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Her Own Way
Practical Tips and Advice for the Canadian Woman Traveller


From young university graduates to businesswomen to energetic grandmothers, Canadian women are travelling like never before. They're travelling solo, in pairs and as members of interest groups. And while women travel for many of the same reasons that men do, their social concerns, as well as their health and safety needs, are very, very different.

The following tips and advice are just a few of the many pertinent facts contained in the booklet, Her Own Way: Practical Tips and Advice for the Canadian Woman Traveller written by Journeywoman Editor, Evelyn Hannon and published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

  • A smart traveller is one who finds out everything she can about the culture and customs, and the role of women, in the places she'll be visiting. It makes sense to learn what to expect and prepare yourself for as many eventualities as possible.

  • Don't count on mainstream media to present information specifically relevant to the female traveller. Instead, supplement your reading with travel books, newsletters and magazines for women. They address, with appropriate empathy, the most important health, safety, cultural and emotional issues experienced by females on the road.

  • It's a good idea to travel light. A few days before your departure, you might want to try some test walks with your luggage. Pack your bag and make your way around the block. Visualize yourself climbing subway stairs or getting on and off a train unassisted. You'll probably go home and reduce the bag's content by half.

  • Extra security makes sense. Consider carefully whether to accept food or drink from strangers. Understand that drugging is always a possibility.

  • If you use contraceptive pills, be sure to take them every 24 hours. Don't be misled by crossing time zones.

  • Choose your accommodation carefully. You should avoid ground-floor rooms or any room that has easy access from outside (i.e. a balcony or fire escape). Book a room that is close to the elevator and away from exits. Stairwells allow troublemakers to hide and to come and go undetected.

  • If you can't make yourself understood in the local language, seek out female teenagers. Chances are they're studying some English at school and will take pride in being your translator.

  • If you travel into developing countries and male-dominated societies, make every effort to dress modestly. In some places, customs based on religious and moral beliefs strongly influence the way the women dress. For you to blatantly break these rules would be considered irreverent and might put you in jeopardy. Why not adapt your clothing to fit the customs of the host country? It becomes an interesting and educational challenge.

  • In some cultures, making eye contact with a man is a sign that you want his company. Some women solve this problem by wearing dark glasses.

  • If you're not comfortable eating alone in the evening, have your main meal at lunchtime when even the finest restaurants offer their specialities at more reasonable prices.

  • Off travelling for the day? You should leave a note in your hotel room explaining where you're going. If you run into trouble, at least there will be clues to follow.

  • The pregnant traveller should check her insurance policy to make sure that she is covered for all eventualities. Most policies don't automatically cover pregnancy-related conditions or nursery care for premature infants.

  • Travelling with an infant? If you're breast-feeding, take your cues from local women, since cultural practices vary from country to country. However, when in doubt, try to breast-feed in private.

  • For the older woman, this is a wonderful time in your life to be travelling. In most cultures, age brings respect. Children will gravitate to you. Local women will be protective, and you'll suffer less from unsolicited male advances.

  • In certain cultures, businessmen may consider it acceptable to proposition or to flirt with visiting businesswomen. Don't be offended. A simple and direct "no" is appropriate.

    Editor's Note: For many, many more user-friendly bits of advice click here.


Canadian women say.......

    The three most important things about traveling: pack light, always wear comfortable shoes and SMILE!
    Erin Woodley, Canadian Olympic Silver Medalist, Synchronized Swimming 1996

    Travelling - it opens your eyes. It makes you realize how well off we are here in Canada.
    Captain Nicole Sauve, Pilot, Canada 3000 Airlines

    Oh Canada! I enjoy leaving it but I love coming back.
    Erica Ehm, Real Life with Erica Ehm Host, Life Network

    As a woman, my fear of being cooped up in my home without new challenges, new conversations, new vistas, far outweighs any fears I might have of travelling solo in a strange land.
    Evelyn Hannon, Editor, Journeywoman Online E-zine

This information has been sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. The tips and advice are intended to heighten the safety and well-being of the Canadian woman traveller.






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