Safety Tips for Women Travelling Abroad

18 October 2016 ,  —


International SOS and Control Risks talk about the importance of situational awareness

  • The number of women that travel abroad for business is growing year on year.1  
  • A 2015 survey of travellers found that for women: 80% worried about their personal safety while abroad, with financially motivated crimes being the most common concerns. 2
  • Almost 30% of the destinations women travel to are rated as having “Extreme”, “High”, or “Medium” travel risk.3
  • Women travelling to destinations rated as having “Extreme” or “High” travel risk increased 24%.1

woman hailing cab main picture

The number of women that travel abroad for business is growing year on year, and a recent survey found that 80% of women travellers worried about their personal safety while abroad. 

To support women travellers, International SOS and Control Risks recently held a Women Travel Workshop to share safety strategies.    

The one-day workshop held in Rosebank, was attended by female Security Managers, Risk Managers, Travel and HR Managers, Executive and Personal Assistants as well as women business travellers in general. During the workshop, over 50 delegates learned first-hand how to raise situational awareness, how to identify potential perpetrators, and what to do in the event that an incident occurs.

Holly McGurk and Henning Snyman of the International SOS and Control Risks security team led the session. Personal safety tips shared included:

  • Safe transport. Research the destination and get advice as to whether a meet-and-greet service is recommended, and whether taxi services are appropriate. 
  • When it comes to selecting a hotel, travellers should always opt for internationally branded business-standard hotels. 
  • Ensure the hotel room is equipped with a key-chain, deadbolt and spy-hole. Avoid rooms with interlocking doors.
  • Women should make a query about staying on “women only floors” as some international hotels in the Middle East afford their guests this option. 
  • “Blend in as much as you can”. One of the reasons why travellers become targets of crime is because locals can easily identify them as tourists. 
  • It is important for people to do research on the places they will be visiting before they go there. Understanding the culture of a place is a good safety mechanism. 

In some countries, making strong eye contact with a man may attract unwanted attention from him. Wearing sunglasses in public may help prevent a potential problem.

Snyman explains that there are many countries which present various challenges that may affect women when they are travelling. Based on the destination, women may want to carry a scarf or shawl to cover their shoulders or hair, should they reach a place that has rigid stipulations on dress code.  

“It’s not to say that women will always come face to face with peril when they are travelling. However, it goes without saying – prevention is better than cure. Organisations should ensure that they prepare their travellers with useful information that will assist them to travel with peace of mind,” continues Snyman.


About International SOS and Control Risks

Our alliance brings together two of the world’s leading medical and security specialists, International SOS and Control Risks. Our combined resources and expertise are well placed to meet the customers’ growing need for integrated travel security risk services. Our solutions ensure that mobile employees are safe and productive and help employers with their duty of care obligations. 50 dedicated experts, located across the globe with access to over 200 dedicated travel security experts through 26 regional Assistance Centres and a partner network of over 700 accredited providers, produce global travel security information and analysis 24/7. We also provide travel security training, preventative travel assessment, support with the development of travel security risk policies, evacuation plans and the latest technology to enable clients to track and communicate with their mobile employees.

About KPMG

KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 155 countries and have more than 162,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

Notes to Editors

1. International SOS TravelTracker data. International flights completed by 5,364,980 travellers between 1 October 2014 – 30 September 2015.  A trip abroad is defined as the country of arrival differing from the home country of the traveller.

2. International Travel: Risks and Reality 2015, an Ipsos Global advisor research study.

3. International SOS and Control Risks assign a travel risk rating to countries based on the threat posed to travellers and expatriates by political violence (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war), social unrest (including sectarian, communal and ethnic violence) as well as violent and petty crime. Risk ratings range from Extreme, High, Medium, Low, to Insignificant. . Learn more about Travel Risk Map 2016 and view the map  online at An interactive digital version is also available.

4. Click HERE to view more International SOS content on Women travel security.