Advice for women travellers
Millions of Canadian women travel abroad safely every year, but health and safety challenges in some countries could influence your choice of destination and the way you plan your travels.
Before you go
- Read our Travel Advice and Advisories for key information on your destination, including local laws, religions and customs, especially some that may affect women travellers.
- Sign up for our Registration of Canadians Abroad service to keep in touch with Canada wherever you are.
- Research appropriate clothing options for your destination. They vary according to each country’s laws and customs, and not following them could put your safety at risk.
- If you’re going abroad to meet someone new, confirm their identity. Cases of fraud, including personal and relationship scams, are increasingly common.
- Visit a health care professional preferably six weeks before you travel and discuss any health risks associated with your destination.
- If you’re pregnant or planning to be, see our page on Travelling while pregnant. When you see your health care professional, ask about diseases that may have negative effects on your pregnancy. Make sure your travel health insurance covers pregnancy-related conditions.
- Medical services at your destination may not be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you’ll be travelling away from major cities. Some items, such as feminine hygiene products, may be hard to find in some parts of the world.
- If you need to bring medication with you on your trip, contact the embassy or consulate of your destination country to make sure it is legal there.
When you're abroad
- Carry a fully-charged phone programmed with emergency contact numbers, including the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
- Keep in touch with family and friends back home. Canada's consular officials often receive calls from worried friends or relatives who have not heard from their loved one abroad.
- Stay with your group as much as possible. If you’re going out alone, share your plans with your family or friends, whether they are travelling with you or back home. Be cautious if you decide to go out alone, especially at night.
- Carefully choose what you post online and avoid sharing your exact whereabouts on social media.
- Be wary of people who are overly friendly. Avoid telling strangers where you’re staying or where you’re travelling next.
- Plan your outings. It’s best to know where you’re going and how to get back. If you do get lost or need directions, ask a police officer or the concierge of a nearby hotel.
- Watch your drinks as they are being prepared and served. Never leave your food or drinks alone and never accept snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from strangers.
- If you are victim of a robbery attempt, stay calm and don’t resist. Resistance can increase the risk of violence.
Look into private or women-only room options if you are planning to stay in shared accommodations. This includes hostels and vacation rentals, including those found through room- or home-sharing platforms. Book in advance and try to confirm with someone directly.
Choose accommodations where you will feel safe. Not all hotels and resorts have the same level of security. Tourists have allegedly been sexually assaulted by resort staff, other guests and security personnel at resorts at popular tourist destinations.
Wherever you stay, take precautions:
- Keep your room number and location private.
- Close and lock your door(s) and window(s), even when you are in the room.
- Before you open your door to anyone, even a staff member, confirm the person’s identity.
- For added security, you could pack a door alarm, a wearable alarm or a rubber door wedge.
- Ask the hotel or airport to call for transport and check the driver’s ID before getting into the car. Make sure you use legal (registered) and reputable taxis.
- Choose reserved seating in trains, if it’s available.
- Think about sitting next to women, families, the driver or guards on public transportation.
- Look into women-only travel options such as women-only buses or train carriages.
- Ensure your gas tank is always at least half full.
- Bring printed maps in case GPS systems or app-based navigation systems fail.
- Keep the car windows and doors locked.
- Never hitchhike and never pick up hitchhikers.
For safe-travel advice for LGBTQ2 travellers, including trans women, see Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad.
Travelling with children
If you are going abroad with children, visit the Children section of our website.
If you need help
If you or someone you know is being pressured into marriage through kidnapping, harassment, emotional blackmail, or any other threat, including by family members, know that forced marriage is a human-rights violation under international law. Seek help.
For help with other emergencies abroad, or if you’re a victim of abuse, including sexual assault, physical assault, domestic abuse, involuntary confinement, or the withholding of your passport and finances, inform the local authorities and contact the nearest Canadian office abroad during office hours. After hours, contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa by phone at +1 613 996 8885 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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