Travel Safety Tips
We are more vulnerable and less aware of what’s going on around us when we text or talk on the phone.
Learn from my expensive mistake (the fine is $175 in California). The police are watching for drivers who are on their cell phones and so are thieves.
Here are way to prepare ourselves and avoid trouble.
We can be aware of our surrounding. We can avoid questionable neighborhoods and we can communicate that we’re self-assured by walking confidently with our heads up.
There are other ways we can prepare ourselves and avoid trouble. I learned these safety tips traveling to ninety-plus countries and I hope they’ll be useful to you. One thing is certain, the more prepared you are, the safer you’ll be.
Safety Tips for Travelers
Pay attention to what’s going on around you and trust your instincts. For example, One night when I was alone I entered an elevator in a car parking lot and felt threatened by the other occupant. I just stepped back out and waited for the next elevator. If you feel something is off, wrong, strange – get out, move on, flee, scream, whatever is appropriate. Do it quickly.
Body language: keep your head up, swing your arms and act confident. Adopt a no nonsense attitude. Walk with purpose and you’ll be less of a target for hustlers who prey on disoriented or timid tourists.
WOMEN SAFETY TIPS
Most of the people who offer you food or drink are just being kind. However, the rare exception exists – drugging occasionally happens. Try not to leave your drink unattended in bars, and exercise good judgment when accepting food or drink from people.
Rophynol, the date rape drug
Is an odorless, tasteless and colorless tranquilizer that can be slipped into your drink by a man who would like to have sex with a woman who is heavily sedated. If you are at a party, don’t accept a glass of punch unless you trust the host. Don’t think this won’t happen to you. Some women don’t even know they have been raped until it’s too late.
If you are being followed in the street and you feel threatened, duck into a shop and firmly tell the clerk: “I am a foreigner and someone is following me. I am frightened and need help.” If need be, have the clerk call a cab or police officer for you.
Try to sit or stand next to other women or family groups in restaurants, on trains or buses, and in other public places. It is unlikely that you will be approached or harassed if you’re in the company of other people.
Consider wearing a wedding ring, if you are traveling alone. Even if you don’t already wear a ring. It will deter unwanted attention.
There is power in vocal embarrassment. I discovered this in India when I had issues with a man following me. Men are shamed by a verbal, loud woman admonishing them in public. Practice screaming before you leave home! Also shame them by shaking your finger in their faces. Even if the crowd doesn’t understand your words, they will understand your indignation and gestures. Most sleazy men do not want public attention.
Ask for help or company if you feel uncomfortable.
It is common for a would-be thief to use razor blades to cut purse straps, take the purse, and then get away in a thick sea of bodies. Be extra careful in crowds and if you’re going to a questionable locale, consider buying a security travel purse with the slash proof straps and bottom.
It can be difficult to know what is considered offensive or suggestive in segregated societies, such as in Orthodox Muslim areas. At times you may feel uncomfortable or vulnerable. You may not know if the local men view you as a sex symbol representing the immoral Western World. Take your cues from the local women. Watch them. If they don’t make eye-to-eye contact with men, follow their example.
Blend in. Dress appropriately.
Clothing that is fashionable and appropriate in the USA may project a provocative image in another culture. Leave the revealing clothing at home.
Anticipate potential problems. For example: if a group of men or young boys approaches you on the sidewalk on your side of the street, cross to the other side to give them space and you peace of mind.
If you are traveling alone, be sure to know when the sun rises and sets. A bustling market can quickly empty out and be transformed into dark deserted streets. Plan to be back to your lodging or in a safe, busy neighborhood by dark.
Carry enough money in your shoe or a hidden pocket to get you out of a tight spot. Be willing to spend this money on a cab in order to get you to a safe place or back to your lodging. Do not take unnecessary risks.
If in doubt, take a self defense course.
About the Author: Marybeth Bond, the Gutsy Traveler, National Geographic author of 11 travel books, featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of the Online Travel Magazine www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to CNN, CNN Airport Network and CNN.com Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked two months across the USA, traveler to over 90 countries, media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.