New travel guide for women

The new travel guide “Her Own Way — A Women’s Safe-travel Guide,” was recently issued by Foreign Affairs Canada. The guide includes a variety of safety tips for the female traveller, and highlights the importance of knowing the laws and customs of a destination country, particularly those pertaining to women’s rights, dress, premarital sex, homosexual relationships and drinking.

The guide notes the heightened danger Canadian women can encounter: “Partly due to the widespread misconception that Western women are flirtatious and promiscuous, a Canadian female may be seen as fair game, particularly if she looks different from the local women and is travelling alone.”

It also recommends that women draw up their own risk assessment based on health conditions, safety and security, political and economic factors, local laws, customs and cultural norms. Women need to be aware that many activities — such as wearing a bikini or having premarital sex — that are legal in Canada aren’t always so in foreign countries.

And the guide has advice geared to single women: wear a (fake) wedding ring and carry around a photo of your (fake) husband to avoid unwanted advances.

Some may think this borders on overcautious, but you can never be too safe. NDP MP Jenny Sims, deputy critic of Foriegn Affairs told the Star her reaction to the wedding ring suggestion: “Every step we take to protect women is good … but I must admit I had a bit of a giggle as well.”

Here are more highlights from the guide:

Know your risks
  • “Check to see if there’s a Travel Warning in effect for your destination and obtain information on safety and security, local laws and customs, health conditions, and entry requirements.”
Plan ahead
Pack lightly
  • “Try to have at least one hand free at all times. It may help to wear cargo pants or a vest with multiple pockets to store travel documents and gear. Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for bag-snatchers and pickpockets.”
Crime-proof yourself
  • “Lower your tourist profile and try not to give the impression that you’re lost or vulnerable. Know where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how to get back. Always carry the address or a business card from your accommodations. Study a street map before going out. Avoid opening a map in a public area or keep it hidden under a newspaper. If you get lost, try to get your bearings and ask for directions from a police officer, shopkeeper, or another woman on the street, or by finding a phone and calling your hotel or hostel.”


Prevent sexual assault
  • “If you feel threatened, don’t hesitate to draw attention to yourself by shouting and making a fuss.”
Travelling alone
  • “If touring solo for the day, leave a note in your room explaining where you’re going. If you don’t return as planned, this information could be used to track you down.”
  • “Avoid ground-floor accommodations or any room that has easy access from outside, such as from a balcony or fire escape. Book a room that’s close to an elevator and away from exits.”
If the worst happens
  • “Contact the local police immediately and ensure they file a report, even if you’ve only been threatened with violence. Inform consular officials at the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate. They can assist you with this process and help you find support to deal with the emotional, social, medical, and legal consequences of the crime.
  • If you can’t go to the police immediately, write down all the details you can remember about the crime. If possible, have photographs taken of visible injuries.”
Stay connected
  • “Stay in touch with family and friends back home, especially if you’re travelling solo. Whether by e-mail, social networking, phone, fax, or letter, keep them posted on where you are and where you’re headed next.”
Business travel
  • “Get thoroughly acquainted with your destination country’s customs and business protocol, especially in cultures where women don’t generally hold key corporate positions.”
  • “Find out what women wear in your host country before you arrive. Pack a suitable wardrobe based on your research.”
Health issues
  • “Consult our free booklet Well on Your Way: A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad for advice on the importance of having an individual health assessment by your doctor or at a travel health clinic; obtaining travel health insurance; travelling with prescription medications; immunizations; tropical diseases; and other vital travel health topics.”
Don’t get scammed
  • “Be cautious about divulging personal information to anyone you’re networking with. It could be used to steal your identity, often in order to access credit, purchase property, make false claims for medical services, or obtain other benefits in your name.”

Do you have any tips for safe travel? Tell us in the comments. 

Sources:, Star

Photo © belton

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