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Advice For Women Visiting Historic or Religious Sites

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 30 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Travel History Tours Historic Sites

Historic and religious sites are often common places for women to visit when they travel. These sites usually hold great significance in the area and to the local culture, and for that reason they are often subject to strict rules and regulations. In many places these rules and regulations will require women to do certain things in order to gain access to a site. To make the most of your chance to tour historic and religious sites while you travel, pay attention to the requirements for female guests and do your utmost to observe these guidelines.

Travel with Tours

When you visit historic or religious sites abroad, try to travel with a tour group. Not only will this keep you safe while travelling to secluded areas, but it will allow you easier entrance and the expert knowledge of the tour leader. Travelling with tours will also mean that the tour leaders can explain any particular requirements including entry, dress and physical contact.

Observe Entry Requirements

Historic sites usually allow all guests to enter and explore the same areas, but religious sites may well have different entry points and entry requirements for female guests. When you travel on your own, without the benefit of a tour guide, you will need to be particularly sensitive to what is required of you as a female traveller. If you are uncertain about the women's entrance, where you may visit within the site, if you will be required to participate in certain activities, if you will be barred from certain activities and if you may photograph or video tape the site, it is best to ask another woman your questions. If you can not find satisfactory answers to your questions then play it safe and stick to areas only where groups of women are already present.

Dress Appropriately

Women's dress can often be a barrier to obtaining entry to a religious site, though this does not as frequently play a part in entry of secular historic sites. If you know that you will be travelling to religious sites, dress modestly and try to ensure that your clothing is loose in case you need to sit on the floor. Modest dressing may include anything from head covering to long sleeves to covered knees and/or ankles, but it will almost certainly include covering the chest and wearing higher necklines. You may also want to try to avoid wearing obvious religious symbols. Slip-on shoes will also be a help as many sites require guests to remove their shoes before entering.

Avoid Physical Contact

All guests to historic and religious sites will need to be careful about physical contact once inside the sites. Tourist attractions usually have a very long history, so guests should never touch artefacts inside or even support structures like walls and beams if they do not need to. Women should also be careful not to make physical contact with men in religious sites, which may include shaking hands, and to avoid touching the heads of others inside these buildings. In some religious sites women may also need to avoid making eye contact with men and refrain from participating in any prayers or activities in which other women are not already involved.

Women who travel to see historic and religious sites must be aware that there may be certain rules and regulations which will govern their visits. If women are uncertain of how to proceed at a religious or historic site, asking a local woman or female tour guide is always the most appropriate option.

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