With the summer months approaching and great deals for flights being advertised daily, it sometimes seems like even the remote corners of the world are accessible with a single click and some hours spent on a flight to the next destination.
Women travelling or travelling solo is a not a new phenomenon, however recent years have shown that modern travel show different patterns in the way in which we travel. The number of women travelling for work, leisure and solo, is on the way up. But there is also a darker side emerging, highlighted by the recent horrific incidents such as the two Scandinavian hikers killed in Morocco or the murder of Carla Stefaniak in Costa Rica last year. Statistics tell complex and sometimes unimaginable stories, however there are steps we can take to look after our own safety and fully embrace the experience travelling brings.
According to recent research and surveys conducted by a variety of organisations, the number of women travelling for business and domestic reasons is increasing year by year. The number of women travelling to medium and high-risk countries is also on the rise. The George Washington University School of Business reported that nearly two-thirds of travellers are women travelling solo with the numbers doubling in the past five years. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest association of managers, buyers and service providers conducted a research together with WWStay, revealing that more than half of corporate travel buyers say they have a higher percentage of females in their travelling populations than just three to five years ago. The research into travel patterns also shows a consistent trend that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and this phenomenon is only rising.
However, with the increasing number of female travellers, research and statistics has also shown that female travellers have suffered from safety related incidents varying from sexual assault, harassment, theft of belongings and drink spiking. This was also highlighted during our Northcott Global Solutions (NGS) lone female traveller workshops, where women shared their experiences of security related incidents that have occurred during their travel, varying from sexual harassment, intimidation, serious assault and drink spiking. In 2019, how can you be prepared to experience travels and the special moments of discovering new cultures and cities, without the fear of being paranoid but also not exposing yourself to complacency?
Safety starts with knowledge of the destination country and with being prepared. Knowing useful tips like arranging a trusted driver to pick you up from the airport, knowing the names of local reputable taxi companies, being mindful of not flashing expensive items when you are out and about on your own, being aware of conversations you have with new acquaintances and knowing your own limits – these are all helpful and simple tips to aid safe travel. It is also useful to make sure that your trusted contact knows your itinerary, may it be your employer, family, friend or your emergency assistance company. It is similarly important to find out how women are perceived in the destination country, if there are any gender specific cultural or legal restrictions and if there are any particular risks for female travellers that you should be aware of. Understanding why cultural differences matter is key to safe travel. Many women from western cultures will dress differently from those in the Middle East or Africa. Defying these customs and rules may be strictly forbidden in some societies and put you at risk. Understanding local customs and dress codes for women, together with the cultural rules that exist in the country of travel, is the foundation for being prepared.
Travelling can be an experience that provides professional development, freedom and clarity, and deeply personal moments. It can give endless opportunities to meet new people and gives a chance to be reminded of the kindness of strangers and the curious nature of human beings. But it can also expose you to vulnerabilities and dangers of opportunists or the terrors of the modern society. Taking a conscious step to be prepared, aware of your own profile and how it may be perceived in the destination country, is a great way to reduce the likelihood of any of those fears or concerns of becoming a sad reality. When the modern world gives opportunities for travel – may it be for work, for leisure or going solo – being prepared with your own toolkit of knowledge is a great first step for the journey ahead.
For more information, please visit: https://www.shetravel.co.uk
SheTravel is a women only network and online web-based forum for female travellers to share information to aid safe travel, wherever their destination may be.
- Access to a community of fellow travellers to ask questions and travel tips.
- Access to country profiles to read about country risk and female specific safety advice.
- Articles on safety and security.
- Safety guidebooks.
- Information on training and events.
- Discount and promotional offers for SheTravel members for events and training.
More information or to register: https://www.shetravel.co.uk
About the author
Anna-Liisa is Head of Risk Analysis with Northcott Global Solutions and is the founder of SheTravel initiative, the women only network and online web-based forum for female travellers to share information to aid safe travel. After delivering lone female traveller workshops in London and listening to the stories around the room, she wished to create a community which brings together all the experience of female travellers and offers a safe environment in which to exchange information. Anna-Liisa is also an Associate Member of The Security Institute.
Anna-Liisa holds an MA in International Relations and Security, BA in Politics and Governance with a complementary year in Criminology and has completed a course in Political Journalism at Georgetown University with the Fund for American Studies. After her studies, Anna-Liisa was a trainee with NATO HQ Counter-Terrorism Section in Emerging Security Challenges Division and also assisted the Gender Adviser Office on the project on the implementation of the UNSCR 1325. Anna-Liisa completed a course in “A Comprehensive Approach to Gender in Missions”, Royal Navy Academy Amsterdam with European Security and Defence College sent by NATO in order to facilitate the research into the projects. After NATO, Anna-Liisa remained working in the field of security and freelanced as an external analyst. In London, she also volunteered as a caseworker for Victim Support, specially trained in Sexual Violence, Working with Young Victims, Antisocial Behaviour, Bereavement by Homicide and Major Incident Response.