Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Safety Tips for Female Travelers

Being a lady traveler rocks.  Franz can be downright chivalrous at times.  And because you are seen as less threatning than a man, it's more likely that a family will invite you to their home for dinner.  Hell, women let me hold their babies all the time!  Despite these perks, being a women on the road is not without its safety concerns.

Here are seven of my top tips for the female traveler. 

1.  Leave the mini skirt at home.  When I travel I dress more conservatively than I do at home.  When I'm in places like the Middle East I dress more conservatively still (e.g. long-sleeved shirts, pants, and sometimes a scarf).  Often, I wear sunglasses.  I am not saying you have to bring along a bunch of moo moos and track pants, but ditch the mini skirts and midriff-baring halter tops.  It attracts unwanted attention from unsavory men.  If you're not butt ugly you're going to get enough male attention, anyway.  Why make it worse?

2.  Be a Smart Drinker.  I can't stress this enough.  Bad things happen to intoxicated females (and males).  I've met ladies over here who have been dated raped and mugged when they were drunk.  I like to drink but I am conscious of my limits.  If I do decide to drink, I often do so at lunch or an early dinner when it is still light outside.  If I want to get a little plastered at night I do it at an establishment that is within spitting distance of my hostel or I drink at the hostel (most hostels have a terrace, some even have a bar).

3.  Look both ways (twice) before you cross any street.  It sounds so obvious but I've had several close encounters with cars (reckless and/or preoccupied drivers abound and traffic rules differ from country to country).

4.  Split up Important Travel Documents.  Always leave your passport and one credit or debit card locked up at the hostel.  Carry an alternate ID (e.g. driver's license), and an alternate credit or debit card on your person.  That way if your day pack is lost or stolen you are not completely screwed. 

5.  Carry Emergency Information.  I carry a tag with my blood type, allergy information and a person at home to contact in case of an emergency.   I also carry the business card of the hostel I am staying at.  I fıgure it's good information for the police to know if they find my dead and/or unconscious body.

6.  Consider the status of your day pack.  Always lock your day pack (or knot the drawstring) when you're out and about.  Consider carrying your day pack to the front, especially at night.  When at restaurants, place your day pack on the chair next to you or on the table, not on the floor.

7.  Get lost (during the day).  I think the best way to get to know a city is to get completely lost in it.  You stumble across all sorts of things you'd never see if you stick to the (boring) tourist circuit.  But get lost in the morning and early afternoon.  I make sure I know where I am again (and how to get back to my hostel) well before the sun starts to set.  When it's dark outside I always stick to main roads with lots of people on them. 

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