Women Today

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Tips for solo female travelers

Traveling abroad is a great way to experience other cultures and meet new people. Many people imagine traveling with friends, family or their significant others, but international travel can be enjoyed by men and women traveling alone as well.

Risk is inherent for anyone traveling abroad, but women must be especially diligent when visiting foreign countries. According to the U.S. Department of State, female travelers are more likely than men to be affected by the religious and cultural beliefs of the foreign countries they visit. Women who plan to travel overseas alone should heed the following tips to ensure their trips are safe and memorable for all the right reasons.

• Know where your local embassy is. When traveling abroad, keep the address of the nearest embassy on your person at all times. American women can visit www.usembassy.gov to learn where the embassy in a given country is located, while Canadians can find similar information about Canadian embassies and consulates by visiting travel.gc.ca.

• Do your homework. Before booking a trip, research the country you hope to visit to determine if it's safe for women to visit alone. Some countries may require women to have a male escort before they can leave the country. Researching a country can also give you an idea about its crime and security conditions, local laws pertaining to women (if any such laws exist) and other information that can help you decide if a given country is one you can safely visit while traveling alone.

• Bring appropriate clothing. Many countries have laws that govern how women can dress. One of the joys of traveling is experiencing other cultures, but it's also important to respect those cultures no matter how much you may disagree with their laws and customs. Wearing appropriate clothing can reduce your risk of having a run-in with local law enforcement and lets residents of the country you plan to visit know that you respect their right to govern themselves.

• Maintain awareness of your surroundings. While relaxing inhibitions is one of the joys of traveling, women traveling alone should always be aware of their surroundings. Avoid abandoned areas during the day and night and steer clear of dimly lit, isolated areas when the sun goes down. Do not drink alcohol to excess, as doing so can lower your inhibitions and make you vulnerable to potential attackers.

• Establish appropriate boundaries. Oversharing information about yourself and your itinerary with strangers can increase your vulnerability. Keep private information to yourself and ask for contact information rather than sharing your itinerary if someone wants to meet up again. If someone is making you uncomfortable, don't be afraid to be unfriendly to repel any unwanted attentions.

Traveling alone can make for a memorable vacation, but women traveling alone need to be especially careful so they do not put themselves in harm's way or offend any local laws or customs.