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Safety Tips for Women Traveling alone

A Woman's Travel Safety Guide - Tips for Hitting the Road

by Dawn R. McClain

In addition to having their own money, their own jobs, and their own vehicles, women are traveling on their own, as well. The number of women who travel for business or pleasure is obviously huge; do a Web search on women and travel and you’ll find over 1000 matches of sites geared to inform, entertain, and advertise to women travelers. However, the roads that women travel still aren't completely smooth, and there are special safety precautions that women must be aware of, as well as the common sense precautions that all travelers should follow.

Clip and save the following list of safety tips and use them both while you’re planning and during your trips and you can be assured that you have done everything in your power to make your trip as safe as possible. Bon Voyage!

  • Learn as much as you can about your destination before you go. Pack maps of the places you’re planning to visit, and include instructions to get from the airport to your hotel so you won’t need to fumble with the map if you arrive at night. Keep your maps and instruction sheets with your carry-on luggage so you always will have them nearby. If you’re traveling outside the U.S., learn as much as you can about the culture(s) you’ll be interacting with; how are women treated generally? How are Western women viewed by the people in the countries you’ll be visiting?

  • Always be aware of your surroundings and try to stay in well-lit, public places. Above all, listen to your instincts; if anyone approaching you on the street makes your inner warning light start flashing, don’t worry about seeming rude. Walk away quickly.

  • You may love that expensive watch your mother gave you for Christmas, but don’t take it or any expensive jewelry with you on your trip. Buy an inexpensive, waterproof watch. If the timepiece is lost, stolen, or damaged you won’t be disappointed.

  • Bring a photocopy of any prescriptions you’re taking so you can have your medications refilled if lost; the photocopy also could come in handy while going through customs. And, of course, keep your medications with you at all times.

  • Never carry a lot of cash. Before you leave, find out if the destinations on your itinerary have ATM machines that are compatible with your card, or if you bring travelers checks, be sure to carry I.D. so you can replace them if they’re lost or stolen. Make a list of your travelers check numbers to keep with you, and keep a copy of the list in your luggage as a backup to ease replacement.

  • Bring a fanny pack or a pouch that you can carry concealed in your clothing instead of a purse. Purses are easily snatched and can get in the way of other things you'd rather be carrying by hand—your camera or shopping bags, for example.

  • If you’re not traveling with an organized group, find out the address and phone number of the U.S. consulate in the countries you’re visiting, and keep this information with you at all times during your visit.

  • Avoid entering your hotel room if you’re alone and someone is following you down the hall. Let the other person pass you before opening your door, and if you feel uncomfortable, go back to the lobby and report the incident to the manager.

  • Keep a photocopy of your passport with you, and leave the original in the hotel safe in case your purse or fanny pack is lost or stolen.

  • Bring a simple first aid kit along. Band-Aids, aspirin, or other pain relievers and cotton balls are handy items to have along for muscle aches and minor injuries.

Much of the information for this article was obtained by the Student & Youth Travel Association of North America (SYTA), an organization dedicated to promoting safe travel for students and youth, as well as setting standards for that segment of the industry. For information on SYTA member tour operators and travel agencies or for one of the organization’s free brochures, call (248) 814-7982.