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Let’s Talk Travel Safety (just in case)
Travel safety is a very important thing. If some of you reading this have decided traveling to certain countries is just too dangerous, STOP right there and erase, erase, erase. If you travel to certain areas in the US, you will find yourself in extremely dangerous areas, but normally you make it through by avoiding the bad areas or by paying close attention to your surroundings.
The same thing applies when you travel internationally. Not every place in every country will be as risky. Do your research and take the appropriate precautions, but try not to limit yourself because you “heard” it was unsafe. Additionally, use the techniques below to keep yourself safe throughout. your travels.
If you are heading to a country or an area you are unsure about, remember to pay attention to your surroundings. Try not to look like the tourist with the fanny packs, camera, and deer in the headlights look. Continually scan your area and keep your guard up to a point, but also take it all in and have fun. If you’re going to take a group and want to part, have fun, but make sure there’s at least one in the group that is sober and paying attention, or even hire a local to take you around and be your guide. This could be the difference between a great night and one that goes horrifically bad.
Hide Your Valuables For Travel Safety
Taking your cash with you is necessary, but carrying a large purse where you keep everything is not the best of ideas. Keep your cash, credit cards, and passport close to your body. An inner pocket would be one of the best places to keep your important items. Just make sure your belongings are really hard to get to. Also, if you have bills folded; don’t pull everything you have out at the same time. Place the small bills on top, and plan for what you think you may need to spend in a specific portion of your trip so you don’t have to pull out from your main stash. Go to the bathroom or a private area to count out what you need and keep that readily available so you’re prepared when the bill comes. If others don’t see it, they are less likely to go after it. You never want to make it easy for thieves to take what’s yours!
Most of my travels have taken place in the Middle East. In Kuwait, the valets were probably the worst/most persistent. On my first few trips, I was confronted with a number of situations. I was a young blonde traveling the airports, and the valets would very aggressively approach from the left and right to try to help me with my bags. My bags weren’t overly heavy, so I had it handled. I figured if I could pack it, I’d better be able to carry it. No matter how many times I told them no, they kept following and trying to push my luggage cart. I told them I had no money, but that didn’t stop them.
At one point, one of the guys did grab ahold of my luggage cart even after I told him no, and I have no money. He chose to push it anyway. Ok, so be it, don’t listen to me. When I was at my next stop to check in, they stood there and waited for a tip. On this day, I did I give him a few dollars, but he didn’t believe it was enough. He stood there and seriously began to harass me. I held my ground and ended up having to raise my voice to get him to go away. He was lucky he received that.
After my 2nd trip, I didn’t fall for this again and was able to be very forward and assertive as I said, no, I do not need your assistance. The valet is not required, but if you were to do this, and you aren’t comfortable making it through the airports on your own, you can hire the meet and greet service that will pick you and your bags up at baggage claim rather than deal with some random individual that will just grab you things and then pressure you to regain control of your own belongings. They will serve as your protector until you become more secure with your environment.
I had a second occurrence of an individual trying to “help” me in Morocco. Let’s just say travel safety wasn’t the first thing on my mind in the moment. I had just been severely ripped off by a tour company, and my driver, thankfully, was very kind and helpful. He wanted to ensure that he dropped me off in the right place before he left and called my host to come out and get me. My host stated that he was walking out to get me. My driver told me to stay right there, and my host would be right out, and he drove away. I was grateful.
I was there a minute or two, and this man came up and asked my hotel, grabbed my bag, and had me follow him. At that moment, I assumed he was my host.
Once again, never assume when it comes to travel safety. It was about a 3-minute hot and fast walk to get to the house. I was thankful I didn’t have to carry or pull this heavy suitcase through the cobbled streets, but as we arrived at the house, I was met by the actual host. The host asked me why I didn’t stay put until he got there. I’m like, I thought he was you. This other individual then stood there expecting a tip.
Since the tour company had just ripped me off, and this guy who pretended to be the host just grabbed my bag and started walking, I had had enough! He stood there waiting for his tip, and I was livid!!! Some random guy just thought he could exploit this person standing there waiting on her host and then demanded a tip. I gave him the little bit of change I had and ensured my anger with the situation was well-known. That appeared not to deter his jerk-like behavior, and he still acted entitled to a bigger tip. The host wasn’t very helpful in making him go away either. Let’s just say, I once again had to get very angry to make this jerk go away.
It truly infuriates me when people try to take advantage of others, but it appears in less fortunate countries, I need to get a thicker skin and get more confident in my pushback skills prior to allowing anyone to “assist.” It’s sad that when you try to travel to these beautiful places, you are seen as an ATM rather than someone who truly wants to learn about their country.
Take it from the error of my ways to not make the same mistake. Being nice doesn’t always pay in societies that have a very different set of rules than our own. In countries such as Morocco and many other African countries, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait just to name a few, pay close attention and take care of yourself. I wish I didn’t have to point out certain places, but, unfortunately, it’s a thing.
The Importance of Travel Insurance
When embarking on a journey, ensuring your safety is of paramount importance. One often-overlooked aspect of travel safety is having the right travel insurance. Here’s why it’s essential:
1. Unpredictability: Travel, by its very nature, is unpredictable. From unforeseen trip cancellations to medical emergencies in foreign lands, the unexpected can happen. Travel insurance acts as your safety net, providing financial security when you need it most.
2. Peace of Mind: Knowing you have comprehensive travel insurance means peace of mind. It allows you to enjoy your journey without the constant worry of what might go wrong. Whether it’s a sudden illness or a lost suitcase, your insurance has you covered.
3. Types of Coverage: Travel insurance comes in various forms, each tailored to specific needs. From trip cancellation and travel medical insurance to baggage protection and emergency evacuation, it ensures you’re prepared for any situation.
4. Real-Life Examples: Consider the traveler who had to cancel their trip due to a family emergency and was able to recoup their non-refundable expenses. Or the adventurer who injured themselves while partaking in an extreme sport and had their medical bills covered. These real-life examples underscore the tangible benefits of travel insurance.
5. Quality Healthcare: While abroad, access to quality healthcare can be a concern. Travel insurance ensures you receive the necessary medical attention without financial burdens.
In conclusion, travel insurance is more than just a policy; it’s your safety companion on the road.
Dealing with Unwanted Attention: Handling Unwanted Advances and Harassment
Dealing with unwanted attention, including handling unwanted advances and harassment, is a crucial aspect of ensuring safety and comfort while traveling.
- Recognizing Unwanted Attention:
- Identifying unwanted advances and harassment is the first step. This can include persistent approaches, catcalling, inappropriate comments, or physical contact.
- Trust Your Instincts:
- Always trust your gut feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation.
- Maintain Confidence:
- Confidence can act as a deterrent. Walk with purpose, make eye contact, and avoid looking vulnerable.
- Set Boundaries:
- Politely but firmly communicate your boundaries. A simple “no” or “leave me alone” can be effective.
- Use Distractions:
- Carry personal alarms, whistles, or other attention-grabbing devices. Using them can deter unwanted attention and signal for help.
- Stay in Public and Well-Lit Areas:
- Stick to busy, well-lit streets, and public places, especially at night.
- Group Travel:
- Consider group travel or finding travel companions to minimize the chances of harassment.
- Local Customs and Dress Codes:
- Respect and adhere to local customs and dress codes to minimize unwanted attention in conservative regions.
Worry Less-Hire a VIP Service
Prior to my trip to Rio de Janeiro, my friend and I were told, don’t get off the main touristy streets, you’ll get mugged. While I’m sure it happens, Rio is certainly not the only place in the world that has muggings. In this situation, since we were two 20-year-old blondes, we decided to work around the potential travel safety issue and hire a VIP service.
The individuals picked us up from the hotel and took us to the dance clubs as well as served as our DDs. The VIP service provided the ins and outs of the area and ensured we stayed safe on our trip. The service wasn’t overly expensive, and to have someone who knows the area help us out, we did find ourselves much more at ease with our environment.
My Top 15 Travel Safety Tips in Brief Format
Research Your Destination
- Thoroughly research your travel destination to understand its safety, culture, and any specific considerations for female travelers.
Share Your Itinerary
- Inform a trusted friend or family member of your travel plans, including your itinerary, accommodations, and contact information.
Pack Light and Smart
- Travel with minimal luggage to stay agile and make navigating through unfamiliar places easier.
Dress Modestly and Blend In
- Respect local customs and dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention in conservative areas. Opt for clothing that helps you blend in.
Carry a Doorstop Alarm
- A doorstop alarm can provide added security in accommodations by alerting you to unauthorized entry.
Stay in Well-Lit Areas
- Choose accommodations and routes that are well-lit and populated, especially at night.
Trust Your Instincts
- If something feels off, remove yourself from the situation and trust your intuition.
Keep Essentials Secure
- Use a concealed money belt or pouch to keep your passport, money, and important documents safe. Be cautious with your belongings.
Learn Basic Phrases
- Familiarize yourself with essential local phrases and emergency numbers in the local language to facilitate communication.
- Consider taking self-defense classes to boost your confidence and personal safety.
Be Cautious with Alcohol
- Be mindful of your alcohol consumption and never leave your drink unattended. Drink responsibly, especially when alone.
- Save local emergency contact numbers and your country’s embassy or consulate information in your phone.
Travel With a Group
- Whenever possible, travel with a group or find a trusted travel companion to enhance safety.
- Join women’s travel groups and online communities for advice, support, and to connect with like-minded travelers.
- Stay updated on the latest travel advisories and local news while abroad. This knowledge can help you make informed decisions about your safety.
Alright all, there are so many travel safety tips and things to think about when traveling abroad, but thinking about your steps ahead of time will help you through! Hopefully, these few travel safety tips above will get you thinking about others you can potentially take in the future. I’ve learned a lot and continue to learn a lot the hard way by winging it. I hope you can learn from the errors of my ways and cut the learning curve in half. My experiences are always interesting, but I take a lot more risks than any new traveler should. If I can help you all to find a safer way to travel, it’ll be worth it.
So, y’all, it’s time to get traveling! Have fun, be safe, and always remember to Travel Till You Drop!