Women everywhere face dangers when they travel. The news is full of stories of women who have been abducted or assaulted when traveling, especially overseas. Even if you travel with a group of people, you can be caught in dangerous situations.. It can be daunting to think of traveling as a woman, but fear of assault shouldn’t keep you from seeing the world.
There are many precautions you can take to ensure your safety abroad. Much like when you’re walking in your own neighborhood, you can protect yourself in various ways when you’re traveling as well. Whether you’re traveling with a group of friends or on your own, here are a few ways to make sure your adventure is safe.
Just as you would at home, carry yourself with an air of confidence. Attackers are looking for easy targets, and as a tourist, you may be top of their list. As always, keep your head on a swivel and stay aware of your surroundings. It can be easy to get caught up in the moment if you’re looking at a famous landmark or are lost in a new city, but this is no time to let your guard down. Research where you’re going thoroughly before you get there so that you know any crime hotspots or areas to avoid. That way you can spend less time worrying about where you are and more time enjoying the view.
Try to Fit In
It’s best to dress like the locals if you can, so that you don’t stick out. Tourists are big targets, and if you look like one, it’s easy to pick you out of a crowd. Again, it’s a great idea to research local clothing and cultural expectations before you go. It’s also a great excuse to carry less luggage and go shopping in your destination. You may also want to be cautious about how much you smile when speaking with strangers. Americans tend to smile at other people more than people in other countries, and this can lead people to think you’re more open to their advances than you actually are. Keep an eye on how the people around you are acting and try to fit in.
Travel During the Day
It’s no secret that more attacks happen at night than in broad daylight. If you can, travel during the day as much as possible. If you must travel at night, do so in well-lit areas where there are a lot of people, or travel with a trusted chaperone. Don’t be afraid to ask a hotel concierge or bellhop to escort you outside. Also, if you must travel at night, use a taxi or rideshare if you can. Walking can be great exercise, but at night, safety should be your top concern.
Make Sure Someone Knows Where You Are
Just as you would if you were going on a date in your hometown, you should let someone you trust know where you’re going and when you expect to return. It’s good to have an itinerary before you take off that you can share with loved ones, including the addresses and phone numbers of wherever you’re staying, so they can check in if you’re not taking your phone. International data plans aren’t as expensive as they once were, so it’s much easier to keep in touch than it used to be. You can post on social media to groups, text friends and family, or even send out a Glympse of your location if you feel you need extra security. Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft offer location tracking services, which can add a layer of safety to a taxi ride.
Watch Your Drinking
We always recommend you watch your drink, but when you’re traveling, it can be easy to let loose and end up in a sketchy situation. It’s great to enjoy a drink with someone you’ve met on your travels, but overindulging can put you in real danger. It’s best to keep your wits about you so you can be aware of your surroundings when you’re traveling. Alcohol and drugs can both put you in a vulnerable position, so be careful about using them when you’re abroad. Many countries have different laws that the U.S., so it’s best to be aware of those as well.
Talk to People
Absolutely don’t be afraid to talk to strangers! The more people who know who you are and are looking out for you, the better. You don’t have to approach people who make you uncomfortable, of course; trust your gut at all times. But your hotel concierge, fellow travelers in your hostel, or waiters at restaurants are all great folks to get to know during your trip. Get comfortable speaking to others so that you won’t clam up when you need help.
Traveling is one of the best ways to get to know yourself better and empower yourself to be more confident when you come home. Just make sure you take a few steps to keep yourself safe, and you’ll have an adventure worth remembering for all the right reasons.