5 Tips for Women Travelers in the Middle East

5 Tips for Women Travelers in the Middle East

Traveling to the Middle East as a woman can be daunting. I was abroad for seven months in Jordan and Morocco, but I never had an issue. As long as you use common sense, prepare ahead, and ask questions, you will be able to have the great and safe experience you desire.

Here are a few tips that I gained from my own experiences in the region.

1. Travel in numbers

It is definitely better (especially as a woman) to have a travel partner or two or three. However, don’t go with a huge gaggle of people because that tends to be unwieldy. If you do have to travel alone, be sure to act like you know where you’re going (even if you don’t).

2. When asking for directions, address fellow women

It’s not that there aren’t kind and helpful men that could assist you without any sort of creepiness, it’s just that I found myself to be more comfortable talking to women and thought that they were more welcoming of my approaches.

3. Don’t be the least conservatively dressed person on the street

This is a personal rule, not a cultural thing, but it has served me well for a number of reasons. It’s a little bit like driving a car—you can drive confidently above the speed limit if there are other cars passing you. You won’t get pulled over, they will. In a country that tends to be a bit more conservative for ladies’ dress, like Morocco or Jordan, I felt most comfortable if there was always someone around me wearing something a little more revealing. At times it was inconvenient because of the heat, but at the end of the day I was glad I had done so. Pro tip on clothing: maxi skirts and light long sleeves are the way to go. Jeans are fine but tend to get a little warm during the heat of the day.

4. Know where you’re going

Don’t just show up to a city and think you can wander around and find your way. Even if you are traveling in a group, there are places in any city that would be unsafe. If you know that you will be without internet when you arrive, find a couple maps of where you need to go and then screenshot them on your phone. Once you arrive just use those to get where you are going—you can even show them to a taxi driver to confirm that they can take you to the correct location.

5. Don’t engage with people who talk to you on the street

It may seem rude, but it’s your best bet. People who come up and ask where you are going are probably guides (this was my experience in Morocco; no one really did this to me in Jordan). They will safely take you to where you are going, but will charge you money for it, so if you respond to them just be prepared to pay. As for the catcalls and verbal harassment, do not respond in any language. Even if you want to tell them off (trust me, I know I did at times!), they may see your engagement with them as a signal of your admiration or interest in them, and that might cause them to continue or increase their harassment.

 

 

5 Tips for Women Travelers in the Middle East

About Kate Maffey

Kate Maffey is a college sophomore from Pennsylvania studying Middle Eastern studies, Arabic, and French.

3 thoughts on “5 Tips for Women Travelers in the Middle East

  1. These are really good points! They also apply to my experiences.

  2. December 9, 2014
    Reply

    Abaya is definitely a must have in the Middle East….cover up to avoid trouble

  3. September 4, 2014
    Reply

    Good tips! Number 3 resonated with me a lot. When I was travelling in Egypt I barely got noticed or bothered because I was in a tour group where the girls insisted on wearing shorty shorts and skirts. So even though I was in knee long skirts (not maxis) nobody paid attention to me at all! and I could shop in peace

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