Safety should be on everyone’s mind when traveling whether domestic or international, however far too many of us easily let our guard down because we’ve researched our location and consider it to be relatively safe, but it isn’t always the case.
Young women especially will always be a target wherever they go, but with little changes to your demeanor and attire, and familiarity with law enforcement culture in the state or country you’re visiting, you can vacation anywhere in the world and maintain your safety. Recently, while on my solo trip to Grenada, I inadvertently put myself in a compromising position when I visited a “friend’s” home. It could’ve ended badly, but with my quick-thinking and ability to remain calm and respectful, I managed to leave his house unscathed. I’ve heard many stories of women getting hurt by people they know without realizing that it’s quite common and can easily happen to anyone. Anyway, the most important thing to remember is to remain vigilant at all times. Locals often befriend foreigners for all sorts of reasons, however, if it makes you uncomfortable, know that you have the option to walk away.
- Remember the adage, “always let someone know where you’re going?” Well, even on a solo trip it applies! Whether it’s your parents, siblings, significant other or someone you just met at your $15 hostel, be sure to let him or her know where you’re going and with whom. It’s very crucial that you do so in order to leave a trail in case you’re lost or hurt somewhere.
- I’ve known for many years that it’s important to visit the U.S. Embassy when you’ve arrived at your destination, and it’s especially imperative when visiting countries rumored to have higher crime rates. Not sure why anyone would travel to such countries, however, I can understand the allure of adventure in untouched and naturally beautiful places that span the globe. Just take extra precautions.
- Someone wants to buy you a drink? No problem! Be sure that you’re present and your drink remains in your hand until it’s finished. We all know about date rape drugs, but too often we forget to keep an eye on our glass, so don’t allow yourself to become a statistic.
- Dress appropriately! Yes, it’s summer, it’s hot, it’s humid and you just can’t stand it, so you want to live in your bikini all day long. While you can remember that it brings more attention, possibly unwanted and you might end up with massive sunburns, so be forewarned.
- It doesn’t hurt to know a few moves that’ll help you get out of different situations such as the acronym, SING-Stomach, Instep, Neck and Groin, featured in the 2000 action/comedy, Miss Congeniality, starring Sandra Bullock. In the movie, she demonstrated how to use SING to free yourself from a headlock or from being carried away and it’s worth a watch!
- Never forget the power of your voice! Not everyone has a big voice and that’s okay, but just by screaming alone you can scare off a would-be attacker, especially if you’re in a public place. Remember too, to never allow yourself to be transported to another location and if you do, leave a trail with your personal items.
- I suggest packing a multipurpose tool like the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Multi-Tool, which works as a weapon, as well as a utility multi-tool because you never know when you’ll need a screwdriver or a bottle/can opener.
- Be sure to bring enough sunscreen! Even a walk from your hotel to a car can result in sunburn, so you’d want to be prepared for each moment you’re in the sweltering heat. Personally, I favor the Banana Boat Sunscreen Ultra Mist Sport Performance Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Spray because it’s aerosol, not too greasy, covers very well and it’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes!
- Be very liberal with hand sanitizer, Lysol spray, and disinfecting wipes because germs are everywhere and if you’re prone to infections and allergies, you’ll need lots of these. Sanitize your entire surroundings in order to protect yourself from airborne illnesses. It’s also a good idea to travel with cold medicines should in case you fall ill. I love Mucinex DM! Whenever my nose feel stuffy or my throat feels irritated, I pop two tablets and within hours I’m better, so don’t leave without it.
- Don’t think twice when it comes to travel insurance, just get it. Even if you end up not needing it, it’s far better to have that extra protection in case you need medical assistance. It’s required that you anticipate and prepare for the worse, especially when traveling outside of the U.S. While in Grenada, I injured myself-fell through a wooden floor, bruised my leg and knocked my hip in the process. I went to the hospital and after being in the doctor’s office for two minutes, he sent me on my way with a prescription for painkillers, Vitamin C and an ointment, no X-ray! Had it been more severe, Allianz, my travel insurance company, would’ve made all arrangements to fly me back to NY ASAP, so it’s rather important to consider getting insurance for your trip.
- If you’re single and looking to mingle while you’re away, be smart and bring your own stash of condoms. The last thing you’d want is an incurable STD or an international custody battle, so be smart in all of your dealings.
Travel as much as you can because I believe that there’s so much to learn about ourselves when we’re in unfamiliar places, so it’s important to get out of our comfort zones and experience different cultures. Always remember though, to stay safe, have fun and keep on learning!