Most tips for female travelers, and indeed all travelers, come down to one thing: COMMON SENSE. It’s the kind of stuff your parents told you growing up, don’t walk in strange neighborhoods after dark, lock your doors, don’t leave you valuables lying around, be alert and cautious.
A crucial part of traveling is paying attention and adapting to the cultural in which you travel, which meansan awareness of gender roles and expectations. Learn everything you can about the values and customs of a country, and be aware of how you should tailor your behavior to fit into that culture, preferably before you travel but if not learn as you go and do not expect that all cultures follow the same life rules as your own.
1. Be aware of local attitudes toward women in the country in which you are traveling.
2. It’s also not a good idea to wear flashy jewelry or show a lot of money in public places.
3. Many female travel experts recommend wearing long, loose-fitting clothes when traveling internationally.
4. Know the equivalent of “911” in whatever country you’re visiting, and make sure you have a functioning cell phone with you at all times.
5. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member back home and be sure to check in regularly by phone or e-mail. It’s also a good idea to register your presence with your home country’s embassy when you’re traveling internationally.
6. Walk confidently, as though you know exactly where you’re going (even if you don’t). Don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk to look at a map or rifle through your purse; distracted travelers are easy prey for thieves.
When looking for a hotel, choose the right accommodations for your budget and look for the following:
1. Hotels that require room access through a lobby area are infinitely more secure than motels with access from the outside. The idea is people, people, people – safety in numbers – you don’t have to interact with them all but its always helpful to make nice with the hotel staff or pay attention to those who might be staying around the same dates as you.
2. Research the neighborhood, how safe is it? Are there nearby businesses that will be open and busy after dark? It’s worth paying a little extra for a hotel in a more secure neighborhood. (Recommended to do this prior to booking or have your travel agent do this for you during your booking process.)
3. Avoid first-floor rooms. Break-ins are less likely on the upper levels. Ask for a room near the elevators.
4. When checking in, politely ask the desk clerk to write your room number on a piece of paper rather than announce it in a crowded lobby.
5. When you enter an elevator, position yourself next to the button panel and make a mental note of where the “alarm” or “bell” button is so that you can push it if needed.
6. If your room comes with a sliding glass door and balcony, always check to be sure the door is locked. Your balcony may be connected to the one next door, granting easy access to your room. You’ll want to make sure your windows are locked as well. Check each time you re-enter the room, housekeeping may have unlocked them for one reason or another. If any of your locks don’t work, ask for a new room.
7. Don’t open your door for anyone, including “housekeeping” or “room service,” without verifying the identity of the person at your door. Most hotels have a door lock that will allow you to open the door slightly but if there is a peephole, use this for addressing the person at the door. Always keep your door open as well when Room Service delivers your meal.
8. Unattended hotel fitness centers or pools are best avoided, especially if there aren’t many other guests there. If you are traveling solo, talk to a staff member if only to ask a mundane question but this will make someone else aware of you heading into an empty area of the property.
9. If you are trying to park in the hotel lot late at night and someone is lurking around the lot, park in front of the door in the check-in area and go to the front desk. Ask the clerk to have someone from hotel security meet you in the lot and escort you into the hotel.
Now while some of these may seem overly cautious – they truly aren’t when it comes to your safety and all that you hold dear!
TRAVEL SAFE MY FRIENDS!
Author: Deborah Peniuk, Owner & Travel Writer of Aya Life, Independent Travel Counsellor with New Wave Travel, Toronto
© Deborah Peniuk 2010