Travel Safety Tips for Women

Traveling on your own can be an especially liberating and eye-opening experience. You can go wherever you’d like on your own timetable. Unfortunately, especially for women, there can be a downside: the reality that the world is not always safe.

Don’t nix your travel plans. Instead, follow these tips for staying safe while you’re abroad to ensure a fabulous journey that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

Plan Ahead

Do plenty of research well before it’s time to take off on your trip. Read guidebooks and study maps of the areas you plan to visit in order to become familiar with them beforehand.

Search the travel websites and forums to find reviews in order to determine the safest neighborhoods and those that should be avoided. You might be able to find a female traveler who has already visited your destination; if so, she can provide a wealth of good advice and set your mind at ease.

Be sure to book at least your first night’s accommodations ahead of time. Searching an unfamiliar city for a place to stay is not a good idea. Thoroughly read hostel or hotel reviews. If you plan to sleep in a dorm-style room, many hostels offer female-only dorms that can provide more comfort.

Choose lodgings that are located in a fairly busy area on a well-lit street in order to be safe while you’re coming and going at night. If you can’t find this information, post the question on a travel forum.

Stay Aware and Trust Your Instincts

While there is no reason to be paranoid, staying aware of your surroundings at all times is just common sense. Pay attention to what’s around you, including people, any time you’re walking around town.

If someone is following or harassing you, ignore them or be firm and ask the person politely to leave you alone. Carry a cellphone, and have the emergency number readily available if necessary. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Pay attention to your gut feelings. When women’s intuition tells you someone or some place is making you feel uncomfortable, get away as quickly as possible.

Don’t walk down dark alleys or isolated roads. While many people seek out remote places to hike and explore, women who are traveling alone are better off going where there are other hikers.

Be Careful about Your Valuables

Don’t carry valuables with you while you’re out. Only bring the credit and debit cards you plan to use and keep them in a pocket, a sock or even your bra.

Expensive jewelry should be left at home. While some experts recommend a fanny pack or money belt, using one of those means that if you are robbed, you’ll lose everything all at once.

Stashing cash and cards in various hard-to-reach places in your clothing is best. Of course, you can keep a small amount of daily spending cash more readily available, as you don’t want to pull a bunch of bills out of your bra to buy something to drink!

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Avoid Unwanted Male Attention

Females traveling alone should expect male attention, especially when traveling in countries where it’s unusual for a woman to travel alone. If you’d rather avoid a romantic liaison, there are a number of ways to counter men’s attention.

Be sure to dress modestly: no mini-skirts, short shorts or exposed cleavage. In some countries, showing off your shoulders, arms or any part of your legs is considered provocative or even offensive. Find out what’s appropriate before traveling to your destination and dress to blend in.

Avoid making eye contact with men. In some countries, it can be a sign of flirtation, even if it’s just an unintentional quick glance. If you wear sunglasses, no one will be able to tell where you’re looking.

Other tips for avoiding male attention include wearing a wedding ring or a ring that appears to be a wedding band. You might also wear earbuds or headphones to deter others from approaching, but don’t listen to loud music—remember, you need to remain aware of your surroundings. You can even wear them without turning the music on.

Avoid Imbibing Too Much

While a drink or two is okay, don’t overdo it. Watch your drinks carefully to be sure they aren’t spiked while you’re at a bar or nightclub. Bartenders can even be in on the scheme, making it important to be vigilant about watching as they pour your drink.

Never get so drunk that you can’t make it back to where you’re staying. Being tipsy in your own neighborhood is completely different and it can be an unwelcoming experience in another country. You’ll lose your instincts and may not spot potential dangers.

Be Careful in Hotels

If you plan to stay at a reputable hotel in a major city, you’ll likely stay safe, but there are a number of precautions you can take to increase safety and security

When signing in to your hotel, use your first initial rather than a first name so that it’s impossible to tell whether there is a male or female staying there. Make sure the desk clerk doesn’t say your room number out loud where other guests can hear. Ask for another room if that does occur.

While you’re away, leave the television or a radio on so that the room appears to be occupied. When you arrive, double-check that all windows and doors are secured. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to ask a member of the hotel staff or security to accompany you to your room.

By following a few safety tips, you can travel with more peace of mind, empowering you to make the most of your dream destination.