Female Travellers: How to Deal With Sexual Harassment Abroad

Traveling is an incredible and enriching experience, and getting to see the world is both empowering and rewarding. That being said, unfortunately people can find themselves having to deal with certain types of harassment while abroad, and the chances of this happening increase if you are a woman and/or a solo female traveller. Some examples of sexual harassment include: sexist language, unwelcomed advances, and unnecessary familiarity. For all travellers, knowing how to protect yourself and deal with sexual harassment in case it does happen is important.

So, to help ensure you are safe as possible while traveling, here are some tips for how you can deal with sexual harassment abroad:

Know the country you are in

Before choosing where you want to travel, it is always helpful to research how women are treated in those destinations. There are certain countries and cities in particular that are rated higher for danger for women, including Cairo, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Delhi and Lima. You also want to familiarize yourself with cultural differences and what to expect, so that while you know your boundaries, you can also understand what is the accepted ‘norm’ or seemingly harmless for local interactions.

Trust your intuition

If any conversation, situation, place or anything feels off, uncomfortable, or too intrusive, trust your intuition. This could mean taking a different route, crossing the street, politely yet firmly disengaging from a conversation or situation, and/or getting to a safe space. You can always use the line of having someone ‘just there’ waiting for you, and walking away as well.

Trusting your gut may mean you may have to skip out on a certain activity or experience you were planning on, but it is well worth doing so to travel comfortably and safely.

Speak up and don’t be afraid to say “no”

While every situation is different, do not be afraid to speak up for yourself. Acknowledging someone’s presence but not engaging is a helpful way to avoid further harassment, and if it has gotten to the point where you need to disengage, you can politely but firmly say ‘no’ and get yourself to a safe space. Depending on the situation, if someone is grabbing at you, loudly declaring ‘no’ is a way to garner support from other people around you as well. Even with a language barrier, a demanding ‘no’ is well understood. Learn ‘no’, ‘help’, and ‘stop’ in the local language as well.

Dress appropriately to the culture 

While this is in no way to say that how a woman dresses warrants any type of harassment, dressing appropriately to the local culture is important. It is both respectful to the local culture and helps to avoid any confused glances based on attire or even harassment. So, before your departure, research what locals wear and pack appropriately in terms of coverage. If necessary, pack a headscarf and be prepared for attire differences from region to region.

Avoid walking alone at night

While walking is a great way to explore a destination, to help avoid harassment, female travellers should avoid walking alone at night. Explore by foot by day, but catch a car, stay local, or take public transport if it is the night-time norm for your destination. You want to be able to be aware of your surroundings while solo traveling, and being out at night by foot is a lot more challenging and just not worth it.

Overall, you’ll have an even more incredible experience abroad if you are prepared. You don’t want to travel in fear, but you do want to travel prepared and always aware of your surroundings.

Share this:


We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


    Disqus Comment
    Facebook Comment
comments powered by Disqus