When in Rome...
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 the best interest of women traveling alone to become familiar with the laws and customs of countries you plan to visit, and to abide by them once you arrive.
It’s also a good idea to check the U.S. State Department Consular Information Bulletins to see whether there are any travel warnings for countries you intend to visit.
Travel Tips for Solo Travel
Following these simple travel tips can help make your trip safer and more rewarding.
- Travel Tips for Passports and Visas Make sure your passport is still valid, and if it’s 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.
- Travel Tips About What to Leave Behind-- Leave the following at home with a friend or relative or relative at home:
- Your detailed itinerary. Include names, addresses and telephone numbers of every place you will be staying.
- Photocopies of your passport identification page
- Your flight and ticket information
- Travel Tip: 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 are not likely to know it’s not the real thing until after they steal it.
- Travel Tips for Health Insurance-- Make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage for your trip abroad and that your coverage includes medical evacuations. If your policy does not cover you overseas, you may need to purchase supplemental traveler's insurance.
- Travel Tips for 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.
- Travel Tips for Safety and Security-- Stay alert, use common sense, and be aware of your surroundings. If you think you are 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 are still unsure, call your hotel for assistance.
- Travel Tip: Be Confident-- Look, act and move as though you know where you're going and what you’re doing. This will prevent you from looking like an easy target and may help you avoid potential danger.
- Travel Tip: 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.
- Travel Tips for 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.
- Travel Tips for 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.