Sometimes it doesn't take much to stay safe - a little forethought, a little gadget, a little information. It's not all about the big stuff, because it can be the little stuff that saves your life.
If you travel a lot you've probably given some thought to safety, and may have even done something about it. These six tips will help you stay safe.
Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #40
- 6 Survival Tips That Could Save Your Life
- What's New on www.women-on-the-road.com
- Questions anyone?
- My free travel writing course
- Most Popular Posts Last Month
- Travel News from Across the Web
- Cause of the Month: International Women's Day, 8 March
1. The low-tech lifesaver
In these days of widely accessible technology, a low-tech solution to travel information might seem, well, a little quaint. Enter the portable short-wave radio. If you're somewhere with plenty of Internet cafés, you won't need one. But if you travel off the beaten path, a radio can alert you to a coup just down the road, a natural disaster or just plain awful weather. I carried my trusty Sony (my older model is black, not silver) across Africa and Asia in the 1990s and it still works. I wouldn't think of taking a trip into a rural area without it. And if you're traveling solo, it's also very good company. When you're nearing the end of your trip, just give it away if you don't think you'll need it back home. You may be doing someone a huge favor.
2. A little help from the sun
Your short-wave radio won't run forever, and just like the Internet cafe, batteries may be nowhere to be found. If you plan to travel with a few light gadgets, including a cellphone or GPS, you need to keem them charged. What you need is a small roll-out solar panel or something like this if you're heading where there's not much electricity but plenty of sunshine. Beware though, many of these won't work for larger items like laptops. Still, if you're in trouble or in an accident, you don't want your phone to run out of juice - so one of these could save your life.
3. And now, about that safety
Hotel and hostel rooms usually have doors that lock - but not always. Even upmarket lodgings can have security issues and in many countries, the poorest of backpackers is considered rich, so hotel room safety remains important. Using a travel lock or wedge or motion alarm on doors that don't lock or do so poorly will give you a better night's sleep and protect you from robbery - or possibly worse. I'm definitely on the low-tech side myself: I tend to carry a rubber doorstop, although I have been sneaking a peek at lightweight motion alarms.
4. Feeling your power
Safety also comes from within, from how you feel, how you project and how you carry yourself. I once took self-defence classes before a major backpacking trip across Africa. I never expected to use what I learned (and I didn't have to) but simply knowing I could helped me immensely. I stood taller and exuded self-confidence - my entire demeanor screamed 'don't mess with me', and fortunately, no one did. You have plenty of choice, from the traditional martial arts, to the more modern blends or practical arts like Krav Maga, which teach you 'dirty tricks' - whatever makes you feel strong and forceful.
5. Plan before the bang
- Any bang, whether an earthquake, tsunami, volcano, tornado, fire... Pre-planning can be boring but it can also save your life. Research your destination before you go. Are you heading into monsoon time? Then don't be surprised if you're flooded when you arrive. Better yet, go earlier or later. Be aware. Don't zone out and assume nothing will happen in your idyllic surroundings. Be aware of your surroundings if you suspect there could be danger. Remember that young British girl who saved her family from the tsunami in Thailand because of what she'd learned in school? Too many travelers pride themselves on
6. The most obvious of them all
So much so that I shouldn't even have to mention it. Except that I keep running into travelers who simply haven't purchased or even thought of - travel health insurance! You might think you're invincible or particularly lucky, but bad driving on lousy developing country roads can quickly lead to an accident. Combine that with poor or no healthcare if you happen to be in a rural area and you may find yourself in danger. If you've got a charged phone and a signal (coverage is increasing daily) and you're insured, a single phone call will bring in help.
Do you have a question about solo travel?
Are you wondering...
- how safe it is to travel solo?
- the best places to go on your own?
- how much it might cost?
- what to pack?
- how to meet people and ward off loneliness?
- about the most unusual destinations?
Please ask your own questions - right here! I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
And don't forget to read Lenore's wonderful essay on "Two Days in Yangshuo"!
New on the website this month?
Working on a farm - if you want to get fit, make money, spend time outdoors and see the world.
Would you like to write for Women on the Road?
We'd all love to hear about your travel adventures!
If you've traveled solo, what was it like? Where did you go, who did you meet and what did you do? Did you love it/hate it, have a wonderful time/run into problems and if so, how did you solve them? Was it easier than you thought, or harder? What did you learn from your trip?
If you haven't traveled solo yet, are you planning to? What are you doing to make it happen?
Please share your stories with the rest of us - we all love to read about each others' travels and every story contains great advice, insight or entertainment, so - go for it!
Tell your friends about Women on the Road
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Are you a solo first-timer?
If you're traveling solo for the first time, perhaps you've got a few doubts, fears or just plain questions. Maybe it's complicated and you don't really know where to start. Or you may know someone who is a bit apprehensive about her first solo trip.
The Art of Solo Travel: A Girl's Guide is a feisty, congenial, well-designed and smart e-book that will tell you everything you need to know to get out the door and on the road. Find out how to save for your trip, break the news to your loved ones, take care of those last-minute jitters, and even how to deal with coming home. It's short, light and to the point - no padding like so many other e-books.
Author Stephanie Lee, an architect turned travel writer, traveled solo for six months and took plenty of notes along the way. Her advice carries a lot of common sense, from the obvious - don't walk alone in dark alleys - to using iGoogle for everything from location to translation.
Her central premise? "Embrace your individuality and sense of adventure."
If you're like thousands of others who would love to see their names in print and if you love to travel, have you ever thought of writing to pay for your travels?
It paid for my own travel across several continents so I know a bit about the writer's life and what editors like. I've put a lot of that knowledge together for you in a free online course called the The Travel Writing Magician, available exclusively to readers of Women on the Road.
Just sign up and get it in your mailbox in seven easy daily installments. Work the self-help assignments on your own and see how your writing improves after just one week. You'll never know if there's a travel writer lurking inside you until you try!
1. Overseas Jobs
2. Travel Packing List
3. International Travel Nursing
4. Travel Accessories for Women
5. Stay in a Monastery
6. Women's Travel Clothing
7. Cheap Ways to Travel
8. Overseas Jobs
9. Travel Writing Jobs
10. Travel Money Belt
For food lovers...
...and lovers of other arts
If You're Visual
Humble in the Jungle: Exploring Guyana's Rainforests
There's Nothing to Do in Marrakech
Medieval Italy is Alive in Bergamo
Five Lesser-Known European Islands
Norway's Svalbard Archipelago: The Land of the Ice Bear
15 Good Reasons to Visit El Salvador
Nicaragua for Solo Travelers
Unplugged Travel in Jordan
Key Kuala Lumpur Landmarks
International Women's Day, 8 March
This week is International Women's Day, 8 March, and it's been celebrated for 100 years. We've come a long way since then but sadly, we still have a long way to go.
In some countries, women hardly fare better than animals, chattel to be bought and sold. Once married, they may be forced into early sex and develop lesions as a result of pregnancy, or beaten senseless for real or imagined ills. Having children will not be their decision, and if a treasured son hasn't been born, women may be forced to keep on delivering until the correct gender appears. If they're in school, girls will probably have to leave, and if they come to the point they can't take it anymore, they may have nowhere to go because they don't own anything they can sell to pay for an escape. Add to that the issues of trafficking, female genital mutilation and honor killings and you'll see why we still have a long way to go.
There's good news too, though, and there have been tremendous advances. Even in some extremely conservative countries, women have acquired voting and divorce rights, and can own property and open bank accounts. Women are visible in power, politics and the boardroom - although the day when our numbers match those of men is still far off. A new women's agency, UN Women, will make sure women stay in the spotlight, and CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women), drafted 30 years ago, has been ratified almost universally (though not by the USA - and here's why it should).
Why International Women's Day? Because we need to remember - where we came from, what we've accomplished, and how far we still have to go.
When travel and food collide
(c) 2007-2011, Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.