The Non-Existent Right or Wrong of How to Travel: Sasee Travel Safety Tips

By Margo Millure

The Non-Existent Right or Wrong of How to Travel: Sasee Travel Safety Tips

For women preparing for independent travel, nothing is more of an important consideration than personal safety. To best protect yourself from all kinds of trouble, make preparations ahead of time and use good common sense when on your trip.

Choosing the right accommodations may be your most important safety decision.

Email someone you know, or who is intimately familiar with the area you will be traveling to, or knows someone who is, and ask them for recommendations in areas that are considered safe. Visit travel websites and blogs that are about your destination and don’t hesitate to join their communities. If your questions aren’t answered, don’t hesitate to jump in and ask! 

Upon check-in grab the hotel’s business card to keep on your person in case you get lost. As soon as you enter your hotel room, give it a good look over and listen to any alarm bells that may go off in your head. For instance, if you find the window in your first floor room doesn’t lock properly, don’t ignore that instinct that tells you to ask the front desk to move you to another room.

Dress appropriately for the destination

Out of respect for your host culture, research what is considered appropriate attire for your host destination. This is especially important when traveling to non-Western countries, where what is considered acceptable dress for women varies. Blending in will keep you from all kinds of unwanted attention and from being targeted as a vulnerable tourist.

Scan all important documents such as passports

Mail the scans to yourself, and while you’re at it, email all confirmation numbers, itineraries and international telephone numbers for any credit cards to yourself as well.

Plan your purse

For visiting busy tourist areas, consider taking a pocketbook you can wear across your body that lies flat against you in front, with zippered, easy access compartments.

Smartphone and other digital device safety

Upon their phone or laptop being stolen while traveling, many people are surprised to learn that features such as “Find my phone,” available on iPhones, will not work as long as the device is turned off. The best precautions to take to ensure your data’s safety are 1. Back up all of your devices before your trip, and 2. Even if you don’t use one at home, activate password access along with the option that will erase all data after several failed password attempts (for Apple products). 3. Be sure that none of your passwords automatically log you in to any of your online accounts.

Enjoy the nightlife, but carefully

When it comes to consuming beer, cocktails and wine; know your limits, and know that now isn’t the time to push them. Go out in groups when venturing into unfamiliar territory. And don’t go along with things that don’t feel right just because a new BFF seems to think something you question is a fine idea.

My grandmother used to say nothing good happens after midnight, and statistically speaking, it turns out she was right: Most robberies and other assaults occur well after midnight, between 3 am and dawn. And don’t even think about visiting that ATM down a dark alley. As convenient and safe as something feels in the moment, it is not worth the risk. Most likely there will be another one in a safer spot just around the corner.

Please talk to strangers. But do it intelligently.

Talking to all the wonderful people you will meet during your travels does not mean that you ever need to accept “candy from strangers.” As grown women this can come in the form of something very tempting and harmless looking such as a glass of merlot or a margarita. (Here Grandma would have suggested accepting politely, then not taking one bloody sip of the thing.)

Sadly many popular tourist destinations are filled with teams of people who make a decent living by preying on vulnerable tourists and their easy distractibility. But instead of allowing this to dishearten you, remember to project confidence whenever you are out. Don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk thumbing through a guidebook or rummaging through your purse. Stand up straight and walk with purpose. And never forget the adage that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Take care of your health (We may feel like kids again when traveling, but we aren’t.)

We all know to fill our prescriptions, stock up on supplements and get any necessary vaccines. But taking care of your health also means making good decisions regarding your activities. If you want to scuba dive, and you’ve been taking scuba lessons at the local Y for months is one thing. Still remember to verify any tour operator’s credentials.

If during a trip you find yourself faced with trying something wildly new and out of your comfort zone, take a minute to stand back before making a decision. Evaluate if an activity is indeed what you want to do and in your best interest. Unless you’ve been planning on it for months, now is probably not the best time to take up things like motocross, bungee jumping or parachuting out of an airplane!

Finding the balance between caution and openness to new experiences will continue to be a challenge for the traveling woman. Although there are no guarantees in life, with some forethought and preparation, you will be free to be a woman who knows how to enjoy herself fully and safely in all her travels.

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