When women travel, they inevitably encounter safety concerns. There are frequent headlines about women who have been abducted or assaulted while traveling. A 2018 study by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that more than 8 in 10 women have experienced one or more safety incidents while traveling in the past year. Leisure travelers share their concerns. A survey from AIG Travel found that 45% of female travelers felt less safe while traveling than they did five years ago—and that safety is a priority for women while traveling.
However, safety concerns (and realities) shouldn’t keep you from traveling—especially not when the road trip is back and better than ever, just like a vintage pair of jeans. According to AAA, travel is expected to increase 52% compared to 2020, with many of them hitting the road instead of taking to the skies. With the open road calling (especially after a year of staying home during the pandemic), how can you get out and protect yourself? Here are seven safety strategies for you or your travel-ready girlfriends.
1. Service your vehicle or rent a car.
Making sure your vehicle, RV, or rental car is properly maintained will help prevent breakdowns while on route to your destination. This will keep you from being stranded on the side of the road, which could lead to an unsafe situation. Some of the things to check include: battery life, tire pressure, windshield wipers, oil, and other fluid levels. You can do this yourself or take the vehicle to a professional to be serviced.
2. Plan your route and research your destinations.
Do your research ahead of time to make sure the hotels you plan to stay at and the destinations you plan to visit are well reviewed when it comes to safety. If you’re traveling to unfamiliar areas, you should also plan your route for well-traveled roads where you’ll be able to get help easily if needed. Be sure to plan out where you’ll take breaks and fuel up as well. Plan for populated areas.
3. Bring a power bank.
A power bank will ensure your devices are always fully charged—and ready to call for help if need be.
4. Travel during the day.
It should come as no surprise that more attacks happen at night than during the day. If your plans allow, travel during the day. Plan to arrive at and check into your accommodations during daylight as well. If that’s not possible, don’t be afraid to ask a hotel concierge or bellhop to escort you to/from the hotel. If you’re going out at night, to a local restaurant or club, use a taxi or rideshare; don’t walk.
5. Be aware of your environment.
When traveling in an unfamiliar place, it’s easy to become absorbed in the sights and sounds of a new place. It can be so engrossing, in fact, that you don’t notice details that will help keep you safe, like someone following you. Keep your head on a swivel and notice what’s happening around you. People watching is one of the best parts of travel, so you can take in the local culture while staying aware of your surroundings.
6. Appear confident.
Attackers are looking for easy targets. As a tourist, who may be unfamiliar with the locale and the culture, you may catch their eyes. Just as you would at home, keep your head up. Stride confidently. Use GPS to navigate seamlessly to your destination. If you’re visiting a new-to-you destination for a few days, try taking a walking tour when you first arrive. This will help orient you to the place and help you move about more self-assuredly during your stay.
7. Mind your alcohol consumption.
This is valuable advice since you may be driving to/from your destination and you want to drive safely. However, it’s also wise to drink in moderation to protect you from potential attackers. While you’re out on the town, you still need to be aware of your surroundings. Drinking naturally lowers your focus and your guard. That makes you more vulnerable. Enjoy the local cocktail culture, but know your limits, too.
Summer road trips are fantastic ways to experience the country and world, and to make incredible memories. Just follow these steps to keep yourself safe on the road so you’ll have the best kind of memories to bring home with you.