Traveling the world alone – my ten best safety tips for women
In the first part of my blog post I already wrote that there is no better education than traveling the world and discover new places and cultures. But to be able to really enjoy and experience your travels you need to feel safe.
Here are my ten best safety tips because your personal safety should always be a priority. Of course there are many more and this is only a short summary. Much more and detailed information you will find in my seminars which also offer the possibility for individual questions and practical training and will boost your self confidence. Sign up here to receive new and exclusive updates about upcoming seminars & offers!
6. Stay away from alcohol & drugs
Yes, I like to try the local beer or enjoy a cocktail on the beach. Nothing wrong with that – as long as it’s just the one and you keep an eye on your drink. This also goes for non-alcoholic drinks, especially not transparent ones like coke, milkshakes, smoothies etc which are easy to spike.
If possible get your drink in a bottle that you can close with your thumb while being distracted chatting to people. If you have a glass, cover it with a coaster, pay attention and never leave it unattended. Never take a drink from a stranger other than the barkeeper, no matter how attractive, nice or funny the generous person seems to be.
Especially in hostels you can find a party almost every night and probably you will be offered drugs easily. I have two friends whose drinks have been spiked and who found themselves half-naked outside on the pavement without any shoes, jacket, money, phone and keys hours later.
You can imagine how easy it is to spike your drink when you are slightly drunk already. If you have to drink always watch your drinking and before you get another one ask yourself if you want to feel more out of control than you do now – if not, have a water. I do not recommend alcohol or drug use at all but especially abroad among strangers as a solo traveling woman it should be totally avoided. You make yourself an easy victim not to mention the lost following day when you are hungover in bed until late afternoon.
7. The gift of fear: listen to your gut instinct
We all know it: a strange feeling, a sense of forboding, something is not right but we don’t know what. Probably just imagination, too many scary movies.
No! In our hectic every day life we forgot to listen to our gut instinct, inner voice or intuition. Several processes of repression prevent us from being aware of a dangerous situation and from acting in time. Intuition is not silly or imagination. It is an instinct that we tend to forget although it is there to save our lives.
If you have a strange feeling about a person or situation although you cannot explain why, trust your gut instinct and act accordingly. Better safe than sorry – don’t follow the crowd, don’t do anything because “everybody” is doing it although your gut feeling tells you to stay away.
8. Tourist or local?
In most countries I can be spotted easily as a tourist being a tall European woman with fair hair. With our skin color, the shape of our head and face, hair color, language and accent we stand out of the crowd in Asia, Latin America or Africa, if we want it or not.
But still there are a few simple rules that we should follow in order to avoid unwanted attention:
•adapt to the typical style of clothing and don’t be a stumbling block by wearing hot pants and spaghetti top in Muslim countries, for example
•respect the religion and culture, watch the behavior of the Locals and copy it
•do not wear your camera around your neck
•do not walk with the city map visible in your hand or pocket
•get to know the currency so that you do not need to study the money when you buy something – this will expose you as a tourist inevitably
•if you go on a day trip, leave your backpack in your room and take a bag of a local shop or supermarket
•avoid eye-catching clothes and behavior, radiate calmness and self awareness
9. Stay healthy!
Changing countries, climates, food and environment demand a great deal of our body and immune system. What always and everywhere applies: drink plenty of water! But be careful in terms of tap water – in most countries you should use the local tap water only for a shower and to brush your teeth – in some countries you cannot even brush your teeth with it but need to use bottled water. So, drink plenty of water but please make sure it’s okay. For emergencies: Micropur tablets are small, light and highly effective and should not be missed in your backpack.
Often and thorough hand washing is as important as fresh, healthy, cooked food and should go without saying.
Travelers are curious and adventurous and like to try local specialties such as fried bugs or grasshoppers, worms or kangaroo testicles at a road stall and sometimes they experience unforgettable moments over the loo. As long as it is just this timely limited excursion in the bathroom and a funny story for your travel diary, everything is fine.
Serious diseases that our civilized immune system does not have any antibodies and body defenses against can lead to involuntary hospitalization, repatriation and secondary damages and that is where the fun ends. To avoid this you should inform yourself about the water quality, local diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, typhus, rabies etc. and its pathogens (mosquitoes, poor hygiene, wild animals etc) and special dangers such as toxic animals, natural disasters, terror warnings etc. The Department for Foreign Affairs provides information regarding safety and health (e.g. malaria risk and vaccination recommendations) and a chat with your doctor as well as several sources in the internet offer good and reliable info, too.
You need to decide for yourself what vaccinations you want and need but I strongly recommend Tetanus. Of course you should have a small first aid kit with the most important utensils and avoid unnecessary risks such as intensive sun bathing without UV protection, feeding/stroking wild animals like stray dogs or monkeys, drinking tap water, riding a motorcycle without helmet, being in malaria areas without mosquito protection etc.
10. Give them what they want
As already mentioned in the first part of this blog post you should carry as little valuables with you as possible; only take what you really need. Leave your grandma’s diamond earrings at home and replace granddad’s watch with a cheap plastic watch.
Have a dummy wallet with max. $50 and an important looking but useless ID card (for example from your local library) with you as well as an “ancient” cell phone. Have your cash or credit cards on your body, for example in your bra or panties.
In case you get robbed stay calm, follow the instructions and hand over your dummy wallet, phone, watch, etc. without resistance. Try to memorize the look of your perpetrator and cooperate. You never know how desperate, drunk, stoned or violent your opponent is and you do not want to risk your life because of a few valuables.
I do not recommend the belts with a “secret” pocket for money – every thief knows about that. The above mentioned dummy wallet appears to contain everything you have on you with “important” documents and cash.
In my self defense, self protection and travel safety seminars we discuss these tips and many more in detail and you have the opportunity for a personal chat and individual questions, you get practical, situational and individual training for self defense and the correct body language, you learn how to avoid making yourself an easy target and will boost your self confidence!
Knowledge creates self confidence. Self confidence creates safety. Safety creates freedom.
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You have questions or want to share experiences? Please leave a comment!