How to Stay Safe in the Most Dangerous Destinations for Women Travelers

Last Updated on October 21, 2020

Travel safety is the most important thing in a trip, especially for women. The US State Department often warns travelers about booking a flight to a certain risky destination because of its violence and crime rates, some places get more than a single warning though.

But the latest warnings are particularly remarkable, as the incidents behind them impacted many women and highlighted the importance of safety for female travelers, whether they’re backpackers, business travelers, or simply on a peaceful vacation.

As solo female travel is rising, it’s vital for every woman to know the most dangerous places. This list comprises the lowest rated countries but this doesn’t necessarily mean to never go there. It means “Be careful and take the necessary precautions.”

the 10 most dangerous destinations for women travelers, along with smart
tips for how to stay safe while traveling

#1 – Egypt

The reason why Egypt is so dangerous that our government has warned travelers about going there is the several terrorist deadly attacks, targeting tourist sites, public transportation, government officials and security forces, public venues, and a diplomatic facility.

However, Egypt is interesting in that there are plenty of people who still book flights to this country without any problems, besides, Egyptians can be really hospitable.

Keep in mind that even in the parts of the world where there are violence issues and political problems, danger levels don’t reach the 100%. There is certainly cause for concern but that doesn’t mean you should cancel your travel plans.

How to Stay Safe in Egypt

– Be always on your guard. Some women travelers reported that Egyptian men can be aggressive and would harass female tourists mercilessly, particularly in crowded markets.

– It is important to respect local dress codes in Egypt and try to completely avoid attracting attention. Keep your shoulders and knees covered and it’s better to wear very loose clothing that can also cover your wrists, ankles, and even hair.

– Keep in mind that eye contact can be considered flirting. You may find it helpful to wear sunglasses.

– Consider joining a private or small group travel tour, at least at the beginning of your journey. This can make it easier to get oriented and learn more about the culture.

– In case you need to use the metro, search for women-only carriages. Also, use Uber instead of a taxi.

– If you’re staying in Cairo, choose good neighborhoods, such as Zamalek.

– Check out online travel guides and sites for local information for places you must visit or interesting events.

#2 – Morocco

This exotic North African country is risky because there might be high chances for terrorist violence against American citizens, according to the State Department, in addition to various crimes, including burglaries, street robberies, purse-snatching, pickpocketing, and aggressive panhandling, especially in major cities and popular tourist attractions.

How to Stay Safe in Morocco

– Street smart tips in Morocco are the same as in all other countries, such as wearing a cross-body bag, not flashing valuables, and walking quickly with purpose.

– Physical touching from male strangers is rare, but catcalling is very common. The best way to deal with it is to completely ignore the person and simply keep moving. In case you feel threatened, try to find the closest police officer to report the incident.

– You’ll notice a wide variety of clothing in Morocco. But it’s recommended to stick with modest outfits and avoid short-shorts, belly-baring shirts, and strappy tank tops to prevent attracting unwanted attention.

– In case you lose your way, never ask a random man on the street. You should rather ask a woman or a shopkeeper for directions.

– Consider learning a few Moroccan Arabic sentences because they can be more useful than French, especially in rural areas. However, basic French phrases are also useful.

#3 – Jamaica

Jamaica is so dangerous mainly due to its violent crime rate which is a serious problem throughout the country. The State Department recommends travelers to be careful, particularly in Montego Bay and Kingston. It can be risky even if you’re staying at a seemingly safe resort.

In fact, there were over a dozen cases of sexual assaults against American visitors to Jamaica that were reported to the U.S. Embassy in a 1-year period. Most of these took place at resorts, moreover, most were apparently committed by the resort staff. Well-known resorts can be fairly safe but going beyond those borders will mean dealing with unwanted attention.

How to Stay Safe in Jamaica

– The Jamaican culture can be extremely homophobic, so if you’re going with your girlfriend, make sure to be very discreet.

– Here, you should make sure to use your cross-body bag, but you don’t have to be overly concerned about covering up.

– Avoid using your credit cards or ATMs. Carry just enough cash for one day. If you need to use a credit card, keep an eye on the person handling your card. And if you need to get cash, use the ATM at your hotel.

– If you rent a car, avoid parking on the street if possible. Look for a spot inside a residential compound, in a parking lot with an attendant, or somewhere within your view.

#4 – India

India is one of the most popular destinations for solo female travelers but also one of the most dangerous. According to the State Department, The country keeps on encountering terrorist activities that might impact American citizens.

Previous attacks have targeted multiple public places, such as luxury and other hotels, mosques, markets, train stations, cinemas, and popular restaurants. Attacks have occurred during the busy evening hours in markets as well as other crowded spots but could take place at any other time.

How to Stay Safe in India

– Once outdoors, go with eyes wide open because sexual assault remains a serious and ongoing social issue, even with a companion.

– Make sure to wear long and loose clothing that covers your shoulders. You may consider buying and wearing an Indian outfit upon arrival. Many female travelers do.

– Be prepared for staring, as you’ll likely experience plenty of it.

– Try to begin and end your days as early as possible to avoid being out at night.

– If traveling by train, always buy first-class train tickets ahead of time and when moving inside the city, take women-only transportations.

– Never walk alone anywhere at night, and in smaller towns, try to have a male companion even though this may not be enough of a precaution.

– Areas such as Kerala and cities like Rishikesh, which are known for its regular influx of yoga students, are relatively safe, and so are Calcutta, Gujarat, and Punjab. Family-run guesthouses can be nice places to stay.

– Consider taking a small doorstop with you in case you’re staying in accommodations that make you uncomfortable, as they can help you slow an intruder down for a few seconds, enough time to find an escape route or call for help.

#5 – Peru

Peru is so dangerous due to frequent armed robberies, express kidnappings, petty theft, carjacking, and credit card fraud, which all are causes of concern to the State Department.

How to Stay Safe in Peru

– It is recommended to visit the mountain regions, smaller towns, and countryside over Peru’s major cities.

– Call an Uber or cab from your hotel. Avoid hailing on the street, especially in Lima. Ask your hotel for the number of a reputable company.

– When you’re in the taxi, put your purse on the floor right under your feet and place your suitcase in the car’s trunk.

– When hiking, never deviate from the beaten path especially if you’re alone.

– Avoid flashing jewelry or any other valuables. Wear the ones that you wouldn’t miss too much. Generally, the less, the better.

– Even if you speak Spanish, pretend you don’t when approached by strangers who seem suspicious.

– Avoid attending sporting events after dark because that’s when gangs are commonly active.

– When taking the bus, avoid cheap companies because they never enforce basic safety rules. Always keep your valuables on you and avoid placing anything in the stowed luggage compartment.

– A cross-body purse is an ideal option, as it’s difficult for someone to grab it and run.

– Carry only the amount of money you’re going to use for the day if possible, and consider leaving your credit cards and extra cash in a safe at your hotel room.

– Consider renting a cell from the airport to call taxis. Don’t forget to input useful emergency numbers, such as 105 for the police and 117 for an ambulance.

#6 – Bahamas

The risk of traveling to the Bahamas is surprising to many travelers, who cannot wait to visit these magnificent islands for blissful beach holidays. But places like Nassau and Paradise Island located in the New Providence have a high criminal threat level, including armed robbery and sexual assault. According to a 2012 United Nations report, the Bahamas has one of the highest incidences of sexual assault in the Caribbean.

Moreover, the U.S. Embassy has received several reports claiming that many tourists have been robbed at knifepoint or gunpoint in popular locations in Nassau; many of these incidents happened during daylight hours.

How to Stay Safe in the Bahamas

– This beautiful destination is basically all about the resorts, and probably fishing trips as well. Yet, its safety level ranks low.

– Always keep an eye on your drinks and food wherever you are, and try not to be easily distracted. If you go to the bathroom for a few minutes, don’t continue to drink or eat from what you’ve left at your table once you return.

– Avoid walking alone at all times or stick to more populated places and resorts.

#7 – Colombia

Colombia is a dangerous destination, despite the fact that it can be an extraordinary experience. It is not for nothing that the State Department warns against travel to this country, there are various potential dangers, including narcotrafficking, crime and kidnapping that can occur in certain urban and rural areas, and violence associated with the domestic insurgency.

How to Stay Safe in Colombia

– You can’t just pull out a cell phone on the street (like you normally do in the U.S.) or hang your purse on the back of your chair while at a café or restaurant. Here, you need to be extremely careful about every simple action.

– Make sure to book taxis in advance. Never ever hail them on the street.

– Never walk alone at night. If it’s really necessary, then be prepared for plenty of catcalling and other types of street sexual harassment.

– Overnight buses can be great travel options, but don’t choose the cheapest ones. The more reputable ones have higher prices but are more comfortable and much safer, as they have reclining seats and they check every passenger for weapons at boarding.

#8 – Ecuador

Ecuador is considered to be fairly safe by multiple websites for travelers, as well as being a place where locals are friendly and supportive of tourism. However, the State Department still assumes that pickpocketing, robbery, hotel room theft, express kidnappings, sexual assaults, and even rape are serious issues here.

How to Stay Safe in Ecuador

– Bus travel makes it easier for different people to hop on and off, thus promotes robbery and pickpocketing. Make sure to keep an eye on your valuables and don’t be easily distracted.

– Consider carrying hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and wet wipes everywhere you go because the toilet situation can be extremely… um, unpredictable.

– Ask trusted locals for advice on best and worst neighborhoods.

– Be extremely careful after dark and avoid going out alone.

#9 – Turkey

Turkey is among the most dangerous travel destinations due to the considerable amount of political instability it has experienced in the previous year.

Moreover, there were many terrorist attacks involving suicide bombings, shootings, and vehicle-borne bombings in popular tourist attractions, sporting events, private celebrations, public spaces, and military, police, and government facilities nationwide, which resulted in hundreds of deaths.

It’s highly important to check regular safety advisories, online travel guides, and the best travel agency sites before planning your trip.

How to Stay Safe in Turkey

– Assault is not nonexistent, so be careful. Conservative dress is a must in less urban regions. Bring a scarf and use it to cover your hair when needed, for example, while visiting a mosque.

– Only hail taxis from where there is plenty of light and traffic and use lowest denomination bills whenever possible.

– You should simply neglect aggressive restaurant owners and shopkeepers. Keep walking.

– The hammam experience is a must. The majority of the hammam options are either female-only or male-only so choose the right time to visit.

#10 – Guatemala

The threat of violent crime in Guatemala is a serious issue. Although not specifically targeted at American citizens, travelers still have to be careful since local criminals may presume that Americans are richer than average Guatemalans.

How to Stay Safe in Guatemala

– When heading to a restaurant or going back to your hotel at night, it’s recommended to use cabs and never walk home alone.

– To move from one city to another, either join a travel group from the beginning or ask a tour company (with door-to-door service) to take you there.

– Keep your valuables inside hidden pockets or leave them at your hotel. Even though robbery is gender-neutral, it’s a terrible experience for everyone.

– You may consider learning a few basic Spanish phrases, so you can ask for help, know the prices and where the bathroom is, or to simply say hello (well, this one is easy: ‘Hola’)

#11 – General Safety Advice

Always follow your instincts. If you have a feeling that it’s better to leave a certain place (taxi, bar, etc.) then just get out. Better to look foolish or rude than sorry.

Look to other women. Approach local women or mixed groups of men and women when you need to ask about something.

Do your homework about local authorities. Some are very corrupt, so your best option for help may be your local consulate or embassy.

To conclude, be careful everywhere! No one place is completely safe or completely dangerous. It’s very important to work with your own comfort levels, whether it’s a solo trip to Paris or Bangladesh.

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