Each year, more and more women decide to capitalize on the benefits of traveling alone. Going solo means making your own schedule and getting to do what you want, when you want. Traveling Europe alone can challenge you in a positive way, teaching you to overcome travel mishaps and solve the problems you encounter. Traveling makes people better and smarter; solo travel does so on a more extreme level. Women who return from solo travel feel confident, independent, and ready to take on anything.
Despite these benefits, solo travel can be risky if women are not safe during their trip. The safety tips for women apply to all women, whether they are traveling Europe alone or traveling in their home countries. However, when traveling Europe alone, these tips become much more imperative because tourists are always targets, but women tourists are often seen as the most vulnerable, easy targets.
1. Be Confident
You are a strong, independent woman, so look like it. Hold your head up high and walk with purpose. It will make you look less vulnerable, and therefore, like less of a target.
When you look confused or walk aimlessly, other people can pick up on the fact that you don’t know where you’re going and can easily take advantage of the situation.
Before you arrive, make sure you know the route from the airport, bus, or train station to your accommodation and if you will be taking a bus, metro, or cab. Once you are settled in, plan where you are going before heading out. Stopping to look at a map or pulling out your smartphone to check something increase your chances of being seen as a target. When you know where you are going and walk confidently to your destination, people aren’t going to bother you. The second you start to seem weak and confused, you open yourself up to trouble.
2. Don’t Dress to Impress
One of the most important safety tips for women is to take fashion cues from local women; then, do your best to blend in. Wear clothes that are conservative and inconspicuous. In some cultures, your typical, casual clothing may be regarded as provocative, inappropriate, or offensive, all of which can lead to harassment and unwanted attention. Additionally, wearing name-brand clothing or expensive-looking jewelry can make you a more likely target for thieves. Even the way you wear your makeup can result in negative attention. So, it is important to tune in to your surroundings, take a hint from the local women, and do your best to dress similarly.
3. Learn to say, “Help!”
If at any time you feel like you are in danger, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to scream “Help!” It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re just being paranoid and there’s actually nothing to worry about, but trusting your gut and calling out for help could save you from potential harm. Additionally, if you are traveling in a country where English is not the first language, it would be beneficial to learn the word for “help” in that country’s official language.
4. Stay Alert
Blend in with the locals, but not too much. For example, locals may walk around with headphones in, listening to music, but this is not a good idea for tourists. Having headphones in allows you to disconnect from the world around you; you become less aware of your surroundings. Additionally, you become a target for thieves who want to pickpocket your device.
5. Stay in Touch
Your friends and family are going to worry about you traveling on your own in a foreign land, and that’s a good thing. You should check-in with them regularly, so they know you are okay. That way, if you find yourself in trouble and are unable to contact them, they will know something is wrong and be able to help. Also, make sure that someone you trust knows your full itinerary, including where you are, when and to where you are going, and when you arrive at a new destination.
6. You Don’t Have to be Polite
If someone is making you uncomfortable, you need to tell him. Say “no” loudly and firmly. Even if you don’t know how to say “no” in the local language, your body language, facial expressions, and tone will make it clear that the attention towards you is unwanted. Protect yourself by creating boundaries when meeting strangers. It’s not rude; it’s being smart. It is not your job to protect a man’s feelings, so don’t feel like you have to be a sweetheart and talk to everyone.
7. Watch Your Drinking. Watch Your Drink.
When traveling Europe alone, limit the number of drinks you have in public. You know your limits, so it is up to you to avoid becoming too intoxicated. When you are drunk, your decision-making is impaired, which can result in dangerous situations. On those nights out, you should always watch your drink being made, especially if a guy buys you a drink. If you need to put your drink on the bar or table, be sure to watch it. Don’t just leave it there and return later. Lastly, never go home with a guy you just met at the bar. He may seem like a nice guy, but we’ve all seen Law & Order SVU. The smarter option is to give him your number and tell him to text you the next day to meet up. If he likes you in the non-serial killer way, then he will follow through. This option allows you time to sober up and re-consider. If you decide you still want to meet up, then at least you are doing it during the day and in public, not late at night, back at his place.
8. Understand European Men
One of the most underrated safety tips for women is the importance of understanding the cultural differences between European men and American men. In Southern Europe, when men are interested in women, they may stare. Sometimes, it’s the long look that makes many American women feel uncomfortable. To deal with the awkwardness, American women often smile back and look the man in the eyes to be polite. Be aware that in Mediterranean countries, this gesture is considered to be an invitation. There is no doubt, though, that some of these men are attractive, and you’ll want to stare back; just make sure you are wearing dark sunglasses when you do.
9. Keep Mini Pepper Spray
If a dog is a man’s best friend, then pepper spray is a woman’s. Buy yourself a keychain pepper spray. You never know when you will find yourself in a bad situation. For example, say the metro stopped at 12:00 AM and you’re stuck walking home by yourself late at night. Hold on tight to that pepper spray and if someone tries to grab you, don’t be afraid to use it. Then, run like the wind while your attacker cries on the floor.
10. It’s Okay to Lie
Sometimes, it’s okay to lie, especially when you are traveling solo. Never let someone know that you are traveling alone. Instead, say that you are meeting up with a friend, or that your friend has just gone to the restroom. When people know you are alone, you seem more vulnerable. Lying to protect yourself is always okay. You don’t owe anyone an honest answer.
You may also need to lie in a situation when people ask you about yourself. Be cautious with how much information you share. For example, if someone asks you about your next destination, depending on the circumstance, it may be okay to share that. However, you should never share the details. Telling another person what train you’re going on or where you’ll be staying when you arrive is a bad idea. Although the chances of another person using this information negatively may be slim, you are not paranoid for keeping your information protected. That’s just being smart. You’ll never be able to accurately judge a stranger, and you don’t want important information getting into the wrong hands.
Traveling Safely with Auto Europe
Now that you have a better understanding of the safety precautions you should take when traveling Europe solo, the only thing left to do is book your travel reservations and depart for the vacation of a lifetime. In addition to the travel safety tips listed above, Auto Europe also provides travelers with road trip planning resources, travel guides, and international driver’s licenses. When you’re ready to travel the world with only curiosity as your guide, give Auto Europe a call at 1-888-223-5555, and book your international airfare, hotel accommodations, and unlimited mileage car rentals – all at the guaranteed lowest prices industry wide.