Safety Abroad: Personal Safety for Women Travelers
While it is impossible to generalize about the experience of women traveling in all places in the world, you may experience some gender-specific challenges when you live or travel abroad. Due to language and cultural differences, the men—and the women—of your host country may have very different expectations than you do about what is appropriate behavior and attire for a woman. You should be aware that behavior that is considered acceptable in the U.S. may not be viewed this way abroad. A smile, eye contact, certain clothing, or the way you carry yourself can connote different things in different cultures. In many ways, you are your own best resource. The reaction of local residents to women’s behavior and attire may be compounded by the fact that people in some countries may have distorted or stereotypical notions about American women based on images acquired through American film and advertising. Read travel guides or articles, and talk to women who have traveled to your host country. The more familiar you are with the customs and traditions of your host country, the more you will understand why such customs exist—and the safer you will feel while you are abroad.