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July 11, 2008

Top 10 Safety Tips for Solo Women Travelers



By Guest Blogger
07/11/2008

comments Comments (5)

Chickablesurvey Maria Salvaggio is the founder of Chickable?, a women-only travel website that launched in 2007. Its mission is to enable more women to experience the many benefits of women-only trips and get-togethers. Here, she shares her top ten safety tips for women who are traveling alone.

Sometimes taking risks and trusting strangers creates the most unforgettable travel experiences. However, as women travelers, safety should always be foremost on our minds. This applies to both the solo and girlfriend travel experience. For this reason, I posted a survey on Chickable.com, a website for women travelers, that asked readers for their top safety tip. The results from 200 women travelers are shown in the graphic to the right, plus I've included more detailed explanations of each tip below. The ten possible answers were derived from existing safety tips published online.

1. Use common sense and be aware:
Make smart choices. Don't be paranoid, but be aware that bad things do happen, and protect yourself.
2. Trust your instincts:
Your instincts and sense of danger are well-honed. If you feel something is off, wrong, strange—get out, move on, flee, scream, whatever is appropriate. Do it quickly.
3. Display confident body language:
Keep your head up, swing your arms and act confidently. Adopt a no-nonsense attitude. Walk with purpose and you'll be less of a target for hustlers who prey on disoriented or timid tourists.
4. Travel in groups if you can:
If you feel like you're being watched or followed while sitting in the airport or other public place, attach yourself to a family. Start talking to them, sit near them, befriend them. You are harder to isolate when you are part of a group.
5. Let someone you trust know your itinerary:
This can be the person running your guesthouse or hotel, or someone at home (a quick phone call, fax, postcard or email will do). If you're going somewhere particularly offbeat, register with your country's local embassy or consulate and tell them your travel plans.
6. Don't look like a tourist:
Match your dress style to that of the locals. To avoid looking like a tourist and to fit in, some women leave their backpack at the hotel and carry cameras and maps in a local grocery bag. One added benefit—thieves are far less prone to steal a shopping bag than to grab a backpack.
7. Watch out for gigolos and spiked drinks:
Wherever you are in the world, don't turn your back on a drink, especially in heavy tourist areas. Drugged drinks are becoming more common. Also, watch out for local gigolos, who prey on women travelers for their money and/or sex.
8. When lost, ask women and families for directions:
If you get lost, do not be afraid to ask for directions. Generally, the safest people to ask are families or women with children. Getting the right information may save you from ending up in a potentially unsafe area.
9. Always bring a rubber doorstop for your hotel door:
Even if you are confident in your accommodation's security, bring along a rubber doorstop to wedge under the door. If anything, it's extra peace of mind while you sleep.
10. Carry a personal safety device:
A whistle may cause just enough distraction to give you a chance to escape an unpleasant situation. Some countries may not allow certain safety devices so know the standards of the country you are entering.

-- Maria Salvaggio

If you would like to participate in the survey or add to the list, visit Chickable?.


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Related Topics: Top 10 Lists · Travel Tips

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Thanks for the tips!!! :) It's really useful. However, I think the "4. Travel in groups if you can", the part "attach yourself to a family. Start talking to them, sit near them, befriend them." is a bit awkward. You can't just attach yourself to a family and start talking to them that easily.

Thanks for the list. It's really useful!!

We recently went to Italy - Rome & Florence with side trips via Euro Star train to Venice and stop in Prato. Enjoyed all BUT can see where the warnings about carrying handbag could be a problem. One, they become VERY heavy after a day of site seeing or shopping; 2, there are a LOT of motorscooter travelers here..Cheap and easy to park but easy for them to reach out and grab a handbag or cut the strap. I purchased a steel reinforced bag for "shopping days"..black so my husband could carry it when it got too heavy for me. (Men DO carry handbags (not all, tho) in Italy and he didn't look a bit out of place with it!) I used a very small clutch under my arm for sight seeing days. Held a camera, gum, small items & travel brush. I carried ALL important papers in a waist or bra safe type thing.Only 1 credit card, some local currency for the day's needs and our passports. Some carry a copy of passport, but we chose to keep ours with us and a copy in a hidden part of our luggage.
Wash rags are a luxury item; I had a small puff that fortunately I had packed. DO NOT take your lap top. Most that do have internet access don't connect like in the US. For the small fee of an "CAFE" or your hotel, it is worth it to not lug it around. You will also need an "international" phone for access if your family needs to reach you in another Country. Enjoy the sights, don't let anyone get "too close" when you are viewing or walking. DO NOT set your bags on the floor..keep your hands on them at all times even when in restaurants..We tried to sit in corners so we could look out but have a wall behind us to put bags between us for safety. CNN is the ONLY English news channel so no wonder the Europeans HATE Americans. Most were very friendly. Those that were rude we just walked on and found somewhere else to spend our money.

An interesting article listing the trips for Women Traveler.There are some basic tips on how to go about the process,specially the risk involve which a woman is traveling solo.

I remember when I was traveling alone and a man followed me into a local cafe. He approached me and wanted to know what hotel I was staying at and my room's phone number. It was very awkward. I now wear a fake wedding ring on my finger when traveling solo. I remove it only when its to my advantage! :) - Mary T

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