Thursday, November 15, 2018

How to Stay Safe While Traveling

We all want to have a wonderful experience when we travel but it is important to stay safe. Not paranoid or frightened but cautious and aware, remember that you are not at home no matter how comfortable you feel.  You can avoid potentially dangerous or unpleasant circumstances by using a few precautions and a lot of common sense. 

Guard your Personal Information

One of the best parts of traveling is meeting other people, locals as well as other travelers.  This is especially true when you travel alone.  People talk to me so much more than when I am with someone else.  I have met so many wonderful people all around the world.  They give me great advice on where to eat, places to visit and especially what areas might not be good for a woman on her own.  What you do need to be aware of is giving out too much personal information. 

I do not give anyone (except hotel, car rental etc.) my full name.  If I want to keep the conversation friendly and possibly stay in touch I will use my maiden name and an alternate email address.  It helps to be prepared for unexpected questions about your identity without feeling like you have to disclose too much.  You can always give more information later but you can never take it back and people with good intentions will never fault you for protecting yourself.    

As tempting as it is, don’t post the details of your trip on social media until after you have returned – it is a red flag that you are away and your home is empty. 

At the Hotel

The hotel should never announce your room number out loud when you are checking in or using services (restaurant, pool etc.) but if they do politely tell them you would prefer to keep that private.   Also, most hotels will give you your room keys in a paper sleeve with your name and room number on it; do not carry this with your room key, if it is lost or stolen someone will have all of your information and access to your room.  Even with those precautions people can get your information if they want it, I just try not to make it easy for them.

Out and About

When you go out, let the hotel know where you are going, when you expect to return and take a business card so you have the address handy.  When you go out at night make sure there will be a taxi or shuttle service available to bring you back.  You don’t want to get stuck trying to get a lift on a busy Saturday night when you are in a strange place.  Keep in mind, that the most pleasant cities by day will have a totally different atmosphere at night so know your surroundings and stay alert.  Stay in well lit public places and don’t walk alone after dark.

This should go without saying, but never go anywhere with strangers, no matter how friendly and kind they seem to be.  You do not know these people or where you will end up.  Much better to stay at a public place where you can have a good time and stay safe.

Personal Belongings

First and foremost travel light.  You should be able to get on and off of planes, trains and buses quickly, easily and without assistance.  Also, I don’t carry a regular handbag when I travel.  Instead, I opt for a small cross body bag or neck pouch that can go under my coat or sweater and bring only my passport/id, credit card, cell phone and a small amount of cash.  Nothing screams target like a woman with a large purse gapping open with cell phone and wallet in plain sight.  I also do not give money to people on the street, at airports, bus or train stations.  I do keep some cash or change in my pocket to pay for toilet fees or a bottle of water without having to get my bag out.

Sometimes people will approach you with a terrible hard luck story (scam) and ask you for help.  This is not a chance meeting, this is their job and they have decided that you look like a victim.  Simply ignore them or direct them to the nearest Police station where they can get the assistance they need and they will usually leave you alone.   

Share your experiences and suggestions so we all can stay safe and have more fantastic adventures.

Wishing you Safe and Happy Travels!