All travellers face risks overseas, but unfortunately women, whether experienced international travellers or first-timers, can face greater risks than men and be particularly vulnerable in certain countries or cultures. In this article is information to help minimise the risks females can face when travelling overseas.
1. Choose Safe Transport.
Try to arrange your transfers from the airport before you arrive. Use only officially licensed and reputable taxis. Before you arrive in any location, find out what an official taxi looks like and be wary of touts or people posing as taxi drivers. While in a taxi or car service, act as if someone is expecting you and will raise the alarm if you don’t arrive – you might like to make a phone call or mention in passing to your driver that your boss, colleague or partner is waiting for you at your destination. Avoid travelling in a train carriage where you are the only passenger. Remember that no country in the world is safe for women to hitchhike alone.
2. Be Secure In Your Accommodation.
Book and check in using only your first initial and surname – no title (Miss, Ms or Mrs). As often as possible, try to book your accommodation prior to arrival, especially if you’re due to arrive at your destination at night. If you’re travelling alone, try to avoid accommodation where entrances are in back streets or isolated locations. If you can’t tell from a map, online reviews from other travellers will often give you an indication of entrances. Where possible, avoid taking a room on the ground floor. If you judge that your accommodation is secure and provides a safe, lock your valuables in the safe. Otherwise, use a money belt for your passport and other valuables, and spread your cash between your money belt, pockets and bag.
3. Avoid Unwanted Attention.
Try to maintain your composure and remove yourself from a concerning situation as quickly as possible. Get to a safe, public location. Always act confidently. If you act like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing, even if you’re lost, you’re more likely to keep a low profile. Avoid wearing or carrying anything that makes you look like a wealthy tourist, such as expensive jewelry or handbags. Avoid shopping in isolated areas and trying on items in back rooms at bazaars and markets. Dress appropriately.
4. Be Social Safely.
Do not drink to excess or take drugs that might make you more vulnerable or impair your decision making. Try to not share too many details of your travel plans and don’t tell people you meet if you’re travelling alone. Be aware of what you’re posting on social media – you might like to increase your privacy settings while you’re travelling. When you’re out walking, keep your bag close and hold it on the opposite side of your body to the street to avoid bag snatchers in cars or on motorcycles. Be aware of cultural standards. For example, in some cultures, women shaking hands with men is unacceptable, and simple things like making eye contact with a man or sitting in the front seat of a taxi can be misinterpreted as a sexual advance. If you are visiting new friends, make sure you have independent control over your travel options.
5. Look After Your Health.
If you are travelling alone and become ill, get to a health facility quickly, as your capacity to do so may diminish with time. In some countries supplies of feminine hygiene products and contraceptives, including condoms, can be unreliable or unavailable, so it may be best to purchase in advance. If you’re planning to travel while pregnant, see your doctor well in advance. Airlines around the world have different restrictions on pregnant women travelling and you may not be allowed to fly as late into your pregnancy.
6. Be Cautious About Relationships.
Be careful about holiday romances. Taking a relaxing holiday doesn’t mean you should relax your standards for your personal safety or security. Be wary of relationships initiated over the internet. If you do travel overseas to meet your partner for the first time, meet in a public place. Make sure a travelling partner or trusted friend or family member back home knows where and with whom the meeting will take place, and contact them afterwards.