Virtually every online travel site, magazine, and guidebook offers tips on travel safety for solo female travelers. Wear a wedding ring. Carry a picture of your “husband”. Wear a hijab to cover your head in Muslim countries and don’t look Arab men in the eyes. Don’t smile at men. Never get into a car with strangers. Don’t talk to strangers.
This is all great advice, but we already learned this from our mothers, and it’s pretty much common sense.
But what if you’re a “sexy in the city girl” who has saved up for that one week Caribbean vacation and you want a stress reducing spicy fling?
Or maybe you’re curious what it would be like to hook up with one of the Jamaican “Rent-A-Dreads” who became wildly popular after the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” became a blockbuster hit?
Perhaps visions of the two strapping, Swedish backpackers you met at a hostel dance in your head.
Have you ever wondered if the Lothario lovers in Italy can prove that the Italian Stallion myth is true?
Getting drunk on an unknown local beverage, eating the worm and going to a stranger’s hotel room (although it does sound like fun,) may not be the wisest idea. So how can you add a bit of spice to your life while keeping yourself away from dangerous situations?
There are quite a few things you can do even before you leave home to help to reassure your loved ones that you aren’t going to end up being sold into a sex slavery ring.
If you’re a spontaneous traveler who isn’t used to calling a friend at 5:00 am after a club closes to let them know you’ve gotten home safely, you might not want anyone to know you’ve decided to spend the night with a hot guy you just met from an internet dating site. Calling family to give details about your sex life with a stranger may cause a bit of a heart attack for your mother.
But it’s better to deal with a bit of embarrassment than to wind up with the fate of Natalie Holloway while on Spring Break in Aruba. Some of this info is common sense, but worth emphasizing. Foreign flings can be fun; but only if you are a savvy solo traveler.
We’ve got a few tips to help you stay safe while hooking up.
- Carry copies.
Before you travel, give someone close to you a copy of your itinerary, or as close to an itinerary as possible along with contact info for the hotel you’ll be at. Make copies of important documents like your passport, the nearest US embassy, airline and flight info, bank, ATM and other account info and other ID’s, including emergency phone numbers and give them to someone you trust. It’s a good idea to also scan copies and email them to yourself. Carry yet another copy in your bag, away from your passport and money belt, and when possible, leave important documents in the hotel safe, not the safe in the room.
- Carry your luggage.
Sometimes you might not want to carry a bunch of luggage to the airport bathroom while you’re waiting to board. No matter how tempting, DO NOT leave your luggage unattended in public areas, and never accept packages from strangers. Not only is this stupid, unattended bags in airports, (even if you’re only going to be a minute getting a coffee) will most definitely be seized and searched for potential bombs. Not only will that be annoying and possibly cause you to miss your flight, but since 9/11 huge fines are given for leaving bags alone.
- Separate cash.
When traveling the golden rule is to split up credit cards, cash, travelers checks and bank cards. If you leave your hotel room or hostel make sure there is an even split between what is in there and what is on your person.
- Extra ATM cards.
Always take an extra ATM card. Whether your card is lost or melted in the hot sun (yes, this happened to me in Jamaica!) having an extra card eliminates a lot of stress, time and energy. Most banks will give you an extra one which you can be activated by calling a toll-free number.
- Local Cell phones.
Get roaming on your cell phone or get it unlocked to allow local sim cards. Put in emergency contacts including local hospital, police, hostel and hotel numbers. If you can’t find these numbers in your travel guide, contact the local tourist board. If possible get a local cell. I paid only $20 for a used phone with unlimited minutes for one month in Jamaica and bought a cell in Egypt for $25, but renting cell phones is another option.
- Use “ICE”.
ICE (In case of emergency) is a program that enables as paramedics, firefighters, and police officers to identify victims and contact their next of kin to obtain important medical information. Enter emergency contacts in your cell phone address book under the name “ICE”. It’s best to list multiple emergency contacts as “ICE1”, “ICE2”, etc.
- Copy numbers.
Whether you have a terrible memory, or like most people don’t even bother to memorize numbers anymore since they’re all stored on cell phones, print out a copy. It’s also a good idea to write any passwords in the back cover of a book, email a list to yourself or find another safe place. To make it difficult for thieves, write your password as a phone number adding your area code first, or add letters.
- Travel warnings.
The U.S. State Department Consular posts detailed Information Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for foreign countries. Before I traveled to Egypt I had no idea that there might be terrorist activity in Dahab. I narrowly escaped being in the small resort town during the three simultaneously bombings which exploded along the main street where my hostel was located. Another tragic bombing occurred shortly after I left India, two blocks from my hostel. Although I lived in Nigeria for a year, I returned home before it became increasingly more dangerous for Americans there. Read the Consulate’s website before visiting a new country. In some cases, you aren’t able to prepare for this type of situation, but it helps to be as aware of the political climate and have some type of safety plan in case of emergencies. Be sure to register with the American Embassy immediately when arriving in a new place.
- Stuff your bra.
Never let go of your passport. I had a second close encounter with danger when I traveled to Venezuela. I took a ferry from Trinidad, and I had no idea that President Chavez had ordered all Americans to leave Venezuela immediately. But I got the message one hour after arriving as I left the cafe I’d had lunch at close to the port and was immediately surrounded by soldiers with machine guns. They tried to take my passport, but I had quickly put it in my bra before they noticed. Never, ever let them take your passport. In many countries, military police and others will detain you for hours unless you give them bribe money if they even return it to you at all.
- Learn local laws.
Each country has its own unique laws and customs, and I have put myself and others at risk by my ignorance. My hot Indian lover and I could have been put in jail in Bombay, a city I had assumed was cosmopolitan and modern. I had no idea until he later explained to me what had taken place that we had almost been arrested for making out on a public beach. We had also been approached by officers twice during my visit who demanded that he not hold my hand as we walked down the street. Another time we were not arrested but encountered an extremely embarrassing confrontation when hotel manager asked him to leave my room. It seemed that it is not legal nor morally accepted for locals to accompany a foreigner into their hotel room. Only travelers with foreign passports are able to visit each other in their rooms or reside in a hotel room together. And of course, if you smoke weed or do any sort of drugs no matter how harmless you believe mushrooms, ganja or other drugs to be, the penalties and consequences can be much more severe than in the States. Think twice before indulging, but also know each countries’ laws. In Trinidad, it is illegal to wear camaflouge clothing. Whether it’s a bag or clothing, I have heard of people being stripped in public by police confiscating their belongings.
Want even better tips? For 10 more tips, check out click here.
Do you have any tips on staying safe while traveling solo? Let u know in the comments below!