While it sucks that we live in a world that we have to be so cautious, it’s really handy for you that I’ve had some rough experiences while travelling so I can share my wisdom. You’re welcome. Here are my top 5 solo travel tips for women……guys, you are also allowed to learn from this if you choose.
1. Take back ups of the important stuff. Carry cash, and two credit or debit cards from different accounts. Keep one seperate from other stuff (keep one on you, one in your car,or hotel safe, etc) so you can access a way to get home if you are robbed, something is lost, etc. A prepaid VISA card works great too. If you are traveling by air, also take two forms of ID (passport and driver’s license) and do the same thing (keep them separate) to make sure you can get back on the plane. Also, don’t forget to let your bank or credit card company know where you are going to be before you go….sometimes they will shut your card off if they notice a bunch of random purchases in Mexico or if you are trying to purchase several hundred dollars worth of wine in Napa Valley (my bank obviously doesn’t know me that well if they thought was a weird purchase). Getting stuck somewhere with no way to prove who you are or access to cash sucks….someday I’ll tell you about the time I got stranded in London with no money and had to barter for a pizza.
2. Keep your phone on you at all times. Even if you are just running into a rest area, keep your phone in your pocket. It’s your immediate line to 911 if you need help, plus if your car is stolen or suddenly explodes while you are grabbing a coffee, you again have a way to call for help (you also have a way to immediately call and cancel your credit cards if they are stolen in your car too….trust me on this.)
3. Open Your Eyes…not only will you experience more beauty around you, but you will also be more aware of any potential threats. You will also look stronger and less like a victim. Be aware (and in awe) of your surroundings. Eye contact is one of those things that can actually fend off potential threats because it doesn’t make you look like an easy target. Major exception to this is some Asian and Native American cultures and grizzly bears.
4. Make “Friends.” Whether you are staying overnight at a less than 4 star hotel, hitting a bar or restaurant in a strange city, camping out somewhere, look for opportunities to meet other people. As a lone woman, you will often seem more approachable. This becomes an awesome part of the experience, AND it’s safer. Not just cuz there is safety in numbers, but if people notice you and think you are friendly, you actually seem MORE aware and LESS victim material, and they will look out for you more as well. This can come in handy if you are getting hassled by creepy men (which are the ones you DON’T wanna befriend) or need to ask directions or recommendations for good places to visit while you are in the area. You don’t have to exchange numbers and become best pals on facebook, but bond for the moment. Someday I will tell you about the lady who bought me drinks all night in Ocean City, Maryland because she was so thrilled to find another solo woman travelling on her very first ever solo trip.
5. Trust your gut. Always. Try to figure out what you are concerned about if you aren’t feeling safe, but even if you can’t pinpoint it, just get out. You can, of course, avoid places like dark alleys and dingy parking garages, but sometimes they are unavoidable and frankly, even perfectly lovely settings can give you that hair standing up on the back of your neck feeling. If you feel it, just get the hell outta there. Go somewhere you feel safe. Do it calmly and do it quickly. Women’s instinct is a necessary awesomeness about us. Listen to it.
Again, Stay safe BUT DON’T STAY HOME! Bon voyage!!!!
Sometimes you can’t avoid dingy and abandoned parking garages when you take a wrong turn in an impulsive decision to go to Nashville for the evening.