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Traveling Abroad Alone

Did you know it is illegal in Laos to invite Lao nationals of the opposite sex to your hotel room? Or that you can be arrested in Saudi Arabia for "improper dress"? Each culture has its own view of what is appropriate behavior for women, and while you may not agree with those views, it is important to obey local laws and customs to avoid problems during your stay in another country. In addition to becoming familiar with the laws and customs of the places you wish to go, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs provides general information for women traveling alone. Remembering the following tips can help make your trip as safe and rewarding as possible.

Before you go...

  • Be sure your passport is still valid or apply for a new one plenty of time before you plan to travel. You will also need the right travel documents and visas for your destinations. For information on individual countries' entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. State Department's official Web site.

  • Make an effort to learn about the locations you plan to visit, their culture, and any problems that might be occurring there. The Bureau of Consular Affairs posts regular updates online to reflect developing situations in each country. Being a foreigner makes you stand out; a woman traveling alone can draw even more attention in some places. The more you know before you leave, the safer you'll be once you get there.

  • Leave a detailed itinerary and a copy of your passport's identification page with a close friend or relative at home. Include names, addresses and telephone numbers where you will be staying. Leave a copy of your flight and ticket information with him or her as well.

  • Leave valuables, excessive amounts of cash, unnecessary credit cards and jewelry at home.

  • Make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage while you're abroad. Your policy might not cover you overseas and you may need to purchase traveler's insurance

  • If you're pregnant, check with your doctor before you go overseas. If you experience complications, a medical evacuation could take several hours to arrange.

  • If you take prescription medication, make sure you have enough to last the duration of the trip, including extra medication in case your flight is delayed for some reason. Carry your prescriptions in their labeled containers as many countries have strict drug trafficking laws and might be suspicious of pills in unlabeled bottles. Bring your prescription information with you just in case.

On your trip...

  • Use common sense and be alert and aware of your surroundings. If you are unsure in general about the local situation, check with the American Citizens Services section of the local U.S. Embassy for the latest security information.

  • Don't tell just anyone that you're traveling alone. If you feel like you're being followed, walk into a store or other populated place and wait to see if the person you think is following you has passed. Don't be too embarrassed to ask for someone to double check for you to see if all is safe. Display confidence. By looking and acting as if you know where you're going, you may be able to ward off some potential danger.

  • Choose a hotel with good security and easy access to transportation. Make sure all the doors and windows in your room have locks that work properly. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, ask hotel security to escort you to and from parking lots or your room at night, and always use your peephole when someone knocks on your door.

  • Get directions before you go out. If you have questions, your hotel concierge or other hotel staff should be able to help. If you're lost, the safest people to ask for directions are families or women with children.

  • Be mindful about what you wear. People in other countries may not interpret how you dress the same way you do. What you consider casual clothing at home might be seen as provocative or inappropriate in other cultures. Thieves might choose you over another potential target based on your style of dress or the amount of makeup or jewelry you are wearing. Others might harass you because they find your clothing offensive. To be on the safe side, take your cues from local women or dress on the more conservative side.

You can find more advice and information about safe traveling by checking out the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site at http://travel.state.gov/.

 


 

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