General Travel Tips
- Research cultural attitudes and experiences of women in your host country.
- Be aware of cultural differences, including body language, that may be misinterpreted in your host culture.
- Trust your instincts. If you do not feel safe or if someone's behavior is making you uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation.
- Travel in groups of at least two, especially when you are unfamiliar with a city or town. Walk with purpose and avoid eye contact with strangers.
- Firmly say "no" to any invitation you do not want and turn away. Ignore persistent overtures.
- Stay in control. Don't drink alcohol in excess; staying sober allows you to be alert and aware of your surroundings.
Depending on your destination, you may find gender roles to be very different than what you are accustomed to in the United States. Women may not have the same status or role in the host country. Students may experience anxiety, frustration, and even anger after experiencing these differences first hand.
You may find pre-existing stereotypes of American women, or assumptions about American sexuality and gender roles. These stereotypes are drawn from many sources including movies, television, and the internet. If you are in a situation where you are confronted with issues that make you uncomfortable, it is important to talk with your on-site contact about various coping mechanisms to handle the concern and to ensure your personal safety. In many cases, students walk away with a greater understanding of the cultural influences and the obstacles facing their peers. You may also develop a more sophisticated appreciation of cultural differences and gender equality.
In order to have a safe, successful and truly rewarding experience it's important to be aware of cultural differences involving gender roles, expectations and norms, as well as dating and behavioral expectations. The following are a few resources specifically for female travelers.
Practical tips specifically of interest to the female traveler (from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade).
A collection of country-specific advice from women travelers.
Information for women travelers written by women travelers; there is also a free e-mail newsletter you can subscribe to from this site.
GVSU's resource center for victim advocacy, violence prevention, and other gender-specific issues.