My good friend Chris has asked me to write some guest blogs from a woman’s perspective on traveling and I am excited to accept! My name is Jessica, and 29 (soon 30) years old. I am a teacher and enjoy traveling on my time off. I have traveled 3 continents in the last year and have become addicted!
One thing I always hear as I gear up and make my way to the airport is “be careful, and be safe”. It doesn’t matter where I am traveling to; a 5 star Cuba resort or a hostel in South America, as a blonde, fair skinned female, everyone is always so worried something will happen. The more I travel, the more I learn about myself and become aware of the dangers that do exist. I have had the joys of traveling with friends, family and my significant other, all of whom define a different set of safety boundaries. Often while traveling with my significant other the “fear of danger” is not as great as it is when I travel solo with other females. I am writing this blog to give some tips on women traveling alone or with other women.
Recently I just traveled to Cuba with a friend. Two girls, we were often winked at, and received more friendliness from men. Even with the friendliness, always have to be on guard and stay safe. We stayed on a resort, so the fear of something happening is minimal as we were on a resort with other people vacationing. Even so; always take precautions. We would be friendly but not too inviting as we didn’t want to give off the wrong message. There is a clear difference with friendliness and flirting. We took a taxi outside to a market and in the market we made sure to stay in public areas. When traveling to other countries, it is important not to be put yourself in vulnerable scenarios. Personally I don’t go to bars at night and usually in my room just after sun down (mostly from being exhausted from the day’s festivities). If you want to go out and have fun at the bar or clubbing then make sure not to over intoxicate, this is where the majority of danger occurs. Just have to take precautions and don’t put yourself in that situation.
One thing I have learned that is extremely important is to not take or wear any important jewelry. I opt for not wearing anything; rings, earrings or anything that can call attention to you. I have heard horror stories of women being robbed just for the $10 earrings they are wearing. It is best to avoid the situation and just be plain. If you must, then wear a fake ring or something that is not important if it gets lost or stolen. But my advice, avoiding this all together will keep you out the eye of a dangerous person.
While traveling Europe and South America, I learned to not take a purse. I used a money belt and/or hid my money in my bra. (I know seems weird, but it works). A money belt is good for first arriving in a country and you have a large amount of cash on you and passports. The one thing I found annoying with money belts is trying to get money out when paying, I created unnecessary attention to myself. I had to lift up my shirt, open the zipper and dig around for cash. The easiest and most convenient form was to hide money in my bra. This worked for going out on day trips or just out for a stroll. I would hold nothing else in my hands, hence minimizing attention to myself. While going to the beach, this appealed to my trips in Cuba, Dominican Republic and Brazil: I would stash a couple of dollars in my magazines, because really no one wants to steal those. I would also never travel with more than I needed for the day. This way if I was robbed, I didn’t lose all my money. Obviously when first entering a country you have all your cash on you, but this is where I would stash amounts in different places in my luggage and clothes I was wearing. Again this is to help if you were to lose a piece of luggage, or if someone takes you purse you’re not losing all your cash.
The last tip that I have is to dress according to where you are. I personally like to dress comfy, because most of the day is spent walking. But it’s important to note that if you’re in a third world country, dressing with designer clothes probably attracts attention. I usually pack plain t-shirts and clothes while travelling. Also if my luggage was ever lost, I wouldn’t be too upset about losing my best clothes. I have also noticed that according to where you are, the style of clothing varies. I am usually pretty safe in yoga pants and a shirt. In Paris, I felt under-dressed and in Brazil overdressed. Another thing to be careful of is wearing t-shirts from the place you’re traveling. Usually that labels you as a tourist as well. I know that majority of places I visit, I stand out and making myself stand out more is not my goal.
I will continue to travel and so far been very fortunate with all my travels not to have had any major issues to deal with or encounter. I take precaution and use common sense (sometimes over worry) in order to stay safe. In some countries, it’s unfortunate that women don’t have as much freedom as I do and I am very lucky to have experienced and seen what I have.