Lately we have been reading so much about safe travel for women. After so many of the incidents we have been hearing about in Turkey, Mexico and India in particular, many companies are beginning to do something about it. Though you can’t necessarily do much to change people’s reactions or their beliefs, you can certainly do something about creating a greater sense of security for women traveling solo or even women traveling together.
I consider myself a pretty adventurous woman traveler. Having lived in Morocco for a year and trying to do business in a man’s world, I certainly experienced my fair share of macho behavior. Some days I didn’t event think about it and I could handle whatever was thrown my way, other days I just didn’t want to deal with it and I was thankful for the male friends I made who would accompany me places and helped to take some of the pressure off of always having to be on guard. It would often sour the experience for me. Perhaps living in New York also prepared me for my solo travels.
Needless to say, I have found some of the measures being taken by companies interesting and honestly, not such bad ideas. For example, in India, there are now some hotels that offer women only floors that are serviced by women-only staff and in some cases the female staff is trained in self-defense. There are even women-only taxis.
Although Spain travel is not dangerous like it can be in other cities or other countries around the world, it never hurts for a woman traveler to be cautious. If the solutions mentioned above are either not available or just not an option for you, here are some of my tips for safe travel:
1. Walk With a Purpose
I think this one I learned from my many years in New York. I learned early on that when I was walking down the streets alone at night, it was not the time for dillydallying. What do I mean by that? Well, if you are taking the subway home late at night, you tend to find a lot less traffic on the streets which means that the goal is to get home or wherever you are going, as quickly as possible. When I used to come home late, my old subway stop was somewhat desolate as were the streets that led me home. My goal was to get off the train and get home as quickly as possible. This meant I would power walk all the way to my apartment and only when I was safe inside, would I take a moment to unwind. Walking with purpose also means showing no fear. If you look scared and lost, people will sniff it from a mile away. Even if you are scared, nervous and lost, never let it show.
2. Be Alert
This one goes hand in hand with walking with a purpose, but can apply to day or night. Never dillydally. Never dillydally while chitchatting on the phone. It is a clear sign that you are not paying attention, which makes you an easy target for anyone out to cause trouble. It is also a very clear sign that you and are clearly unaware of your surroundings. Pay attention to everything around you. One time in Morocco, I was doing just that, the dillydallying part. I was texting on my cell phone and was completely unaware of what was going on around me, including the guy on the bike who was just lingering, hidden behind some hanging branches. I continued to walk and all of a sudden the guy sped past me and tried to snatch my cell phone from my hand. I was very sure never to be so clueless again.
3. Don’t Be a Flashy Dresser
In Morocco, my words to live by were, “baggy is best”. People laughed at me, but I knew better. Tight, low cut or any type of revealing clothing was not an option. As a woman, I already got way more attention than I cared for, so to add less than modest attire to the mix was just not a fun idea. I know some may criticize and say that a woman shouldn’t have to make herself small and should be able to wear what she wants or walk down the street whenever she wants but honestly, expressing yourself through fashion is not really worth it sometimes. It is incredibly uncomfortable and after a while begins to make you feel very insecure and unsafe.
4. Hold On Tight
To your bag, that is. After a pick-pocketing experience, which in all my years of travel had never happened to me before, one day I was the victim of pick-pocketing. I won’t go into the details but being in a foreign country having to deal with foreign police and being all alone is not a fun way to spend your travels. Now I hold onto my bag at all times. I don’t ever set my bag down and never walk away from it either. When my bag is on my shoulder or used as a cross body, I hold on tight and make sure not to lose my grip.
5. Stay In Control
Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit of a control freak, but I like to know where I am and where I am going. This especially applies to traveling. One way I keep in control is to limit my alcohol consumption when I am out during my travels. Never drink more than you should and know when your limit has been met.