5 Tips for Women Travelers to Stay Safe Around the World

There are so many brave women taking the leap and traveling solo. Whether you're going to the Middle East or Southeast Asia, before you leave here are a few important tips to keep in mind and keep you safe.

A woman sightseeing in Malaysia. She is walking through the famous Batu Caves in Selangore district Photo © Getty Images/lechatnoir

Depending on where you're going and what the culture is like, you may be exposed to more risk as a female traveler. Here are a few generic safety tips to consider before you go and while you're traveling.

Remember: Staying safe is being informed about current events and alerts happening around the world, and nothing beats common sense.

1. Before your trip

  • 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
  • Make sure you pack all sanitary items, pain killers and think about when your period is due – you'd hate to arrive in the country and find out pads or tampons are unavailable
  • Before traveling, 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.

2. While flying

  • Talk to the flight attendants who are either from or know the country to obtain advice on areas to avoid 
  • Don't announce your final destination or length of stay to fellow passengers, as the information may be overheard.

3. Accommodation safety

  • 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 more safe 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
  • Inquire about staff services that escort guests to their room late at night if you are feeling uneasy
  • If the door to your room is open or unlocked when you return, don't go in alone. Go back to the front desk and ask a member of staff to accompany you to the room.

4. Getting around safely

  • Never let on that you are traveling 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 traveling alone and don't want any company, there are a few things you can try. If you're on a coach or train, sit on the outside seat, and place your handbag, coat or jacket on the window seat. If you're in a bar or restaurant, put your coat on the back of the seat opposite you; this makes it look as if you have company
  • While it does sound extreme, put together a mental plan on how you will react if you're attacked. Will your method be fight or flight? Perhaps keep a set of keys on you – you could keep them in your pocket, and use them as a sharp object if you need to defend yourself
  • Ask your accommodation staff for their business card, and keep it in your wallet to show the cab driver, that way they can get you back safely to the accurate address, instead of accidentally taking you to the wrong place.

5. Avoiding unwanted attention

  • Try your best to avoid wearing provocative, figure-hugging clothes – especially in conservative countries
  • If you're confronted with unwelcome attention, 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's best to pretend you cannot understand what they're saying. You might also ignore them, or speak in a foreign language they are not likely to understand
  • Wear a wedding ring to avoid unwanted attention
  • Avoiding eye contact with men is a good way to prevent any problems or hassles; wearing sunnies and a hat can help with this – try to have a pair with dark lenses
  • Walk and speak with confidence. Know where you are going and what you are doing, and walk with purpose. Confidence can be a major deterrent to criminal activities like petty theft and harassment.

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1 Comment

  • C.Moore Hardy said

    Excellent tips, I'd also suggest adding, ensure you have regular social media contact, have an individual or two that you remain in regular contact with & or phone home once a week.
    I was recently in a Turkey marketplace and taking photos on my iPhone, when one of the shop vendors yelled at me... I immediately looked blank at him & moved away fast. It certainly scared me at the time. Upon reflection his copyright infringed sunglasses were totally illegal but somehow he took offense at me photographing them. Lesson learnt. Cheers

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