By: Honey Good
Can you imagine three monkeys leaping onto your back as you walked through a park in Agra, India next door to the Taj Mahal? As I witnessed the scene I hysterically rummaged through my backpack, grabbed my whistle and blew as loud as I could to scare them off. They fled. My husband, the victim of the attack, was so grateful, he told me kiddingly, he was going to build me a miniature Taj!
I am a well-seasoned traveler. My husband and I have covered the world from Antarctica, through the entire Middle East save Yemen, throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. We have ridden camels in the Sahara, climbed glaciers in Antarctica, lived in an elephant camp in Botswana (Camp Abu,) prayed at the Western Wall in Israel, visited Normandy to honor our American troops, had the best wines and champagne in Paris and on and on darlings...without incident. Why?
I know how to protect my husband and myself from danger. Here is my advice and some tips for those of you traveling solo or with a companion.
Never leave home without visiting a travel doctor, not an internist. A travel doctor saved my life because he knew the yellow fever vaccine could kill me! They will bring you up to date on all inoculations, give you antibiotics to carry and a booklet with your medical history of vaccinations you can keep updating for years.
Make copies of your important documents to include your passport. Photograph your belongings in case you have to make an insurance claim. I don’t, except our passports. I should. I have enough to do just getting packed!
Look up the local emergency number online in each destination before you depart or ask at the front desk of your hotel.
Leave your itinerary with family and friends. This is a must, darlings.
Remember: you already have the skills you need if you travel solo...the same methods you use at home you will use abroad. I think the most unknown factor of traveling alone is finding the right companion. I can only offer this advice. Use your gut instincts and do not be afraid to walk away or say no! We all have a little voice in the back of our mind that warn us.
Buy and use a dummy wallet. Put cash and some cancelled credit cards in your dummy wallet. Put your good credit card and ID into the insole of your shoe. One of my girlfriends was robbed standing next to me at a red light in Paris! We ran into a shop, phoned the number to cancel her credit card but within ten minutes the thief had rung up over two thousand dollars!
Introduce yourself to some of the helpful staff or concierge in each hotel you vacation in. Ask them to tell you of common scams and dangers to be aware of locally.
There is also a travel information website for Americans; Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Dress appropriately. I wear a thin diamond wedding band, a watch and take two pairs of earrings...one for day and one for evening. Dress understated so as not to be noticed though I know, darlings, we love to dress to the nines!
As a solo traveler, I strongly suggest staying away from alcohol at night.
As a solo traveler, I would carry pepper spray. Learn to use it.
Be smart. Do not go out in the evening alone unless you are with a group or escorted by the hotel to a destination. Be sure to secure pick up service while you're at it.
I do think it is much harder for a woman to travel alone vs a man, although I've spoken to friends who have traveled solo. They truly had a lovely experience! They promoted their own personal growth, met interesting people and experienced a new sense of independence.
I am very fortunate to have “my sidekick” Shelly to share in my adventures. Would I travel the world alone? I am quite sure I would opt out. And that is why I have so much admiration for those women who do. Congrats to you! And for those of you who want to one day...I tip my hat to you. Remember - don’t forget your whistle!
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