Advice for woman travellers
Below are some advices for women travellers we have collected on the Internet.
Personal safety and security
- When travelling, particularly alone, leave an itinerary of your trip with a responsible person contacting them at pre-arranged times and dates. Ostentatious displays of money, jewellery, luggage and dress can encourage the wrong type of attention. When travelling be aware of where your luggage, particularly hand bags, are at all times. Do not leave them unattended or hanging on the back of chairs in restaurants.
- Choose your accommodation carefully:
- try and pick accommodation which is in a safe area;
- request a room near the lift or stair well, not on the ground floor;
- inspect the door locks and window fasteners;
- never open the door to your room until you have identified the caller;
- do not identify yourself on the telephone until the caller has done so;
- keep your money and valuables close by you at night.
- Be alert, listen to the advice of locals and fellow travellers, develop a street sense, try not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- In a confrontational situation a woman traveller is rarely a physical match for a man. So, the following rules can help:
- Don't turn a scary situation into a dangerous one if you can help it (e.g. it would be unwise to launch into a physical attack if the man confronting you just want your money - hand it over and avoid finding out what he may do if provoked);
- Don't panic or show fear or let the person confronting you to get the upper hand, try to gain psychological advantage throwing him off his balance i.e. compliance;
- If you do find yourself in physical danger, try to anticipate the aggressor’s next move and plan ahead for it. As the innocent party in the confrontation you have the advantage of surprise, if you are forced to strike back physically, make sure it is a crippling blow that gives you a chance to escape;
- If you are worried about your ability to gauge dangerous situations and to defend yourself then consider joining a women's self defense course before travelling.
Personal safety when travelling alone
- Insist on inspecting your accommodation before agreeing to stay. If unhappy with the room request a change or where possible move to different accommodation.
- The lone woman traveller will often be flouting convention simply by her presence. Unfortunately women in the developing world don't have the independence that their western counterparts take for granted. For this reason, their presence, especially unaccompanied, will generate interest within local people of both genders.
- How you dress is an easy method of self-preservation and the most immediate symbol of respect. Dress codes differ greatly from country to country and to get them wrong would put you at an immediate disadvantage. A culture's standard of dress has a lot to do with what parts of the body are considered to be sensuous or provocative. As a general rule tight and skimpy clothes are inappropriate for most countries outside of Europe and North America. Clothing should be conservative and presentable, loose fitting and comfortable. Arms and legs should be covered, especially when visiting places of worship and national monuments.
- When travelling, try to be inconspicuous yet confident avoiding confrontational challenging situations with men by adopting an assertive, dismissive manner.
- Remember many men can see eye contact as a 'come-on'. The use of dark sunglasses will limit this problem.
- Be prepared to answer questions about yourself particularly if single and travelling alone. The often-asked questions of your marital status and family, are ones of genuine interest. To avoid the unwanted attention of some men, the use of a few white lies about 'your husband' and a fake wedding ring are a useful pretence.
- Emotional upset, exhaustion and travelling through different time zones can all contribute to an upset in the menstrual pattern. Irregular menstruation is a very common problem affecting women travellers, excessive exercise and the stress of travel may cause infrequent periods, if this is the case it may lead to confusion over the timing of oral contraception and great anxiety of unplanned pregnancy. Dysmenorrhoea may also be aggravated by travel.
- Oral contraception can be used to suppress menstruation. This is achieved by taking the pill continuously, without the usual seven-day break in between packets. A reminder to take extra packets to allow for this should be stressed. However, this method is not advisable for women taking biphasic or triphasic pills because the dose in the first seven pills is too low to prevent possible breakthrough bleeding.
- Sanitary hygiene: Tampons and sanitary towels are widely available in larger cities but harder to find in remote and mountainous areas. Locally made menstrual supplies are usually available although the standard varies.