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Many travelers are concerned about personal safety in light of terrorist threats. Here are highlights of an interview by a safety expert and our 10 safety tips for solo travelers. We welcome your comments.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 1:
1. Stay away from the largest, most opulent international hotels.
Our input: Most solo travelers’ budgets won’t accommodate the highest priced accommodations, and therefore this is not a real issue.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 2:
2. Avoid the first floor or at any rate being next to the driveway where access is greatest.
Our input: This makes sense even to avoid petty break-in’s and lost valuables. (In any case, who wants to listen to cars coming and going all night much less consider the view!)
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 3:
3. Use smartphone apps that serve as panic buttons.
Our input: This sounds like a great option, especially if they are free or available through short-term contracts. Absent that, if approached by menacing strangers, hold your phone to your ear as though you are calling for help. They may decide another prey would be easier.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 4:
4. Check State Department’s advisories before you leave home.
Our input: I am a strong believer in surfing the Net and seeing what my own country and other governments’ advise as to both political issues and for remote areas, as to diseases/epidemics.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 5:
5. Be aware of your surroundings and more importantly, see who seems to be aware of you!
Our input: This is particularly important as a solo traveler and in some cultures, as a woman traveling alone, may appear conspicuous at the least and at the worst, an easy victim.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 6:
6. If attacked, hoist the fire extinguisher as an improvised weapon.
Our input: I have always believed in taking a practical approach. However, this sounds a little fantastic to me. (I’m immediately reminded of Hollywood action films like “No Escape” with Owen Wilson fighting against the odds to extricate himself and his family from a political uprising.) The round shape of a fire extinguisher would make it hard to hold onto and the handles don’t seem likely to give the best grip. An industrial-style fire extinguisher would also likely be heavy. Try for more practical items to throw, or sharp objects to fend off attackers.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 7:
7. The article mentions the rise in sales of travel insurance as travelers look for solutions.
Our input: Be sure to read the exclusions which deny coverage for some risks, for example, in some cases for “acts of war”.
Media accounts have reported random acts of violence ranging from shootings at home and abroad as well as fires in two fabled 5-star hotels, one in Dubai and the other London’s Mandarin-Oriental Hotel. Although they attracted a great deal of attention, fires and accidents are statistically more likely to occur.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 8:
8. Stay on a lower floor, preferably floors 2-6 within easier reach of fire ladders.
Our input: This is very important to make a quick exit and is likely more affordable than higher floors.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 9:
9. Pack a line/rope as a ready-made fire escape.
Our input: In a real emergency, will the rope/line bear your weight and stay anchored? If you didn’t secure it on arrival, you likely won’t have time to do so in a fire. Depending how high up you are, a fall could be really dangerous so this should be a last resort unless really well planned.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers: Tip 10:
10. Not addressed in this article but frequently raised: Is it better to travel with Mace or similar self-defense products?
Our input: It may be illegal at your destination and could be used against you. I travel with a whistle used during sailing lessons “man overboard” exercises. It can easily be worn on the wrist along with your door key/car keys and makes enough shrill squawks to deter any would-be attacker.
The thing to bear in mind is that personal safety is also important at home. While traveling, the difference is that jetlag and lack of familiarity with the destination, its language and customs make it possible to miss signals of problems that you would notice at home. The key is good research and planning as you select your destination and taking reasonable precautions upon arrival. So don’t stay home. Follow our safety tips for solo travelers and forward us your own tips. Email us from our Contacts Page!