For those who travel as a female, the world is a dangerous place. There are many countries where women are not welcome, and there can be a lot of sexual violence before it turns physical. In recent years the internet has become a haven for people to share information about their experiences around the world. One topic that has been sadly under-addressed is how to stay safe when traveling as a female traveler. This article is meant to help you avoid problems by following some simple guidelines so you can feel secure and confident on your trip abroad.
We have gathered the popular methods from around the web so that you don’t have to spend hours reading blog posts or research papers to stay protected. Keep in mind that we’re not professional security experts, and we’d never claim to be. So use these tips as a starting point to discover what works best for you.
1 – Be aware of your surroundings
This is the essential thing you can do to stay safe when traveling, regardless of whether you are a man or woman. Many people believe that traveling as a female is much more dangerous than for men because it’s more likely that they’ll be assaulted sexually. This may have been true in the past, but our world has progressed so much in recent years, and now it’s just as easy, if not easier, to travel as a female.
You may be the victim of a sexual assault regardless of your gender, but if you pay attention to your surroundings and make a conscious effort to avoid dangerous situations, you’ll be much better off. Of course, there’s a big difference between being aware of your surroundings and being paranoid. Not all men are predators, and not everyone wants to attack you. Just taking a few minutes to get to know the area around your hotel or place of business can help you spot danger before it spots you.
2 – Know where you’re going at all times
This is probably the one thing that makes women feel “safer” when traveling. Most women are aware of the dangers of over-dressing, wearing revealing clothing, being alone late at night, etc., so they tend to be more careful about these things. Of course, this also means that if they become a victim of a sexual assault, they’ll have to deal with much more backlash for their choices.
The bottom line is that just because you’re dressed in a way that’s appropriate for your destination doesn’t mean that people have no interest in harming you. People can and will assault you regardless of your attire. How you dress might not make the difference, but the location and time of day that you’re in are where things tend to go wrong. If you’re familiar with your environment, then this helps protect you from big mistakes. When it comes to traveling, men and women are equally vulnerable.
3 – Stay in populated areas when out alone
This is a popular guideline for women who travel, but we strongly recommend everyone do the same thing. This is because it’s widespread for people to become victims of crimes while staying alone at night, even in highly populated areas. Also, as a female, when you’re out late at night, there’s a much higher chance that someone will spot you and target you because of your gender.
There’s no way to avoid this since it takes only one person to decide to harass you. There was a recent incident where a woman was violently raped and thrown out of a moving taxi in broad daylight at the busiest time in Mumbai. The real problem was that she could have been traveling with any other person, and she would still be in trouble at that time of day. This is why we recommend staying in populated areas when out alone rather than sticking to your hotel room.
4 – If you’re traveling alone, never leave your drink unattended
There are many potential dangers with traveling alone that can be avoided by simply staying aware of your surroundings. For example, when you’re out at the bar or club with friends, you might feel safer knowing that there’s someone nearby who can assist if an incident occurs. But at the same time, you risk getting too comfortable and staying in one place for too long. If you travel alone, it’s essential to stay aware of your environment at all times.
Even if someone seems friendly and harmless, it only takes a few minutes for them to slip something into your drink when you’re not looking. It only takes a few seconds for someone to take advantage of you and conduct a sexual assault. We recommend that you never leave your drink unattended as a single female traveler.
5 – Keep your belongings on or close to you at all times
This is probably the most essential thing for any woman to do, but it’s also one of the most overlooked pieces of advice we can offer. We’ve seen reports of women getting mugged and assaulted, and even killed because they had left their bags unattended or had their phones stolen right out from under them. This is why we strongly recommend keeping your belongings close by at all times.
You don’t have to carry your phone in your hand, but you should at least keep a hand on it. If a pervert is going to try and grope you or steal from you, they’ll have to go through the trouble of taking your things from you. This will give you enough time to notice them and scare them off. In addition, it’s also a great idea to carry pepper spray in case someone decides they want to harm you further.
6 – Keep a separate purse or bag that can be quickly accessed
This is something that we learned the hard way when we visited Thailand a few years ago. Our backpacks were stolen from us when we were walking down a busy street in Bangkok. We left them in the storage room of our hotel because we didn’t feel like carrying them around all day. We were completely unaware that someone was following us at the time, but it’s best to keep one bag separate if you think you might need to access it quickly.
Some women even take along a backpack with their hidden pepper spray so they can protect themselves if an incident occurs. You should also be aware of whether or not there are cameras in the area that you’re at so you can protect yourself if something goes wrong. If there are cameras then it’s important to stay away until the cameras are turned off.
7 – Stay alert at all times
This is a common theme in all of our travel safety tips. If you’re going out at night, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and stick to busy areas. In addition, don’t assume that you’re hidden from view if you’re by yourself. This means that you shouldn’t walk too close to the travel agent or security desk when getting tickets or checking into a hotel. You should travel around in a group with other people so you can protect each other in case something happens.
Before going out alone, make sure that you always have a friend or family member with you when possible so they can protect you if an incident occurs. Never let your guard down when traveling alone and keep your safety in mind at all times.
8 – Know how to use a cell phone to call for help
This is a big one for international travelers because you don’t always have a passport with you when you’re out and about. If someone attempts to assault or harm you, then it’s important that you know how to use your phone as an effective weapon. In addition, if someone does take your purse or wallet from you, then it’ll be easy for them to take control of your phone as well.
If there’s a plan with data roaming on it, then this is going to save you a lot of trouble in an emergency situation. If you lose your phone, it’ll be very difficult for someone to track you down if they don’t have your number. This is why we recommend getting a plan with data roaming if it’s available in the country that you’re traveling to. There’s no way to know when or where someone will try and harm you, so it’s important that you’re prepared for any eventualities.
9 – Don’t accept help from strangers
In some countries, people might offer their help simply because they want to help and not because they want something from you. But unfortunately there are many potential dangers involved with accepting charity from strangers. It can be difficult to tell the difference between genuine people and dangerous ones until it’s too late. For example, if someone wants to help you, then they can become a potential threat because they’ll know where you live and which hotel you’re staying at.
In some countries, people will often try and take advantage of women because it’s easy to do so. For example, it’s acceptable for men to put their arms around you or walk with their hand on your lower back in some countries. If someone who looks like their friend tries this on you, then it could be a sign that they’re dangerous or trying to lure you somewhere else. This is why we always recommend traveling in big groups when possible. It makes it more difficult for dangerous people to get close enough to harm you.
10 – Don’t be afraid to travel alone
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember that you can travel alone without fear. If someone tries to harm you, then your first instinct should be to try and escape the situation as quickly as possible. This is why we always recommend traveling with a friend or family member so they can protect you if necessary. However, you can also travel alone if you’re comfortable doing so. The point of all of this is that it’s your choice how safe or unsafe you want to feel traveling in a new country. If you’re looking for the most comfortable way of traveling across the world, you should travel alone rather than with other people who could be unsafe.
We’ve traveled for years worldwide and have only encountered a few unfortunate incidents here and there. Although they’re rare, you must be aware of these things before choosing to travel to a new country. In addition, we’ve learned from our own experience that planning and giving yourself time to relax can help you stay motivated enough to continue traveling. This is why we always recommend taking the time to plan your trip and get used to traveling before committing yourself to a long-term endeavor like this. You don’t want all of your hard work taken away from you because of one bad decision out on an adventure!
This post was written by Maggie, our chief editor world traveler who has traveled around the world for many years.