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Today’s guest post comes from friend-of-PWaC Naomi, who writes in with some travel safety tips she’s learned from frequent travels around the world. This is Part 1 of our travel safety tips – for more tips to travel safely, check out 6 more tips for traveling safely – this is why you get pickpocketed
One of the primary concerns that I hear when I talk about my travels abroad is safety. I am often asked “Aren’t you scared to travel alone as a female?” or “Didn’t they just have a terrorist attack?” I am also quick to say that I am just as safe in Paris, London, Bangkok or any other major world city as I am in the USA. Big cities are big cities and the same common sense tactics that you use in Paris should also apply in NYC.
Granted, there are regions of the world where it may be riskier to travel as a solo female (or in a group), but I’ve visited 51 UN countries so far and have generally felt pretty safe.
Below are some travel safety tips that I follow to keep myself safe when inside my hotel and when outside touring. In Part 2, we’ll cover some travel safety tips to keep your belongings safe inside and outside your hotel! Some of these travel safety tips may be specific to being a solo female traveler; however, I would argue that they are great tips for traveling safety for everyone! I think that sometimes we let our guard down on vacation because we’re trying to relax and have fun (aka “vacation brain”), but we need to continue to be vigilant. That said, I don’t spend my time worrying about safety. The travel safety tips below are easy to implement and are second nature to me.
3 Top Travel Safety Tips to do before you travel
- Email your itinerary to a friend/family member: Although he can’t physically protect me when I am halfway across the world, I always send my husband my detailed itinerary. (PWAC – I do this too) If I go out of contact he knows which hotel to contact in order to ensure my safety. If I haven’t shown up at the hotel when I said I would, then he can initiate contact with the proper authorities.
- Know the scams: It is always important to know the common scams in the city you are visiting. I am in Prague right now and it’s common for people to offer to change your money and give you Russian rubles. In Rome the “friendship bracelet” is a common scam and in Paris the ladies with clipboards are just out to pick your pockets.
- Don’t overshare: I get it, it’s 2017. Even though I’m not a millennial (or whatever we’re calling the kids nowadays), I like to share! I like to meet locals and strike up conversations…that is the point of travel! However, I don’t share that I am traveling alone. I usually lie and say that my husband is back at the hotel working when asked (and someone always asks). I don’t share my hotel name or apartment location either. Make sure that your Facebook settings are set to private if you plan on checking in to places too.
5 Tips for traveling safely while you’re out
- Beware of your surroundings after dark: This is something that I follow no matter where I travel in the world. I typically won’t walk in new cities after dark, especially longer distances. If I am out walking after dark, I am scanning my surroundings. I prefer to avoid streets that look empty or are not well lit. I also generally avoid parks at night as they are not well lit and contain a lot of hiding spots. I’ve also employed the tactic of calling someone on Facetime, although I’m not sure it would really deter someone and probably distracts me from paying attention.
- Don’t hop into any Uber or taxi: I avoid hailing taxis from the street after dark and will ask the restaurant/hotel to call one. If I call Uber/Lyft, I will ask the driver who he is picking up and verify the license plate matches the app before getting in the car. Another tip is that you can send your Uber itinerary to a friend/family member. I will often do this when traveling solo at night. I also avoid hailing taxis from airports after dark. Instead, I arrange a pick-up with a trusted service or have my hotel do it. Some cities (e.g., Bangkok, Lima) have reported issues with taxi drivers assaulting females.
- Secure your hotel room: I always make sure that the deadbolt/chain/bar is also used. I’ve read stories on BoardingArea of people having unexpected visitors in the middle of the night. In small hotels or guesthouses in off-the-beaten path locales, I will also bring a door stop with me and wedge it under the door when I am in the room.
- Wear a wedding ring: In order to prevent unwanted advances I always ensure my wedding ring is on. Fortunately, my ring is nothing flashy, but it signals to someone that I may be traveling with my spouse. This may be enough of a deterrent to prevent an assault.
- Never take drinks from anyone: This is advice for anyone, anywhere in the world. Don’t take drinks from strangers. Always order your drinks yourself.
Hopefully by following these top travel safety tips you’ll be able to stay safe, enjoy your travels, and return home in one piece! For more tips to travel safely, check out Part 2 of our series – 6 more tips for traveling safely – this is why you get pickpocketed
What are some of your best travel safety tips? Leave your safety advice in the comments!