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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