Considerations for women travelers

NOTE: While it is important for all students to learn about customs and issues faced in the country in which they are studying, there are specific countries and cultures where women in particular often face increased harassment and other issues. The tips below are meant to offer a glimpse inside what students may face with particular emphasis on women. However, it is equally important for everyone to realize that women are not the only population impacted by issues like harassment and sexual violence.  Everyone has a right to make decisions that are right for them. Please note that if a student is harassed or sexually assaulted, it is NEVER their fault. It is always the fault of the perpetrator, no matter the country or culture.

While all students should remain vigilant throughout their international travels, women often have to take extra precautions to remain as safe as possible. Women travelers are more likely to be affected by religious and cultural beliefs of the foreign countries they visit.  

Each country that you visit will have different local laws and customs about women’s clothing and appearance, so pack accordingly. For example, what you wear in a mall in Mexico might not be acceptable in a mall in the United Arab Emirates. Research local laws and customs because they can be quite different from the United States, especially if you intend to travel alone. There are countries that may require a woman to have a male escort to leave a country.

You can read more information regarding gender and sexual health abroad on the Global Penn State website. The U.S. State Department also has additional information specifically for women travelers.

Next Page: Considerations for LGBTQA travelers