You’re a woman traveling alone. Perhaps you’re traveling on business or you’re just finding yourself. Keep your wits about you and you could have an adventure worth telling. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you navigate your way through an unfamiliar city and a foreign land.
1. DO wear a wedding ring, even if you’re not married.
An obvious band of gold signifies that you’re not interested and, even more important, that your burly husband is somewhere close by. If you start picking up a weird vibe from someone you’ve just met, the faux, or real, wedding band provides a polite excuse to walk away.
2. DO travel during the day if at all possible.
You don’t want to be traipsing through a dark parking garage or left hanging around a deserted airport.
3. DO check in with your family, friends, or co-workers as you make your way.
Have them track your flight using an app like Flightaware, so they’ll know when your plane has landed and when they should be hearing from you. Have a safeword. Also, have them watch the movie “Taken,” so they can do their best Liam Neeson impression when the kidnappers answer your cellphone.
4. DO protect yourself against electronic theft.
It can be thwarted with radio-frequency identification (RFID) blocking shields. Individual RFID shields, wallets, and purses are plentiful. Travelon and Pacsafe carry a full line of items geared toward travel safety, some of which are not only RFID-blocking but also anti-slash.
5. DON’T flash your cash.
Let’s say you are taking $500 dollars on your physical person as you gambol about the city. Have small bills in your wallet or shirt pocket for tips and food. Stash other money in more than one place. Of course, you don’t want to be obvious paying for a cab with the money you pull out of your bra. Consider carrying a dummy wallet if you’re going to be in a place known for pick-pockets. Fill it with those promotional credit cards you get in the mail that have your name on them and some small bills so it looks the part.
6. DO be loud.
Fear can be paralyzing. If you’re not a screamer, carry a Personal Screaming Device (yes, that’s a thing) or the Storm, the world’s loudest whistle. The Storm is so loud that even someone wearing a helmet can hear it.
7. DON’T offer personal information to people you’ve just met.
In fact, it’s a good idea to have a plausible, but completely fictional, story to tell those who are overly curious. And, not to sound too paranoid, but while you may be talking to someone who genuinely is who they say they are, the guy behind you is making notes of your travel plans.
8. DON’T drink the water.
Bottled water is always safest and probably better tasting. If you like the taste of radium-228, arsenic and lead with your tap water (I’m looking at you Las Vegas) drink up. Tap water is fine if it’s properly filtered. But even filtered water tends to miss that pesky E coli or rotavirus, so consider a travel water bottle with a purifier.
9. DON’T get drunk.
Intoxication reduces not only your inhibitions, but your awareness of your surroundings. That’s when predatory drugs (roofies, liquid ecstasy and, yes, cat valiums) can get slipped into your beverage.
10. DON’T dress to impress.
To travel safely in a foreign country, you will probably fail at blending in, so aim for not standing out. To make packing easier on you, choose a versatile wardrobe with a pick a neutral-based color scheme of non-wrinkly clothes. Black/white/grey/blue-toned charcoal—those are all easy to mix and match. Keep your bling at home. A woman alone doesn’t have to travel in constant fear. The best travel safety tip is to look like you know what you’re doing. Lost often comes off as weak or vulnerable. Walk with determination and purpose. Don’t fumble for things. If you have to pick a stranger to ask for help, choose a family with young children or an older woman. Such choices are less likely to be serial killers in disguise. Research where you’re going. The CIA World Factbook is a great resource. Realize that, in a worst case scenario, bad things happen no matter how many precautions you take. Your job is to reduce the chance that those bad things will happen to you.
Featured photo credit: Dalicia in Florence via facebook.com