Women Today

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Solo women travelers: Stay safe and have fun

Solo travel can be an interesting and unencumbered way to see the world. It also can be a rejuvenating way to get back in touch with personal goals and ideals. Although safety seldom comes up when men decide to embark on solo trips, safety certainly becomes an issue when women decide to travel solo.

Though many women travel alone without ever encountering a safety issue, it's still important that women exercise caution and emphasize safety when traveling solo.

• Research safe places to travel. No locale in the world is completely safe, but doing your homework can help you find places that boast excellent track records with regard to safety. The travel website Escape Here put together a list of the world's safest cities for women travelers. Topping the list were Copenhagen, Ottawa, Auckland, Helsinki, and Hilo (The Big Island).

• Be street smart. Travelers should get a feel for the lay of the land, including which areas of a city or town may be safe during the day but less so at night. Many people do not want to be wandering around alone late at night in unfamiliar surroundings. Always use street smarts no matter where you go. Walk purposefully so you look like you know where you are going. Withdraw cash from a bank or within a busy area in daylight hours. Keep valuables out of sight. Confirm public transportation schedules so you will not be left stranded for long periods of time.

• Be aware of your surroundings. Always trust your gut instinct. If an area feels less than safe, do not feel foolish or that you are overreacting. Get to a group setting or a busy area to feel safe. If you need assistance, ask a nearby shopkeeper for help or find a member of the local police force.

• Brush up on the cost of goods and services. Any traveler, male or female, is at risk of price gouging. Learn currency conversion rates and educate yourself about the costs of typical items, like food, transportation and lodging. This way you will know if someone is trying to take advantage of you.

• Enlist others to help. Ask the hotel manager to place you in a room close to the main floor or front desk. On trains, women traveling solo can usually reserve overnight rooms closest to the conductor. Consider registering with your local embassy if you will be traveling in a foreign country for more than a few days. Consular services can be helpful in emergency situations.

• Work with an experienced travel agent. A travel agent will have insight on which areas, resorts and hotels may be most practical for solo travelers. An agent also may have information about solo-friendly tours and groups. There may be vacation packages that cater exclusively to those traveling alone.

Solo travel can be pleasurable and exciting for women and men alike. Exercising caution and employing common sense can help female travelers enjoy trips that are memorable for all the right reasons.