Traveling alone can be highly therapeutic for the mind. While you’re rediscovering yourself, and exploring new places, the last thing you want to be worried about is your physical safety, especially in the case of an emergency. So, this Tuesday, we’re covering some of the best gadgets, best practices and other resources available to keep you safe.
1. Do your homework. It should come as no surprise that the first step is to have a plan! Determine your route in advance, not just knowing your mode of travel, but all of the local customs as well. You can do easy research online to find out the average cost of a taxi to and from the airport and your hotel, so you’re not taken advantage of. It’s also important to know which currency is preferred locally if you intend to deal in cash. This type of planning is where a Travel Agent comes in handy. Lean on the expertise of a Travel Agent to ensure you know what to expect from the moment you arrive. A Travel Agent can assist in getting you to the best accommodations in the safest way, including ensuring that you arrive during the day. From there, you can explore totally on your own, keeping these other tips in mind.
2. Share your itinerary with friends/family back home including the name of your hotel and your room number. Along the trip, make sure to check-in as well so family back home knows everything is progressing smoothly. As a woman traveler, consider requesting a room near the elevator to avoid long walks down dark hallways and check to see if your hotel has key-coded elevators.
3. Register with the State Department STEP Program. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (U.S. Department of State) to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By enrolling in the program, travelers receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans. Enrolling also enables the U.S. Embassy to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency, as well as help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency. Enroll at https://step.state.gov/.
4. Consider Travel Insurance. No one looking forward to a vacation wants to think about illness, loss or world events that may prevent or interrupt the trip, but such risks are a reality of travel today. That is why travel insurance should be part of your travel plan. 3E highly recommends that all travel clients consider purchasing insurance at the time of initial booking to cover various travel risks, such as trip cancellation or trip interruption. There are many sources of travel insurance available to you. As with any insurance, certain restrictions and/or exclusions apply. No travel insurance covers you for every unforeseen event. That’s why it’s necessary for you to determine which available plan best fits your individual needs.
5. Don’t look like a tourist and especially don’t wear your money. We all love to look our best, but when you’re traveling alone in a foreign country, the last thing you want to do is call unnecessary attention to yourself. Lot’s of jewelry and large designer bags scream to shysters and thieves that you’ve got something they can gain from you. Choose simple, comfortable pieces and keep all of your valuables at home. If you do bring some bling on your trip, make sure your room has a safe for when you’re away. There are many fashionable anti-theft bookbags and waist belts (aka fanny packs as we used to call them) available online for when you are diving into the local culture scene.
6. Trust your gut! If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. This also goes with exuding confidence. Walking confidently and being aware of your surroundings deters unwanted attention at home and abroad. If you get lost, don’t go in circles or stop and whip out a map in the middle of the road. Step into a local shop or restaurant and ask for directions, or to take a moment to collect yourself.
7. Take a personal safety course. Knowing basic movements to get you out of the grips of an offender can save your life. I recommend the professionals at Safety Experts Group (www.safetyexpertsgroup.com) because they have more than twenty years of expertise in personal safety protection. There are a few courses to choose from including basic self-defense, which helps you mitigate the risk of being victimized and teaches you how to become more aware and alert, and a more in-depth course. Their Purpose-Driven Training program teaches you anatomy and physiology basics, and de-escalation skills and use of force.
8. Trust no one and know that little white lies can potentially save your life. Yes, of course make friends on your travels, that’s part of the fun. But making new friends doesn’t mean everyone has the best intentions. There’s no need to be specific with a stranger about where you’re staying or for exactly how long. When asking for directions, lie a little and mention that you’re meeting a friend. The goal is to not advertise that you’re alone, let alone vulnerable.
9. There are tons of tools and products to consider taking with you as well.
Here are our top ten:
Anti-theft backpack or similar accessory
Portable door alarm or lock
Personal GPS trackers or international location sharing capabilities/apps.
Portable mobile Wi-Fi hotspot with VPN
Portable power bank (mobile charger)
Safety whistles or similar personal alarm
Travel/Translation Dictionary or App
First Aid kit/supplies
International Travel Adapter Plug
10. Have Fun! Traveling alone is one of the best decisions you can make because it’s a time to completely remove yourself from your everyday and refresh. Use the time alone to unwind, explore and enjoy all that life has to offer.