Women Traveling Abroad Resources
Sign up for Journey Woman’s Newsletter for up-to-date information on traveling abroad for women.
The Woman Traveling Solo: Read up on how, why, and where women are traveling solo from transitionsabroad.com.
Women Travel Portal: A portal on the Transitions Abroad web site specifically for women.
Women Living/Traveling Abroad
Women going on study abroad programs outnumber men by about 2 to 1. Some orientation materials exist to address women’s concerns and issues, but often women are on their own. One of the biggest problems seems to stem from the American woman’s cultural bias that she is capable, independent and that it is her right to do anything that a man can do and go anywhere that a man can go. Unfortunately, this is not how women are perceived in many other countries. Even in Western Europe (a place that we tend to think of as similar to the U.S.) attitudes vary tremendously, especially toward American women who are thought to be “loose” or “easy.” This opinion is created/reinforced by American television shows and films, something most countries import and view on a regular basis. This unwanted attention can be irritating or it can even lead to dangerous situations. Always be attentive to what is socially acceptable, especially in relations with men, which vary from country to country. A simple “hello” or simple eye-contact can be perceived as an act of flirtation in some places, so always be aware.
This information is not meant to scare women away from going abroad but rather to help them be knowledgeable, prepared, and safe. Traveling alone provides insights into the foreign culture that cannot be gained when traveling with an American group or companion and sometimes when you cannot find friends who want to share your same travel experience, it is always best to go and explore it yourself. Never let being a woman stop you from traveling, as it is a confidence builder and gives you the freedom to plan what you really want to do and see. It promotes language learning and creates opportunities to meet more people from the host country and other travelers. Women should have, and do have, the opportunity to experience this. In fact, in some cultures being a woman may actually be to your advantage. A woman might have access to women’s society and friendship, something denied to men in Islamic cultures.
But really, the most important thing that women can do to keep themselves safe is to inform themselves of cultural differences, specifically those that pertain to attitudes toward women (and American women). Be very observant as to how other women are acting and dressing so as to not draw attention to yourself as an American woman. This is a perfect growth opportunity to really identify with the culture you are in, as it will invite you to become one of them. Some things should be avoided such as: short skirts, sleeveless tops, and short shorts even in the hottest of climates. Read as much as you can and speak with women who have been to your destination before you go, if possible.