Theft and harassment are two big concerns for women.
Why are women vulnerable targets for theft or random acts of violence when they travel?
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.
Violent crimes against women happen in the best and worst hotels around the world. Predators may play the part of a hotel employee, push their way through an open or unlocked door, or obtain a pass key to the room.
As with home safety, never open your door unless you are certain the person on the other side is legitimate, and always carry a door wedge with you when you travel. A wedge is often stronger than the door it secures.
1. When traveling, do not walk with your map in your hand. It is a marker that you are a tourist, and are perceived as an easy target.
2. When asking for directions and someone offers to show you the way by having you follow them, do not go. Just ask for them to point you in the right direction. Often, predators just want to get you to a place less crowded where your screams cannot be heard.
3. Be prepared with a well-prepared itinerary to feel secure and keep you occupied. Do research and planning before starting on your travel.
4. Have hard copies of your itinerary and important phone numbers with you at all times. This can include the number and location of your hotels, rental companies, anyone you're meeting, an emergency contact, and the closest Embassy.
5. Give someone back home your itinerary.
6. Schedule a regular check-in with someone back home.
7. Whether it's via Skype or WhatsApp or email. It's a good safety precaution, and then you'll also have an excuse to gush about your adventures as they happen.
8. At least one person who's not traveling with you should have a general idea of where you will be and when, in case something goes wrong or they need to get in touch with you.
9. Take pictures of all your documents and put them on a locked site that you can access from any computer. Documents can be passport, IDs, ticket numbers, reservations, etc. That way if you lose them and your computer or phone, you will have a backup.
10. Carry your money and personal documents (license, passport, tickets, credit cards, etc.) in a bag or purse that you can conceal under your clothing.
11. Don’t keep all your money in one place, so you have backup cash suppose you lose your wallet/ purse. Keep some cash and a card on your person and some in your bag and some back at your hotel.
12. Store your extra cash in the bottom of a tampon or pad box. They are unlikely to look in there.
13. International phone plans are worth it for emergencies.
14. Consider travel insurance that will cover medical and dental emergencies, and also reimburse you for lost baggage, trip cancellations, or delays, rental car damage, and more.
15. Try to dress like a local or a long term resident foreigner. It will prevent you from getting a lot of unwanted attention. And if you don't look like an obvious tourist, you won't be the first target for swindlers or pickpockets.
16. In some places like the Middle East, it helps to wear a fake wedding ring.
17. Bring an external phone charger, extra batteries and power bank.
18. Pack light. It is riskier wheeling four large bags along the side of a street. You can be more mobile with a smaller bag to move quickly.
19. Look purposeful/confident and keep boredom at bay. Look like you are prepared and know where you are going. Don’t show your ignorance, fear, and vulnerability on the road- it may encourage unwanted attention and invite others to take advantage of you. Try not to idle on the sidewalk looking lost; instead approach someone who looks knowledgeable right away and confidently ask where you need to go. Bring a book to restaurants so you are not staring off into space, uncomfortably waiting for your food to come.
20. When you’re walking down the street, hold your head up and your shoulders back. Look straight ahead and walk with a purpose. Pretend that you have somewhere important to be, and if you fall prey to street harassment, ignore it and keep moving.
21. Do the walking tours/excursions. Learn about your destination and battle loneliness at the same time. Walking tours are a great way to orient yourself, as well as meet other adventure-seekers discovering the same place as yourself.
22. Stay in hostels and don’t be afraid to talk to strangers in common rooms and host community building events. Meet other travelers.
23. Remain inconspicuous. Don’t dress provocatively. Dressing a certain way in certain places will get you attention, some of which may be negative such as catcalls or having unsavory people touch/follow you. Try to blend in with the locals as much as you can. Try to conform with clothing, to cultural norms, and dress conservatively in countries where it is expected.
24. Ward off negative attention - ignore, don’t engage, don’t respond to taunts or negativity. Remove yourself quickly from situations where you are the target.
have an emergency contact number at hand, and let people at home know your
Keep all important contact information that can be used by yourself and/or others in case tragedy strikes. Keep them on your person and to distribute in case of emergency.
26. Partner with other female travelers to potentially buddy up on trips. They can give you the mundane, yet important information you may need.
27. When traveling to another country, find out about their laws, customs, food, dos and don’ts etc.
28. Use a disposable camera rather than a digital or 35mm. Expensive cameras are popular targets for theft.
29. Do not go out after dark alone.
30. Always hold onto your luggage.