||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 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 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
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
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
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
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.