Culture Featured Post — 15 November 2017

Published: November 8, 2017

Submitted by Marilyn Duncalfe

Whether by necessity or enthusiastic choice, women of all ages are embracing solo travel in ever-increasing numbers. They continue to earn more, spend more and, according to Forbes, 80 per cent of travel decisions are made by females. Whether single, married, widowed or divorced females are increasingly making the decision to hit the road on their own.

The numbers are on the upswing for both business and pleasure travel; one statistic that jumps out is that a 230 per cent increase in women only travel companies has been calculated over the past several years.

Female travellers can, do and should come at their adventures from a position of strength, curiosity and verve. But no one ever said that life is fair and it is, unfortunately, a universal truth that women need to take extra precautions to ensure their safety while away from home.

This is not to say that they should approach their journeys from a perspective of fear or vulnerability. Far from it. A confident demeanour will do much to minimize the threat of being hassled. If you are having your first experience navigating the New York subway system, that fact should be discernible only to you. A tough girl stance is required in any urban environment.

There are numerous ways to enhance personal safety while on the road. Here are a few tried and true tips:

Try to avoid 4:00 a.m. arrivals to your destination. If this occurs, do your best to gravitate to someone to navigate the environment, share a cab with, etc, preferably another female. You can do some research prior to your arrival to ensure that you are aware of the names of reliable transportation companies to utilize.

Ensure that your luggage tags are the type with a security flap that covers your name and address. Leave sports jackets at home that conveniently have your name embroidered on the sleeve. And as you tour around your destination, do not blab to anyone where you are staying. Wearing a wedding ring, either real or fake, never hurts either.

When you enter an elevator at your hotel, ensure that your punch the button for your floor after the solitary male beside you enters his. Never open the door to your room without confirming the identity of the party on the other side of the door.

If these measures sound paranoid or extreme, they are not. There’s more. If you receive a phone call in the middle of the night (when you are groggy and most vulnerable) that tells you, for example, that there is a fire and you should head to the stairwell, call the front desk for confirmation. This very thing happened to me in Edmonton, of all places, and when I called downstairs for details, I was assured that there certainly was no fire. Frightening.  

Enjoy your evenings and nighttime excursions in your chosen destination, but do your best to stay in well- populated areas, and consider the deficits involved in an over-consumption of alcohol. If you meet up with new friends, ensure that you stay in a public location.                          

Should you choose to go hiking, biking, running or walking on nature trails, find out the peak hours to ensure that you will be in continuous proximity to others.  

There are numerous social media issues to consider. It is not unknown for women to be contacted on various social media platforms by male hotel staff. That is an absolute invasion of privacy and just isn’t right. If it happens to you, take the time to advise the hotel manager that this has occurred. (This can happen during your stay or after your return home).

There are numerous ways to travel on your own. Think strategically, do your research, plan for the potential difficulties that may or may not arise and head out expecting to enjoy a fantastic, possibly life-changing adventure.  

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Jennifer Parsons

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