Original article on www.gonomad.com
I am a life-long seeker and explorer. Over the past several years, I have made extensive journeys through Europe, Britain, Thailand, and Malaysia. My most exciting and enjoyable experiences, however, have always been my many cross-country road trips. Driving alone through the United States isa very personal and sacred ritual for me.
I always enjoy the freedom of driving down an open highway somewhere in America. I need to be on the road to feel completely alive. I feel in charge of my own journey and my own destiny. Long road trips are the best part of my life. However, as a single woman traveling alone, I have learned how to take care of myself so that the journey can be pleasant and enjoyable. This list contains my suggestions for safe travel for any woman who enjoys solitary journeys.
Jamie’s Safety Tips for Women Travelers
• Always let someone know where you are—Though you may enjoy the freedom of feeling “lost” on the highway, it’s always best to check in with a family member or friend so someone always knows where to find you. Texting is a quick and easy way to share your whereabouts.
• Do not pick up strangers—Do not offer rides or agree to share a room with anyone you don’t know. Though you may think the person you are helping is harmless, you can never fully know someone’s true intentions after just a few minutes of conversation. It’s hard to get rid of someone later, so don’t get into this situation by picking them up in the first place.
• Do not over-pack—Take only the items you absolutely need. Don’t add to the stress of traveling by protecting or worrying about items you may not even use.
• Take your car to the auto shop—Before starting out on any road trip, always take your car in for service. Make sure your car is “road ready,” and that you’re oil is changed, tires are in good shape, antifreeze and the heater all working and there is not a lot of junk in your trunk. Start out fresh and clean!
• Don’t stop for someone stranded on the side of the road—Though you may feel compelled to assist someone in trouble, if you’re alone, don’t stop unless you are sure it’s safe. It’s always a good idea to get to a safe place first and then call for help for the stranded driver, dialing 911 is helping out enough.
• Be aware of your surroundings—Pay attention to details. When traveling to new locations, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement. Always be aware of where you are and the people around you.
• Eat well and get plenty of sleep—Take care of yourself physically so you can focus while you’re on the road. You can easily become frustrated, distracted, or impatient if you are not taking care of your overall well-being. Don’t try to drive overnight, there is always a risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
• Stay in nicer hotel—Though it may depend on your budget, it is always best to stay in a safe, secure location. Check reservations ahead of time. Using services like Air BnB, that are rated by other travelers, is a good way to get a safe cheap place to stay. In some cases Couchsurfing can provide you a place, be safe and choose ahother women to stay with.
• Do not carry a lot of cash—Only carry the amount of cash that you may need for the trip and do not expose the amount of money you have to anyone. The best deals on currency exchange are using the ATM, so there is no need for big bills that might get stolen.
• Dress conservatively—Once you reach your destination, dress anyway that fits the location and occasion. When traveling alone, however, it is best to dress down and not bring attention to yourself. Modesty is not only a virtue, it’s a good way to blend in.
• Carry additional sanitary items—Always pack additional sanitary items just in case there is not a convenient location to purchase products when you need.
• Do not let strangers know you are traveling alone—If people know you are traveling alone, you may be considered an “easy target.”
• Stop at places that are busy and well-lit—Look for locations that have other people around. Do not stop at deserted, dark places. It’s always a good idea to look like you know where you are and where you are going. If you have to ask for directions, casually ask employees at the establishment instead of random strangers. Be careful of walking and using your phone, these unaware moments can some times present opportunities for crime.
• Create a schedule for traveling—Know what time you want to begin your journey every day and, especially, know when you want to be off the road at night.
• Have reliable resources—Make sure all maps, guides, and other information are up-to-date.
• Let someone else know you’re timetable—Inform someone what day and time you are leaving and when you while be returning home.
• Notify credit card companies—Some credit card companies will block your card if they see “suspicious” activity like continuous gas charges. Inform companies that you will be traveling so they do not cut off your credit.
• Carry blankets and extra snacks and water with you—Carry additional essentials with you in case you become stranded or lost somewhere. Put a flashlight and a Swiss Army knife in your car’s glove compartment.
• Don’t open bags or purses in front of anyone—Keep your personal valuable possessions covered and out of sight. Do not flash around any cash or let people see how many credit cards you have.
• Always have maps and know how to read them—GPS systems may not always be reliable; carry current road atlases with you and know how to read them as a backup resource. Trace out alternative routes. Always have a Plan B route figured out in case your original highway choices are closed or backed up with traffic.
• Keep cell phone charged—Before you start out on the road each day, charge your cell phone so it is ready for use in case of emergencies. You can also buy a portable battery to extend the phone’s life in case there is not a charger handy.
• Travel with a pet—Bringing a dog on the road with you can deter strangers and give you companionship during long drives.
• Stay alert behind the wheel—No distracted driving. Stay focused especially in unfamiliar areas where you are not familiar with the highways.
• Listen to weather reports—Be aware of the weather conditions where you are traveling and prepare accordingly. Many times, I have had to pull off to the side of a road and wait for a storm to pass. Be safe and be prepared.
• Always carry ID safely—Store all paperwork (driver’s license, registration, and insurance information) together in a safe, convenient place for easy access.
I have detailed some of my road trips in my current book The Sweetness of Life. I hope it inspires people to start their own pleasant journeys safely and confidently.
*Image of young female traveler via Shutterstock