Women, especially those traveling alone, can be targets for pickpockets and other criminals.
Bond advises exercising good judgment when accepting food or drink from others. While most who offer women food or drink are just being kind, unsavory types may slip a date-rape drug in your drink at a bar or during a party. “Don’t think this won’t happen to you. Some women don’t even know they have been raped until it’s too late,” Bond says.
Valuables should not be in a purse, which can be easily compromised, but in a pouch under your clothes, she says. She also advises wearing a wedding ring if traveling alone. “Even if you don’t already wear a ring, it will deter unwanted attention. And always carry enough cash on your body so you can get a cab to get from a bad situation.”
Travel safety begins at home, says Chris McGoey, president of McGoey Security Consulting. “It all comes down to planning,” he says. “You should have a plan based on your circumstance and where you’re going.
“When my wife and I travel,” McGoey says, ’’I give a large manila envelope to a trusted family member or neighbor. In it are copies of passports, airline tickets, identification, credit cards, travel itinerary —everything you would need to get replacements [if you are robbed]. It also has contact information, prescriptions for medicines and eyeglasses, and authorization for a family member or neighbor to act on your behalf in case of an emergency at home, such as flooding.”
Another valuable procedure is to check with the U.S. State Department (www.travel.state.gov), which lists many pages of excellent tips on traveling abroad.
• Don’t dress in a way that marks you as an affluent tourist.
• Don’t bring anything you would hate to lose, including valuable jewelry or unnecessary credit cards.
• When abroad, avoid areas where you may be more easily victimized, such as crowded subways, train stations, elevators, festivals and crime-ridden neighborhoods. Be especially wary at tourist sites.
• Handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets are easy targets for thieves. A pouch or moeny belt worn under your clothing is safer. At your hotel, store your valuables in a hotel safe.
The State Department also advises signing up for its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (https://travelregistration.state.gov), a free online service on which you register your travel plans, so you can be contacted if there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis where you are traveling.