On a serious note:
Everyone loves to travel, but we all know there’s a darker side. It can seem daunting especially as a woman traveling alone. We’ve all seen movies such as “Taken” that make you afraid to leave your front door let alone step off an airplane in Paris. The truth is traveling in Europe or any other foreign land is really no different than walking around your hometown. You just need to use caution and common sense.
1. Dress like the locals: If you wandering through the streets letting your jewelry sparkle in the sunlight, dangling your expensive Prada bag and strutting in those Louboutin heels you’re bound to attract some attention. I have found the best rule of thumb to ditch the fancy stuff, not that I could ever afford those name brands! In reality you just need to blend in. The more attention you attract the more issues you could bring on yourself.
2.Protect the valuables that you must carry: Obviously we still need to carry money and a credit card or two on us for security. Trading and bartering hasn’t quite caught on everywhere. Though it isn’t stylish I highly recommend a money belt. They make a variety of them to fit your personal taste and many are lightweight and don’t make you sweat too much in the hotter climates. I liked this one from Deuter.
If you choose to carry a purse make sure it is always zipped and the zipper is facing you. If you are sitting in a restaurant never hang the purse over the back of your chair or put it on the floor beside you, if you do it will most likely be the last time you see it or its contents. If you don’t want it sitting in your lap at least wrap the straps around your legs so you can feel if someone is trying to make a run for it, and keep it zipped, or closed. The same principles apply for backpacks as well. Keep them closed and in sight. Another popular thief target–your memory maker–the camera. Try and keep your camera safely closed in your purse. If you must carry it for that “once in a lifetime shot” make sure the strap is securely wrapped around your hands. When in a camera bag, opt for an older camera bag so as to lessen the value of your camera. Try and be sure to keep the camera around your neck or both shoulders and in front of you. No surprise grab and runs.
3.Know where you are, and where you want to go: Before you even leave home or the hostel, or hotel make a game plan of the sights you would like to see and the best ways to get there. Try and choose the most public routes, and avoid those dark shady shortcuts. It’s always a good idea to stay in the light no matter what time of day you’re traveling. Use google maps, local tour office maps, fellow travelers at the hostel, and the guy at the front desk to help you find the most efficient and safest route of travel.
4. Prepare yourself for unwanted attention: Face it. You’re a woman. You’re alone. You’re going to be wanna-be Romeo’s best friend. There are a lot of benefits to traveling alone. You’re able to meet new people, you have the freedom to do whatever you want, when you want, discovering at your own pace. The truth is a solo woman you’re more approachable. This means that Romeo will have more confidence to try to sweep you off your feet. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about your physical safety. In Europe, Romeo is more likely to steal your purse and run while your back is turned than cause you physical violence. Some good tips to protect yourself:
- Dress modestly….don’t ask for the attention
- Avoid eye contact..or wear sunglasses and look all you want. 🙂
- Consider wearing a fake wedding ring, or carry a picture of your ‘husband’
If faced with harassment–
- Make up a fake husband who is waiting for you at hotel
- Be firm and direct “NO!” and continue walking
- Solicit help from others or join a group or table temporarily
- If followed go to a safe populated location and chat up the hotel guy
- If the guy is well-meaning, but persistent turn him into an ally and discuss how to avoid harassment from men in other parts of the country. Make the brother in him come alive. 🙂