Women Travel Safety: Attacks in India and Mexico: Travelers Do’s and Don’ts

From Acapulco to New Delhi — in tourist bars, hotel rooms, taxis and deserted streets, women are less safe than ever.

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Do your homework before you leave.

Traveling to see the world is exciting and entirely safe for most of us, most of the time.  However, for us, for women, we move around the world with a different mind set, one in which we must consider the time of day, where we walk, who gets into an elevator with us, the safety of a destination, wearing form fitting clothes, and our behavior in a bar.

Bad things can happen in New York, Los Angeles or Paris.

The risks for women traveling requires that we read up on our destination before you go and be informed about precautions you can take. Another option to independent travel is to book a tour.

India and Mexico

 The brutality of gang rape, taxi rape, and murder in India has led many women wondering if they should go at all. It has impacted tourism in India. It has also fueled a heightened state of danger for women traveling abroad.

Flickr: David Jubert

Should you avoid whole cities or countries? No. Don’t let fear keep you at home. Be informed and prepared. Flickr: David Jubert

Did you know that the percentage of rapes in Mexico is higher than in India? This is even more shocking when you consider that Mexico has one-tenth the population of India.

Before you go, search online for posts tagged “women’s safety, India” and read the most current reviews. A post that is over a year old is useless.

Organize your travel itinerary so you don’t arrive at night. Book a transfer from the airport or train station through your hotel or travel company so you will be met by someone reputable with a sign with your name.

Flickr: Ron Wiecki

By text or social media, keep your friends and family up-to-date on your location and travel plans. Photo: Flickr. Ron Wiecki

Carry a cell phone. You can buy a cheap phone when you arrive or buy a SIM card for your unlocked phone. It is inexpensive to buy more minutes for your mobile phone. It will be your safety backup. Take a photo of the taxi driver’s registration, etc.

No “Nice Girl” Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself if you’re feeling uncomfortable. “When I traveled  for 5 weeks alone in India, 2015, I learned that if a cabbie  is acting weird, insist he stop immediately. Get loud.” says JC Sheppard.

India JC and Mom 187

If the local women cover their legs and arms, it’s a warning you should too.

No Tight Clothing. Dress conservatively. Consider the length of your skirt and the exposure of cleavage. Look at what the local women wear. Blend in. In India, wear a long scarf to cover your curves.

If you have to wait somewhere, such as a train station, look for other women or families to sit with. If you are seated with someone, it is unlikely that you will be approached or harassed. Ask for help or company if you feel uncomfortable. 

  1. Use your city smarts. Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid dicey places like deserted streets. If you are alone, don’t walk down it. Having other people around can offer more safety.

After dark, don’t use public transportation or rickshaws,Use well known travel agents to book any kind of transportation or a guide. Unrepeatable scam artists linger around airports and train stations. 

Use the buddy system if you go to a bar. It’s better to have two sets of eyes to watch for bad situations. Don’t leave without your buddy.

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Watch the bar tender pour your drink and don’t leave it unattended at any time.

Get smart about Rophynol, “the date rape drug”, which is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. If a guy buys you a drink, don’t accept it unless you see the bartender pour it.  Carry your drink around with you. Don’t leave your glass unattended to go dance or to the toilet.

Trust your instincts. Don’t do things you wouldn’t do at home: drink too much alone leave a bar with a stranger and go to his apartment, accept a ride from a stranger, walk in a dark, deserted street alone. If you have a small feeling that something is wrong, or “off”, get out.

Cash can get you out of tight situations. Carry some hidden on your body when you go out.

Always carry enough cash in your shoe to get you out of a tight spot. Be willing to spend this money on a taxi in order to get you to a safe place or back to your lodging.

 

How do you stay on top of travel warnings?

 Check the State Department’s website for travel warnings before you head out; the site is regularly being updated and includes cautions about things like kidnapping, rapes, carjacking’s and gender-based violence.

It’s important to have different travel information sources available for planning and during travel (in addition to government website).

 

To read more:

New York Times Article, 2014 

For more advice:

Safety Tips for College Students Going Abroad. http://gutsytraveler.com/travel-safety-tips-for-college-students/

Journeywoman, 2007 

 

 

 

 

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Category: India, Mexico, TIPS, Travel, Women

About the Author ()

Marybeth Bond, National Geographic author, writer. Twelve books, explored overed 100 countries on 7 continents. Featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to National Geographic, Yahoo Travel, Travelgirl Magazine, CNN, CNN Airport Network. Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked 3,200 miles, two months across the USA, traveler to over 100 countries. Media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.

Comments (1)

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  1. Hi Mary Beth, excellent advice as usual. The Women’s Travel Group goes to Mexico often. We also recommend that women actually talk to female hotel employees for their advice and check English language newspapers in each country for local crime and advice. Thanks for the bday wish on our facebook page.

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