By Gwen Hyatt Staying safe when you travel is a priority for everyone, but especially for women traveling solo. There are certain steps you can take to help toward that end. I mostly travel solo versus with a partner or group, which has both opportunities and challenges. However you travel, safety is always a priority for a successful journey or relocation. Here are my top 11 strategies to stay safe when traveling.
#1 Take a Self-Defense Class
A self-defense class will teach awareness, assertiveness, verbal confrontation skills, safety strategies, and physical techniques that enable you to escape, resist, and survive an attack. A good self-defense course provides psychological awareness and verbal skills, not just physical training.
#2 Blend in as Much as Possible
I dress like a local and leave valuable jewelry at home. Look like you know where you are going and try not to look lost, a signature behavior of a tourist. I usually carry a map of the city or area with me, or use Google Maps, and study it before leaving my accommodation. If I need to refer to the map I find a bench or place to sit and have a coffee.
#3 Lock Stuff Up
I once had money stolen from a safe which I had left open as I was in the apartment while it was being cleaned. Always lock your valuables such as passport, money, credit/debit cards, electronics, etc. in your suitcase if there is no safe when you leave your accommodations.
#4 Use an Indoor ATM if Available
Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN, check the amount of money retrieved and place it in your purse or wallet before leaving the ATM.
#5 Only Carry What You Need or Are Prepared to Lose
I pare down my cash to what I think I will need when going out and occasionally carry a debit card with me. I don’t carry more than I am prepared to lose. Keep important documents, cash and valuables locked and stored safely in your room or apartment.
#6 Be Aware of Your Surroundings and Personal Things at All Times
Avoid remote areas when traveling alone. Stay away from beaches or desolate areas at night. And watch your drinking.
#7 When Traveling on Buses or Trains
Keep your personal bag or backpack with your valuables on the side of you that is closest to the window. If storing your pack overhead, place the opening down versus facing out towards the aisle. Always use a travel lock on your luggage. On travel days, carry your passport and some extra cash separate from your money and credit cards, keeping them on your person or in your backpack or small travel bag that’s with you at all times.
#8 When in Doubt, Ask
Your hotel, hostel, Airbnb host or local Tourist Information Office will gladly provide directions, reputable organizations for walking tours or excursions and recommend where it is safe to venture and where it may be unsafe.
#9 Avoid Waving Your Phone Around
…or Placing it in a pocket or pouch where it could easily be stolen. I rarely use a cell phone for taking photos as my life resides on my phone. I carry a small inexpensive travel camera that takes great photos and is no enormous loss if lost or damaged.
#10 Keep Others Informed of Your Itinerary
Let friends or family know where you are staying (name, address, and website or phone number) and where you will stay next. When traveling alone into parks or wilderness areas, always let someone know when you will return and your exact route.
#11 Don’t Let People Distract You
The innocent-looking woman or child shoving a sign or paper in your face is often an attempt to catch you off guard and grab your wallet. If anyone suddenly approaches you, be mindful that it may be a ploy to divert your attention. Keep valuables secure on your body at all times. Use common sense! We’d like to know your safety suggestions and share them with fellow travelers. Please share them below. In the meantime, viajes seguros y buenos!
Editor’s Note: TCI is a full-service provider of expat education and transition services. Our private platform allows our global expat community and our Expat Alliance of in-country expats and experts to interact so that all can successfully embrace the expat experience. Learn More…