Female Travel Safety: Insights & Strategies from On Call’s Security Team

Even in today’s progressive and inclusive world, women continue to face unique risks and challenges when traveling.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, On Call’s Security Team shares insights and strategies to help mitigate these risks and challenges, while also empowering women to explore the world with more confidence, assurance, and strength; and most importantly, enjoy smoother and safer journeys regardless of where their travels take them!

Confidence is Key
The principle of ‘fake it till you make it’ can be surprisingly effective in the female travel context—those who appear lost, confused, or scared can potentially become an easy target for criminals. Simple acts of confidence can significantly reduce potential threats.

    • Be situationally aware.

    • Trust your gut instincts.

    • Walk with purpose in unfamiliar places.

    • Assertively navigate social situations.

Preparation: The Foundation of Confidence
The journey to confident travel begins with meticulous planning. Crafting a detailed itinerary not only sets the stage for an enriching experience, but also serves as a critical tool for safety.

Key planning elements include:

    • Understand Your Destination: Familiarize yourself with the local customs, laws, dress codes, and social norms. For example, while dressing modestly might be a sign of respect in certain cultures, it doesn’t mean forgoing personal style. Adapt while maintaining your sense of self-assurance.

    • Know your routes and locations: Be pre-emptively prepared by understanding the local routes and by-lanes of your immediate areas of accommodation and places of exploration, while avoiding those that are not recommended due to safety and security issues.

    • Plan for Daylight Arrivals: Whenever possible, plan to arrive at new locations during daylight hours. Avoid walking alone after dark in unfamiliar areas, reinforcing your sense of security from the moment you step into a new place.

    • Choose Transportation Wisely: Evaluate the private and public modes of transport available in the destination and decide what you’re most comfortable using; or what is recommended best practice for women visiting your destination.

Packing Smart: A Sound Strategy for Safety
Equipping yourself with the right items is not just about convenience; it’s a strategic move for safety.

    • Include culturally appropriate attire that aligns with your destination’s cultural norms.

    • Pack essentials like a day bag with important documents (or copies of these documents) as well as some cash.

    • Consider carrying a discreet self-defense tool, where legal.

    • Minimize jewelry/accessories to deter potential thefts.

    • Pack a door-stopper (or two!) to use under accommodation doors—these handy items can go a long way in delaying and deterring break-in attempts by criminals.

Solidarity and Support: The Power of Collective Action
The spirit of International Women’s Day extends into the realm of travel through the solidarity and support amongst female travelers. Engaging with credible/vetted support groups and networks for female travelers, either solo or in groups, can provide a wealth of resources, advice, and reassurance, especially in locations where local support services may be lacking. These communities underscore the importance of collective efforts in enhancing safety and empowerment for women worldwide.

Emergencies: Planning for the ‘Just in Case’

    • Before you leave, know how you’ll communicate with loved ones back home and consider downloading an app, like WhatsApp, to make communications easier and less expensive; Phone plans provided by local providers can be surprisingly affordable and reliable.

    • Share your itinerary with your emergency contacts and create a cadence of scheduled communication check-in windows. Designate someone to make decisions on your behalf just in case you can’t.

    • Know the details of your travel insurance and assistance benefits and how to access these benefits if you need them.

    • Do some pre-trip research to determine the ‘lay of the land’ of where the local police stations are and where your home country’s embassy is located.

    • Enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) or your destination country’s equivalent. This ensures your country’s government authorities will be able to provide expedited assistance in the event of an emergency.

Confidence as Your Compass: A Call to Action on International Women’s Day
The journey towards safer travel for women is ongoing, with International Women’s Day serving as a poignant reminder of the strides made and the distances yet to be covered. By sharing our stories, advocating for change, and supporting each other, we can create a world where women can feel safe to travel in and explore freely. As you finalize your preparations, take a moment to reflect on the confidence that comes with being well-prepared.  Remember, a confident woman is a strong woman. Trust in your intuition and the extensive planning you’ve undertaken.


About On Call International
When traveling, every problem is unique–a medical crisis, a political threat, even a common mishap such as a missed flight. But every solution starts with customized care that ensures travelers are safe and protected. That’s why for over 25 years, On Call International has provided fully-customized travel risk management and global emergency assistance services protecting millions of travelers, their families, and their organizations. Visit www.oncallinternational.com to learn more.