Western Europe: Advice for Female Travellers
"Western Europe" is both a geographical and political term. In general it is accepted that the countries of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland are all in Western Europe and usually Andorra, Iceland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Finland, Malta, San Marino, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Greece are included as well. There is vast cultural diversity in Western Europe, and with countries so close together the region often attracts tourists from around the world who enjoy multi-country trips in a limited amount of time. Women who plan to travel to Western Europe should be aware of visa issues, mindful of tourist crime, knowledgeable about female fashion and prepared to engage in historical tourism - there's no getting away from it in Western Europe!
Western Europe and Tourism VisasMost of Western Europe now belongs to the European Union and because of this tourists who are citizens of EU member states are (mostly) free to travel throughout other member states without the need for immigration visas. Immigration laws are still set by individual countries, so tourists who are not citizens of EU member states must check with each country individually to determine visa requirements. For the most part entry visas are given to tourists upon arrival to the country and are good for approximately three months. Tourists who also plan to study or work during their holidays should make sure that they disclose these plans prior to arrival in a Western European country as often a different type of visa is needed before arrival and entry.
Western Europe, Tourists and CrimeLike the rest of the world Western Europe has it's fair share of crime. Organised crime is present across the region and drugs and human trafficking have become concerns as well, but for the most part tourists will not come into contact with such issues. Instead women should remain on the lookout for pick-pockets who flourish in crowded cities as well as take proper precautions such as not walking alone at night, avoiding dodgy looking areas, only getting into registered taxis, keeping an eye on their drinks and avoiding showing off money and valuables. Women should also be wary of going home with strangers, becoming intoxicated while alone and disclosing too much personal information to strangers. Men may be more forward in Western Europe than women are used to, so learning to ignore or firmly discourage unwanted male attention is important for female travellers as well.
Female Fashion in Western EuropeWestern Europe is often known for high fashion and innovative design, but women should remember that while anything might go in the cities the smaller Western European towns might not be so fashion forward. More conservative necklines and hemlines are a good idea for women travelling to less cosmopolitan areas, and religious buildings including Christian churches might have their own guidelines as well, such as head coverings and/or arm coverings. Bikinis and other swimsuit options all tend to be fine in Western Europe, though female travellers should observe local women to see proper etiquette regarding sunbathing or swimming topless.
Historical Tourism and Western EuropeWestern Europe is rife with historical significance and many modern cities are built around the ruins of older cities. For female travellers this means that the past is never far away and that proper respect should be shown at all times. Spitting and littering, while disgusting in any city, become even more so when touring ancient architecture. Respecting local rules regarding use of electronics and cameras, opening and closing hours for certain areas and the consumption of food and drink is advised as well. When joining a tour, tipping the guide is appropriate regardless of the cost of the tour and even if there is a no tipping policy tips may still be solicited so women should have small denominations on hand at all times. The solemnity of historical sites should also be observed at all times.
Women travelling to Western Europe should expect a great trip but also prepare in advance regarding visas, crime, fashion and historical tourism. With the proper research a trip to Western Europe should be fun, safe and informative.