This past Tuesday was International Women’s Day. Originally called International Working Women’s Day, this date was designated to celebrate and respect women for their achievements in economics, politics and social status.
In spite of women achieving near equality with our male counterparts here in North America, women must still exercise a significantly greater degree of caution when travelling alone.
Regardless of whether you are travelling for business or for pleasure, as a woman there are many precautions that you should take in order to ensure your personal safety throughout your journey. Even though a certain locale may seem safe, as a precaution women should always have their guard up and be aware of their surroundings.
Some General Precautions for Women Travelling Solo:
Keep an eye on your belongings and NEVER leave them unattended. Leaving your belongings unattended not only puts you at risk for theft, but may make you a target for drug smuggling if you are travelling in a foreign country. For example, even if you left your baggage with a hotel concierge, be sure to rip your bag apart and inspect it thoroughly because you never know if someone could have put any sort of illegal substances in your bag. If you fail to do this and unknowingly bring illegal substances with you through an international border, customs will not sympathize with you as you are personally responsible for all of your belongings. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse.
Be aware of other people who may be staring at you and/or your belongings for prolonged periods of time. For example, if you are sitting in a restaurant and every time you glance over at a particular person, they are staring at you then I would strongly suggest that you move along to another safe highly public place. If returning to your hotel room, approach the front desk and bring it to their attention and have someone from the hotel escort you to your room if necessary. Excessive gawking is not a compliment.
Be wary of other travellers who express too much interest in your itinerary. It is one thing for fellow travellers to exchange basic information about where each other are going (generally speaking) and what kind of work you do, but if someone starts asking you details about your accommodations such as your hotel, room number or other highly specific information that should otherwise have no relevance to them, do not provide such details. End the conversation and be on your way.
There are many individuals who may be operating these vehicles illegally which can put you at risk of a variety of dangers ranging from being overcharged to risking physical harm in extreme cases.
Do NOT listen to music using your headphones when walking, jogging or sitting in public places. Without your sense of hearing, you will be extremely vulnerable to attack or theft because you won’t even hear someone approach you.
NEVER leave your drink or food unattended. It is now quite common for women to be drugged not only in their drink but also in their food. If you have to go to the washroom, take all of your belongings with you and finish your food and drink before you go. You can always order a refreshment upon your return to the table.
Beware of “Female Friendly Networks” and “Meet-ups” aimed towards female solo travellers. I recently became aware of a website which claims to be a networking site for solo female travellers. It recommends “Female Friendly Hotels” and offers an online network of female travellers which you can join and meet up with in your travels. This is HIGHLY DANGEROUS! I don’t even have an account but I can go on this website and see which women by first and last name are travelling to specific cities on specific dates and very likely using one of the “Female Friendly Hotels” suggested on this website. If I was a predator, this website makes it all to easy to target women travelling alone and not only that, women who are travelling alone and who are LONELY enough to reach out to strangers on the internet and clearly don’t have anyone else to meet up with at their destination. All it takes is going on this website, making a few phone calls to ask if the traveller is registered at any of those hotels during the dates they specified and boom! Might as well wear a target sign on your backs ladies!
Always make sure at least one person knows where you are and check-in with others regularly. I’m not saying report your every move, but rather be sure to have someone whether it is a supervisor or a friend that you will communicate with at least once per day however briefly. This way, if anything were to happen to you, at least someone would know.
To some, my list may seem paranoid but as far as I am concerned, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. It is still possible to have a great time when travelling solo and to always have your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings. If you travel often, these behaviors will all become second nature.
So, travel safe my friends and have fun!