Going It Alone Around the Globe

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With the change of seasons comes a change of scenery and travel. Enticing cuisine, exotic locales and fabulous attractions all beckon you to your dream destination.

Some of the challenges women travelers face vary from misguided pity (“Too bad you have no one to share that lovely vista with.”) to misplaced attitudes about females roaming the globe alone (“I wouldn’t let my wife/girlfriend go abroad by herself. It’s too dangerous for a girl.”). It’s enough to make you hang up your backpack in aggravation.

But by and large, safety is the biggest concern. Don’t let a lack of companionship prevent you from seeing the world. You can and should go on that journey. Whether you’re venturing abroad or inside the United States, the first rule of thumb is to take extra precautions. Wanderlust adventure-seekers, peruse and use these travel tips for safety’s sake.

Tell a trusted relative, friend or your attorney where you’ll be. If possible, provide that person with your travel itinerary, flight information and accommodations. Check in with that contact occasionally via telephone or email. Be careful what you post on social media; post pics after you return home.

Don’t Appear Solo
Act as if you’re with a companion or a group. Don’t tell strangers that you’re traveling solo, no matter how friendly or innocuous their comments seem.

Stash Your Cash
Don’t carry a lot of cash, just one or two major credit cards and debit card. Keep those cards close to your vest, an inside pocket, in your shoe or even bra, not in your wallet or purse. Ditch the money belt; it’s awkward to use and if you’re robbed you’ll lose everything at once. Besides, thieves are aware of the money belt thing.

Survey Your Surroundings
Know your travel destination and route so you don’t scream “tourist” to unscrupulous people. Use a map app rather than those touristy travel guides with maps. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t block out all sound on the streets of your destination by wearing headphones constantly. Be vigilant and never let down your guard.

Be a Moving Target
Never hang out in the airport, check your messages and return phone calls at a car rental place or linger too long at a travel info kiosk. Unsavory characters tend to pick their marks at these places so keep on the move.

Check out Accommodations
Research national chain hotels that have an excellent safety record. Ask for a room near the elevator and on the ground floor and scope out exits once you check in. Some offer “women only” floors. Whatever accommodations you prefer, book them ahead of your arrival. If your home away from home is an Airbnb, then do your research and verify the listing and payment options.

Know Your Destination
Read up online to find out the latest security issues or tourist scams. While you’re there, try to blend in, so skip the pricey luggage and expensive outfits. Wear what the natives wear. Be respectful of the culture.

Project Confidence
The best offense is a good defense: Consider taking a self-defense class. The skills you learn will help you when traveling alone and stateside in your everyday life. Act confident while walking the streets of your destination. Ignore any rude remarks thrown your way by hustlers and con artists in the local tavern or popular seaside café. Watch your alcohol intake.

Invest in Travel Insurance
Natural disasters, robberies and political revolutions occur. Even more realistic is the possibility that you will arrive at your hotel, but your luggage has an entirely different destination! Travel insurance is affordable but shop around to determine the best policy for your needs.

Use Old-School Techniques
That doesn’t mean leave your cell phone at home; it means purchase a whistle and blow it if you feel you’re in danger. Trust your instinct and intuition. Invest in a good old-fashioned rubber doorstop and wedge it in the door of your room at night. Stash emergency dollars in a separate container; think tampon case or empty lip balm, not in your cell phone case. Make copies of your passport; don’t just take a picture of it on your phone. Also, check in with your embassy to let them know how long you’re staying.

While the adage states there’s safety in numbers, the reality is that solo women feel more empowered to do things they might not have the opportunity to accomplish when traveling with others. Exploration, adventure and pushing yourself to surpass your own personal limit are just a few of the many reasons you started down that path in the first place! Go ahead and enjoy; it’s a vast, amazing world out there. Just remember your common sense—never leave home without it! ■

Sources: techrepublic.com, solitarywanderer.com, adventurouskate.com and forbes.com