In the event of verbal harassment, particularly by male bystanders, it is recommended that you pretend you cannot understand what they are saying. You might also ignore them or speak in a foreign language they are not likely to understand.
  • Unwanted attention can be avoided by wearing a wedding ring. Avoiding eye contact with men is a good way to prevent any problems or hassles; wearing dark glasses can help with this and can give you a confidence boost as well.
  • Act confidently. Know where you are going and what you are doing, and walk with assurance. Confidence can be a major deterrent of criminal activities, such as petty theft and harassment.

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1 Comment

  • Scb222 said

    It's all abt dress code. I lived in turkey for over 3 yrs. Never had a problem, even out late at night. Dont flirt while drinking & dress modestly.

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