Guidance

Advice for women travelling abroad

Travel and safety advice for women travelling and living abroad, including links to other organisations.

Plan your travel

All travellers face risks abroad but in certain countries or cultures, women travelling alone or in female-only groups can face additional risks and obstacles.

When planning your travel, you should consider finding out about the local culture of a country, and whether women travelling there have received unwanted attention or difficulties based on gender. You can do this by:

  • checking the local laws and customs page on our country travel advice pages
  • using guidebooks and online forums
  • talking to others who have travelled to the places you plan to visit

Transport

Consider the transport you will use whilst travelling:

  • arrange airport transfers before you arrive
  • use only official, licensed and reputable taxis
  • sit in the backseat of a taxi, behind the driver
  • travel in busy carriages on a train, or carriages for women only if these exist
  • avoid hitchhiking

Be secure in your accommodation

You should consider:

  • booking accommodation before you travel, in particular your first night’s accommodation. You are at your most vulnerable when you first arrive in a foreign country. You are likely to be tired and unsure of your surroundings
  • researching accommodation options carefully, including checking the location and have alternative accommodation as back up, or know where to find alternative accommodation
  • using your first initial and no title (‘Miss’, ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs) when booking accommodation
  • never leaving your key where someone can note your room number
  • closing your windows, especially if your room is on the ground floor or has a balcony
  • locking your door when you are inside the room
  • using the spy-hole or chain, if the door has one, before opening the door to unexpected visitors
  • bringing a door wedge to place behind your accommodation door

When you are out and about

Think about the environment you are in:

  • confidently understand the customs of the country you are visiting, including the role and expectations of women in that society
  • be respectful of the culture and local dress codes, and consider them when choosing your own outfits
  • avoid wearing or carrying anything overtly expensive
  • in some countries, wearing a ring on your wedding finger can discourage unwanted attention
  • be aware that what is considered harmless flirting in the UK might be interpreted differently in some countries
  • avoid walking alone in deserted areas, such as the beach, at night
  • do not tell strangers where you are staying or details about your travel plans
  • do not share details of your trip on social media
  • be aware of your surroundings and research the area before you go
  • plan your daily itinerary: know where you’re going and how to get back
  • ask your hotel or hostel to recommend a licensed and reputable taxi firm and make a note of this
  • keep a written record of important phone numbers, including a family member and the British embassy or consulate, in case something happens to your phone
  • do not advertise the fact you are travelling alone
  • set up your phone with a ‘find my phone app’

If you feel uncomfortable or in danger:

  • do not be afraid to draw attention to yourself by shouting and making a fuss
  • being safe is more important than being polite

Drug-assisted rape or ‘date rape’

Drugs are increasingly being used in rape. Once someone has added drugs to your drink, you will not normally be able to detect them. Rape drugs also work in non-alcoholic drinks, such as coffee and tea. They are normally colourless and tasteless, and can make you unconscious and defenceless.

  • be aware of how much you are drinking: alcohol is the most frequently used drug in drug-assisted rape
  • do not leave drinks unattended, and do not accept drinks from strangers
  • if you begin to feel strange, sick or drunk after only a couple of drinks, tell a trusted friend. They should take you to a safe place, such as your hotel room. You can phone the local police, a hospital or the nearest British embassy or consulate for advice

Read our advice on what to do if you have been raped, sexually assaulted or drugged abroad and for when you are returning home.

Forced marriage abroad

In a forced marriage a person is coerced into marrying someone against their will. They may be physically threatened or emotionally blackmailed to do so. It is an abuse of human rights and cannot be justified on any religious or cultural basis.  For more information, see:

Other resources for women travelling abroad

These organisations’ websites provide information about how to stay safe whilst travelling, or lone working:

Published 1 November 2012
Last updated 27 May 2022 + show all updates
  1. Guidance page reviewed in full and updated.

  2. Updated content

  3. First published.