I recently had the opportunity to speak at Ladies only Luncheon. My topic was "Is it possible for a woman to travel the world and stay safe?"
I thought I would share my notes on our Blog. Enjoy!
Even if you steer clear of resorts.
Even if you go to developing countries.
Even if you don’t speak the local language.
Even if you’re traveling alone.
You can survive, thrive and have time of your life.
By prioritizing your safety while traveling.
What does that mean?
Well, let me share a few safety tips.
1. Research Your Destination Thoroughly
For many travelers, planning and researching is almost as fun as actually traveling!
It is fun to scope out the most beautiful beaches and coolest cities.
The more you know about where you’re going, the safer and happier your travels will be.
It helps to choose a destination where you will feel safe and in your comfort zone.
Check to see if there is a Travel Advisory in effect for your proposed destination.
Get information on safety and security,
local laws and customs,
health conditions and
All of these can be found on our Canadian Government Travel website. (travel.gc.ca/advice)
2. Keep Your Valuables On You While in Transit
But you shouldn’t bring valuables in the first place!
You shouldn’t bring anything you can’t afford to lose – such as expensive jewelry.
Today people travel with so much technology.
Everyone has a smartphone at the very least;
many bring laptops, tablets, Kindles or other e-readers, DSLR cameras with pricey lenses, and more.
When you consider the costs to replace any one of those items, they definitely count as valuables.
You should have a day bag into which you can fit all of your important items: your passport, your camera, your medication, your jewelry, your credit cards, your smartphone, and any other technology, photography or otherwise valuable equipment.
Never put any of those items into your checked luggage on a plane. If you let them out of your sight, there’s a fair chance that they could be taken away from you forever.
As a precaution against loss or theft, leave copies of important travel documents with family or friends. A good idea is to email your documents to yourself at an email address you can access anywhere. This includes a scan or picture of your Valid Passport. It’s a good idea to keep your bank and credit card phone numbers stored in a document as well.
3. Only Take What You Need and Leave the Rest Locked Up
There’s no need to go out for a walk in the city with all of your credit cards, your passport, and lots of cash.
Take what you need for the day: maybe around $50, tops, and a debit card, a credit card and keep the rest locked up in your accommodation.
Carry your Debit card and Credit card in a RFID sleeve.
An ideal handbag or day pack is one that is easy to carry and has zippered inner compartments for added security. The best way to carry your bag is in front of you, close to your body.
Try to have one hand free at all times.
Avoid displaying expensive looking camera’s, jewelry and other showy accessories that may mark you as a wealthy tourist.
Beware of Credit Card Fraud – Never let anyone take your credit card out of your sight.
Keep a backup cash stash In the event that the worst happens – your purse is stolen, and your credit cards are suddenly maxed out …
Keep at least $50 dollars hidden in a secret spot deep inside your luggage, like inside a tampon or hidden in a sock. In a separate spot, keep a backup credit card. If your purse or day bag is stolen off your body and literally everything is taken away from you at least you will have a little cash and a credit card.
4. Blend in as Much as You Can
Want to have the attention of every pickpocket in Paris? Show up in shorts and a t-shirt. For extra credits, wear Birkenstocks and have a conversation on the metro in English.
As normal as shorts and a t-shirt would be in Canada, you would never see that style in most of Europe. Shorts are rare and Europeans in general dress much more neatly than North Americans, especially in France and Italy.
The more you stand out, the more you brand yourself as someone who is unfamiliar with the location, which makes you more vulnerable to criminals.
Instead, research your destination in advance, observe how people dress, and try to pass as a local – or, if that’s impossible (like if you’re in Thailand or Mexico and look neither Thai nor Mexican), try to pass as a longtime expat. You know what I mean...ditch the touristy beer T-shirts!
In tandem with blending in, it’s important to maintain confidence at all times, and even if you’re not confident, at least maintain the appearance of confidence.
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.
Study your street map before going out of your hotel. Avoid opening a map in a public area. If you become lost and you need to find your way, slip into a shop or café to consult your map privately or ask a shopkeeper.
Always carry the address or a business card from your accommodations. This is very useful when you are in a country where you don’t speak the language. Handing your taxi driver a business card of your hotel is much easier than trying to explain. Snap a picture of your Taxi’s license plate before getting in. Both for safety and also in case you leave something in it: Having the license number makes it much easier to track down. If you are feeling uncomfortable in your taxi, (of even walking for that matter), make a real (or fake) phone call to say “Yep, I’m almost there. I’ll be there in 10” so the driver thinks you are meeting someone at your destination. Yup! I have done this.
5. Spend Extra Money on Staying Safe
It is a smart idea to financially invest in your own safety.
What does that mean?
It means that if your flight is scheduled to arrive late at night, you should spend money on a private transfer.
It means you should pay extra money to take a taxi home at night if you don’t feel comfortable walking through the neighborhood on your own.
It means paying more to stay in a central neighborhood with lots of lively activity instead of a cheaper, quiet residential area where you feel isolated.
So speaking of accommodations:
Avoid ground floor accommodations.
Request a room close to the elevator and away from the exit.
Enter the room first and walk away around to feel comfortable.
Ensure your door locks work. Consider carry a rubber door stop for added security.
Keep two hotel keys with you — one in your bag and one on your person.
That way if your bag gets nabbed, you’re not locked out.
Leave the DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door and the TV on when you leave your hotel room
Befriend female hotel employees.
Ask them for tips about getting around the area and where NOT to go.
6. Get Travel Insurance
Do you really need travel insurance? Absolutely. Whether your luggage is lost, you end up in a political coup or natural disaster, or you need to go to the hospital while on the road, travel insurance will reimburse your expenses. If you’re robbed, travel insurance will provide you with the security you need.
If the very worst happens and you end up losing your life, good travel insurance will allow your family to bring your body home without paying tens of thousands of dollars and getting wrapped up in mountains of red tape.
In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be traveling.
7. Check in Regularly
It’s a good idea for at least one designated friend or family member to have a copy of your itinerary in advance: your flight numbers, your accommodation, and a general schedule of where you’ll be on which dates, as well as information on your travel insurance, credit cards, and a bank account number.
Plan ahead of time how you’ll check in and how often, whether it’s through daily emails, texts, or social media updates, Staying in touch is a way to dispel the fears of your loved ones, but if you find yourself in trouble, they would be able to locate you much more easily than if you had been vague about your whereabouts.
Another tip is if you are touring solo for the day, leave a note in your room explaining where you are going. If you don’t return as planned, this information could be used to track you down.
My last remark:
"We travel not to Escape life, but for life not to Escape us."
Ixtapa Travel Staff