“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
– Anthony Bourdain
Travel is relaxing and can be soul-changing. At GTM, we love going places and are excited that spring and summer travel season is here! It’s time to plan vacations, take weekend getaways and enjoy the warming weather and sunshine.
While travel with your spouse or family is a wonderful experience, many of us also like to travel with small groups of our female BFFs on much needed mental breaks from our daily lives. Additionally, more and more women are hitting the open rode or flying the friendly skies all alone. Per recent data, 72 percent of American women are taking solo journeys and the most popular tour companies find that the majority of their female travelers are going solo.
When asked why they like to travel alone, the female members of the “Solo Travel Society” on Facebook answered:
- 46% said freedom, independence and the chance to do what they want when they want
- 22% said they weren't willing to wait around for others
- 15% said to challenge themselves and gain confidence
We wholeheartedly support women traveling alone or in small groups. But we encourage you to always be situationally aware of your surroundings, of people, places and things. So, whether you’re hitting the beach for a girls-only weekend, driving cross-country on Route 66 or flying to far destinations unknown, we’ve curated these tips for your journey. We want our GTM family members safe and happy.
- Research! Know before you go. Ask yourself a series of questions and find the answers. What are the best neighborhoods at your destination and what are the ones you should avoid? When it comes to your lodging, how are its ratings for safety? What is public transportation like in your destination? Knowing if you should rent a car vs. take the bus or spend a bit more money on a hotel in a better neighborhood is critical to keeping yourself safe.
- Leave valuables at home and carry everything else on your person. Even if you’ve not taken off your engagement ring in years or if your grandmother’s diamond earrings are your good luck charm, please follow this rule: do not bring anything you would be sad to lose. While traveling, you should have a day bag into which you can fit all of your important items: your passport, your camera, your medication, your credit cards, your smartphone. For meds, cards and passport, make sure you keep a list of these numbers on you in a separate waist belt in case of theft or loss. Replacement is then only a call away. Most hotels offer a hotel safe, certainly use that when you can.
- Party, but not too much. If you drink alcohol, drink slowly. Pace yourself. Take drinks only from the bartender and never leave your drink unattended. Drinking too much dulls your senses and slows your reaction time, which in turn makes you vulnerable to others.
- Dress like a local. Want to stand out overseas? Wear shorts, a concert t-shirt and Nikes. That outfit screams “American tourist.” Very few people wear shorts and t-shirts outside the U.S. The more you stand out, the more you brand yourself as someone who is unfamiliar with the location, which makes you more vulnerable to criminals. Dress a bit “snappier” when you travel, as according to local custom. Even if you’re travelling domestically, New Yorkers can spot a tourist in a heartbeat based on clothing (leave the “I Heart NY” t-shirt and Statue of Liberty headband for when you get home).
- Pack LIGHT, ladies! Nothing says "rob me" like someone wheeling four large bags along the side of a street. You don’t need 3 outfits for every day and many hotels offer laundry service. Bring only what you can carry easily.
- Exude Confidence. All GTM’rs know that women should maintain confidence at all times while in public. When you’re walking down the street, hold your head up and your shoulders back. Look straight ahead and walk with a purpose. Pretend that you know exactly where you are going, and you have somewhere important to be. If you fall prey to street harassment, ignore it and keep moving.
- Lean on Fellow Women. Women tend to help and take care of other women, even if they don’t know each other. Ask a female employee of your hotel, for example, where she likes to go at night and whether you should have any concerns about the neighborhood. Ask her to mark any dangerous areas on a map. If you are out and about and must ask for directions, approach families or women with children.
- Trust your gut and don’t worry about “being nice.” Women tend to worry about being nice to everyone, but politeness is never more important than safety. While the world would be a better place if everyone was kind, we cannot let courtesy override our gut instincts just because we don’t want to appear that we are “overreacting” or rude. As travel blogger Katie at Domestiphobia says, “We should always trust our intuition, stop worrying about what other people think, be nice when it’s warranted, and choose safety when it’s not.”
In addition to the above safety measures, here are some easy, quick things you can do no matter where you go, even if it’s a night out in your home town:
- On sidewalks, keep your handbag and other valuables away from the street side (and on escalators, away from the opposite ramp).
- Whenever you go to the bathroom, take your purse with you.
- If you place your bag on the floor when sitting in a restaurant or other public area, put your foot through the strap; don't leave it loose.
- Roll up your extra cash nice and tight and store it in an unused tampon applicator. Even if someone were to get a hold of your purse, no one’s going to look in there!
- Don’t wear headphones (or only wear one). That way you can always stay alert and hear what’s going on around you.
- Carry a slash-proof, RFID blocking bag. GTM offers many options in both of these categories such as our GTM cross-body CZY-07 bag or the GTM oversized leather travel tote GTM-107. Our highly tested, stylish bags keep your contents safe from digital thieves or purse snatchers and allow you to carry when permissible.
We want you to enjoy whatever travel plans you are making for 2019 and keep yourself safe at the same time! Tell us where you’re going in the comments and don’t forget to send us pictures of your trip on our Facebook page.
“Sometimes you need to be alone. To get some peace, to get space to think and to be at peace with the world and oneself. And sometimes this is only possible when there are no other people around, when you have time to talk to yourself, listen to yourself and leave go of all the hectic and stress of everyday life. Enjoy this time. Take your time and do whatever YOU want. You will see that you actually enjoy your own company way more than you would have expected.”
– Yvonne, Just Travelous