The 6 Secrets of Safe Travel for Women
By Victoria Ugarte

The 6 Secrets of Safe Travel for Women By Victoria Ugarte

Increasingly, women are traveling the world for business and pleasure, and doing so on their own. According to a 1998 study commissioned by the Travel Industry Association of America, 44% of travelers are now women. Personal security is a major issue for women as female travelers are targeted and harassed in ways that their male counterparts are not. Women are also more affected by cultural differences in certain regions. Although it’s unnecessary to approach ones travels with a spirit of paranoia, it is wise to be prepared and informed on the art of safe travel.

1.  Respect local beliefs and values: Practice simple courtesies and conform to local dress standards. Take the time to find out about the local customs before visiting that particular town or city. Dress appropriately by leaving any tight fitting or low cut clothes back home as they more than likely will attract the wrong type of attention. Look around and study what the locals are wearing as you walk through an unfamiliar town or city. Take a chiffon scarf or even a sarong that you can fold up and pack into your handbag to use as head cover when visiting temples and shrines.

2.  Be aware of what is going on around you: Pickpockets and thieves, who often work in teams with decoys, are experts in diverting your attention while they relieve you of your valuables. Be wary of overly friendly strangers and do not accept any food or beverages from them as you can easily be drugged. Keep focused about any distractions or seemingly genuine offers of help. Beware of any “confusion” or extreme activity around you, i.e. groups of children that flock around you carrying newspapers or sheets of cardboard and keep a hand on your bag at all times when in crowded areas.

3. Stay alert while in transit: Airport terminals, bus and train stations and taxi stands are all areas where travelers are easily distracted. Stay alert, as these are areas where thieves prey on the vulnerable. Keep your luggage locked and in front of you at all times when in airports, bus or train stations and at check-ins. Refrain from offering to carry someone else’s luggage for them. Send your hand carry and laptop through the X-Ray security in airports only when you are ready to go through yourself and do not discard your luggage receipt until you have safely retrieved your bags from the carousel and checked that they are yours. If your luggage appears to have been tampered with, do not pick it up off the carousel. Instead, report it immediately. And lastly, do not take unofficial taxis or share taxis with people that you do not know.

4. Be vigilant about your Finances: A trip can so easily be ruined by not taking the necessary financial precautions, so be prepared and stay alert. Diversify your money. Take travelers cheques and credit cards as well as cash. Never keep all your cash, travelers cheques and credit cards in the same place. Record in triplicate the numbers of your travelers cheques, credit cards and passport. Keep one list in your handbag, one list in your luggage, and the third list with someone reliable back home and always alert your credit card company when you will be traveling, and which countries you will be visiting. Take great care when using ATM’s. Avoid using those in poorly lit or hidden areas and have your card handy before standing in front of the ATM.  

5.  Take safety measures in your accommodation: Hotels are not always 100% safe for a woman traveling alone. Request a room from the 3rd floor upwards, especially if your room window looks out on to a street as unlawful entry into your room is made easier from the ground floor. Always double lock your hotel room door. When traveling alone, do not leave your tray outside your door after having eaten in your room. Ring housekeeping and request for someone to collect your tray. If you are meeting someone for the first time, it’s a good idea to meet them in a public place and not at your hotel room.

6. Take note of any international travel alerts: The Department of Foreign Affairs of most countries monitor and rate destinations on how safe they are to travel to. It is wise to log on to their website prior to a trip and check out your particular destination, and if possible, register your trip. It is a free service and alerts your family and friends that you are safe in any international emergencies.

Travel is not just a great pleasure but also a privilege.  A successful trip depends equally on the preparation we make ahead of the trip and the precautions we take while we are on our journey. It is up to us to take responsibility for our own safety so that we may ultimately make the most of our experience.

Learn how to be culturally correct in whatever part of the world you may be visiting. Visit Culture Savvy For Women: A Complete Guide To Culturally Correct Behavior Around The World, available on Amazon.


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