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Women Travelers
Fitting in With the Local Culture | Staying Safe in Hotels | Women's Health and Comfort


  Fitting in With the Local Culture

If your future plans call for travel to unfamiliar lands, do a little homework before you leave. Some knowledge about the local customs can come in handy, even if you'll be traveling within the United States. If you're traveling abroad, learning a little about the local culture (especially attitudes towards women) and staying alert while exploring will not only increase your enjoyment of the experience, it might just keep you safer.

Start by taking note of the behavior and dress of women around you. Do your best to blend in, and avoid calling unwanted attention to yourself. Also, be aware that, in some countries, women with Western dress and manners are assumed to be sexually available. If you are not seeking this kind of attention, it is best to indicate so immediately and clearly when approached. A loud, firm "No!" in English or the local language will usually be understood.

Be extremely careful when meeting men in a non-business setting. Simply agreeing to a private meeting could be misinterpreted, especially when there is a language or cultural barrier. If you are only interested in friendship, make this clear from the start.

The common sense you apply to situations back home should still hold true when traveling--avoid dimly lit areas, walk with an air of confidence and purpose, and be aware of what's going on around you at all times. Stick close to other women in public areas. Listen to your intuition when faced with a compromising situation. If you need assistance, try to request it of other women.

It's great to make friends while on the road, but do be discreet. Beware of letting strangers know that you're traveling alone, that your apartment or house back at home is empty, etc. And be sure to learn as much as possible about the place you're going to before you go--even destinations within the United States.

  Staying Safe in Hotels

It's not fair--or true. But as a woman, you run the risk of being seen as an easier mark than a man. There are some easy precautions you can take to avoid being taken advantage of, however.


If possible, stay in a hotel that uses electronic room-key cards and has spyglasses in the doors. Also, be sure to stay in a room on an upper floor.

If you're traveling alone and arriving late at night, do not hesitate to ask a hotel staff member to escort you to your room and make sure it's safe before you enter.

After you arrive in your room, be sure that the smoke detector is functioning and acquaint yourself with the location of the nearest fire extinguisher and the nearest fire exit.

Try to ensure that strangers do not learn your room number. If you stop by the reception or concierge desk to collect mail or messages, state your room number quietly or just show them your room key.

Never allow anyone to enter your room without verifying his or her identity. Use the door spyglass to identify your visitor. If someone claiming to be a hotel employee should drop by unexpectedly, call the front desk and request proof of identification.

Before heading out to explore an unfamiliar city, get a business card from the front desk of your hotel. It might come in handy if you get lost or have trouble communicating with your taxi driver.

When leaving your room, leave the lights and TV on, to give the appearance that the room is occupied.

Remember that doormen, security staff, and bellmen are there to help you. Don't set off on foot at night in an unfamiliar area. Rather, have a hotel staff member call you a taxi.

Take advantage of valet parking services to avoid dimly lit parking garages.

  Women's Health and Comfort

Traveling across several time zones can cause confusion about when to take time-sensitive medications. Such medications should be taken at the intervals prescribed by your doctor, regardless of local time. Be sure to carry the phone number of your prescribing physician in case problems arise.

Clogs, strappy sandals, and stylish pumps may be cute, but they're hardly practical for traveling. One pair is fine, but don't forget to pack your tried-and-true, comfy walking shoes. Also bring band-aids and mole-skin, in case of blisters.

Leave your purse at home and invest in a fanny pack. Carry all of your important documents and valuables on your body. Wear a separate belt or neck pouch for cash.


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