These safety precautions are useful for everyone, but I think they’re particularly important to have in place if you’re going to be traveling alone.
I’ve traveled to all sorts of places by myself, so I’ve learned what to do/not to do and how to take care of myself. When I was in Dubai (even though it is considered very “Western”), for example, where some women are covered from head to toe, I found that I was uncomfortable, even inside my hotel, just wearing a short-sleeved dress. So I quickly learned to cover my arms—for my own comfort as well as that of the people whose country I was visiting. Here are 7 ways I’ve found to make myself feel safer—and therefore better able to relax and enjoy myself—wherever I am in the world.
1.Be mindful of how open you are about your plans—particular departure and return dates. Especially if you use a social networking site such as Facebook, you can’t be sure of exactly who has access to your site or the information on it. You simply don’t want to advertise exactly when you’ll be away and if you live alone that your home will be vacant.
2.Make sure you’re aware of the travel benefits or Concierge Services on the credit card you use to book your flight and hotels. What kind of travel insurance do you get? Can you change your flight plans without incurring penalties? Can you change hotels easily? You don’t want to get stuck in a place you’re not happy just because it’s going to cost you more to leave.
3.Always carry at least few hundred dollars in cash (the currency of your destination) so that you don’t have to hunt for an ATM in a strange city at the last minute if you need to take a taxi or discover that a restaurant doesn’t take credit cards. If you didn't get it before arrival, get money at the airport. Particularly in Europe, ATMs are not always readily available or well stocked, and you could wind up in an unsavory or unsafe neighborhood trying to locate one that works.
4.Especially if you’re a woman, try not to look like you’re traveling alone. If single, you might want to wear something that looks like a wedding ring. And don’t dress in a way that draws unwanted attention making you look like a tourist. Leave your good jewelry at home and avoid wearing flashy or revealing clothing. Make sure your clothing is appropriate for the customs and culture of the place you’re visiting. If you’re in an Arab country, for example, it would be polite to cover your arms and not expose too much of your body. If the native women don’t wear pants, you shouldn’t either. If you’re a woman alone, standing out in a crowd could be dangerous, but equally important, it’s simply courteous not to insult the people who are, in effect, your hosts.
5.If traveling abroad, enroll in a program where you can locate an english speaking doctor (like IAMAT) if you need one, and know where the US Embassy is for emergencies. Also your credit card company may have special Global Assist Services that will provide you with valuable pre-travel information or be a resource if you are in trouble while away.
6.Give your itinerary to a few trusted friends and/or relatives before you leave and arrange for regular check-in times. You can do this via text message or e-mail, but it’s reassuring to know that if someone doesn’t hear from you at the appointed time, will be alerted to a potential problem. And it should go without saying that you need to remember to check in when you say you will! Have information in your wallet behind your id with contact information, allergies, doctor’s number in case there is an emergency an someone else is helping you.
7.Be aware of the political situation and if there are any special events scheduled in the place you’ll be visiting. I remember being caught unaware in the midst of what seemed almost like a riot in Brussels during a World Cup celebration (even though Belgium had lost). Perhaps you’ll want to be there for a particular holiday—such as Bastille Day in Paris—but you might also want to take a pass. At least you should know what you’ll be getting yourself in for.
After more than 20 years in commercial and corporate aviation, I am delighted to bring my expertise to the world with In-Flight Insider. Based on my philosophy that not only should safety and comfort be mandatory, but glamour and elegance should be too. I have created a resource for the discriminating traveler that combines my hands-on experience gained with over nine million miles in the air with my knowledge of the most practical and luxurious travel products the world has to offer.
Carolyn has contributed her travel expertise to a range of national media outlets including The Washington Post, msnbc.com, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Robb Report, and creditcards.com, and Divine Caroline. She has also been featured as a travel expert for USA Today, AOL.com, Peter Greenberg’s Radio Show, Prevention’s “List Maker’s Get-Healthy Guide”, and SilverKris (Singapore Airlines’ in-flight magazine). Carolyn is featured as the travel style contributor for MedjetAssist’s website and their monthly newsletter as well as the travel expert for and GLOW Beauty Magazine.