It would undoubtedly be a better world if everyone were free to travel safely, but unfortunately, some places remain dangerous for women. That doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) go. It just means you have to keep your eyes open and play it safe.
According to a survey carried out by Trip by Skyscanner, the most dangerous country in the world for women right now is Egypt. It is important to remember that Egypt is currently considered pretty unsafe for all travelers: the U.S Department of State has issued a warning due to due terrorist activity, including attacks by ISIS.
However, women in particular tend to be targets of assault or harassment when traveling alone, an issue less likely to be encountered by men. Many women say that they feel safer in public places when accompanied by a man or as part of a group, which is why booking a guide or joining a small tour group could be a good option. It’s also important to respect Egypt’s conservative dress norms, covering as much of the body as possible (shoulders and ankles at the very least). Women should avoid eye contact with men when alone, use women’s carriages in the metro, and use Uber rather than taxis.
India is a beautiful and fascinating country and one that millions of people dream of visiting. However, if you are a woman, you may want to reconsider traveling here by yourself. While the UK government warns female travelers to be cautious, the U.S. Department of State states that women should not be traveling alone period.
As with Egypt, there are several things for travelers in general to bear in mind, including the risk of terrorism and a warning to stay away from certain areas of the country. However, the problem with India for female travelers is the worryingly high incidence of sexual assault and rape across the country. While most of these crimes are perpetrated against local women by men they know, foreign women traveling by themselves are also at risk.
Even putting assault aside, milder forms of harassment that are likely to make women uncomfortable are extremely common. If possible, get a male companion to travel in India if you are a woman and, as in Egypt, dress modestly to avoid attention. Some more touristy areas, such as Kerala and Rishikesh, tend to be safer.
Mexico is an incredibly popular destination, but increasing rates of gang violence, homicide, robberies, and kidnappings make visiting certain parts of the country inadvisable for anyone, male or female. There are currently warnings by the U.S. Department of State not to travel to Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas due to criminal activity. Rape, harassment, and assault are potential risks for women in paticular.
For the most part, Mexico’s resorts are safe, although there have been reports of crime even there. In 2016, TripAdvisor made headlines when several women came forward to say that the website had been deleting and censoring their posts about being raped in Mexican resorts. As with all the destinations on this list, the best advice is to be careful, avoid being out at night, travel in groups when possible, and stick to resorts and other tourist hubs.
Visiting Morocco carries some risk of encountering terrorist activity, but the main danger to visitors is of a more common nature: issues like robberies, pickpocketing, aggressive selling or panhandling, and purse-snatching are common, particularly in the crowded centers of tourist-friendly cities like Marrakesh and Fez. Women are likely to be catcalled and harassed, although physical touching and assault are less common than in other countries on this list.
Overall, Morocco is quite safe and tourist-friendly, however, women do report feeling uncomfortable and unsafe due to male attention and catcalling. Despite women in Morocco partaking of a variety of fashions, with some women wearing Western-style clothes, it is still recommended that visiting women cover up and dress modestly. The truth is you are already attracting some level of attention by being foreign, and you want to minimize this as much as possible.
Although conditions have improved appreciably, Colombia remains a bit of a dangerous destination due to drug violence and narco-trafficking, as well as other forms of crime such as robberies and kidnappings. However, it can be particularly bad for females, as the country does not have especially progressive attitudes to women’s rights: women who are assaulted do not tend to be supported by law enforcement or healthcare professionals. Also, catcalling is common, so women will have to prepare for this if they are walking around alone.
If you are traveling in Colombia, you will need to practice vigilance and common sense at all times. Be very careful with your valuables — no walking around with your phone out — stick to tourist areas, and make sure you book a reliable means of transport when traveling in between cities. Within cities, avoid public buses as they are known to be hubs of criminal activity.
All of these countries offer a wide range of wonderful experiences for tourists, and are very much worth visiting. The vast majority of tourists who visit do not encounter any issues and come home safely with great memories.
However, it is important to be realistic when planning a trip and to take into account the risks involved. If you are a woman who likes to travel solo, consider asking a male friend or family member to join you for parts of your journey that may be dangerous. If you choose not to, you will have to be smart about where you go and remain watchful of your surroundings.