Do’s and Don’t’s for Young Women Traveling Abroad

As more and more women are becoming confident about traveling abroad it is more important than ever to remember to be safe. It is too easy to get pulled into a false sense of security while abroad and many women forget that just like home there are dangers. Whether you are traveling alone or with a group of friends there are many ways that you can keep yourself safe. We’ve seen it too many times over and over again. Young girls like Natalie Holloway, who disappears while vacationing in foreign countries, and it’s nothing new. Here are some practical tips for women traveling abroad to keep in mind in order to remain safe while out of the country.

Register with the U.S. Consulate
If a country requires a visa in order for you to enter than you should register with the United States Consulate’s office. Tell them where you are staying and for how long. Leave a personal contact number in case the consulate needs to reach you. Registering with the U.S. Consulate provides a record of your whereabouts should anything go wrong.

Safety First
When you are traveling abroad it pays to be alert. Pay attention when you are going through customs, passport control, and security. If you have questions about the procedures don’t hesitate to ask. It’s better to know what’s going on at the moment than to end up confused and possibly detained. Make sure that you know how to check in and out of the country.

Use Smaller Hotels
Unless you are seeking specific amenities try staying at a smaller hotel. Hotels that have fewer than 100 rooms are more likely to notice a solo female guest or young group of women, and also keep track of them. Because smaller hotels are usually more personalized if someone is missing it will not likely go unnoticed. It is also less likely that you will be followed into a hotel elevator or lobby or a smaller, more intimate hotel. Large hotels are a good place to run into if you think you are being followed and are also a good place to catch a licensed cab.

Book Hotels with Electronic Keys
Traditional room keys have the number printed right on them so it is pretty easy for someone to break into a room with an old or lost key. Electronic cards are replaced after each guest and if you loose yours you can usually get new cards activated at the front desk. When traveling as a group if one of the room cards is lost most people don’t really worry about because there are more cards, but if one is lost everyone should get new cards. Some hotels also have electronic floor keys too so you may want to think about booking a hotel that has this feature.

Bring Small Stick on Alarms
If you are staying alone in a hotel room and it seems that security could be compromised it is only to your benefit to install some stick on door alarms. The small alarms can be bought at most retail chain stores and can be installed with double sided tape. Stick them on your door and any windows you think could be jacked. The alarm with keep people from opening your door and will make a sharp piercing sound should anyone try.

Don’t Use the Maid Service Card
When going out for the day or night, do not use the maid please service card. This hanging card tells everyone within the vicinity of the hotel that you are not in. If your room is knowingly empty it is more likely to be burglarized. Instead call housekeeping before you leave to request the room be made up.

Use the Buddy System
If you can, don’t travel alone. Bring your best friends or your sister that way you can keep track of each other, especially at night when there are more dangers lurking. When drinking it is best to make sure one person remains sober so they can watch over the group. If traveling in duos try not to drink your self into oblivion. Most girls that get separated from their friends while aboard are sadly, usually drunk or under the influence of drugs. Beware of strange and overly friendly men.

Know the Culture
In order to avoid cultural misunderstandings that can be construed the wrong way by locals know the rules of the culture as to what women can and can’t do. Just because you’re an American doesn’t mean you can act like one. In some places of the world a woman entering a bar alone is enough to get you glances and possibly thrown out. Eye contact, bare legs, and smiling can also be interpreted in the wrong way.

To be safe dress conservatively when going out; men can dress how ever they want but it is not the same for women. For example if you are in India and you walk into a restaurant wearing shorts and a tank top you may be chased out or given dirty looks by the men. In some countries, women that are dressed inappropriately are sometimes grabbed and cat called by local shop owners and men on the street. Don’t wear short skirts and save the bikini for the beach.

Don’t be Careless
Even from thousands of feet a way a thief can spot purses, bags, and passport papers. Be careful while you are out shopping and site seeing and pay attention to your surroundings. If you see someone suspicious report them to the proper authorities. Whether you are out sight seeing, on the plane, or at the hotel it is very easy for important things to just walk away. Keep an eye on your identifying documents; don’t leave them in your hotel room and take them to the bathroom with you while on the plane. Don’t just leave your things out in the open, be smart and watch your stuff.

Carry an International Cell Phone
Forbidding anything should happen, if you are carrying an international cell phone you will be able to call for help if you are in trouble, and you can be found if you are lost. International cell phones that have a GPS tracking system have proven themselves priceless in providing clues and leads when things do go wrong.

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