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These days, it’s discouraging to read all the stories about travel dangers, especially for  women whose vacations have become nightmares. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe while you indulge your wanderlust in this big, wide, wonderful world.

Photo by Seth Doyle

Honestly, as a woman traveler, who has traveled to over 100 countries, traveling many times alone, I know that we, as women, have always been more vulnerable to foul plan than men. That said, don’t let fear keep you at home. Photo by Seth Doyle

Pack your street smarts

along with your hiking boots and bikini.

Don't hitch hike.

Be as cautious when you travel as you are at home. Would you get into a car with a stranger at home?

Remember Aruba.

Natalee Holloway, an attractive blonde Southern grad. from Birmingham, Alabama, traveled to the Caribbean Island of Aruba with her senior classmates and chaperones. Tragically, the last night of her trip, she went to a local bar called Carlos and Charlie’s, met three local guys, and was last seen alive getting into a car with them. One of the boys was held for three months on suspicion and then released to go to college. No charges were filed against him or anyone else. Eleven years after she disappeared, Natalie is still missing.

Use the buddy system 


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

women safety

It’s better to have two sets of eyes to watch for bad situations. Don’t leave without your buddy.

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.

No “Nice Girl”   

No need to be overly friendly. In some cultures looking a stranger in the eye, or accepting a drink in a bar, is an invitation to much more.

No need to be overly friendly. In some cultures looking a stranger in the eye, or accepting a drink in a bar, is an invitation to much more.

There is power in vocal embarrassment.

You may need to be forceful. 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.

Be aware of what's happening around you. Credit: Flickr: Ron Wiecki

Be aware of what’s happening around you. Credit: Flickr: Ron Wiecki

Have a plan before you arrive.

Have a plan before our arrive.

The three reasons women can be easy targets;

lack of awareness of your surroundings,timid body language and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ask for help or company if you feel uncomfortable.

More tips and advice here.