alone on the beach

Photo by Desiree Miller. Caption: Traveling alone can help you find out more about yourself, but you still need to take precautions for safety.

It’s easy to let our guard down when traveling, whether for business or pleasure, but when you’re traveling alone, it’s especially important to keep your eyes open for potential danger.

It’s becoming more common for women to take off on their own.  In fact, a survey by Small Luxury Hotels of the World recently revealed that between 2011 and 2012 there was a 53 percent increase in the demand for rooms by women traveling alone.

Barbara Foster, a veteran globetrotter and author of the book The Confessions of a Librarian: A Memoir of Loves, points out women can take important precautions to protect themselves, though.

Foster, who encourages solo trips because she believes they can be deeply rewarding for women, offers five tips for staying safe while traveling.

They are copied below, word for word:

Steer clear of the most dangerous locales.

Simply put, some places just aren’t worth the risk, so avoid “no go” neighborhoods, cities and countries. For example, if you feel compelled to go to the Middle East, visit Israel, which is the safest Middle Eastern country. Still, if the destination is truly important to you, go ahead and take the risk. India can be dangerous and Foster says she was nearly kidnapped there, saved only by the intervention of a librarian friend. At the same time, she says, the country offers a once in a lifetime experience.

Connect with friendly contacts.

women back of Acadia GMC Denali roadtrip-1Make yourself known not only to the U.S. embassy or consul, but also to people in your field, Foster says. During her travels, Foster wrote articles about libraries she visited. Her fellow librarians were a protective group.

Learn the language or at least useful phrases.

Even if it’s just a few key words, speaking the language can come in handy if you need to seek assistance. Understanding what others are saying also can alert you to potential dangers.

Dress wisely, pay attention to manners and spend money in moderation.

Essentially, don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. In her book, Foster recounts a visit to Istanbul where she watched horror-struck as two Turkish men slapped a young British woman for wearing a miniskirt on the street. For added protection against thieves, Foster recommends carrying money and identification in a pouch under your shirt.

Travel in the USA.

photo credit: istockphoto/Kamryn Adams

photo credit: istockphoto/Kamryn Adams

will miss many of the world’s must-see places, but if the thought of traveling abroad holds too much stress for you, it might be better to stick closer to home. Foster says two of her favorite U.S. cities are New York and New Orleans, both great places to explore.

My two cents added to this: it truly doesn’t matter where you go—you must practice safety if you are alone.  I would add another tip to her list: watch your drinks.  Don’t leave anything unguarded, not even for a second to turn your back to talk to a friend.  I always like to pair up with a pal I meet on the journey—another woman in most cases—to watch each other’s backs, so to speak.

Even in your hometown, it’s important to stay safe.

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