As a woman traveler, we are slightly more vulnerable than our male counterparts, especially when we travel alone. The reward of Traveling solo far outweigh the risks, at least in my opinion. See: The Importance of Traveling Alone.
Traveling smart is the key to a safe enjoyable trip. Here are a few tips:
- Never assume your safe just because the place looks like paradise.
- Before you leave, create images of your passport, driver’s license, credit cards you will be carrying (front and back) and put them in a safe place to carry with you or leave them with someone you trust. Will help in the event the cards are lost or stolen.
- When you’re out alone, really limit the alcohol- meaning don’t have more than one or two drinks, and speaking of alcohol there’s a few more tips about it.
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Thanks, Mom. I’ve been listening to this one my whole life (and rolling my eyes). #1 and most important, it gives people an opportunity to slip a little something in your drink. #2 People can be strange and who knows by accepting a drink, you may have unwillingly just accepted a marriage proposal. Just kidding, sort of.
- Never Never leave your drink unattended. Let this loop in your head, like the luggage warning announcement in the airport every 23 seconds. Not to go to the bathroom, not to dance, etc. Yes, asking the guy sitting next to you to watch your drink counts as leaving it unattended.
- Trust your gut instinct- about everything. Again, back to the alcohol. Drinking impairs your judgement and might make you think it’s a perfectly fine idea, a great one in fact, to catch a ride with the rowdy bachelor party boys you just met.
- Try not to go out walking alone at night, unless you’re in a well-lit, busy city and if you do never ever walk down any dark, isolated streets, even if the map makes it seem like a good idea. Which reminds me to tell you about taxis….and maps.
- In some countries, and some places in the states, taxi drivers prey on tourists, especially women. Ask your front desk people or concierge at the hotel/ hostels for their opinions before using them. Hotels often times have courtesy shuttles and drivers who will drive you.
- DO NOT walk around holding a giant map, especially at night. You might as well paint a giant “tourist bulls eye” on your back. Look at the map as discreetly as possible, fold it to show the small area you need visible. Go into a bathroom or sit down at a café table if you need to check it.
- Try your best to blend in. Walk with intention, like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing. No texting, checking emails, updating your Facebook status while walking.
- Don’t carry a giant purse, no matter how fashionable it may be. In foreign countries (mainly in questionable hotels), I keep my passport and a credit card in a hidden waist wallet just in case the SMALL purse I’m carrying is stolen.
- Don’t dress provocatively. Drawing unnecessary attention to yourself makes you an easier target. So leave the push up bras, cleavage revealing shirts and short skirts at home.
- No smiling at strange men, not even the friendly “how do you do” smile. For American women, this is the most difficult thing in the world. In many cultures, smiling at men is about the same as lifting your shirt and flashing them. In Italy, a country full of charmers, a smile will most definitely lead to an immediate conversation. If you’re hoping to avoid this type of attention, keep a straight face, which leads me to my next tip.
- Read up on the country you will be visiting before you go. Learn about the cultures and customs and areas to visit, avoid, etc. Do your homework.
- Also important, check the warnings and register yourself with the US Department of State. They will help you and keep you updated to emergencies/crisis’s abroad. Here’s the link: https://step.state.gov/step/
- Keep family, friends, neighbors, someone, anyone, updated on your whereabouts every day, especially important in case of emergencies. A short simple email is fine but make sure you are clear, my people particularly my mother have been known to become confused pretty easily- “I thought she said Paris Texas, not Paris, France.”
- Equally important- Have fun. And Yes, it is possible to follow all these rules and still have fun.