More than ever, women are travelling on their own for business or pleasure. And while their reasons for hitting the road are often similar to those of their male counterparts, solo female travellers have very different travel concerns. From issues of safety to the specific demands and practices of diverse cultures, women travellers can run into a variety of challenges best avoided through knowledge and precautions.
“Both men and women need to be educated travellers, but women especially need to plan every step of their trip — from packing a suitcase to choosing a hotel room — to ensure a safe return,” says Chris Russo, president of the American Society of Travel Agents. The majority of ASTA’s members are well-travelled females themselves, so the group makes a great source for tips on ensuring safe, productive and rewarding travels.
Forewarned is Forearmed
- Especially when travelling to a foreign country, it’s important to learn as much about the destination as possible. Religious or cultural beliefs can directly impact female travellers, compelling them to adapt dress and demeanour to local customs.
Check It Out Before Checking In
- Ask for a hotel room on a higher floor near the elevator but away from emergency exits, stairwells, and any renovation work.
- Never accept a room if the clerk loudly calls out your name and room number.
- Grab a card or matchbook from the front desk with the hotel’s name, address and phone number on it, and keep it with you at all times. This is especially helpful in foreign countries where your taxi driver might not speak English or in case there are several hotels with similar names in the area.
- Explore transportation options available at your destination ahead of time, especially if you will be arriving late in the evening. Travel agents can help determine the safest, most efficient choice for a transfer to your hotel and make the necessary arrangements.
- Use hotel-approved taxis wherever possible and try to avoid hailing a taxi on the street.
- If renting a car, carefully examine maps before you set out, or rent a GPS to help you navigate unfamiliar roads.
- Pack lightly so you won’t be weighed down with several bags, which could make you a target for pickpockets.
- Avoid expensive looking baggage and clothing, lock all suitcases and only use covered luggage tags with your office address written on it rather than your home.
- Carry only one credit card, and don’t keep all your money in one place.
Know Where You Are
- Learn as much as possible about getting around the streets to avoid looking like a lost tourist.
- Ask the hotel concierge about where — and, more importantly, where not — to go.
- Study a map of the area you will be visiting. If available, consider downloading area maps to your phone.
Many women travel the world on their own; happily, safely and successfully. Taking precautions doesn’t have to cramp your style — it just makes good travel sense.
Photo credit: japonchik