As women, there are of course extra safety considerations worth some attention. I may not like it, but it’s reality. That said, there were a few on this list that seemed pretty non-gender-specific. When my son is old enough and wants to travel alone, isn’t his safety worth protecting? For example, why on earth is buying travel insurance in a “safety tips for women” article? And how about these: “Pack light!” “Bring a phone charger!” “Keep a hard copy of phone numbers & hotels!” “Keep your money in multiple places!” (For women, they add that you can store some in a tampon box, because “no one’s going to look in there.”)
Giving someone your itinerary is another obvious and genderless tip, along with photographing your documents and storing them on a secure site like DropBox. Same for making sure you always have more than half a tank of gas, having someone at home to check in with, and trying not to look too much like a tourist.
Here’s my favorite: “Bring a selfie stick!” While this may save you from handing your phone to a stranger to snap your picture, it won’t prevent you from looking like an idiot. Please, please don’t bring your selfie stick.
But there are some good tips on the list that ARE specific to women, some of which make a lot of sense, and some of which scare the crap out of me.
1. Consider bringing a fake wedding ring. The U.S. State Department recommends wearing one in the Middle East, specifically, but it seems like a smart idea in other places, too.
2. Carry a safety mechanism. This could be mace, or one of those “safety cat” keychains.
3. Ask female hotel/hostel employees about neighborhoods and traveling in the area. They’ll know.
4. Don’t get in empty train cars. Safety in numbers, always.
Now here are the two that scare me.
5. Pack a thin one-piece bathing suit. The reason? “If you’re going to be in a protest or mob situation that can get grabby, wearing this under your clothes is a simple step.”
I don’t want to think about that one ever again.
6. Bring emergency contraception. While I think “bring contraception” is great advice for everybody, the idea of bringing emergency contraception is taking my maternal mind to some very unpleasant places.
And now for my own personal one: The minute you sense someone is following you, duck into a restaurant or hotel and ask the people working there to shelter you for a bit. I’ve done it, and it works. The person disappears, you get a breather, and if you really need help, it’s there. Also … please call your mother.