Advice for women travellers
Each country has its own distinct legal system. If you’re travelling internationally, you should get informed about your destination’s legal framework. You should also find out about the social customs governing gender norms there.
Below you will find useful advice on legal, cultural, security, health and social considerations relevant to women travellers.
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 specifically
- Always check the Safety and Security section of your destination’s advice for specific information about women’s safety; this will give you knowledge you need to better protect yourself and travel safe
- Sign up for our free and confidential Registration of Canadians Abroad service to keep in touch with Canada wherever you are
- Research appropriate clothing options for your destination: norms vary according to each country’s laws and customs, and not following them could put your safety at risk
- Plan to 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 ones abroad
- Get prepared by finding out everything you can about the culture, local customs and gender roles in your destination country; consider seeking information from women born and raised there or who’ve travelled there frequently
When you’re abroad
- Carry a fully charged phone programmed with emergency contact numbers, including the Emergency Watch and Response Centre and the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate
- Consider adding the coordinates of local emergency services to your phone after researching how local authorities respond to reports from women in your destination country
- Be cautious if you decide to go out alone, especially at night, and share your plans with your family or friends, whether they are travelling with you or back home
- Choose carefully what you post online, and avoid sharing your exact location on social media
- 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 robbed, stay calm and don’t resist: resistance can increase the risk of violence
- Keep information about your accommodations private—for example, keep your room number and location private and confirm the identity of any visitors (including staff members)
- For added security, pack a door alarm, a wearable alarm or a rubber door wedge
- Use legal (that is, registered) and reputable taxis, and choose reserved seating in trains if available
- Use women-only travel options, such as women-only buses or train carriages, if available
For safe-travel advice for 2SLGBTQI+ travellers, including trans women, see Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.
Travelling with children
If you are travelling with children, visit Children, which has information about consent letters for children travelling outside Canada.
If you are travelling with an infant, bring plenty of baby essentials—for example, diapers and formula—which may be unavailable in your host country. If you plan to breastfeed, follow the example of local women, since practices vary from culture to culture. When in doubt about local practices, opt to breastfeed in private.
Travelling while pregnant
If you’re pregnant or planning to be, see Travelling while pregnant. When you visit 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.
If you’re going to give birth outside Canada, if possible identify a local hospital or birthing facility beforehand that is up to Canadian standards. Also make sure to get the necessary custody and legal documents if you have children with someone while you’re abroad. For information about children born to Canadian parents abroad, see Birth abroad.
- Visit a health care professional well before you travel (6 weeks ahead of departure is a good target) to discuss any health risks associated with your destination
- Pack a travel health kit, especially if you’ll be travelling outside 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 your destination country’s embassy or consulate to make sure it is legal there
In some destinations, women travellers risk being harassed, verbally abused or physically or sexually assaulted. Local authorities’ response to reports of sexual violence may differ substantially from those in Canada.
To help prevent sexual assault, stay alert and ensure your accommodations have adequate security features, such as cameras and security guards with radios.
Rape and sexual assault and aggression against foreigners can occur in many places, including beach resorts. Exercise caution with strangers or recent acquaintances, be wary of offered rides or other invitations and avoid taking public transportation or walking alone at night.
Read Sexual assault abroad to learn what precautions you can take. If you are sexually assaulted abroad, report the assault immediately to the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate or contact our Emergency Watch and Response Centre. Our officials may be able to guide you through the process.
Human traffickers frequently recruit foreigners, particularly women, through fraudulent ads for work as hostesses, models, nannies, maids or other seemingly legitimate jobs. Our Travel Advice and Advisories can tell you whether the country you want to visit has high levels of trafficking.
Proceed with caution if you’re going abroad to meet someone new. Don’t give the person information about your finances, and ensure you have a plan for leaving the destination country. Protect your return airline ticket or have enough money to get back to Canada and—most important—protect your Canadian passport. For more information on how to protect yourself from international scams, visit Overseas fraud: an increasing threat to the safety of Canadians and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
A forced marriage is one in which 1 or both people do not, or are not able to, consent to the marriage. Forced marriage is a violation of human rights. It may be the result of being pressured into marriage through kidnapping, harassment, emotional blackmail or any other threat, including by family members. For more information, visit and Marriage overseas .
Depending on the destination, women travellers could be at an increased risk of domestic violence, including being left stranded or experiencing mistreatment by a partner or relative. In some countries, a wife must have her husband’s permission to obtain travel documents and to leave the country. For information on protecting yourself, visit Physical assault abroad.
If you need help
For help with emergencies abroad contact:
- the nearest Canadian office abroad (during office hours)
- the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa
- by phone at +1 613 996 8885
- by email at email@example.com
- via WhatsApp at +1 613-909-8881
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