Safety and Security
While sexual equality has meant that women are gain to the same rights as the male in the West, sadly this is not the same in all the countries of the world. Personal research into the area you are going to is essential, especially when travelling to Eastern cultures. It is important that you observe the culture around you, observing how the other women dress and behave, especially if you are planning on staying for a longer period of time.
For the woman travelling alone, a pair of dark sunglasses in some countries will not go amiss. Avoid eye contact with strangers, especially when travelling alone on public transport. Never behave in a way that will attract unwanted members of the opposite sex and beware of the clothing customs in the country you are visiting.
When travelling alone, always leave a schedule with someone at home and check in at prearranged times. When planning what to take with you on a trip, it is advisable to leave behind any expensive jewellery or objects and clothing that will draw attention to yourself.
Personal Health Issues
Remember that travelling can disrupt a normal menstrual cycle. The stress of preparation and tiredness that comes with jet lag and other issues surrounding the trip, can mean that your periods could be late or, in some circumstances, stop altogether. If you are worried that you are late and there is a risk of pregnancy, it is best to do a test. However if there is no risk of this, it could be considered a side effect of travel.
Some women, especially when travelling to the far corners of the globe, prefer to suppress their periods for the time they are away. This is possible to do if you are on certain kinds of pill or wanting to use them for your trip. In each situation, you should discuss the issue with your Family Planning expert or TravelHealth Specialist. This would also be a good time to check that you are up to date with your smear test.
If you are planning on having a period while you are away and are travelling outside of the Western World, it would be wise to take supplies with you. If travelling to remote areas where disposal could be a problem, a supply of small disposable bags and a tub of baby wipes should get you through.
Some women suffer from bladder problems, especially after having children, and are thus tempted not to drink too much when travelling. It is important in a hot climate to drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluid to avoid dehydration.
Urine infections and thrush are common among women travelling, especially when taking certain kinds of malaria tablets. If you suffer on a regular basis at home, ask your doctor if you can take some medication with you, along with a tube of canesten or your regular thrush treatment pack
In the relaxed environment of a far off country, the issues of contraception might come up — pre-plan and think ahead. If you are likely to have casual sex, always carry kite mark condoms with you in your purse, even if you are on the pill. If you are taking the oral contraceptive pill along with Doxycycline for more than 2 weeks, discuss your contraception with your regular Family Planning Specialist. Remember that traveller’s diarrhoea can interrupt the absorption of the pill, thus leaving you with an inadequate level of protection. If this is the case, a barrier method should be used as well. Discuss this with your Travel Health Specialist or Family Planning clinic before you go.
When crossing time zones, plan ahead when to take your oral contraceptive pill, keeping in mind that a break of more than 24 hours between doses will lead to inadequate protection and the possibility of breakthrough bleeding.
In today’s society the female traveller has a whole host of opportunities before her and should not be deterred from scaling the highest peaks. With good pre-planning and careful thought it can be a rewarding experience, as well as a safe one.
Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional. Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.