In this, the second installment of Your Ultimate Guide to Female Solo Travel, we present you with some safety tips to keep you healthy, secure, prepared, and ready to enjoy your trip! What do I need to research before I leave? What should I pack? How can I enjoy my trip without compromising my health and safety? All of these questions and more will be answered in this article. We'll also provide you with some helpful links to sites at the bottom of this post that will streamline the planning process so you can spend more time researching the fun stuff and less time fretting over the details. The world is our oyster, ladies!
“Travel should excite you and push just at the edge of your comfort. That’s how we grow and change, not by doing outright risky things, but by confronting the small fears that are boxing us in and not allowing us to live the life we want.” - www.ALittleAdrift.com
Map it Out:
Familiarize yourself with a map of the general area you intend on exploring before you go. This not only minimizes your having to translate confusing directions from locals, but will allow you more time to master the transit system. I always print out maps before leaving in case wifi fails me.
What to Pack
Movies like "Taken" paired with mainstream media depictions of other countries would have us believe that abductors and murders lurk on every corner seeking to harm us. In all actuality, most people are too busy living their lives, working, preparing food, taking care of their children, etc. to have time to worry about you. The CDC informs us, "Motor vehicle crashes—not crime or terrorism—are the number 1 killer of healthy US citizens living, working, or traveling in foreign countries." If anything, you're likely to crash your scooter in Thailand sooner than you are to be kidnapped. That being said, you should always be alert, aware of your surroundings, and it never hurts to be cautious. These items are easy to pack and great tools that will keep your body feeling secure and your mind at ease.
Many female travelers choose to pack a door stopper for increased hotel security. Most american hotels have key card locks, don't expect this in older hotels abroad. Pack this nifty door stop for added security and sleep easy.
Whistle/ Taser/ Pepper Spray
>Whistle Pros: you can pack a whistle on a carry on, will grab others attention, may thwart a potential attacker.
>Taser Pros: you can't take it on the flight with you for obvious reasons, but all you have to do is snap it to keep anyone from coming any closer. Comes with a built in flash light.
>Pepper Spray Pros: can spray a potential attacker anywhere from 15-8 ft away, fits easily on your key chain.
Check in with the US Embassy
This seems like a no brainer but it deserves to be mentioned. Let the Embassy know you're heading there, check in once you arrive, and in the unlikely event that something should happen like losing your passport, natural disasters, etc., you'll be covered. They'll be able to offer you a ton of information about what you need to do before leaving, visa information and much more.
Many women, not just solo travelers, encourage self defense classes with good reason. Fear stems from the unknown, so go get educated on how to physically defend yourself and you'll soar with confidence.
Splurge on Safety
Sometimes we try to stretch our dollar in order to extend our trip, but the reality is, the stress of staying in a shady hotel for a longer period of time greatly outweighs the joys of feeling secure in a slightly more expensive hotel for a shorter time. I like to read reviews on Trip Advisor before booking to feel out the area and previous guests experiences (TA is also a great resource for finding top attractions!)
Is your flight landing after dark? Do you have a layover night in a less than comfortable city? Arrange for a driver to pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel. It's much safer than walking around confused in a city you don't know and is likely to be a Hail Mary after a long flight.
You've made some friends while on your scuba excursion earlier that invited you out for dinner afterwards. You happily accept and when the evening comes to an end, you part ways. Maybe you know where your hotel is, but the walk is pretty far, or you're feeling a bit turned around. Hail a cab. Don't waste your time trying to figure out how to get home. Not only will you be distracted from your surroundings when trying to figure out your map, but it's ultimately the safer bet to take a certified means of transport. Even with your pepper spray in hand. If you do decide to opt, which can be perfectly safe depending on the situation, always walk with an air of confidence like you know where you are going and have walked this path thousands of times.
Solo means solo, you are responsible for you. Trust yourself to make the right choices. If something doesn't feel right, remove yourself from the situation. If someone who first came off as nice is starting to become pushy, ditch them. It isn't rude to excuse yourself for the evening from a new group of friends if one or two of them are making you uneasy. If you book an excursion and part of it doesn't sit well with you, like cave spelunking, sit it out. Part of what makes solo travel so great is pushing your limits to experience something new, to teach yourself that you are capable of things you never thought possible. It is also means trusting yourself to make the right choices for you. No one can tell you what is right for you, only you can decide that for yourself. So, listen to your gut and trust in the power of you.
The hotel is your home during your stay. Make friends with the hotel staff, let them know you are alone, and they will look after you. They'll check to make sure you made it home safe at night, will inform you of areas you should avoid, and the list goes on. The hotel staff are your guardian angels!
Before you leave, designate a friend, family member, or significant other as your home security net. Leave them a copy of your Itinerary, names addresses and phone numbers of the hotels you'll be staying, a copy of your Passport, ID front and back, credit cards front and back, and any other important documents. You should also keep these files in a secure area like DropBox so you'll have access to them in the event that you need them. Check in with your home base every day or so, it'll keep your loved ones at home at ease and ensure you're never off the grid for too long.
Resources & Links:
Clothing & Etiquette: www.roughguides.com
Select your destination, the country, Travel Essentials, "Culture & Etiquette"
Key Phrases: www.omniglot.com
Select destination language for useful phrases translated
CDC Vaccines: wwwnc.cdc.gov
Frommers Top 8 Travel Insurance Providers: www.frommers.com
List of US Embassy's: www.usembassy.govHeart of a Vagabond & A Little Adrift THANK YOU! Ladies, check out these incredible travel blogs for a better sense of the travelers experience, get inspired, and enjoy!
What are some of your go to safety tips? Share with us in the comments below & check back in with us next week for our third installment!