Read our latest research into travel safety issues impacting women travellers
Travel Safety Tips
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Considering investing in a key-fob activated car alarm so that you can active your car alarm from close by if needed.
Emergency Kit †
Put together an emergency kit for your car, this might include an extra coat, a torch, bottled water and spare change. Join a vehicle recovery service and check the representative's ID when they respond to your call.
Make sure the car has sufficient fuel before you embark on your journey. Remove all obvious signs that you are driving a hire car, such as literature and advertising banners. Be sure not to leave your handbag visible on the passenger seat.
Road rage incidents are rare and, by not responding to aggression from other drivers, can often be avoided. If the driver of another car forces you to stop and then gets out of his/her car, stay in your car, keep the engine running and if you need to, reverse to get away.
Parking Your Car †
Avoid using poorly lit car parks. Whenever possible, choose a reputable car park such as those by Q-Park and where possible find one that is manned and/or secured and park as close as you can to the attendant. Make sure the interior light is working. Shut all windows, lock all doors and note exactly where you have parked your car.
When parking in a car park, consider where the entrances and exits are. Try to avoid having to walk across a lonely car park to get to your car. Park away from pillars/barriers. If you can, reverse into your space so you can drive away easily. If you collect a ticket on entering the car park, do not leave it in the car, as this will make it easier for a thief to steal your vehicle. Hide away all valuables and obvious possessions. When returning to your car, have your keys ready so that you can get in quickly. Before entering scan the back seat to check no-one has climbed in. Once you are in the car lock the doors immediately and drive off quickly.
Think of an alternative name for your home address rather than setting a destination as 'home' in your GPS. If your GPS is stolen alongside your house keys, it could create more opportunities for criminal activity against you or your property.
Do not hold business meetings in your hotel room. Think twice before allowing other people to store their belongings in your room as its an open invitation for them to come and retrieve them. Use the concierge storing service instead.
Try and arrive at your destination before dark and pre-check you can get into any buildings beforehand.
Do Not Disturb *
Hanging the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel door when you go out could help deter potential thieves.
Double Booking Rooms
The most common cause for alarm in hotel rooms is when two people are accidentally allocated the same room. By placing the waste paper bin behind your door, you will be immediately alerted if somebody manages to get in with a key card and likewise it will alert the other person too that the room may already be occupied.
Double Locking Doors
For our security we have come to expect that hotels rooms have at least two independent door locks and often a chain too. But rather than take for granted the fact that the locks will just work as intended, its better to test these as soon as you enter your room. If they don’t it’s acceptable for you to ask for them to be fixed or to be relocated to another room, something that you are less likely to do once you’ve fully unpacked and are just about to retire.
Take a moment to view the fire exit information which should be on the back of your hotel door and then physically check your route and plan how you would get there in the event of a power failure.
Pack an inexpensive rubber doorstop when staying alone in a hotel and use it to wedge the door shut and prevent it being opened from the hallway by an intruder or wrongly assigned guest. It is easily slipped out of the way if you wish to get out or let someone in. For something more robust, invest in a DoorJammer – Maiden-Voyage members receive a 20% discount.
See details on our female friendly hotels section and try to book a hotel that takes care of your personal comfort and safety concerns. If you plan to be late, contact the hotel to ensure they will hold your room. Do not allow visitors into your room or to store their belongings there. Always lock your door when inside your room. If the door to your room is ajar when you arrive, do not enter the room but report it to the hotel staff.
Room Number Allocation
Some hotels are unaware of the fact that it is bad form to announce your room number verbally, potentially to a lobby of other guests. If this happens to you, ask for a new room and for the number to be shown to you discreetly.
Before venturing out of your hotel, take a business card or something with the hotel address on it, it may come in handy if you get lost or have trouble communicating with a taxi driver.
Identification and Discretion
Company Identification †
If you work for an organisation that receives unwelcome attention from the public, try to hide anything that would make you identifiable as an employee of that organisation, such as name brand clothing or luggage.
Always be aware of local customs with regards to dress and appearance, so as not to offend the locals but also to ensure you don't invite unwanted attention.
When leaving the office or a conference be sure to take off your security or name badge, these often hold information that you wouldn't want to share with a stranger.
Talking On The Telephone
Beware of how much information you give away about yourself whilst speaking on your mobile phone in a public place or public transport. Always make sure you take a charger with you (and adapter where necessary), so you're not caught out in an emergency. Many hotels will have spare mobile phone chargers.
Appearance & Identification
Use an inconspicuous suitcase rather than an expensive looking designer label. Mark the inside of your luggage with your name, and telephone number. Use good quality luggage locks and additional brightly coloured straps or adornment so that you can easily identify your luggage on the baggage belt.
Avoid using luggage that might clearly suggest you are a female.
It's a fact that handbags and their contents are becoming increasingly more valuable as we carry our mobile phones and tablets, money, cards and cosmetics. Evaluate what you really need to carry around with you and what would be most inconvenient if it's stolen. For example, is it essential that you take all your loyalty cards and address book to a business meeting or can they stay in your hotel safe or locked in your luggage? Have copies of your credit card, driving license and other important documents to aid recovery or replacement if they are lost or stolen.
If possible, carry your bag across your body when walking; this leaves both hands free to protect yourself if you need to. This could also stop your bag from being snatched. Do not keep all your valuables in one bag. â€¨â€¨Wrap your bag straps around your legs (or your chair) when in a restaurant to prevent it being snatched. If sleeping on a journey again secure your bag in such a way that anyone trying to steal it or gain access to it wakes you up.
Only carry the minimum necessary while working and do not draw attention to yourself by overtly displaying valuables, e.g. mobile phone, expensive jewellery etc. If you have to carry valuable equipment e.g. laptops, ask your employer for guidance on how to do this as safely as possible. Your safety is always more important than your possessions. If somebody tries to steal your possessions it is safer to give them up. Do not attempt to recover any stolen items yourself: contact the police. †
Spread your valuables such as mobile phone, wallet and keys about your person so that you minimise the risk of all of them being taken.
When being collected at the airport or other public travel hub, make sure the person collecting you has a copy of the confirmation documentation as it is relatively easy for somebody to copy a collection board. Have your company’s travel contact information handy in case of any changes and to double-check discrepancies.
If possible, make sure you have timetable and tickets or fare information before you travel. Try to stand with a group of people when waiting for public transport, in well-lit areas and near emergency alarms and CCTV cameras. Have details of alternative routes, connections and later buses and trains in case of a delay or diversion. If something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, act upon your instinct. It may be better to move seats before a problem arises.
Always use a taxi or licensed minicab. In London, taxis (Hackney Carriages) can be hailed in the street. They look like purpose-built taxis or black cabs and have an illuminated taxi sign on the roof. Licensed minicabs cannot be hailed in the street. They must be pre-booked. The driver should have ID and the vehicle will have some sort of license displayed on it. Where possible use a female only taxi company.
Confirm the driver's details when they arrive - is it the taxi or minicab you ordered? If you are ordering a cab from a public place, try not to let people overhear your name and address - anyone could pretend to be your cab. Sharing a taxi or minicab with a friend and sitting in the back of the car are also good safety strategies. If you chat to the driver, be careful not to give out any personal details and do not reveal sensitive information over the phone.
Never use taxis or minicabs that are not licensed, including UberTM in some countries at night. If you do you are getting into a vehicle with a stranger. Many people who have used these cabs have been the victims of crimes such as theft, assault and rape.
IF YOU FEEL THREATENED
Remember to trust your instincts; if you are at all worried, ask the driver to stop in a busy area, and get out of the car.
If the driver refuses to stop, use a mobile (if you have one) to call the police and alert other drivers and pedestrians by waving or calling out of the window.
Before leaving a taxi, take one of the driver’s cards so that if you have left any personal items in there such as your mobile telephone, purse, keys etc. you have a chance of retrieving them.
Keep some change in a small purse for paying for taxis, drinks etc. so you don’t have to sort through wads of cash in public and remember to draw out foreign currency at the airport if you haven't taken any with you.
It’s not only bars and nightclubs where one might be at risk from somebody spiking your drink, think about coffee meetings in hotel lounges etc. Beware of leaving your drink unattended and be wary of drinking anything that you haven't opened yourself or hasn't been poured by a waiter.
Leave details of your itinerary and hotel with somebody back home.
Always make sure to let people know where you are going, who you are meeting and when you intend to return.
If whilst driving you become aware of an emergency or police vehicle requesting you to stop, ensure that you only do so when you are in a busy well-lit area such as a petrol, service or police station. Be especially aware if the vehicle that is requesting you to pull-over does not have the usual (or any) emergency vehicle markings. If you are at all suspicious do not open the doors or get out of your vehicle.
Forget about being polite if you feel uncomfortable. It is better to be considered rude than to do something you feel unhappy doing just because you think you should. For instance, if someone wants to share a lift with you but you feel uncomfortable in their presence firmly say ‘no’. Also remember that making a loud noise or attracting attention if you are uncomfortable is acceptable.
Consider carrying a tiny torch with you and put it by your bed as soon as you unpack so you’ll be able to find your way out in the dark if you have to.
Always carry your (car) keys separately from your handbag, so if your handbag is stolen you can still safely get home. If you are in an area where you feel threatened a key can be used as a weapon in an emergency.
Consider carrying a personal safety alarm. Remain alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. A confident appearance (walking tall, normal pace, arms relaxed) will make you look less vulnerable. Try to avoid danger rather than confront it - keep to well-lit or busy streets and avoid danger spots as much as possible. Walking away from an argument can be a simple but effective way to prevent an incident.
† Information supplied by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust
* Information supplied by Carolines Rainbow Foundation
Why not print out this page and refresh yourself with all these tips periodically?
Share your own travel safety tips with us here