If you are travelling on your own, with other women or men then there are a few things that you need to do to prepare for your trip.
Dress code is important for both men and women but tends to be more important for women in general dress like the local women. If they are covered from head to toe then you should be as well. In the developing world cheap American television shows give the male population the idea that all western women are loose. If you dress inappropriately then you are reinforcing this believe and are effectively laying yourself open to unwanted attention.
If you wear shorts and have bare shoulders in a Muslim country for example you are asking for trouble. It is important to find out dress codes before you leave for example in Papua New Guinea you can expose your breasts but your thighs need to be covered at all times, even wearing trousers is seen as provocative. In general lose fitting long clothes are the best they are also the most comfortable for travel in hot climates. The more you fit in the more you'll be ignored and you trip will be much more enjoyable for it.
Special care needs to be taken when visiting religious cities and especially mosques and temples. There have been cases of women travellers being stoned for entering religious building dressed inappropriately. How would you feel if you went to your local church and found tourists in bikinis?
Condoms are available in many countries but it is still safest to take what you think you will need with you. If you do have to buy then check the sell by date before you by them and try a get a recognized brand. Avoid buying them away from large towns or cities or places where they might have been left in the sun.
If you are using a low dose oral contraception then be aware that stomach upsets especially diarrhoea may reduce the effectiveness. If you are flying also be aware of the time changes and wait for your body to settle down a couple of days before relying on your oral contraception.
Time difference, jet lag and the stress of travel can all up set the biological clock and alter the timing of periods. The availability of tampax and sanitary towels depends largely on what part of the world you are heading for but in the developing world its better to take what you think you will need. Tampax with applicators are usually the most hygienic especially if clean water for washing might be hard to find. Disinfectant wipes are useful to clean your hands in such cases.
If you use oral contraception then you can use it to control when you have your period this can be especially useful if you are travelling in areas such as deserts where water is very precious. Consult your doctor first though.
In some areas of the world a women who are menstruating are believed to have powers or be unclean. This means you should be as discrete as possible for example in the Dogo region of Mali you might be shut in to a hut set aside for menstruating women.
Hi. Being male I was going to try and persaude a female friend who has done a lot of travelling to write this page but as of yet haven't got round to it. If you are a female traveller and would like to add to this page or have any other comments then email me firstname.lastname@example.org use 'Female Web Page' as the subject so I can easily pick out your email amongst the junk ones. Also have you any experience of independant travel with children? Then let me know. Thanks!