Phyllis Stoller in Ethiopia. Travel Advice for women going to Africa.

5 Unexpected Dangers in Travel for Women

the Women's Travel Group in Easter island, Chile. Ask  us for travel advice for Chile

Here we are in absolutely no danger in Easter Island, Chile.   Looking over almost 29 years of organizing travel for women at The Women’s Travel Group, we see patterns and like to give travel advice for women. Dangers encountered have not been political (minus one riot in Cartagena). Nor have dangers been terrorism. Nor have dangers been natural (minus a rockfall here and there). The most frequent dangers have been quite ordinary and easy to avoid.

Here they are; Cobbled streets combined with jet lag, fatigue or inattention. In historic cities, it is hard to avoid the cobbled streets. In some like Lisbon, cobbles are combined with steep hills. In others like Istanbul, cobbles are 6-8 inches deep, so when pried out, they leave a very dangerous hole. Ironically cobbled streets are generally the ones lined with the most charming buildings. It is so easy not to look where you are walking.   Heavy carry-on bags.. We’ve all lost faith in airlines’ ability to deliver our luggage. According to the Air Travel Consumer Report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, you face less than a 1 percent chance that a major airline will misplace your bags (this statistic is from 2012; other statistics can be found on the link above). As a result or more heavy carry on, the crew is increasingly reluctant to lift bags into the overhead. In fact British Airways site says you must be able to lift your own bag.

Therefore a second unexpected danger which needs travel advice: is the lower back damage you incur dragging your bag around airports, into tight bathroom stalls, and lifting in then removing it from the overhead rack.  

Buffets are dangerous. More travelers get sick when offered buffet meals. This is due to semi-cooked foods that sit for a time and to the fact that we overeat. Dangerous foods are oil soaked in Arab countries, uncooked items like fruit compotes handled poorly, half-cooked meats and bowls of dairy products like yogurt/ whipped cream topped desserts, and the obvious shellfish and fish. Go for packaged dairy foods- butter and yogurts, stews with vegetables and peel your own fruit. Nothing seems safe? Bread and hard cheese or fully cooked chicken is your dinner.  

Fatigue. For some reason, travelers over-schedule themselves, days before trips. Especially women stress over packing and the home/office front issues. Leave exhausted and you are more likely to get sick. Get ready in a rush last minute, and you will forget something or pack it where you cannot find it. How often do we hear: I must have lost my xxx. Then I found it in the pocket of my xxx. Or I have to buy a replacement xxx.  

Double-checking the guide. Smart controlling women often challenge guides. This lack of trust in a professional can evolve into dangerous situations. A guide knows what areas to avoid, what taxis should not be hired, and what to do if there is a snafu. Things happen, a riot, a water main break, bad weather, a strike, a theft. The travel guide is a trained professional who knows what to do, especially if the police are needed. So when you worry about ISIS or airport lines, or whether your wifi will work or if you will get your aisle seat…. realize that the most dangerous things in travel are the most obvious and the easiest to avoid.  

Travel Tips from The Women’s Travel Group, smart tours for women since 1992. For information about our trips, go to For direct contact, Email Phyllis 646 309 5607