Solo Travel-Five Tips for Safe Travels in Troubled Times

Solo Travel-Five Tips for Safe Travels in Troubled Times:  Concerns about safety have been raised at times in light of unrest and certain terrorist attacks abroad.  However, statistically, the dangers are much greater on US highways. In any case, it is important at home or abroad to have a plan for when crises occur on travel.  Here are my top five lessons learned.

Solo Travel-Five Tips for Safe Travels in Troubled Times:

Tip One:  Have access to extra cash in case of an emergency.

On 9/11, I was a solo traveler in Europe ticketed for United Airlines to Dulles Airport in Washington. After all flights were grounded, for eight days, I had to look each day for a place to stay and a way to get home. One thing I did learn? It is critical when traveling abroad to have extra cash and access to emergency funds.  Although frugal, with an extra week plus of hotels and meals, I easily ran through an extra $1,000.  Fortunately, I was able to get funds via the ATM. However, with daily banking limits, that may not always work. In addition, every transaction can run up bank card fees.


Solo Travel-Five Tips for Safe Travels in Troubled Times:

Tip Two:  Have a means of contact locally and at home and an exit plan.

One caveat: Don’t assume you can rely on your cell phone. You may not get a signal, or lines may be jammed. As a result,  establishing a contact at your destination may be even more important in a crisis that reaching friends/family at home. If you are traveling with a tour, the tour leader or guide is your best option. If you are traveling independently, even the concierge or hotel/B&B staff may be your most helpful contact. So be sure to take their card/contact information with you while abroad.

In public places at home and while traveling, always note the location of the nearest exit.  Even absent political crises, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and know the best way out in an emergency.  This is also the case in transit whether by car, boat or airplane. After my two emergency landings on commercial jets (luckily with no injuries), I read the stories of a number of crash survivors.  Key was having planned ahead what to do in an emergency.  For example, select a seat within 7 rows of an exit. Then be able to find it even if there is poor visibility.

Solo Travel-Five Tips for Safe Travels in Troubled Times:

Tip Three:  Always know how to get back to where you started (or an alternative safe spot).

In a crisis, it may not be possible to find public transportation.  Absent a reliable local GPS, make your own map with your camera/phone.  When you set out each day, snap a series of photos of key landmarks on your way out to guide you on return.  You can easily reverse your way by starting with the last photo first!


Solo Travel-Five Tips for Safe Travels in Troubled Times:

Tip Four:  Be aware of your surroundings, and know how to take cover in place.

Many years ago I was intrigued to explore the Temple of Hatshepsut, the only Egyptian woman pharaoh! (Cleopatra was a Ptolemy, Greek.) Sadly, sometime later, there was an attack on tourists there. The survivors interviewed said they were able to escape by acting fast having recognized quickly that an attack was taking place.  As a result, they were able to get away or hide, thereby surviving.

Solo Travel-Five Tips for Safe Travels in Troubled Times:

Tip Five:  Be aware that protests and political gatherings can quickly turn violent.

It can be really fascinating to witness history in the making first hand.  If you want to be a spectator, take a spot on the far edge of the crowd where you  can quickly step away.

Before you cancel or postpone travel at troubling times, remember this:  Many, if not most, accidents occur at, or near, home.  So there is no guarantee that staying home will be without any danger. I personally always conclude it is better to go. If I stay home only to fall down the basement steps, I may have to explain a cast without tales of expert ski runs! After taking reasonable precautions, dust off your bucket list and head out.  A whole world awaits you!


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