Here are some tips on safety that you can do before or during your trip. Most are very simple and quite effortless.
- Use social media. I may blow up people’s feeds when I am away, but I use the Check-In feature on Facebook everywhere I go. If I come up missing, there is a timeline of where I have been and when. And several people have seen it.
- BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS.
- USE COMMON SENSE. Don’t tell strangers where you are staying, how long you will be there, etc.
- Leave itineraries with 2 separate people at home. Someone should have an idea of where you are. Take 1 with you and take a picture of it so it will be on your phone.
- Include addresses and/or phone numbers of your hotels, airlines, etc.
- Put a note on the itinerary of the time differences between your destination and your home (Example: London + 6 Hours or Los Angeles – 2 Hours)
- Take a copy of your passport and a copy of your driver’s license with you. Keep them separate from your actual passport and drivers license.
- If in a foreign country, be sure to put the address and phone number of your country’s Embassy on your itinerary.
- If at all possible pack only a carry-on. (In a few days time, I will post how to do this.) Nothing screams, “Hey, I am not from here but I can afford to get here!” more than lugging a huge bag up a cobblestone street in Europe. If you are jacking with a bunch of junk, you are an easy mark.
- Leave your expensive brand purse or pocketbook at home. Go for a crossbody that has a zipper closure. A crossbody bag ensures your valuables are always against you, in the front where you can see them and it gives you the freedom of being hands-free to take pictures or eat street food while on the move. Henri Bendel makes my favorite. It is cute, super functional and not too big.
- If you are wearing a coat or a light jacket, put on your crossbody before you put on your coat.
- If traveling to a foreign country and you are in a city with an Embassy, pop in and register.
- They may mean well, they may not – do not take unsolicited help from anyone. Predators start out being helpful to gain your trust. I am never rude and get the “Hey, thank you, but I’m good,” point across. If you need directions, ask.
- Be confident or at least act that way. Walk with a purpose. Don’t stumble around bewildered. If there is something you want to look at, sit down, relax and take it in. Don’t be spinning in circles. If I get off-track, I usually sit down for a coffee, regroup, rethink, compose myself, enjoy my coffee and get back to business.
- If you are worried about the opposite sex, wear a wedding ring or something that resembles it. That player blatantly staring at your boobs may walk away when he sees a wedding ring. That strict Catholic upbringing of his trumps your cleavage. You may even get an apology.
- You are going to have to say “NO”. You don’t have to be mean or rude, but you have to mean it and they have to know you mean it. You could be approached by panhandlers, seasoned cons, and thieves. Look them in the eye and firmly say “No!”, then walk away.
- If you have foreign currency (and this rule goes for domestic travel too), use smaller notes (bills) and do not keep it all in the same place.
- Not all, but most cultures use mobile phones now. They are less noticeable than unfolding a big map or using a huge camera. Use that phone. There are apps for almost everything you will need to navigate or for last-minute research on the go. Take a rest to do so. If you are standing around using your phone, you tend to not be as aware of your surroundings as you should be. I like to take this time to sit on a bench at a safe park. Or maybe a cafe or bistro. Put your phone in that crossbody bag I was mentioning earlier. DO NOT carry it around in your pocket.
Listen to your gut feeling and intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, retreat.
Many thanks to my fellow Road Warrior Chick friends that helped to contribute in one way or another: Kathy, Karen, Chrystal, Shannon and Shalece. Y’all inspire me.