If you're a woman and you've done any amount of solo travel, chances are that friends, family, and maybe even strangers have brought up concerns about safety. While European destinations are generally perceived as safe, some parts of the developing world are not. Moreover, some places just aren't that safe for anyone -- female or otherwise -- while other places considered "safe" have a legal system mired in sexism and injustice. Here are a few destinations that some consider unsafe to travel alone as a woman, along with our thoughts on the hype.
I lived in India for most of my 20s and still visit every year. And while there certainly have been incidents where I have needed to take extra precautions, I never felt like my safety was truly threatened. That said, women traveling to India should be prepared for unwanted attention, and should avoid going out alone at night — but this is true in a lot of places. Sexual harassment is commonplace in India (where it’s known as “eve-teasing”), as are low-level scams designed to separate tourists from their money. However, violent crime — particularly against foreigners — is fairly uncommon.
India Hotel Pick:
While Mexico has long been considered a safe-enough destination, particularly in tourist hot spots like Cancun and Cabo San Lucas, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning last August, detailing incidents of violence (including shootings), organized crime, and kidnapping in select areas. While travelers should be vigilant, it’s important to note that crime in Mexico tends to have more to do with drug trafficking and financial gain, rather than crimes for which women are likely to be specific targets.
Mexico Hotel Pick:
Although Istanbul is generally considered a safe, progressive city, some parts of Turkey have a less savory reputation, owing primarily to terrorism attacks. There was also a coup attempt in 2016, and diplomatic relations between Turkey and many Western countries have been strained over the past few years. As such, there’s currently a U.S. State Department travel warning out for Turkey, and diplomatic personnel are restricted from visiting tourist attractions and crowded venues right in Istanbul. That said, safety concerns in Turkey are not specific to women, though women may receive their fair share of unwanted attention if traveling solo. Erring on the conservative side of fashion (think looser clothing and higher cut tops) will certainly help foreign female travelers divert attention away from themselves, particularly outside of Istanbul.
Turkey Hotel Pick:
Tourism is a hugely important industry in Egypt, though there are terrorism concerns, including in tourist areas. While off-the-beaten-path destinations see very few solo female tourists, popular spots such as Cairo, Sharm El-Sheikh, and Luxor get lots of solo female travelers. With that in mind, it’s never a bad idea to dress conservatively when in Egypt, and while headscarfs can be a useful accessory for covering your head in a mosque or even just giving you a little respite from the hot sun, lots of Egyptian women — including many Muslim women — don’t don headscarves at all when not at religious sites.
Egypt Hotel Pick:
Although generally considered one of the safest and most Westernized spots in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates still has some pretty sexist, backwards laws. You may remember a couple of years ago when a woman was raped and then arrested for extramarital sex after reporting the incident. While there’s no travel warning against the U.A.E. at the time of research, women should be extremely cautious — the law is not on their side.
United Arab Emirates Hotel Pick:
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