Start to think about your safety while you travel, now.

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Flying over Nevada

I know it’s not the most popular topic to write about, but it’s something I’ve taken to heart over the last year. Before the pandemic, I thought about travel safety, but not on the level that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. As a solo female traveler, safety is always a concern. It’s something that I’m constantly thinking about. From what tools can I bring to defend myself to how can I make myself look less like a tourist or a target?  

People don’t want to say it but the world is simultaneously becoming more dangerous and safer every day. There are new safety apps being produced all the time to protect your online presence, your identity and your home, where or whatever that may be. However, along with increased cyber securities, there are also smarter criminals who work to dismantle your increased security measures. I don’t say this to make you more scared but hope to make you more aware and learn how to better protect not only your home and family but yourself.

Before we go on, I have to say, I am not a security expert. I am a researcher and I love to learn so I’ve taken the time to train myself to be more prepared no matter where I am. I hope that what I’ve learned can help someone else on their path to being more prepared themselves. So without further ado, these are some of the most important questions you can ask yourself before you head out, no matter if you’re going solo or not.

Where are you going? Know the rules of where you’re going and how you’re getting there.

Outside Dolwyddelan Castle, Wales

Believe me when I tell you that for years I’ve been a fly by the seat of my pants traveler. I wouldn’t think anything about heading out on my next big adventure. Sure I’d take some precautions. Like not keeping my money all in the same place. Or traveling with a tactical pen…with no idea how to use it.

No matter what your defensive tool of choice is, make sure to know the rules and regulations for that tool and how to use it. While you’re traveling you may have to take public transportation or maybe you’re flying to your destination. Know the rules before you go.

You need to find something that you’re comfortable with carrying and know how to use. Once you’ve found your protection tool of choice you need to see if where you’re going is ok with you bringing that protection along. For example, Canada will not allow you to bring pepper spray into the country. However, Italy is ok with you having pepper spray for self-defense, but not a knife. Each state has its own regulations as well. No matter what your defensive tool of choice is, make sure to know the rules and regulations for that tool. While you’re traveling you may have to fly or take public transportation. Are there going to be security screenings? Know the rules before you go.

Does anyone know where I’m going?

Giant’s Causeway, Ireland

I have been solo traveling for the better part of twenty years. I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older and gained more experience in the travel world the more my Mom began to worry. More and more I’d get the questions, where are you going, are you sure you don’t want anyone to come with you? Which then moved to, please take someone with you. After all these years she does know that I know how to handle myself but she worries more about the unknown. Instead of brushing your loved ones off who ask these questions set up a safety system, which not only gives them peace of mind but will allow you to travel responsibly and freely.

If you’re a fly by your seat traveler, like I am, this system may work for you. Usually, when I’m setting up my travel plans I put together a very loose schedule. It may just be a departure and return date with a rough idea of how long I want to spend in each place. I’ll always have my first-night lodging booked so my family knows where I’ll be the first night. Upon arrival, no matter where I am I call and set a date for my next check-in. This lets my family know I’m ok and when they can expect to hear from me next.

What is the culture of where I’m going?

Many people don’t take the time to learn this and it could save your life. Every country has different expectations for its citizens. Even in the United States, each state has some unique cultural differences you should familiarize yourself with. For example, in Old San Juan, in Puerto Rico, you need to know that La Perla, an enclave with gorgeous ocean views, is to be avoided at all costs. Even the police only enter that area once or twice a year and it’s pre-scheduled. They don’t ask questions if they see an outsider in their town. Know where you’re going and what the culture is like. It’s better to blend in as a traveler than stick out. This leads to my last tip.

Know what people are wearing where you’re going.

This may sound silly but as I said above it’s better to blend in than stick out when traveling. Blending in makes people think you’re a local making you less of a target. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked for directions because I looked the part. In the UK people can tell you’re an American by your clothes and shoes, apparently, we all wear sneakers and fleece.

Look at pictures of what locals are wearing at your destination and try to bring similar clothes and shoes to wear. Of course, take into consideration what activities you’re planning but try to emulate what the locals wear. They know how to dress for their culture.

Know before you go.

Your safety while traveling is your responsibility. Take ownership of it. It could mean the difference between a memorable trip and a disaster. Let me know how you prepare for your travels? Are there any precautions you take? Let me know in the comments. Until next time.

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