Travelling the world is one of life’s most liberating experiences. Not everyone can take time out from work and family commitments, let alone save up enough money to travel the world. Anyone who can manage it is incredibly fortunate, and therefore don’t want to see dreams ruined by unforeseen circumstances. In light of this, let’s talk about travel safety tips, specifically for female travellers.
For the sake of being direct, there are so many things that can go wrong when travelling. For example, you could lose your passport, be robbed in the street, or break your ankle hiking up a mountain (let’s just hope these are examples). Any of these things could put an early end on your holiday and send you straight back home.
In general, people are kind and many places are safe. It’s not ideal to feel you have to stay at home due to the thought that something bad might happen while you’re out living life. Everyone should get the chance to travel if they can, but travellers — especially solo female travellers — need to be wary of all the risks and take steps to keep themselves safe while on the move.
If you are planning on travelling soon, below are 13 essential travel safety tips to help you look after yourself while making the most of your journey:
Before you even step out of your front door, you should be aware of what you’re getting into. Do some research into the area you’ll be staying in and the facilities available. Where will you go if you need medicine? What will you do if you need to buy a new phone? How will you cope if your glasses break and you need to save your frames in order to see? Be prepared for any eventuality. While in Iceland in 2018, I caught pneumonia and had to go to a health clinic an hour away, only to find out they didn’t’ take traveler’s insurance. Know the health care landscape before you go!
Keep emergency details on you
If you get in trouble, you may need to find your way to the nearest hospital, police station or your country’s embassy. Keeping details of how to find them will be a massive relief in the event of a disaster. Having your emergency contact details on you will allow the emergency services to get in touch with the right people if something does happen. Take for example Covid-19. Many travelers and expats (myself included) found themselves calling their embassy’s to discuss travel bans, boarder closings, and extractions. While dire situations rarely arise, the point is that they do. It’s best to be prepared.
Be aware of common scams
This is one of the most important travel safety tips. Every tourist area has common scams designed to trap unsuspecting travellers, so do some research in advance. Tourist traps you may run into include being handed something for free and then being asked to pay for it, broken taxi meters, or having your ID stolen by corrupt police officers. For example, in Prague’s Old Town Square, pick pocketers will attempt to distract tourists by asking for directions, while another will steal items out of pockets or backpacks. Taxi drivers will also often refuse to turn on their meters for English speakers, so it’s best to establish a price before getting in the vehicle.
Lock up your valuables
Your phone, money, and passport are the most important items you will have on you while travelling. It is crucial that you keep them safe at all times. Most hostels and hotels have secure storage facilities, so make you check before you book. Many opportunistic thieves choose to steal items straight from backpacks or unlocked lockers, so invest in a sturdy model that can’t easily be slashed or snatched from you.
Invest in travel insurance
A good insurance policy will protect you if anything goes wrong with your health or you lose your belongings. Make sure you choose a respectable provider that will cover you for all your valuables, and scrutinise the terms of your policy carefully before you go.
Don’t share too much
When travelling, it’s tempting to share everything with friends back home on social media, but this can make you a target for unsavoury characters. Not only will you be advertising that your house is unoccupied, but you may be alerting local criminals to your whereabouts. Be wary about who you share information with, and if you don’t trust someone you meet, don’t tell them where you are staying.
Be mindful of your clothing
What you wear can unknowingly mark you out as a tourist, or present you as easy target for thieves and scammers. Try to be inconspicuous and blend in with the local dress code as much as possible. That could mean no garish Hawaiian shirts, sheer tops or pants, or belly shirts. In some areas of the world, there are strict regulations on women showing skin, so brush up on local customs before you travel to avoid trouble.
Budget for safety
If you’re travelling on a budget, it can be tempting to cut costs when considering accommodation and travel insurance. Even with cost in mind, it is always worth spending a little more if the investment keeps you safe. The cheapest accommodations are often cheap for a reason. They may be unsafe and frequented by the wrong sort of people or located in dangerous areas of a city. Having a safe place to stay at night is worth the extra expense.
Learn to defend yourself
In the unlikely event that you are attacked in the street, it may be a good idea to learn how to defend yourself. Avoiding confrontation entirely is the best option, but if unavoidable, knowing a few basic self-defence moves may help you escape. Crucially, if someone tries to rob you with a weapon, the best course of action to protect yourself is to give them what you want and get away as quickly as possible. When I lived in Washington, DC, I was robbed at gunpoint in 2011 by a gang. Thankfully, they only wanted my cell phone, which I gave to them immediately, but the situation could have had a much different outcome.
Have emergency cash
If your money is stolen or lost, it is wise to have an emergency supply tucked away. Secret compartments sewn into clothing, belts or backpacks are brilliant hiding places for just such an eventuality.
Even though you’re travelling to have fun, you should never let your guard down. Always be wary, particularly when travelling alone or in dangerous areas. Be particularly careful when withdrawing money from ATMs as these are hotspots for scammers and thieves.
Use the Buddy System
Although travelling solo can be liberating, always try to link up with other travellers, especially if you are in a dangerous location. A group dynamic can deter criminals from targeting you, and they are less likely to succeed if they do.
Keep a clear head
Most travellers enjoy having a drink and a night on the town. However, this is when you are at your most vulnerable. By all means enjoy yourself, but drink in moderation. Avoid putting your safety at risk. Furthermore, if you are travelling in a country with a tropical climate, too much alcohol can put you at risk of dehydration or sunstroke.
Travel is one of the most enjoyable experiences in life, and you should seek new adventures and friends. Staying safe while you’re at it will enable you to keep out of harm’s way while still making memories that will last you the rest of your life.
Do you have any more travel safety tips to share for your fellow lady explorers? Share them with me in the comments below!
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