As a female often traveling alone (or alone with Markie), making sure we are safe is of my utmost importance. I’d like to think I’m street saavy, but really anyone can be a vulnerable while abroad. Below are nine things I do to try to make sure I stay safe:
Tips for Staying Safe Abroad
Do your research before you go – Wikitravel.org is my go-to source for finding out what kind of crime happens in the destination I am going to. Just type in your destination, and scroll down to the “Stay Safe” (or “Crime”) section. Advice from the website has helped me avoid areas of Panama City that are considered seedy, and learn which taxis are legitimate when traveling in Bulgaria.
Carry pepper spray – When I travel, and even in London, I carry pepper spray. As a female who is often walking alone, I want to feel that I have some sort of protection. Pepper spray is fairly small, and can be easily opened within seconds to spray someone should you need to.
Try to blend in with clothing – When possible, try to wear clothes that are less conspicuous. Don’t wear a shirt with your university on it, or something that gives off immediately that you aren’t a local.
Be weary of strangers who come up to you on the street – I’m not saying all strangers are bad – some may be genuinely asking for directions, but if someone seems too friendly or a bit off, it’s best to keep walking.
Use a cross body purse – A cross body bag keeps your purse valuables close and in front of you, which makes it harder for someone to get to. In crowded situations, I even hold my hand onto my purse to make sure someone isn’t able to sneak their hand into opening my zipper and getting in.
Have your bearings on the city – Before I travel anywhere, I spend time looking at Google Maps and figuring out where my hotel, train stations, points of attraction, etc are in relation to the city. This helps you a lot when you are on the ground, and also prevents you from constantly having to hold up a map to figure out where you are going (ie. making it obvious that you are a tourist).
Separate your money – If you take out a large amount of cash, don’t leave it all in one place. What I will tend to do is put some money hidden in a sock in my suitcase, and keep some on me. I don’t personally trust room safes.
Don’t make valuables obvious – Traveling is not the time to display your fancy accessories or electronics. I often carry two cell phones (one personal, one for work), but I make sure even when traveling to only take one out at a time, or avoid taking them out at all if I’m in a busy location.
Keep people informed of your whereabouts – No matter where I go, I always check in with my parents, a friend, or Mark to let them know my general plans and how things are going.
Do you have any helpful tips to stay safe? Which of the above tips is most useful?