Advice for women travelling abroad
Travel and safety advice for women travelling and living abroad including advice from other organisations
Travelling alone or with a couple of female friends can be a great experience. Unfortunately women travellers can be targeted by criminals.
When you’re out and about
- think about how your clothing will fit in with local customs – what are local women wearing?
- don’t wear expensive jewellery
- wear a wedding ring (even if you don’t normally) to help avoid harassment
- be wary of new ‘friends’, even if they are fellow holidaymakers
- don’t tell strangers where you are staying or give out too many details about your travel plans
- if you’re travelling alone you may attract unwelcome attention and you may receive unwelcome propositions or remarks – it is usually best to ignore them
- act confidently
- plan your daily itinerary - know where you’re going, what you’re doing and how to get back
- some hotels and hostels have cards with contact details and directions – take one
- never hitchhike or accept car rides from strangers
- ask your hotel or hostel to recommend a taxi firm – try to pair up with someone you know when travelling by taxi
If you ever feel uncomfortable or in danger, don’t be afraid to draw attention to yourself by shouting and making a fuss.
In English-speaking countries you may receive more attention if you shout ‘fire!’ rather than ‘help!’
Going out at night
- always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return
- be cautious of people who ignore your personal space, do not listen to you, make you feel guilty if you resist their advances or appear drunk
- carefully consider whether you should leave the pub, club or party with someone you have just met
Drug-assisted rape or ‘date rape’
Unfortunately, drugs are increasingly being used in rape.
Once someone has added drugs to your drink, you won’t normally be able to detect them. Rape drugs can also work in non-alcoholic drinks, such as coffee and tea.
They are normally colourless and tasteless, and can make you virtually unconscious and defenceless.
- never leave drinks unattended and its best not to 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
- if you are alone, phone the local police, a hospital or the nearest British embassy or consulate. And always try to drink responsibly - alcohol is the most frequently used drug in drug-assisted rape.
We’ve published additional advice on what to do if you think you have been raped, sexually assaulted or drugged abroad and for when you are returning home.
Stay safe in your hotel or hostel
- only use your first initial and no title (‘Miss’, ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs’) when checking in
- never leave your key where someone can note your room number
- don’t leave your window open, especially if your room is on the ground floor or has a balcony
- remember to lock your room door even when you are inside the room
- use a door wedge on the inside of your hotel room door for extra security
- if the door has a spy-hole or chain, use these before opening the door to unexpected visitors.