As a woman, traveling alone or with another female companion can be a very rewarding and exciting venture. To maximize the positive side of the outing and minimize the hazards, consider the following travel safety tips for women.
Before you go, check travel websites for advice from other women travelers. Also consult guide books for the area.
Adventure travel safety tips in the U.S.:
• Contact the governing agency (BLM, US Forest Service, Park Service, etc.) for the area in which you’re backpacking, paddling, fishing, etc. Ask for their recommendations on safe routes, best campsites, evacuation and/or rescue procedures, weather patterns, known hazards (including route problems, dangerous animals), any recent problems among other travelers, especially women.
• Take your cell phone in case of emergency. Lacking that, before you begin your route, let someone at home know your date of departure, probable route and estimated date and time of return. Note: This information also will be required on a wilderness permit.
• Dress conservatively. Be confident among strangers. Don’t invite trouble by flirting or appearing frightened.
• As pleasant as camping near a rushing stream or breaking waves can be, the roar of the water will drown out other sounds, such as approaching footsteps. Camp at a distance from the water where you can hear the sounds about you.
• If you are threatened by a stranger, yell, shout or scream at the top of your lungs. There may be someone nearby who can come to your aid. Also, aggressive behavior may avert the stranger (consider taking a self-defense class to learn some basic disabling techniques).
• If there are bears in the area in which you plan to camp, be sure to either carry all foodstuffs in a bear-proof canister (available for purchase at outdoor shops and often for rent in more popular areas). Don’t keep anything even remotely edible in your tent with you at night, including lip gloss, sunscreen or toothpaste. A bear was once observed emerging proudly from a shredded tent with its prize: a tube of Preparation H.
Travel Safety Tips for Women Abroad:
• Contact the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta regarding recommended health safeguards for the country in which you’ll be traveling. (www.cdc.gov)
• Make copies of important papers or documents (passport, airline ticket, immunization certificate, reservation confirmation) and keep them separate from wallet or purse in case originals are stolen.
• Get recommendations for lodging, restaurants and sightseeing from other women, including female hotel and shop clerks as well as other women who have traveled in the same area.
• Never leave your purse or pack unattended on an airplane, bus or train. This is a good way to lose valuables.
• Select small hostels or hotels in which to stay, where the staff is more likely to know who you are and who is supposed to be staying there. Note: hotels with outdoor cafes are likely to be located centrally or in a busy neighborhood.
• Keep your room number to yourself!
• Get a room near the elevator instead of at the end of a long, dark hallway.
• Never open your door to strangers.
• Don’t flirt with strangers.
• Dress conservatively; don’t wear expensive jewelry. Observe local dress customs. In many third-world countries, baring the legs, arms or shoulders is considered a sacrilegious act. Pack a long travel skirt and short-sleeved shirt for wearing in populous areas.
• Instead of a purse, use belt pouches or a fanny pack. Keep the fanny pack fastened about your waist.
• If a stranger who looks like a local citizen approaches you for directions or in an attempt to talk to you, keep walking. Criminals commonly approach women in this manner. Better to be rude and safe than in trouble.
• If you need a taxi, a tour guide, a recommendation for a restaurant, ask your hotel clerk or another guest at your hotel, rather than a person on the street.
• Never use unregulated transport, such as an “independent” taxi or an offer of a ride from a stranger. Better to use the local bus or train.
• Plan your daily routes in advance and leave the information with the hotel clerk.
• When leaving the hotel for the day, store extra valuables and your passport in the hotel safe (take the copy with you). Carry small amounts of cash and one credit card.
• If renting a car, keep the doors locked at all times.
• If you get lost while driving, ask a taxi driver for directions; offer to pay the driver to lead you to the right road.
• At night, don’t stop if another driver honks at you or bumps your car (unless it’s a police official!). Keep going until you reach your hotel or a well-lighted public place.
• Always keep the name of your hotel, hostel or campground in your pocket instead of buried deep in your wallet or pack.
• Travel light, such as with one wheeled luggage and a daypack. A lone female with lots of luggage invites attention, and not always welcome attention!
We’d love to hear your other travel safety tips for women, as well as your questions. Please use the comment field below this article.
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