Both male and female travellers are now equally likely to take part in adventurous activities and similar advice needed, for example, on personal safety, hazardous activities, alcohol, drugs, sexual risk-taking and respect for local customs.

Sexual awareness and safety

Personal safety is a particular consideration for female travellers who may be subjected to sexual harassment and sexual assault. This may be from other travellers or sometimes from locals.

  • Men can also be harassed, sometimes directly by sex workers or pimps who may sometimes be taxi drivers or hotel staff.

Commercial sex work is not only a women's province because male sex workers making themselves available to both women and other men is well recognised in some tourist resorts

  • Sensible precautions such as avoiding going around unaccompanied especially after dark, being aware of high-risk localities and perhaps carrying self-operated 'screamers' can be considered.

Respect for local traditions

Wearing scanty clothes can inadvertently cause offence in many countries

While at home we usually understand the local cultural values, limitations and norms of appropriate dress and behaviour although we may choose not to follow them. However, in many countries cultural values are very different from those travellers are accustomed to at home.

  • Particularly for women, wearing clothing such as sleeveless tops, short skirts or very tight trousers can cause offence or be seen as a sexual invitation.

  • Even when local people may seem to be scantily dressed, often due to poverty, this is inappropriate for foreign visitors.

  • Toilets on trains and in bus stations are notoriously unhygienic in many countries. Long dresses (such as Indian sarees) make it easier to go to the toilet at the roadside.

While the traveller may not agree with local facilities and values, it is important to observe these traditions out of courtesy to the local population but also for personal safety. Dress codes are especially important when visiting sites of religious significance.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Travel health advisors should keep in mind whether travel is possibly being arranged for the purpose of female genital mutilation. FGM is usually carried out between infancy and puberty and it is illegal in the UK to take a child abroad for this purpose.

Assistance is available for advice from the organisations listed here.

Specifically women's issues

Menstruation and Contraception

  • Tampons may not be readily available.

  • It is possible to postpone menstruation by taking oral contraceptive tablets continuously, or an injectable long-acting contraceptive. However inconvenient breakthrough bleeding may still sometimes occur especially with the latter.

  • Oral contraception may be compromised if the tablets are not absorbed due to diarrhoea or vomiting. Temporary barrier methods of contraception may then need to be considered.

Travel during Pregnancy is considered in course 7