041. Travel Alone Like a BOSS
Many women have come to engage in frequent independent travel. Sure you can be adventurous and liberated on your own time and I don’t blame you, but as the world continues to grow smaller and any destination is just a plane ride away, you must be vigilant and cautious along your journey. As traveling around the globe continues to increasingly become a more frequent pastime for solo women, criminals find easy victims in unsuspecting tourists. Use these smart safety traveling tips increase your comfortably and safety as a solo traveler.
Make Copies of All Travel Documents
We have been trained to keep our traveling documents such as driver’s license, passports, visas, travel insurance, travel tickets, etc on our person or in our purse or onboard luggage to keep up with it; which is a great idea. However, we have so many resources at our hand and there is no better time to take advantage of this than when traveling. Make copies or all your travel documents and email them to yourself. This way is the event your documents is lost or stolen you have a copy for your records. If you are traveling abroad and lose your passport you can take your copy with proof of document numbers to the local US Embassy and the agency can assist you with getting the proper document to continue your travel and get you back home. Additionally, provide a family member or someone you trust at home with a copy of all your documents and your itinerary. At least one person who is not travelling with you should know what your travel plans are as well as when and where you plan to be outlined in the event something goes wrong or they need to contact you.
Do Your Research
Do your research on any destination you plan to visit. Be aware of safety concerns as well as local customs and etiquette, especially with regard to dress. There is a multitude of online sites that will offer you available information on your destination. Sites such as TripAdvisor and Oyster provide great reviews from other travels about hotels and local attractions as well as the neighborhood and safety reports based on their personal experiences. Also, there are heaps of great networks to link female travelers all around the world. So plan ahead and network with people in areas you plan to visit using social network associations and clubs for female travelers, some that I recommend are The Travelettes, Go Girl Travel Network, and Pumps and Passports. You can ask them about the customs and things to do in their area, get first hand reviews, or even make plans to meet up. In addition, there are a plethora of books such as Kiss, Bow and shake Hands, which provide details about local customs and practices in most countries. This book is a great reference for leisure travel and those who are planning to conduct business in other countries too.
Get Smart Traveler Mobile App
Be sure to register and log your travel plans with the United States Department of State and download the mobile app. The U.S. Department of State has a smart traveler mobile app that will notify you if something major occurs in your destination or back home. Furthermore, if you are traveling abroad be sure to visit the local U.S. Embassy, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions site for your destination to check for any current travel warnings or alerts and get status updates for any rising activities.
Split Your Tender
Don’t put all your cash, traveler’s checks, debit and/or credit cards in your wallet. Store some spare cash and at least one debit or credit card in a separate place in the event of an emergency. This is so in the event your purse is lost or stolen you still have money to continue your travel or at least get back home. Additionally, it is a wise decision to have various forms of tender, in case your destination does not accept cards, ATM machines are out of order, or the destination has a different currency. Keep some cash and a card on your person and some in your bag and some back at your hotel. By splitting your tender you will be prepared for any financial situation that may come your way. Additionally, if you are traveling to another country with a different form of currency sites such as x-rates.com and xe.com will provide the daily exchange rates for most countries. These sites also have a free currency converter, so you can convert currencies with ease. You can also download mobile applications for currency converting on the go.
Get Travel Insurance
I can’t stress this enough, get travel insurance! Travel insurance is good to have in the event your baggage is lost or stolen, your trip reroutes or cancellations occur for various reasons, rental car damage or even for medical emergencies while traveling. (This is important many European countries especially, requirement payment onsite for medical visits so have a plan and be prepared!) Depending on which outlet you use to book your travel, travel insurance may be available via that outlet or you can get travel insurance from third party travel insurance agents.
Be Courteous, But Not Too Friendly
Trust everyone and no one at the same time. It is okay to be friendly to locals or other travelers who may want to stop and chat with you, but don’t get too comfortably or be too overly friendly and trusting. Not to frighten you, but human trafficking and theft are the main concerns for solo travelers. Keep your belonging close and always in your sight. Keep your purse or wallet near the front of your body and always hold onto the strap of your purse. When talking with strangers never state that you are alone, during your conversation indicate that someone is waiting on you or expecting you to meet them at a specific location or time. Many solo female travelers have found comfort in wearing a wedding ring to imply they are not traveling alone. Additionally, when riding in cabs or public transportation you may want to make a real or fake phone call stating “I will be there shortly, I just got in the cab (or train) enroot to the location,” to deter anyone from trying anything crazy.
Hotel Safety Etiquette
Befriend female employees at your hotel or hostel and ask for advice or recommendation of areas or places to avoid or things that you may need to be aware of. When you go out leave the Do Not Disturb sign posted outside your room door and leave the television or radio on to get the illusion of activity in your hotel room. Also, it doesn’t hurt to bring along a portable door and/or window alarm to add extra safety and comfort during your stay.
Avoid Looking Like a Tourist
Lastly, try to blend in with the native people, especially when traveling in other countries. Nothing says vulnerable tourist more that an American in shorts with a fanny pack wrapped around her waist and a digital camera hanging around her neck. Avoid sticking out like a sore thumb by dressing like the locals as much as possible; ditch the fanny pack, shorts, and spaghetti strap tops. Shorts are very rare in most European countries. Most women in other countries tend to have a more conservative dress than we do in the United States.
Have confidence in yourself and your ability to travel alone. Use your common sense, street smarts and trust your intuition. If something doesn’t seem right it probably isn’t. By planning ahead, doing your research, and making good sound decisions you will be rewarded with amazing travel experiences and most importantly of all ensure your safe return back home.