Women who hit the road solo or even with other women realize the journey can sometimes be difficult, challenging and even dangerous. But it can also be exciting, even exhilarating, because of the freedom and choices they are afforded when they’re not traveling with other companions. No doubt today’s ladies know how to travel, but even so, true global road warriors have learned to heed safety tips and suggestions that might come in handy one day to keep even the most seasoned of travelers safe and comfortable.
The Number One Rule
Have you ever stopped at a convenience store or a gas station to use the powder room and had a feeling that it wasn’t safe? About to step into an elevator with one or two men in it and felt something was off-kilter? This is the time to trust your intuition and listen to that inner voice trying to tell you something. Women have been given the gift of intuition for a reason, and it’s a powerful thing and almost always spot on. Just step away from the situation, as it may save you from becoming a part of a crime scene investigation. There is always another elevator or another safer place down the road. Personally, I’ve relied on intuition to take me on plenty of solo trips around the world and all of them safely, although there were times I’m positive that my intuition was working closely with my guardian angel.
The thing about intuition is that you learn simply to not put yourself at risk. Even when I was younger and thinner and could pass for pretty, I chose not to frequent bars in strange cities or foreign lands unless I was with friends or colleagues. While it helps that I’m not really a bar girl, I just like to be safe from creeps who prey on women in these situations. With more women on the road alone, remember that it also helps to carry yourself with a little attitude and give off an aura of confidence rather than one of a ‘fraidy cat.
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A Room Of Your Own
If you’re on an overnight road trip by yourself – or even with other ladies – always seek out hotels with indoor corridors. Those old hotels and motels where you pull up in your car to your room are outdated and can be unsafe. After all, it takes only a moment of unawareness for someone to overpower you, shove you into the room, and lock the door. Thankfully those old behemoths are slowly fading away into obscurity and being replaced with brighter and safer indoor corridor properties. On a road trip, don’t take chances. Spend a few extra dollars on nicer accommodations.
An Old Tip Worth Repeating
While some ladies might want to show off their diamonds and pearls in those far-flung places, leave the good jewelry at home so as not to become a target for thieves attracted to sparkly baubles. The rule is, if you don’t want to lose it, leave it.
There’s Room At The Inn
Think about staying in a bed and breakfast inn when you travel. You can strike up a friendship with the owner or innkeeper for a much more personal travel experience. As a bonus, the innkeeper becomes your personal concierge and can always recommend restaurants, shopping areas, and events, and she may even know a shortcut or two when it comes to navigating a city’s streets. Most of all, as a local, she can tell you which neighborhoods and areas to avoid.
When nature calls, consider stopping at a new, brightly-lit indoor corridor hotel along the lines of Fairfield Inn or Holiday Inn Express. Almost always a bathroom is in the lobby, but please politely ask at the front desk if it’s okay to use their powder room. You may have to explain yourself to a front desk clerk, but it’s much safer and cleaner than stopping at a convenience store, gas station, or even an interstate rest area, where security is often nonexistent. You can also take this one step farther and combine a bathroom break with shopping or dining, perhaps something along the lines of Cracker Barrel, that wonderful restaurant that serves homecooked meals. Customers are always milling around so you aren’t alone. Plus, the food is good and there is always something special or unique at its Old Country Store, the colorful gift shop where the restrooms are located.
Lock The Doors
If you’re traveling by car with someone else, your husband or a friend perhaps, always lock the car door if he or she must get out of the car without you. That might sound like common sense, but think about it. How many times do you lock the car door when you’re sitting in it alone? More than likely, you’ll pick up your phone to check Facebook or email and not remember to snap down the locks. Take a moment to do it for a peace of mind.
Put Down The Phone
And thinking about those phones, as difficult as it may be, you really should put it down more often when you travel, too. As long as you’re on the telephone or texting or Tweeting, you’re off-guard and not aware of your surroundings – the perfect setup for purse and phone snatchings.
And If Your Purse Is Stolen?
Okay. What if your handbag is snatched anyway when you travel? Think about this. When you check into a hotel, most times the clerk will give you the key in a paper sleeve that has your room number written on it. Then, without another thought, you’ll just drop the key into your purse. But if your purse is stolen while you’re out exploring, the thief can go straight to your room, ransack it, and make off with anything he wishes – cash, jewelry, electronics – and all courtesy of your room key. Here’s what to do. Remember your room number (more difficult than you can imagine if you travel often), remove the key from the sleeve and dispose of it, and then put the key in a place where you can easily get it – but not next to your cellphone, which can zap it clean. If your purse is stolen and the thief has your key, at least he won’t have access to your room number.
Just A Spritz Will Do
If you don’t travel with pepper spray, use the next best thing if you’re threatened, and that’s a well-aimed shot of hairspray or perfume right in the eyes of the scum who may be trying to do you harm. Just use it as you would pepper spray. It can slow someone down in a hurry and give you time to get to safety. While these things will probably never happen to you when you travel, it’s always good to know that the bottles we carry for beauty can be used on a beast.
The Last Word: Hot Guys In Foreign Countries
Most importantly, women must use common sense when it comes to members of the opposite sex. In other words, don’t go out with a hot guy in a foreign country. Drinking too much can lower your inhibitions and you may end up in an unthinkable situation with that hot guy. Almost everyone who travels may remember the high-profile cases of Natalee Holloway, the 18-year-old high school graduate from Mountain Brook, Alabama, who disappeared in Aruba in 2005, and Claudia Kirschhoch, a 29-year-old editor from Frommer’s Guides who vanished in Jamaica in 2000. Both Holloway and Kirschhoch’s stories are the basis for the classic travel nightmare. Both had links to young men they had met in the islands just before they disappeared, although no one has ever been prosecuted for any crime committed against them. Neither woman has ever been found. Don’t throw caution to the wind, only to become another statistic or a frontpage news story.