Recently I did a quick unscientific poll on my YouTube channel where I asked my followers to tell me what aspect of solo travel worried them the most. Of the choices given, overwhelmingly, the answer was personal safety.
Should Women be worried about their personal safety while traveling? Worried? No. Aware – Yes. You should not worry but you should have awareness.
In many Facebook groups, I find that the questions that I hear most relevant to safety are about abductions and assault. Many seem to think that someone is going to come to snatch them from their hotel room or steal their organs. And while I can’t say that these things don’t happen they are not as prevalent as many would have you believe on the Internet.
In my prior life in executive management, I oversaw the safety and security of thousands of people. I was responsible for ensuring that we had the right standards for offices and personnel not just in the United States but across the world. In countries like Ukraine, Serbia, Kenya, Tunisia, and Turkey.
As women, there absolutely are steps that we should take to safeguard our personal physical safety. But did you know that a car accident is a much higher risk than an abduction? Because traffic and safety rules are very different in many countries and the way that drivers operate their vehicles are very different there’s a higher likelihood that you could be in a traffic accident than that you will be abducted from your hotel or Airbnb. Another more likely mishap is that you may slip and fall while walking and twist an ankle, break an arm or tear an important muscle.
There are specific things you can do to safeguard your safety when traveling abroad especially solo to decrease the likelihood of being a victim of a crime or experiencing a vehicular mishap.
I’ll walk through the seven things you should do not just in preparation for a trip but also while you’re on your trip.
1. Exercise Situational Awareness and Common Sense
This means being aware of your surroundings and paying attention to your instincts and your inner voice what we call intuition. If something feels wrong remove yourself. Don’t second-guess it just go. Don’t announce that you are alone. If someone asks you say you’re with a friend or friends. Don’t drink excessively especially when you are out at night. Make sure you have mapped how you’re going to destinations and how you’re getting back ahead of time. Avoid walking alone at night and use a ride share or taxi.
2. Arrive at Your Destination during Daylight
Schedule your arrival at your destination during daylight hours and prior to sunset. My rule of thumb is to arrive no later than 3:00 pm local t Arrival during the daytime allows you to scope out the area surrounding your hotel/vacation rental during the day and determine whether it is a safe and good fit. After check-in, take a walk and find the grocery store, pharmacy, and cafe(s). Figure out where the bus and train lines are located if you did not use them during your transit to the location. Take a walk around the hotel/vacation rental and confirm proper external lighting. If anything is concerning raise it with the hotel or your host, and relocate if major safety red flags arise.
3. Safeguard Your Personal Belongings
Book a hotel or vacation rental with built-in safes. Don’t assume that a hotel room or your Airbnb will have a safe. Ask ahead of time whether there is a safe on the premises and use it. If there isn’t a safe I recommend sleeping with your money belt containing your passport, your credit cards, and your cash.
Don’t walk around with all of your cash and credit cards on your person. Do not carry your passport around with you unless the country requires it by law (do your homework). I recommend making several photocopies of your passport at least three. Keep a copy on your person at all times and leave your original passport in the safe in your hotel room or vacation rental. In many countries outside the United States cash is king so research and find out whether most places prefer cash versus credit cards. Only carry the amount of cash that you will need and one credit card. I recommend VISA because it’s generally excepted everywhere.
Be especially vigilant on trains, buses, and crowded areas in major city centers. They are the playground of pickpockets. Keep a money belt under your clothing or use a wrist wallet. If you are carrying a purse, I recommend a small cross-body or waist belt that you can keep your hands firmly while on trains, buses, or walking in crowds.
4. Upon Check-In, Make Sure Entry Points to Your Hotel Room and or Vacation Rental Lock Properly
Upon arrival at your hotel room or vacation rental, check all the entry point doors and ensure they lock properly. If you are in a vacation rental there may be multiple entry points onto the property and into the home or condo. CHECK THEM ALL. Make sure they lock properly and make sure they are locked. If any of them are not working immediately report it to management or your host and demand immediate action. Relocate to another hotel room or rental if necessary. Do not spend the night or leave your valuables in a hotel room or vacation rental without fully operational locks. Supplemental locks and door jams are also great things to bring with you. I like the Addalock and the Jamm Doorstop.
5. Be Very Thoughtful and Careful About Auto Transportation
Auto safety standards vary from country to country. Ensuring that you are traveling in an automobile that is safe is your responsibility. When getting into a taxi or Uber make sure that there are seatbelts that are working and that the vehicle looks to be in good order. Don’t let the driver start driving until you have put on your seatbelt and if the car does not have a seatbelt get out of the car. If the driver has child safety locks on ask them to turn them off immediately. When getting into an Uber or any other rideshare service make sure that you check the license plate to match it with the car on the app. Also, ask the driver for their name before you get into the car.
6. Know Where the Closest Hospital or Urgent Care Centers Are Located in Each City You Will Visit.
As I shared, slips and falls are high risks when on travel, especially to low and middle-income countries. Many of the sidewalks may not be evenly paved, are often narrow and it’s easy to miscalculate your steps and take a tumble. In some places there may not even be sidewalks and you may have to walk in the street risking being hit by a car. If an accident occurs you want to know how to access medical care promptly. As you plan your travel notate the location of urgent care or hospital facilities in your itinerary. Read this blog post where I share 4 MORE OF MY FAVORITE SAFETY APPS & GADGETS FOR SOLO TRAVEL! It shares key apps and tools you should use to organize your itinerary and health information. Also don’t forget that COVID-19 entry requirements may still be in place in many countries. Be sure to travel with your vaccine card and K95 face masks.
7. Be Confident and Have a Good Time
After you’ve done all these things on this list as well as those in my other blog post and guides: Go on your trip do and so confidently. Get out there and see some world!
Download the BaldGirlWillTravel: A Guide to Travel Safety and Security for Solo Female Travelers It’s packed with tips and information about how to solo travel safely and securely.
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