The Solo Female Traveler Packing List for Bali and Gili Islands

Your Bali packing list, even s a solo female traveler, is pretty straight forward, but there are a few things you will want to be sure you bring from home. We will explain everything you must have on your packing list for Bali as well as some items you may not have thought to pack but will keep you comfortable. 

We’ve got you covered with a printable packing checklist, as well as guidelines for what to wear in Bali as a solo female traveler and a list of things you may not have considered you might need on your packing list for Bali. Bali is largely Hindu, and while dress code isn’ as big of a concern as it is in some other Hindu destinations, there are times you will want to consider more modest dress to respect the locals and customs. We’ll explain all of that and more in this comprehensive packing guide to Bali for solo female travelers. 

What bag to pack for Bali

Bali Tour for Solo Women

To carry on or not to carry on? Duffel bag, backpack, or suitcase? We get asked this question a lot, but it’s really up to you and what kind of packer you are! There is only really one limitation to consider for most Bali trips, including our Bali Meetup Tour.

Although our Meetup Tour is very inclusive, there will be times when you will have to carry your luggage to your room or up to our speedboat on your own. Be sure you can manage it! We ask that when you travel with us, you limit your baggage to a personal item like a purse, a daypack, and a suitcase to be sure everyone has plenty of space to spread out in the mini-bus. 

Otherwise, it is a personal choice what kind of bag you pack for a trip to Bali. We always recommend not to overpack, so you can save space for souvenirs and not feel weighed down. To maximize space in your bags, use compression packing cubes like these. They save space and keep you organized; we never leave for a trip without them. 

Packing for the Weather in Bali

Bali Solo Female Travel Tour

Day time temperatures in Bali are warm all year round with the biggest concern being wet season from November to March. While wet season can mean some waterfalls are closed and daytime showers happen, it’s still well worth visiting during this time. Rainy season usually means showers here and there and doesn’t impact pool time or gorgeous views. In our premium 4 and 5 star accommodation with swimming pools and air conditioning on the Bali Meetup Tour, you will barely even notice most days. None of our departures are in the height of rainy season, but even if you are traveling alone and have limited time to visit Bali, don’t let rainy season stop you from visiting! Check out essential items to pack and how women should dress in Egypt below. 

How to dress as a solo female traveler in Bali

Bali Female Solo Tour Offerings

Luckily in Bali, you can wear whatever you want from bikinis to mini skirts pretty freely. You won’t catch too many locals wearing the same clothes, but they have come very accustomed to tourism. Bali is a very spiritual island and visits to any family home or temple require some extra layers to be respectful. Dressing to fit in a local culture will go a long way into helping us win local friends and get a deeper look into the country. 

It’s a good idea to always have an extra layer in your daypack when you are walking around town in sleeveless shirts or shorts, just in case you want to stop into a temple. We’ll suggest some good options down below so you are always prepared in Bali. 

What to pack for a trip to Bali

Aside from the basics (scroll down for a printable packing list that includes things like underwear and socks), there are some necessities that will make you a lot more comfortable in Bali. Here are some things you may not think of to pack but will improve your experience. 

1. An oversized button down

Like we said, it’s handy to have a little extra coverage in your bag for spontaneous temple visits or just a little extra modesty. An oversized button down shirt like this lightweight cotton one is perfect for donning over a tank top, and it also works great for a nice dinner in the 4 and 5 star hotels on our Meetup Tour

solo female travel balinese temples

2. Sun protection

A wide brimmed hat and a high quality sunscreen are necessary for any trip to Bali. Many of the best sites and experiences, including the cycling around the Gili islands and walking through rice paddies, offer little protection from the sun. Bali is also very humid, so it’s important that you choose a sunscreen that doesn’t sweat off immediately. We like these two the best for great coverage, no greasy residue, and sweat proof – this one with a great tint and this one.

solo female travel to hot springs in bali

3. A maxi dress or two

Comfortable, breezy, and very cute for all those Insta photos, a flowy maxi dress is perfect for hot and humid Bali. A dress like the one is perfect because it comes in many sizes, covers your shoulders, and is loose, comfy, and still very cute. This dress is also great value with lots of colors to choose from, perfect for those billowing skirt shots on a rice terrace swing. Don’t forget a pair of non-rolling bicycle shorts or Chub Rub, because chaffing is just the worst.

If you aren’t a dress kind of gal, lightweight wide-leg pants are also excellent to add to your Bali packing list. 

Bali Tour Female Travel

4. Period products

Tampons, pads, cups, or whatever your preference are not easy to find in Bali. When you do find them, they may be generic brands you aren’t used to for prices that you won’t want to spend unless it’s an emergency. It’s best to come prepared with whatever you expect to need for your trip to Bali. We are a fan of this menstrual cup, beause it’s soft on our insides, gentle on the environment, and never requires midnight tampon runs. But we do recommend you practice using it close to home before embarking on a trip with it, as it does come with a learning curve. 

Solo Female Travel Network Bali

5. Sunglasses

At least couple pairs of sunglasses should make it in your suitcase when packing for Bali. Whether you are a designer wearing kind of gal or opt for sturdy and inexpensive polarized glasses, be sure to have a pair and even a backup in case you lose one in a waterfall or off the speedboat.

bali solo female travelers

6. Secure purse or locked daypack

Bali is a very safe place, but petty theft can happen especially in the more touristy areas. For this reason, we recommend an anti-theft, crossbody purse. A sturdy purse that zips up fully closed, crosses your body, and even better if it is slash proof is a travel must-have for any destination. If you  can get by on a day trip with even less, a money belt like this one holds the basics like money, your hotel room key, and your phone is even more secure. If you want to carry a day pack so you can fit more things like a camera and water bottle, buy cheap locks like these so no one can grab stuff out of the pockets in crowded spaces. 

Bali Tour Solo Female Travel Network

7. Sturdy Water Shoes

Thee aren’t a lot of long walking days or hikes on our Bali Meetup Tour, but being prepared with waterproof shoes you can wear all day will make your trip a lot more comfortable. We really like these breathable sandals for roaming around shops and walking through sandy beaches, and a more sturdy pair of water sandals like these are our go-to for busier travel days, waterfalls, water temples, and any day we will be more active.

Solo Female Tour Bali

8. A Sarong

A sarong as a lot of uses in Bali, including wearing around your waist like the locals so in temples. It can also be a coverup on the beach, a light coverup when the sun is getting intense, and something to sit on by the pool. If you want to come prepared with a sarong, you can bring one from home, but they are also sold all over Bali and make a beautiful souvenir. 

9. a personal fan

If you are someone who is sensitive to the heat, one of these rechargeable personal fans may be a good idea. Bali is very humid all year round, so having a little extra air blowing on your neck can make a big difference. Wearing your hat, staying hydrated, and having this fan sit on your shoulders could help you focus on the sites instead of the heat. This gem of a product came from one of our members who brought it to the Amazon on the Ecuador Meetup Tour. Such a lifesaver, especially if you run hot.

Chelsea Lew in Bali

10. Mosquito Repellent

The one thing we don’t like about Bali are the mosquitos! It’s important to do your best to prevent bites from these little pests in Bali, because they can carry disease. Many traditional repellents are full of chemicals toxic to other wildlife, human, and even marine life. That’s why we strong recommend an organic and natural repellent that works like, this one made from lemon and eucalyptus oil.

Sumampan Waterfall solo female travelers

11. activated charcoal

Bali Belly ranges from just minor gastro issues that pass to full blown food poisoning. All the meals included in our Bali Meetup Tours are very carefully prepared in places we trust to have the best standards. However, street food and locals restaurants come with some risks for sickness, so especially if you are sensitive, your guide can suggest other options. If you do start to feel some tummy rumbles, activated charcoal is an awesome, all-natural, very effective remedy for any digestion upsets. 

Full Bali Packing List for Women

Our goal with this packing guide is to give you the information you need to travel with confidence to Bali. Pack carefully, but also don’t stress too much. Many things are available in Bali for purchase if you find you need something you didn’t pack, and you will have a group of amazing, supported women with you to lend you a hand as they are able. As always, when you travel with us on our Bali Meetup Tour, you have a private space in The Network to chat about your packing list with fellow travelers. You are also welcome to email us if you get stuck and need some advice! 

Use this Bali packing checklist for all the necessities including the basics. Of course, everyone’s needs and personal preferences are different, so don’t look at this as an exhaustive list. 

*Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we make a small commission if you purchase something. It costs you nothing and every penny goes to improving and operating our free community, The Network

The Solo Female Traveler Packing List for Egypt

Packing for a trip to Egypt can feel a little overwhelming at first, especially as a solo female traveler. But don’t worry! We will explain everything you must have on your packing list for Egypt as well as how it’s best for women to dress, so you can travel to Egypt with confidence.

We’ve got you covered with a printable packing checklist, as well as guidelines for what to wear in Egypt as a solo female traveler and a list of things you may not have considered you might need on your packing list for Egypt. Egypt is a Muslim country, but it ranges from very conservative in the countryside and the dress code at mosques to modern in the big city of Cairo. What to wear in Egypt is pretty straightforward once you understand it. 

What bag to pack for Egypt

Egypt packing list for women

To carry on or not to carry on? Duffel bag, backpack, or suitcase? We get asked this question a lot, but it’s really up to you and what kind of packer you are! There are two limitations to consider for most Egypt trips, including our Egypt Meetup Tour.

Domestic flights save valuable travel time and make for a much more pleasant trip in Egypt, but like most flights they have some weight restrictions for baggage. A check-in luggage must weigh less than 50lbs/33kg and a carry on less than 17lbs/8kg or you may incur some extra charges at the airport. Also, there will be times when you will have to carry your luggage to your room or around the airport on your own. Be sure you can manage it! We ask that when you travel with us, you limit your baggage to a personal item like a purse, a daypack, and a suitcase to be sure everyone has plenty of space to spread out in the mini-bus. 

Otherwise, it is a personal choice what kind of bag you pack for a trip to Egypt. We always recommend not to overpack, so you can save space for souvenirs and not feel weighed down. To maximize space in your bags, use compression packing cubes like these. They save space and keep you organized; we never leave for a trip without them. 

Packing for the Weather in Egypt

Day time temperatures in Egypt are fairly high all year round, especially in summer months between May and September. While summer can be very hot, it’s still worth visiting and catching relief from the sun in the premium 4 and 5 star accommodation with swimming pools and air conditioning on the Egypt Meetup Tour.

Evenings can be chilly, especially in the desert, so it’s best to pack some layers. Weather is a big consideration when deciding what to pack, but hot, sunny days don’t equal less clothing in Egypt. It’s important to keep the climate in mind as well as what is considered appropriate dress for women in Egypt. Check out essential items to pack and how women should dress in Egypt below. 

How to dress as a solo female traveler in Egypt

solo female travel Egypt tour

Two things will influence your packing for Egypt the most: the heat and how to dress as a woman.

We believe we should live in a world where women can wear what they choose and not be subject to harassment or objectified, but we also know how important it is to respect a local culture and minimize unwanted attention. Dressing to fit in a local culture will go a long way into helping us win local friends and get a deeper look into the country. 

Egypt is an overall conservative Muslim country, which means at the very least that women should keep their shoulders and knees covered. This also helps manage sun exposure, just aim for light, airy, and flowy fabrics. Cairo is a much more modern city than the country-side of Egypt, and here local women wear shorts and the same things we do on a night out. We still suggest leaving tank tops and short shorts at home. Inside resorts, there is really no dress code, so any bathing suit or dress code goes. 

What to pack for a trip to Egypt

Aside from the basics (scroll down for a printable packing list that includes things like underwear and socks), there are some necessities that will make you a lot more comfortable in Egypt. Here are some things you may not think of to pack but will improve your experience. 

1. A Scarf

A scarf for a trip to Egypt should be the first thing you throw in your bag! A lightweight and full coverage scarf won’t take up much space and will serve a lot of purposes on your trip to Egypt. Have it handy to protect your nose and mouth from pollution in Cairo, throw it over your shoulders and chest if you need some unexpected extra modesty, keep the desert dust out of your hair, and use it instead of the not-so-clean options they offer at mosques. 

solo women packing list for Egypt

2. Sun protection

A wide brimmed hat and a high quality sunscreen are necessary for any trip to Egypt. Many of the best sites, including the pyramids and Valley of the Kings, offer little protection from the elements. The last thing you want to feel when marveling at the color of ancient hieroglyphics and the majestic pyramids is your skin burning from the sun. 

How to handle a solo female travel disaster

3. A maxi dress or two

Comfortable, breezy, and very cute for all those Insta photos, a maxi dress is perfect for hot and conservative Egypt. A dress like the one is perfect because it comes in many sizes, covers your shoulders, and is loose, comfy, and still very cute. This dress is also great value with lots of colors to choose from, perfect for those billowing skirt shots next to the Nile. Don’t forget a pair of non-rolling bicycle shorts or Chub Rub, because chaffing is just the worst.

If you aren’t a dress kind of gal, lightweight wide-leg pants are also excellent to add to your Egypt packing list. 

solo woman packing list Egypt

4. A long Cardigan

Like a scarf, a long cardigan is great to have when the night turns chilly or you want some extra coverage from the sun or leering looks from catcallers. You will also need something for chilly air conditioned hotels lobbies and lounging by the pool in Dahab.

egypt comfy clothes women packing list Egypt

5. Sunglasses

The hot, dry heat and strength of the sun is a huge reason so many ancient ruins remain so preserved. It also means that at least couple pairs of sunglasses should make it in your suitcase when packing for Egypt. Whether you are a designer wearing kind of gal or opt for sturdy and inexpensive polarized glasses, be sure to have a pair and even a backup. 

women packing list Egypt

6. Secure purse or locked daypack

An anti-theft, crossbody purse should be a travel staple almost everywhere in the world. Tourists are always a target to thieves, including in Egypt. Some vendors may cover your purse with the goods they are selling, like scarves, to hide their hand going into your bag. A sturdy purse that zips up fully closed, crosses your body, and even better if it is slash proof is a travel must-have. If you  can get by on a day trip with even less, a money belt like this one holds the basics like money, your hotel room key, and your phone is even more secure. 

If you want to carry a day pack so you can fit more things like a camera and water bottle, buy cheap locks like these so no one can grab stuff out of the pockets in crowded spaces. 

women solo travel packing list Egypt

7. Comfy shoes for walking

From city tours and ancient temples, you’ll be doing a lot of walking in Egypt sometimes on uneven or dusty surfaces. A comfortable pair of shoes that can handle desert dust and city streets is a must. These shoes by Ecco will last you many trips around the world  and walks with the dog at home, plus they are super cute and beyond comfortable. If you are after something cheap and easy to replace, these Adidas sneakers won’t break the bank and will cushion your feet all through Egypt. 

In addition to sneakers or walking shoes, a pair of sandals for beachy days in Dahab or impromptu dance parties, a pair of breathable sandals is a a good addition to your packing list. 

Egypt Female Tour Network

8. An oversized button down

Like we said, Egypt is hot and also conservative in most of the country. An oversized button down shirt like this lightweight linen one is perfect for donning over a tank top, and it also works great for a nice dinner in the 4 and 5 star hotels on our Meetup Tour

Also consider a jacket, especially if you are coming to Egypt outside of summer months. Early mornings, like on the Egypt Meetup Tour hot air balloon ride can get a little chilly!

Egypt Female Solo Tour

9. a personal fan

If you are someone who is sensitive to the heat, one of these rechargeable personal fans may be a good idea. Some sites in Egypt like Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple require a lot of walking with little shade. Wearing your hat, staying hydrated, and having this fan sit on your shoulders could help you focus on the sites instead of the heat. This gem of a product came from one of our members who brought it to the Amazon on the Ecuador Meetup Tour. Such a lifesaver, especially if you run hot.

Egypt packing list for women

Full Egypt Packing List for Women

Our goal with this packing guide is to give you the information you need to travel with confidence to Egypt. Pack carefully, but also don’t stress too much. Many things are available in Egypt for purchase if you find you need something you didn’t pack, and you will have a group of amazing, supported women with you to lend you a hand as they are able. As always, when you travel with us on our Egypt Meetup Tour or on the Dahab Meetup Tour, you have a private space in The Network to chat about your packing list with fellow travelers. You are also welcome to email us if you get stuck and need some advice! 

Use this Egypt packing checklist for all the necessities including the basics. Of course, everyone’s needs and personal preferences are different, so don’t look at this as an exhaustive list. 

*Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we make a small commission if you purchase something. It costs you nothing and every penny goes to improving and operating our free community, The Network

Doing your first solo hike? Don’t forget these essentials!

There’s something reverent about hiking solo.  

The senses tune into nature. There’s a certain peacefulness in listening to the sounds of the wind, birds, a single footstep in the dirt – and nothing else. 

For many women, the prospect of doing your first solo hike is intimidating, but it’s also one of the most enjoyable ways to get to know yourself and immerse yourself in nature. Whether your hike is three hours, or three days, certain essential items will make sure you are safe, comfortable, and ready for anything. Like the Girl Scouts motto says: “Be prepared!”

Photo of the Buffalo River Trail
The 36-mile-long Buffalo River Trail (BRT) wanders along the cliffs in the Ozark mountains and down to the grassy meadows and jaunty wildflowers of Arkansas. Although the river itself is a popular canoe and float waterway, the trail is quiet. Often, hikers will see only one other hiker on the trail during the day.

PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD

what shoes to wear for your first hike
Every hiker has their favorite pair of hiking shoes. Some prefer to hike in traditional hiking boots while others prefer trail runners, and each one has its pros and cons.

Hiking boots provide more warmth and are best if you need more stability in ankles while trail runners are lighter and maneuverable. Whichever you choose, be sure to wear them several times before your hike to break them in. No one wants to find out that an expensive pair of shoes causes blisters on the heel when you’re 10 miles from the trailhead.

I never skimp on shoes. While you can go the budget route for some hiking clothing, it’s best to go to your local outdoor retailer and be fitted for a pair of hiking boots or shoes that’s just right for you. 

Not sure where to start on your quest for the perfect shoe?
Read up on these recommendations from our Facebook group members.

What To Pack for a solo hike

A female sitting outside a tent

What you pack for your hike depends on the length and difficulty of your first solo hike.
Your essentials should always include:

  • A first-aid kit that fits into your pack, like this Adventure Water Tight Ultralight Medical Kit. 
  • A trail map. Always carry a map of the trail. Having a waterproof map case is also helpful.
  • A compass. Learning to use a compass will help you if you do happen to get lost, and many compasses like this AOFAR AF-4090 Multifunctional Military Compass also have neat, helpful add-ons like a whistle, signalling mirror and even fishing hooks and lines.
  • Plenty of food. If you’re only going out for a couple of hours, then items like trail bars, tuna packs, beef jerky, trail mix and peanut butter are great, easy-to-pack options. Longer hikes will take a little planning, but trail-ready freeze-dried meals like Mountain House Adventure Meals are convenient, albeit a little more expensive. A good rule of thumb is to pack an extra day’s worth of food in case you get lost or need that extra energy boost.
  • Plenty of water.  You should plan on carrying a half liter of water per hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures or a full liter of water per hour on strenuous hikes in high heat. If you are hiking near water sources like streams and rivers, investing in a water filtration system like the Sawyer Water Filtration System will ensure you always have access to fresh water and can help reduce the carrying weight.
  • Waterproof matches and firestarter cubes
  • Headlamp. A small headlamp will be your best friend should you get caught out in the dark.
  • Menstrual products. Menstrual cups like The Diva Cup are lightweight, packable and reusable.
  • A quality multi-tool.  Leave that Rambo knife at home and invest instead in a good multi-tool like this Gerber Armbar. It even has a corkscrew for that post-hike celebratory glass of wine!
  • Sun protection. A lightweight sun hat, sunscreen, SPF lip balm and sunglasses should always be in your pack. 
  • Bug spray. Especially NB in areas known for tick and mosquito attacks!

HOw to stay safe on trail

Woman with doing a solo hike with hiking gear looking out towards mountain landscape
Fear of walking alone is the biggest deterrent for most women who want to hike solo, myself included. And it's a valid fear.
There are ways to increase our peace of mind while trailing. STEP ONE: Read up on trip reports via Alltrails and assess the feedback. Take into consideration which country you are in, and the levels of violence. Reach out to our community on Facebook if you need insight from someone who lives in the area. If you feel uncomfortable hiking alone, trust your gut and team up with a fellow solo female traveller. Side note, dogs make ideal travel partners! Reach out to rescue programmes -some will allow you to take dogs out for exercise on trails. STEP TWO: Inform someone back home of your route, your distance and your estimated time. Should you twist an ankle or get lost, that person will be your lifeline. First-time solo hikers can ease into the experience by choosing shorter, more popular trails like the Lamar Valley Trail in Yellowstone National Park or The Gertrude’s Nose Trail at Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Upstate New York or even short portions of The Appalachian Trail like the famous McAfee Knob trail in Virginia. STEP THREE: Research your trail. Every trail is different, so you need to educate yourself on the unique challenges of each path. Download the Alltrails app, and make sure your route is accessible offline. STEP FOUR: Consider self-defence strategies in advance. If you’re hiking in bear country, then bear spray is a necessity. But  what about self-defence against humans? We recommend keeping pepper spray within easy reach, or bear spray. It works just as well on humans as it does on animals, but if you do decide to arm yourself, study the local laws on carrying weapons.

be prepared and ready for adventure. but mostly, happy hiking!

Solo Female Tour Morocco

Ed’s note: This post contains affiliate links to help support the running of the SoFe Travel team and SoFe community at large. Wherever possible, we support women-owned businesses and ethical, sustainable organisations. Got any product recommendations? We’d love to hear about them! email inspo@sofetravel.com

How To Make Your Trip More Eco-Friendly

According to a study by Booking.com, 87% of travelers state that they would like to travel sustainably. But, can tourism really be sustainable? Are your concerns about the environment compatible with your wanderlust? The answer is yes. But, we do have to travel differently in order to address these concerns. So, how can you limit your carbon footprint when you are travelling? 

First, take time to choose the right destination!

Choosing the right destination

Beach tour
Trying to travel while being conscious about our impact on the environment starts with proper planning.

You might remember the movie “The Beach”, starring Leonardo Di Caprio. After the movie was released, millions of tourists flocked to Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Leh Island in Thailand. The beach has “sustained extensive environmental damage in recent years, receiving up to 5 000 tourists and 200 boats a day”, according to a Guardian article. “Thanks to pollution from litter, boats and sun cream, it is estimated that more than 80 % of the coral around Maya Bay has been destroyed”. Eventually, the government had no choice but to close the beach down until the environment recovers, which could take years. The same problem arose in many other places where tourism has been rising too much and too rapidly.

The problem is that, even if you are a conscious traveler, some destinations have simply reached their limits. So, thoroughly research each destination you might have in mind, and keep away from the ones suffering from over-tourism.

You can instead focus your attention on countries or cities which are trying to encourage sustainable tourism. According to a Washington Post article, there are a lot of destinations who are betting on ecotourism to attract visitors: “ Bruno, whose organization promotes ecotourism, commends the efforts of Namibia, where its constitution includes habitat conservation and the protection of natural resources, and Ecuador, which placed 97 percent of the Galapagos’ landmass under the watchful gaze of its national park service. “The environment has its own rights in Ecuador,” he said.”

Reward the places making strides to reach a more sustainable form of tourism by choosing them for your next adventure!

Choosing the best way to get there

Airport travelers
Transportation accounts for a lot of the carbon emissions from your trip.

Of course ideally, you would choose a carbon neutral mode of transportation. But if you can’t get by on foot, bicycle or train (which is commonly admitted as the cleanest mode of public transportation), you might have to settle for a less green option. So, whenever you are driving, try to share the ride to limit your impact. And if you must fly, then there are a few things to take into consideration.

First of all, the lighter the plane, the less fuel it uses, so pack light! Second of all, the worst thing about flying, are take-offs and landings. So, whenever you can, try to avoid stopovers and look for direct flights. You might also want to consider avoiding first class, because all that extra space is really just wasted space.

You still feel bad about flying? Before considering cancelling your plans, you might want to research offsetting your CO2 emissions. Some organizations (such as WWF UK’s carbon footprint calculator) will help you calculate the carbon emissions from your flight (or even from your entire trip). Then, once you know the monetary value of those emissions, you can donate to an organization working on reducing carbon emissions. Basically, the point is to cancel or to compensate for the carbon emissions your trip has produced.

Choosing the right accommodation

Treehouse living
Next on your list: accommodation. When choosing where to sleep, try to support businesses that are making an effort to protect the environment.

According to a Green Global Travel article, “When traveling in the U.S., check to see if the hotel has LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The program judges hotels on sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design.” 

You should know that many countries have some sort of certification procedure to let tourists know which company has high standards regarding environmental protection. For example, if you decide to visit Costa Rica, you will have to check for the “Certificado para la Sostenibilidad Turística” (ie certification for sustainable tourism), or CST stamp. 

Once again, the way to make your trip greener, is to do the research! 

Finally, once you get there, if you see something that could be improved, say something. The more clients speak up, the more hotels will realize how important those things are. If they don’t do it by conviction, at least they will do it to get more business!

Wherever you are, keep your good habits

Laundry hanging outside
Just because you are on holiday, it doesn’t mean that you should forget your good habits! So keep on following the usual rules : recycle your trash, turn off the lights when you leave a room, prefer showers to baths, etc. You should also think about packing a few extra things like reusable shopping bags, a reusable water bottle, etc. to limit your use of plastic.

But remember to also follow the local rules, which might be different. If you’re not sure, never hesitate to ask. If you need to move around, try to use public transportation, and if you need to drive, try to share the ride. Finally, when you shop, buy local !

All these recommendations are probably nothing new for you. The point is to still be conscious even when travelling. Have high standards, wherever you are!

Beware of greenwashing

Hands holding plants
All of that ultimately boils down to doing more research and looking for businesses which you can trust. But there is an inherent problem with that: should you take their word for it? Our advice is: remain skeptical of any claims.

According to an article in The Guardian, “Suddenly, it seems that every hotel, tour operator and even airline is bending over backwards to do its bit for the planet. Adverts and websites are full of claims about the good that choosing a particular holiday will do for the environment and local communities. And amid such a profusion of green claims, it’s becoming increasingly hard to tell who is genuinely concerned about the planet and who is just cashing in on our eco-guilt.”

That is the problem with eco-friendly travelling: you need to do as much research as you can to ensure that you don’t fall for the so-called “green initiatives” which are in fact, nothing more than greenwashing. So how do you do it? According to The Guardian, “the only real solution is to ask lots of questions of your tour operator, travel agent or hotelier and carry out your own research rather than trusting that a labelling scheme or a particular company will do it for you.”

In the end, the lesson whenever you try to plan a responsible trip is : research research research! If that seems like a daunting task, it’s the price to pay for a guilt-free experience!

To avoid falling for so-called “green initiatives,” ask your travel agent or hotelier lots of questions. Extensive research for a responsible trip may sound like a daunting task, but it’s a worthy price to pay for a guilt-free experience!

The power of the consumer

Grocery Shopping
You might think that your own personal efforts are just a drop in the ocean. And you probably have a point. But by joining the growing number of clients demanding efforts from their service providers, you could participate in influencing the entire industry.

If enough people stopped flying for very short trips, maybe some alternative offers would develop. If we all asked hotels to stop washing linens every day, maybe they would stop even offering. If most of us asked to eat local food, not only would we support local farmers and allow them to make a decent living, but importing food would become increasingly unnecessary.

In short, consumer demand can force the entire industry to undergo a paradigm shift, so keep asking for more! In fact, many believe it has already started, but the more we are involved, the bigger and faster the change. 

Eventually, those “alternative ways of travelling” will simply become the norm.

How to Care for the Mind and Body while Traveling

Travel can be incredibly eye-opening, and it can also be unpredictable and stressful. 

Traveling can completely change our outlook on life by teaching us lessons that we could never learn in a textbook. That is not because of the beautiful, Instagram-worthy pictures, but rather for the changes that occur in our minds and hearts. These changes stick with us long after the plane touches down at our home airport. These experiences are key to growing as individuals and transforming our lives in the here and now. 

Wanderlust comes with many ups and downs. One challenge is finding time and space to keep up with a consistent physical and mental exercise routine. The mind-body connection is crucial in order to squeeze out every beautiful thing that traveling, and life, have to offer.

The more we prioritize consistent care for our mind and body, even under challenging circumstances that can arise while traveling, the more resilient we grow. Mentally and physically, our bodies get stronger by leaving the excuses behind and putting our health first. We won’t have to say no to that hike with the breathtaking view at the top because we aren’t in the appropriate physical shape for it. We won’t have to miss out on vacations with our grandkids because we can’t keep up with them. We can get the most out of our traveling experience by emphasising on wellness no matter where we are in the world.

Lindsay DeAguila is an educator in yoga, martial arts, kickboxing, and high intensity interval training. In the past 6 years, she has explored 35 countries, and shares some expert tips on building resilience through physical and mental activities on-the-go. No hotel gym or park nearby? No problem! Here are some simple tips to keep you motivated while traveling. 

Prepare Ahead

Woman exercising on top of a rock

First things first: to prioritize wellness, we have to practice making it an intentional part of our daily routine. We are creatures of habit, so carve out a specific time of day to prioritize mental and physical practices. 

A lightweight yoga mat is a great way to squeeze in effective workouts in your hotel room. Bring easy-to-pack equipment like resistance bands. They take up minimal space and can really create a big impact on our fitness. Fun fact: they also double as clotheslines to dry your clothes! 

I also like to download a 10-minute meditation on my phone before I head out – there are plenty on Spotify and Youtube. It is easy to just press play and check into my allotted mindfulness time and keep the routine going.

Walk the Talk

Woman in black and white striped shirt and denim shorts standing in the middle of the road with trees on both sides, smiling

Walking is an easy (and free!) way to explore a new area. Sure, taxis and public transport exist, but get into a habit of choosing health over convenience. Wandering on foot helps us understand our surroundings and learn to navigate the area (hello, mind-body connection!), besides squeezing some more exercise into our days. Good blood circulation is key to our health. Apart from the health implications, this leaves more room for guiltless indulgences—an extra mocha latte, anyone?!

On a related note, get outside as often as you can. Nature is the greatest medicine for the mind and soul, helping to de-stress and refocus our intentions. Even 10 minutes outside per day can create a positive headspace. Plan ahead by downloading offline maps of the area to your phone or purchasing an old-fashioned guide book as you wander.

Join a Virtual Fitness Community

Woman wearing a black outfit sitting crosslegged with folded hands and closed eyes, sitting outdoors

Did you know you could still take a fitness class with one of your best friends while in different hemispheres?

Virtual fitness communities are beneficial for accountability, support, and connection. Being accountable ensures the development of a routine to fit a workout in our day. They allow us to take our workouts and workout buddies (aka, the best support support system) with us no matter where we are in the world. 

There is a community for everyone – Zumba, yoga, running, HIIT, kickboxing – giving you the flexibility to be fit outside of a gym.

Practice Gratitude

When we are traveling and have a packed itinerary, it is important to take a few quiet moments to slow down. Mindfulness can help with anxiety, and lessen the impact of external shifts on our internal environment. 

Gratitude reminds us that we have everything that we need – our bodies and our minds. Making gratitude a daily part of our health routine teaches us to be resilient, makes homesickness more tolerable, and helps us feel more like ourselves regularly. The more we practice gratitude, the more we will be able to maintain a positive physical and mental state of well-being.

Consider starting a gratitude journal or ritual, or reaching out to friends and family while you are traveling to fully absorb and savour the present. 

Attend the Mental Gym

Our minds are always traveling, taking us to different destinations each day. We should never stop learning, no matter where our bodies physically are in the world. Especially if we are taking time off school or work, it is important to continue to challenge the mind and keep it active. We can do this through activities such as crossword puzzles, reading books, or trying to learn the language of the country we are in!

If possible, take a road trip instead of flying, in order to give our brains a good mental sweat through the obstacles road tripping presents. We can also keep our mind body active by learning a sport native to the place we are in. For example, a class in Japan using their Samurai sword “katana” can be a memorable experience!

Listen to your body

Woman with folded hands smiling.

There are several reasons that can prevent us from our daily health practice while traveling: too little space, no equipment, feeling awkward amongst strangers. But, keep in mind that prioritizing our bodies will support the explorer within us for years to come. 

Fuel yourself through the right nutrition and eat fresh and local. Making mindful choices helps us be productive and get the most out of sightseeing without bloat or brain fog.

If you need a break, take one. Rest is also a building block to strengthening our resilience. Whether we are a first time traveler or have traveled around the globe, the most important thing we can do for our adventurous souls is to board the mental and physical health train daily.

About the author

Woman sitting on the floor with resistance bands and hands outstretched

Lindsay De Aguila

Lindsay’s work is driven by the question: “How can one build, hone, and expand emotional and physical resilience?” She is best known for creating opportunities that inspire others to push their mental and physical limits. A National All-Around State Gymnastics Champion, Self Defence Martial Arts State Champion, certified Ashtanga Yoga Instructor, and first degree Hapkido black belt holder, Lindsay is a Resilience Expert. 

Why Is It Harder for Women to Travel Solo?

“Aren’t you afraid?” If you have ever mentioned solo travelling to your friends and family, then, chances are that you have already heard this sentence! And maybe it got you worried. “Should I go on my own?”. Yes, solo travelling as a woman still seems like an act of bravery, and even sometimes transgression. However, nowadays, women are travelling solo more than men. According to  a study made by Booking.com, 72 % of American women have already travelled without a partner. 

So, why does the idea of a woman travelling alone still raises eyebrows? Why do we still question the ability of women to travel on their own?

The issue on everybody’s mind: gender based violence

woman alone in Marrakech

The main reason why women might hesitate to travel alone, is the question of safety. This constant reminder that women won’t be safe when travelling on their own can be very intimidating. Women have been taught since childhood that the world is unsafe for them. But this isn’t news to any woman who has ever had to walk home alone at night. Of course, it also applies to traveling. This idea of constant danger has forced most women to think about this issue a lot. But the danger is not always where we think it is. 

Indeed, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, sexual assault is a lot more often perpetrated by someone the victim already knows. When we look at rape, the fact is that 51,1% of the victims report being attacked by an intimate partner, and 40,8 % by an acquaintance. 

This doesn’t mean that you are perfectly safe in the streets. But this idea that women are more likely to be victimized when they leave the house is not an accurate representation of the situation regarding Gender Based Violence. 

However, we are taught to fear the outside. The responsibility of our safety falls on us as women, as if we were putting ourselves in danger by simply leaving the house unaccompanied. And fear makes it hard to break free from this injunction to stay put.

Are you in more danger when you travel abroad?

Saying that there is no danger out there for women would be totally untrue. 

According to a NY Times article, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN-Women says, “We have evidence that shows that women face risks that men don’t face in public spaces, at home, wherever they may be.” And the important thing here is: “wherever they may be”. That is the point, wherever you are you will have to face risks that men simply don’t have to bother thinking about. 

The fact that you have been careful about your safety for your whole life actually gives you an advantage when it comes to traveling. Because you have been taught to be “careful” whenever you are outside, you most certainly have developed a sort of sixth sense, an internal alarm that will warn you whenever you start to feel unsafe.

So, always listen to your instinct, it’s the best way to stay safe during your trip. According to Kristin Addis, solo female travel expert, “Staying safe on the road is all about trusting your intuition, behaving abroad like you would at home”. You already have the tools you need to stay safe! Indeed, according to Janice Holly Booth, author of: Only Pack what you can carry, “travelling solo calls for the same daily safety considerations you employ now”. 

The idea that women are unsafe everywhere can deter women from embarking on a solo adventure. But, don’t let anyone tell you that travelling alone is reckless! Just because you are a woman does not mean that you should stay home!

Confidence is key

woman taking selfie in nature

The question of safety is not the only thing that can deter women from taking the leap. When compared to men, women have a tendency to lack confidence. And this is no coincidence. Since childhood, boys are more encouraged to be brave and girls to be obedient. And this difference in our education can have consequences all throughout our adult lives. 

According to a study by Ypulse, the level of confidence in girls drops by 30% between the age of 8 to 14. Another troubling data this study shows is that boys aged 8 to 14 are far more likely than girls to describe themselves as confident, strong, adventurous and fearless. 

The problem is, this lack of confidence often persists through adulthood. And when you don’t have enough confidence, it can be hard to take risks, to dare to do the things you really want to do. 

But here is the thing: travelling on your own is exactly what you need to do in order to gain confidence. According to Addis: “The freedom it afforded me, the way it grew my confidence, and all of the new friends I made were huge benefits that wouldn’t have happened if I went with a group of friends.”

How to actually take the leap

woman on rooftop traveling

Traveling on your own can be very intimidating. And people around you will always remind you that the world is unsafe, and maybe you will think that you are not up to the task. Instead of limiting yourself because of your gender, use the experience you already have of an unsafe world to keep you from danger wherever you may be. Because in reality, this kind of statement discourages you from breaking free of gender norms.

And if you need a few extra tips to put your mind at ease, you can always follow the recommendations of the State Department on solo travel for women.

And if you are too scared to go, just remember that all solo travelers are scared. The confidence comes from solo travelling, it is not a prerequisite! Which is why very often, the hardest part is to actually book your ticket! You will soon realize that this adventure is not out of reach for you, and it will empower you and give you the confidence you need, on and off the road. 

So, instead of waiting for that someone to embark on this journey with you, take the leap and book your ticket!

And if you still have doubts, think about what Koty Neelis, writer and advocate for female solo travelers says in a Thought Catalog article : “You should never let other people’s opinions over gender roles dictate what you do in life or where you should go. If you’re afraid of traveling alone or afraid of travel in general that’s one thing, but don’t be afraid to travel alone simply because of your gender.”

 

 

How To Book Your International Flights

You’ve booked your tour. Congrats! Now, it’s time to book your flights. If you’re a newbie or feeling a bit overwhelmed with the international flight booking process, we’ve got you covered. What follows is a step-by-step guide to the entire process, from where to even begin searching for flights to what considerations are worth factoring into your final flight decision.

First Things First: When to Book

Once you receive the a-ok from our team to book your flights, look at the calendar and see how long you have until you depart. In general, the best window of time to book international flights is about two to three months before your departure date, and even earlier (five months ahead) if you know that you’ll be traveling to a destination during its peak tourist season. 

The Flight Booking Process

When you are ready to book, keep these steps nearby and use them as a guide as you move through the booking process. 

Step 1: Decide Your Dates and Departure Cities

Before you can even begin searching for flights, you’re going to need to know your dates of arrival and departure and the airports from which you want to fly into and out of your destination. For some of you, it’s as simple as plugging in the start and end dates of your Meetup Tour and booking a roundtrip ticket between the same two airports. For others, you may want to tack on a few days to the trip or fly out of a different airport than you flew into. Determine what you’d like to do, set your dates, and then proceed to Step 2. 

If you would like to extend your stay beyond the dates of the Meetup Tour, our team can arrange a stay at the same hotel and airport transfers. Email us at meetuptours@sofetravel.com.

Step 2: Explore Flights and Fares
Now that you have your dates and departure cities decided, it’s time to get a sense of the flight fares and airlines that fly to and from your destination. A good place to begin is Google Flights, though keep in mind that not all carriers or region-specific airlines may be included in the results. For example, the American carrier Southwest Airlines and several large Asian carriers like Air China, China Eastern, Thai Airways, and Philippine Airlines will not appear in your Google Flights results while others like Aeromexico, Oman Air, and Interjet will only show some of their available flights on Google Flights. That’s okay for this first step in the booking process. We’ll go into some alternative flight search tools that encompass a wider breadth of carriers later in this guide.  On the Google Flights page, enter your departure city, arrival city, and exact dates. The default setting on Google Flights is for roundtrip tickets. If you’d prefer to search for one-way tickets, be sure to adjust that setting. When you have everything set the way you want it, click “Search.” You should now see a screen full of flight options. The flights at the top of the Google Flights results are usually the cheapest and most direct. If you scroll further down, you’ll find more options that increase in price down the page.  At first glance, get a sense of the airlines that fly between your home city and your destination and the range of prices. Take note of the airlines with the cheapest fares, the total flight time and/or number of stops, and the departure and arrival times. Keep in mind that these times are listed in local time, meaning the departure time is the time it leaves your city and the arrival time is the local time in your final destination.  
Optional Step: Check for an Even Better Deal

As we mentioned before, Google Flights doesn’t account for all carriers, especially some budget or regional airlines. If you’d like to save money and be sure that you’re paying the cheapest fare, you can extend your flight search to include a few other platforms. We recommend Skyscanner and Momondo, both are flight aggregator tools that include additional airlines in their results. Kayak, CheapOAir, Expedia, and Priceline are also good tertiary flight search options.

For a step-by-step guide to finding and booking the cheapest flight, check out our blog post here.

Egypt Female Tour Network
Step 3: Select Your Flight Itinerary

As you scroll through the flight options and decide your final flight itinerary, pay close attention to the length of any layovers and whenever possible book the most direct flight. As a general rule, don’t book a flight with a tight connection. Any layovers under two hours between the time the plane lands and the time your next flight takes off is risky and could result in a missed connecting flight. 

Also, if you see a “+1” next to some flights, this means that it is an overnight flight, also known as a red-eye flight. If you do decide to take a red-eye flight, double check that arriving the next day in your destination still fits with your Meetup Tour itinerary. If not, be sure to adjust the departure date in the Google Flights field and search again. 

With all of this in mind, make your flight selection and move on to Step 4. 

Step 4: Decide How You’ll Book

Once you’ve settled on the flight itinerary that both suits your travel preferences and fits with your Meetup Tour schedule (be sure to double check this!), it’s time to book. You can take a couple of different approaches here. There are pros and cons for each. 

After officially selecting the departure and return flights you’d like to book on Google Flights, you should arrive at a page that lists both of your selected departure and return flights. Scroll down on this page to see your booking options. Here is where you get to decide if you will book directly with the airline via their website or if you’d like to book via an OTA, like Priceline, Expedia, or CheapOAir. Often the price difference between a direct booking with the airline and an OTA is small. 

Booking with an OTA can sometimes save you a few dollars, but it’s often a headache if anything does go wrong on travel day (i.e. flight delays, cancellations, or changes to your route). For this reason, we always recommend booking directly with the airline you’ll be traveling on (especially if you’re a first-time international flyer), that way you can deal directly with the gate agent or airline’s customer service if something does go wrong. Additionally, if there are any ticket price changes between the time you book and the time your flight departs, you can usually have that difference refunded with a quick call to customer service instead of having to first go through the OTA you booked through. 

Once you’ve decided where you’d like to officially book your flight (directly with the airline or with an OTA), click over to that site using the button in the “Booking Options” list on Google Flights to complete your purchase. 

Step 5: Choose Your Fare Option & Read the Fine Print

Flying nowadays involves a bit more decision-making than in the past. Once you get to the booking page, you’ll likely see a few different fare options with a list of what’s included or not included in each fare. The main difference between the “basic” fare and the upgraded fares is usually in regard to refundability or adjustment of your ticket after purchase, number of carry-on and checked bags included in your fare, the ability to select your seat or be assigned one, meals, and your boarding group. 

It’s worth taking a second to read the fine print under each fare so that you know exactly what you’re getting before clicking over to the payment page. If you’ll be checking bags, it can occasionally be cheaper to purchase a slightly upgraded fare that includes a checked bag and/or carry-on. Run the math and see if it’s cheaper to upgrade or if it’s better to add your bags later as add-ons to the basic fare.  

Morocco desert women tour
Step 6: Review Your Flight Details and Pay

On the review and payment page, you’ll be asked to fill in your information, typically including your full name as it appears on your passport, date of birth, gender, passport number and expiration date, contact information, and payment information. You’ll also have a chance to make any upgrades to your ticket. Sometimes, not always, you can add bags at this stage if they’re not already included in your fare option. Otherwise, you’ll see that option when you check-in online before your date of departure. A word of warning, some basic fare options may not allow you to check a bag or bring a carry-on, so be sure that you’ve read the fine print for your fare option before purchase.

Before completing your purchase, it’s also smart to triple check your itinerary. Make sure that all dates of departure and arrival are correct and work with your Meetup Tour itinerary. When you feel confident with your itinerary and selections, click the “complete purchase” button. 

Step 7: Set an Alarm and Take Advantage of the “24-hour Rule”

Most airlines do allow you to cancel and receive a full refund within 24 hours of booking, so there is still a buffer if you do later realize that you made a mistake. We suggest setting an alarm on your phone at the time of booking for 23 hours later. This will give you a chance to quadruple check that what you’ve booked still works and it gives you some wiggle room to make adjustments to your flight if necessary. 

How to Score a Cheap Flight

Whether this is your first time traveling or you’re a seasoned traveler, this information will prove helpful as you begin to book your flights. Purchasing the cheapest and most direct roundtrip ticket from your nearest airport to the starting point of your Meetup Tour is obviously the easiest way to do it, but it isn’t always the cheapest. If you’re looking to potentially save hundreds on your flights, consider the following tips and process for booking.

When to Book

Depending on how far in advance you’ve confirmed your Meetup Tour, a good rule of thumb is to book as soon as you know you’re going. Rarely do airline tickets get cheaper as your departure date approaches. In general, the best window of time to book international flights is about two to three months before your departure date, and even earlier (five months ahead) if you know that you’ll be traveling to a destination during its peak tourist season. The reason for this is that budget airlines typically offer their lowest rates as a baseline price. As these tickets sell out, the remaining tickets increase in cost.

The Flight Booking Process

When you are ready to book, follow these steps to find the best fare and combination of flights to and from your destination.

Step 1: Perform a Broad Search

A good starting point for this broad flight search is Google Flights. Just keep in mind that not all carriers or region-specific airlines may be included in the results. That’s okay. This initial search is simply meant to give you an idea of the prices and possibilities for getting to and from your final destination. It’s also a chance to experiment with alternative departure and arrival airports that may be offering cheaper fares. We recommend having a pen and paper nearby or your Notes app open as you explore fares so that you can jot down and keep track of all possibilities for later review.

Once you’re on Google Flights, click on the “Explore” tab. There you can enter your departure city and your specific dates. You can also play around with one-way and round-trip flights as well to see which might save you more money for your dates. Oftentimes, it can be cheaper to buy two one-way flights, with your “to” flight being into or out of one airport and your return flight being into or out of a completely different airport. Keep in mind that some of our Meetup Tours do in fact start and end in different cities, so be sure to check your Meetup Tour itinerary before beginning your flight search. 

To start your fare exploring, keep the “where to?” field as broad as possible. For example, if ultimately you know that you need to fly into and out of Lima, Peru, start by searching with “Peru” or even “South America” in the “where to?” field. The reason being that there may be an even cheaper destination in Peru or South America that you could fly into. From there, you can book an often cheaper domestic or regional flight to Lima. The same goes for your departure city on the front end or your arrival city on the back end of your tour. It may be cheaper to fly into or out of another city in your home country and to book a cheap domestic flight to your final destination from there. The key here is to think creatively and explore all possibilities and prices.  

As you’re exploring on Google Flights, it’s smart to have a second or even third tab or window open for quickly plugging in those more domestic or regional flight itineraries. Specifically take note of how much that alternative route costs and if all of the flight times and legs align.

Step 2: Check for an Even Better Deal

Once you feel as though you’ve determined the cheapest flight path to get to and from your destination, it’s time to see if there’s an even better deal out there that Google Flights may have missed. To start, check out some other popular fare finder tools like Skyscanner and Momondo, both of which incorporate some of those budget airlines Google Flights tends to leave out. 

Another good idea is to check prices directly on the website of the airlines you’ve determined are the cheapest, as they may have an even lower fare listed than Google Flights, Skyscanner, or Momondo are showing. 

Finally, it’s worth doing a quick Google search to see if there are any other well-rated domestic or regional airlines in your destination that you haven’t seen come back on Skyscanner or Momondo. If you do come across any airlines that you haven’t yet taken into account, throw in your dates and destinations on that airline’s website to see if they’re offering an even cheaper fare than what you’ve found already.

Step 3: Make Your Decision and Book

At this point in the process, you should have all of the information you need to pick your itinerary and book your flights. Be especially careful to verify the entire route. When it comes to mixing and matching airlines across many sites and tools, mistakes can be made. Run through the itinerary you’re thinking of booking one more time. Make sure all dates and times sequentially flow with enough time between flights in case there are any mishaps or delays en route. Also make sure that you’ve read all of the fine print, especially if you’ll be flying on budget airlines, so that there are no financial surprises later. Things like bag fees, airport check in fees, etc.

Once you feel confident that you have an itinerary that works, book it. Remember that most airlines do allow you to cancel within 24 hours of booking, so there is a bit of a buffer if you do later realize that you made a mistake. We suggest setting an alarm on your phone at the time of booking for 23 hours later. This will give you a chance to triple check that what you’ve booked still works and it gives you some wiggle room to make adjustments if necessary.

Countries with the Strictest Dress Codes for Women

Before traveling to any country, it’s important that you know their customs and rules, which include their dress codes. Yes, dress codes are still a thing even today. And to make sure you adhere to the rules, you’ll need to read about them prior to your trip so you can follow them. In this way, you can avoid dress code violations (which can lead to a fine or, worse, brief imprisonment) and steer clear of offending cultural and religious sensibilities.

So, check out the list below to get an idea of just how strict these countries are when it comes to dress codes for women. In this way, you’ll know what to wear in case you do visit them in the future.

women in modest clothing

Saudi Arabia

The Muslim nation of Saudi Arabia has some of the strictest dress codes in the world, especially for women. The new female dress code passed in 2019 is just as strict — even if it no longer requires female tourists to wear an abaya (essentially a cloak) and headscarf. According to Gulf News, the Public Decorum Code requires women visitors to dress modestly, with their shoulders and knees covered. The code also prohibits women from wearing sleeveless shirts and short dresses.

So, in case Saudi Arabia is part of your upcoming itinerary, it would be wise to buy some sleeved maxi dresses. Liveabout, describes maxi dresses as “typically form-fitting at the top and cut to flow loosely over the body at the bottom.” Even better, they are always fashionable, which is why they have become wardrobe staples for women. They are also available in a variety of fabrics, so you can choose one appropriate for Saudi Arabia’s scorching weather. By wearing these, you’re guaranteed to look stylish while still being respectful of Islamic laws.

Sudan

As Reuters reported, many of the strict social rules that once defined the African nation of Sudan are gradually being eased thanks to Omar al-Bashir’s Islamist regime being overthrown last year. That said, restrictive laws are still in place, and haven’t been scrapped just yet. This means women still can’t dress freely, as they are not allowed to wear skirts and are advised to dress modestly.

That said, consider wearing loose-fitting cotton T-shirts and jeans when you visit Sudan. This combination ticks the boxes in terms of following Islamic norms on how women should dress up: The T-shirt covers your top part, including your chest and shoulders, while the jeans cover your legs all the way past the knees. Equally important is that you’ll be super comfortable and able to move about freely — perfect for when you explore the country’s archaeological wonders. As a bonus, this simple get-up is just right for Sudan’s hot weather as well!

women in india

Cambodia

Home to some of the most breathtaking temples and ruins, Cambodia is a must-see for anyone traveling to Southeast Asia. It’s rich with heritage sites, warm people, and wonderful climate year-round — so pack your breathable clothes and sneakers. In fact, a visit to Cambodia would be akin to taking a trip in a past world. Considering the country’s tumultuous past, it’s a relatively young nation in the rapidly progressing modern world.

They’ve retained much of their traditional customs, including the women’s code called Chbab Srey, which promotes strict conservatism. This put them under fire, as senior government officials in Cambodia have proposed a law banning women from wearing clothes that are “too short” or “too see-through” and men from being “shirtless” in public. While the law hasn’t yet been passed, it’s gaining significant legal support. And seeing as most places you’ll be visiting are temples and places of worship anyway, it’s best to pack light clothes that aren’t too revealing, covering the knees and shoulders.

Maldives

Maldives, an island chain of 26 atolls, is a tourist paradise known for its pristine beaches. It is also known as being a 100% Muslim country, which means everyone is supposed to dress modestly in accordance with Islamic law. Unsurprisingly, revealing swimwear is banned in public places, but permitted in resorts and so-called bikini beaches.

So, if you’re unsure whether or not the beach you’re in allows revealing swimwear, just be prepared and wear your bikini under a wrap dress that is perfect for the beach. Wrap dresses, as explained in prettyme, are flattering for all body types, as they can highlight your best features. Just make sure to pick one that fits you just right, as anything too loose or too tight would just look awkward. Alternatively, you can wear your bikini under a tunic dress, which is also great for the beach. Tunic dresses are generally made of lightweight cotton or rayon, and they come in a variety of styles and color combinations. They also offer a relaxed fit and can be paired with matching flip-flops.

Ugandan women outfits

Uganda

While Uganda is among Africa’s most culturally diverse countries, it also has strict dress codes. This is particularly true for its female civil servants, who are required to wear sleeved blouses that should cover their cleavage, navel, and back. They are also prohibited from wearing short skirts (meaning, anything above the knee is a no-go). Female travelers like you need to take note of these restrictions, too, as they more or less apply to you as well if you visit the country.

Given this dress code, wearing the T-shirt and jeans combo would be a good idea if you’re exploring Uganda and its expansive national parks. Long trousers and long-sleeved tops, in particular, are highly recommended, as these are comfortable and will protect you from the sun’s scorching heat. Comfortable walking shoes or sandals are a must, too, as you’re likely to walk on dusty, uneven roads and fields. And consider using a pashmina or sarong as well for some style points, and an extra layer of protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Let this list remind you of something you must do before traveling to any country: Find out as much as you can about it! Research about it online, ask for input from your fellow travelers, and call that country’s tourism board or consulate. These steps will allow you to plan out your trip in fine detail, including the clothes you’ll need to pack. It will also help ensure that you’ll enjoy your trip without violating laws or traditions.

Sources :
Gulf News – https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/saudi-arabia-your-guide-to-new-dress-code-and-public-decency-code-1.1569829894170

Byrdie – https://www.byrdie.com/what-is-a-maxi-dress-how-to-style-it-4164690

Reuters – https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sudan-culture-idUSKBN2132I5

Pretty Me – https://www.prettyme.ph/guides/best-dresses-for-petites/

About the author

Author Photo

Erin Perez

Erin Perez is passionate about all things beauty and fashion. She is interested in the way the industry adapts to new trends and norms. When she’s not writing a new piece, you’ll find her tending to her indoor garden.

Disaster Tourism: Helpful or Hurtful?

When I was travelling through Indonesia, I happened to spend a day in the town of Banda Aceh. There is not much to do over there, my guide told me. The only tourist attraction is part of the trend of disaster tourism. Indeed, Banda Aceh was devastated by the 2004 tsunami. So, the main tourist attraction over there is to stroll through the memories of this tragedy: boats brought inland by the wave even though the sea is kilometers away, various memorials in honor of the victims, and the museum telling the story of this catastrophe. I have to admit, seeing the swarm of tourists snapping selfies made me wonder if this was a way to further understand what happened in this town, or just a grim tourist activity.

What is disaster tourism?

hurricane Katrina dark tourism

Disaster tourism is about visiting the sites of major catastrophes, either man-made or natural. It’s considered a subsection of dark tourism even though the two are very hard to set apart.

According to Erika M. Robb, in an article published by the American Anthropological Association, “dark tourism includes both places with violent legacies and those at which violence is an ongoing reality. It encompasses a wide variety of visitor motivations—educational, memorial, or recreational.” 

It is hard to have an opinion on disaster tourism because it encompasses a very wide range of different attractions: National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum, Katrina Tours, slum tourism, the ruins of Pompeii, the house where JonBenet Ramsey died, the Memorial and Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, etc. 

Within those options, some seem like an important part of History, while others just seem unnecessarily gruesome and/or voyeuristic. But they all have one thing in common: violence.

Why does disaster tourism attract visitors?

dark tourism concentration camp

First of all, disaster tourism is supposed to be educational. Indeed, whenever you are visiting a place, you might want to learn more about its history. And even though you might have heard of the tragedy beforehand, it is clear that hearing or reading about something is completely different from seeing it with your own eyes. Most promoters of these kinds of tours are claiming they are raising awareness about the events in question.

Indeed, seeing the cells in Alcatraz federal penitentiary, seeing with your own eyes the skulls of the many victims of the killing fields in Choeung Ek in Cambodia, or even seeing the devastation caused by Chernobyl in Pripyat, Ukraine, can help you better understand the reality of the tragedy. Because even if you know about it, you don’t really fully understand it until you see it with your own eyes.

But it can also be part of a more solemn work of memory, of honoring the victims of the disaster in question.

But can you really fully engage in the educational and memorial part of the activity when you are on a vacation? According to Robb, “there is an obvious tension between undertaking important witnessing work and following a vacation itinerary. How might tourist activities before and after visitation to dark tourism sites frame the experience (e.g., going to dinner at an expensive restaurant, seeing a cultural performance, going clubbing). Dark tourism will, in some cases, result in the transformation of violence into one more attraction, wedged in between more typical tourist activities.”

In the end, it all comes down to your own motivations. Are you willing to engage and learn, or are you looking for a thrill?

Can it be useful for the local communities?

slums of mumbai

Organizing tours in areas struck by disaster can be useful for different reasons. It can be important for the community to raise awareness about the catastrophe and its consequences. It’s about remembering and teaching outsiders what has happened. It can be important for a community to tell their own story.

But it can also have an economic impact. In such areas, the money that tourism brings can help rebuild the community and provide employment for the local population. But then, you would have to be careful in choosing a company that actually helps the community or at least employs locals.

However, not everyone feels positively about tours in their own neighborhoods. For example, after hurricane Katrina, many tourists came to New Orleans to tour the most affected areas, which was not very well received by the residents. Indeed, some locals were shocked that people would actually come over for the sole purpose of snapping a picture of the devastation, as it felt disrespectful to the victims.

How can I choose an activity without causing harm?

Protect the local community

First of all, it’s never a good idea to go to a disaster area right after a tragedy struck. People are mourning, healing, and won’t want tourists taking pictures of their grief. You want to help out? There are many ways to do so from home! If you want to contribute, you can always make a donation to an organization that could use your help. Plus, if you go, you will probably get in the way, bother the local population, and participate in using possibly scarce resources.

You want to donate your time? Check if the community is actually trying to recruit volunteers. Otherwise, you will end up getting in the way. Indeed, you need more than good intentions to help, and you might make it harder for professionals to do their job.

To choose an appropriate activity, like always, research the subject. You will find out whether or not this type of tourism has been well accepted by the local community. You will read different opinions about this topic and you will be able to make an informed decision.

But most importantly, when you go to a disaster tourism site, behave appropriately. That is the main point. Whenever you participate in these types of activities, the way you conduct yourself is fundamental. Always act respectfully and with humility.

Protect yourself

If you need to make sure you are not harming the local community, you also have to make sure you will not hurt yourself.

Some sites might still be dangerous, such as war areas, or nuclear testing sites (like Bikini atoll for example), or even areas right after a disaster (think about the aftershocks of an earthquake for instance).  

But it’s not just about physical harm. Choose your activity wisely: some sites can be very hard to stomach and be very upsetting, be sure to be prepared. Tuol Sleng Museum, formerly S21 prison in Cambodia or Murambi Genocide Memorial in Rwanda might be extremely distressing. Be sure that you are ready for this.

So, should you engage in disaster tourism? I do not hold a definitive answer. It’s a personal choice and it comes down to your own intentions. As far as I’m concerned, you should avoid these kinds of activities if you are just coming for the story and if you are not willing to learn and honor. But I do recognize that it can be educational and important to remember some of the tragedies which have struck humankind. Just because you are on vacation does not mean that you should not learn.

According to Robb, “When atrocity becomes a recreational attraction, visitors are themselves inflicting further violence as they search out unique and “authentic” experiences. Ethically, we must question whether tours undertaken in the name of social justice or global awareness are actually experienced as such or whether they might instead work to mask the recreational, voyeuristic allure of violence.”

Again, it’s all about what you do with these experiences!

Sources :
National Geographic – Seven Years After the Storm, Katrina Tours Cause Controversy – Caroline Gerdes – November 6th, 2012 
Forbes – Dark Tourism: Are These The World’s Most Macabre Tourist Attractions? – Duncan Madden – September 25th, 2019
Tourism Teacher – Disaster tourism explained: What, why and where – Dr. Hayley Stainton – October 19th, 2020
American Anthropological Association – Violence and Recreation: Vacationing in the Realm of Dark Tourism – Erika M. Robb – May 5th, 2009
Women on the road – Dark Tourism: Should Tragedy Become a Tourist Draw? – May 1st, 2018 – Why Indulging in Disaster Tourism Could Be a Tragic Mistake