|Top 10 Tips for Women Traveling Alone
Each year, more and more Americans travel abroad, but according to the U.S. State Department the sharpest increase is among women traveling alone. Whether they are on a business trip or a vacation, women traveling alone are more likely than men to encounter problems in certain cultures.
Every country and culture has its own views of what is appropriate behavior for women, and the reaction to violations of those standards can range from quiet disapproval to criminal charges and punishment. For example, in Laos it is illegal to invite a Lao citizen of the opposite sex to your hotel room, and in Saudi Arabia foreign travelers have been arrested for “improper dress.”
While few Americans would agree with these views or the double standard for women, it is obviously in your best interest to become familiar with the laws and customs of countries you plan to visit and to abide by them once you arrive.
Tips for Solo Travel
Following a few simple tips can help make your trip safe and rewarding.
More Tips for you travellers!
- Passports and Visas: Make sure your passport is still valid or, if not, apply for a new one 3-4 months before you plan to travel. Make sure you have any other necessary travel documents or visas for the countries you plan to visit.
- What to Leave Behind: Leave your detailed itinerary and photocopies of your passport's identification page and your flight and ticket information at home with a friend or relative. Include names, addresses and telephone numbers of every place you will be staying.
- Don’t Carry Valuables: Leave all valuables, such as extra credit cards and jewelry, at home. Even costume jewelry poses an unnecessary risk to your safety, because thieves aren’t likely to know it’s not the real thing until after they steal it.
- Medications: If you take prescription drugs, make sure you have enough to last the length of your trip, including enough extra medication to keep you supplied in case of delays, and bring along your prescription information and the names of the generic equivalents in case you need them. Always carry your prescriptions in their labeled containers, because many countries have strict laws against drug trafficking and may be suspicious of pills in unlabeled bottles.
- Safety and Security: Stay alert, use common sense, and be aware of your surroundings. If you think you’re being followed, step into a store or another safe place and wait to see whether the person passes by. Don’t be embarrassed to ask someone to make sure everything is safe before you venture out again. If you’re still unsure, call your hotel for assistance.
- Be Confident: Looking, acting and moving as though you know where you're going and what you’re doing will prevent you from looking like an easy target and may help you avoid potential danger.
- Ask for Directions: Before you set out from your hotel, ask the concierge or other hotel staff for directions to the places you plan to visit each day. This will help you avoid unsafe areas and also prevent you from looking confused and potentially vulnerable. If you get lost, ask directions from a family or a woman with children.
- Hotel Safety: Choose a hotel where security is good and public transportation or taxis are readily available and close by. Once in your room, check to make sure that all of the doors and windows have working locks. If you feel uncomfortable, ask hotel security to escort you to and from parking lots or your room at night. Always use your peephole before opening your door.
- Clothing: It’s always best to dress conservatively and inconspicuously when traveling. Whenever possible, take your fashion cues from local women. In some cultures, what you consider attractive casual clothing may be seen as provocative or inappropriate, even offensive, which could spark harassment. In addition, your style of dress, or the amount of makeup and jewelry you wear, could make you a more likely target for thieves
- Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visas, if required. Also, before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport!
- Read the Consular Information Sheets and any Travel Warnings for the countries you plan to visit. (Look at the end of this listing for where to find Consular Information Sheets).
- Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. Remember, while in a country, you are subject to its laws!
- Make 2 photocopies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home. Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home so you can be contacted in case of emergency.
- Don't leave luggage unattended in public areas. Don't accept packages from strangers.
- Don't be a target! Avoid conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and don't carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards.