Everyone wants to experience the perfect travel experience. From incredible views, seeing popular and historical destination sites, enjoying fantastic weather, experiencing new cultural events, or indulging cutting edge adventures, it is important, especially for women traveling alone to keep safety in mind during your trip. Young, older, or somewhere in between, as a women you need to heed a few precautions to make your trip as wonderful as you dreamed it could be. The Travel Junkie, LLC would like to help inform you of possible dangers and precautions that all travelers, but especially female solo travelers, should bear in mind.
1. Select the area you visit carefully: While there are many great places to travel throughout the world today, there are also some which should be avoided because of the risks they pose to all travelers but especially to women, and even greater for women traveling alone. These are areas which are suffering from heightened levels of crime and are best avoided. Since these are always changing it's best to consult your travel agent or do some research before proceeding with your planning. For example, while there are some towns along the U.S.-Mexico border are particularly dangerous for travelers, there are many beautiful places in Mexico where tourism is appreciated and great measures are taken to provide a pleasant and safe experience. Other countries or parts of countries may be acceptable to travel to in the future but due to unrest or poor treatment of women are strongly advised against at the current time.
As you plan with your travel agent, be sure to share with them any restrictions or medical needs you might have that might make an area more threatening to your safety. Once you arrive, talking to locals is the best way to find information about where it’s safe to visit.
2. When going out for the evening, bring your ID and emergency info with you: Always carry some form of I.D. and the number to your travel insurance so you can get medical assistance at any point. You should also bring the name and address of the place you are staying, and the phone numbers for a reputable cab company and local emergency services. Cell phones work in a lot of areas but when traveling out of the country may not have service or proper codes to be useful.
3. Never carry large sums of money: Before heading out for the evening especially, think about how much you will need for your excursion and only bring what’s necessary. If you have credit cards or an ATM card, be sure to bring only one. That way if your wallet gets lost or stolen, you’ll still be able to access money while you’re waiting for a replacement card. Hotels have safes, youth hostels have lockers. Divide your money so you are carrying a small amount in your pocket or purse to minimize loss if you were to be robbed. Carry additional cash for emergencies and other necessities in another place on your body. Carry travelers' cheks in one place and leave the receipts in another. Money belts are especially good for carrying your passport and other valuables especially if you are trying to travel efficiently. Travel light and leave anything obviously valuable - an expensive watch, ring, or necklace, for example, at home. And remember that costume jewelry that looks real enough to impress people at the fancy dinner party is inviting thieves when traveling.
4. Stay on main roads when driving: When traveling by car check out your route and allow time when traveling to make sure that the route will return you to your lodging before nightfall whenever possible.
If you are traveling by bus, opt for a first class bus because they take direct, non-stop routes and generally stick to the safer toll roads. The prices are higher but not astronomical and is well worth the added safety.
5. Avoid traveling at night: Don't travel alone at night or in quiet areas - take a taxi to your front door if it's safer. If you are traveling by car, avoid traveling after dark. This is especially critical if you are traveling on toll-free roads, but is best avoided even when traveling on toll roads. Though highway bandits have become less common, it’s better to avoid the risk altogether. If you're concerned about going out after dark, get an early start each day and eat your main meal at lunchtime.
6. Do as the locals do: Study what local women are wearing. Do they have their shoulders covered? Are they sunbathing? Avoid drawing unwelcome attention to yourself. Making eye-contact or smiling can be interpreted as a sign of encouragement in some countries. Be polite, but reserved. Remember that appropriate clothing is especially important in religious buildings. Follow the rules, there is no point in traveling halfway across the city just to be turned away because you had nothing to cover your shoulders with or you wore shorts instead of slacks.
7. Stay healthy: Staying safe includes making sure you have all of your vaccination shots as well as any additional ones required to enter a particular country are up to date. Once on your trip, be careful regarding drinking water. Some water is unsafe to drink. This includes brushing your teeth with it. So make sure you know and take the precautions seriously. Nothing ruins a trip faster than the day spent in bed or in the bathroom. Sunscreen, or the lack of it, sure puts a damper on a sunfilled week in that perfect resort. Make sure you pack or buy some and use it according to the label. Remember that many need to be reapplied after exercise or swimming. Practice restraint when eating from local vendors. Does the food look refrigerated? How long has it been exposed to warm temperatures or bugs? Is it being handled by clean hands?
8. Plan your itinerary each day: Make sure you know how to get there and back. Your travel agent can help you book excursions to fill your days with some exciting things to do. They can help arrange transportation while on your trip, or just a transfer to get you from your airport to the hotel and back. Having a plan will help you make the most of your days as well. There is nothing worse than realizing that you could have taken that great excursion if you had only known about it ahead of time. Ask your travel agent what the area has to offer that meets your personality and desires. Even when you change a plan at the last moment and decide to do something other than what you stated in your itinerary, it is a starting point if something were to happen to you.
9. Bring your "MAN" with you: Wear a 'wedding ring' or carry a photo of a burly man in your wallet. Pretending you're about to meet your husband can be a good way to deflect unwanted attention.
10. Stay alert: When traveling through airports be aware of your purse and be careful not to leave it exposed or open where someone can reach in and steal your wallet, money, passport or tickets. Replacing these can be time consuming if not impossible. When walking don't wear headphones or other occupy yourself with things that will distract you. Walk with an air of confidence. When at bars or clubs stay sober or at least limit the number of drinks you have and never leave a drink unattended. Be careful of others buying you drinks so nothing is put in your drink.
11. Make sure someone at home knows your plans: Reassure family and friends by arranging check-in times or a system such as posting to a social network. A copy of your itinerary including departure and arrival flight information, a copy of your passport info page, and your bank info will aid people at home if you are robbed or you do not arrive someplace you are expected to be. Be grateful that they care about you enough to worry and now that you have taken some precautions towards a safe trip, have fun!
The Travel Junkie, LLC is a full service travel agency serving a nationwide base of clients and based locally in WIchita, Ks. Let us know how our team of specialists can get you off on your next great adventure.
Thanks for reading!