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An Expert's Safety Tips for Female Travellers

THIS FOOD LOOKS GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT -- Picture this. You are travelling on an overnight train in Europe. The young couple seated beside you are very chatty and offer lots of good advice about what to do at your destination. They unpack a wonderful picnic of sausage, cheese, fresh bread and wine. The aromas are so enticing, they offer to share their food and wine. You're thinking, 'this is what European travel is all about'. Again, evaluate very carefully before you partake. Understand that drugging is always a possibility. You don't want to wake up to find your friendly neighbours gone along with all your belongings.

EXPENSIVE JEWELRY BELONGS AT HOME -- Unless you are attending a fabulous wedding or Society Fashion Ball abroad, leave all your jewels at home. They will always be a hindrance to your safety. Take off any attention grabbing rings and earrings. Wear an inexpensive, utilitarian watch, something that goes unnoticed. If you absolutely must sport some 'bling' for an evening on the town, try dressing up your hair. A dime-store rhinestone barrette or sparkly hair pin works wonders when worn with black shirt and pants.

YOUR WALLET IS NOT REALLY YOUR WALLET -- Always carry a fake wallet with you. That's the one you want the pickpocket or mugger to get if they single you out. Journeywoman loves putting this decoy together. We fill it with a few local dollars and then augment the wad with currency no longer in circulation like French francs and Dutch guilders. Everybody has plastic cards with name and user number on it that look like credit cards but aren't. This includes membership cards for video rentals or one that offers gift points at your local grocery. Neither have contact information on them so you can use those without fear. Never fight with anybody who demands your wallet. Having your fake in your purse to hand over is a very smart move.

WHERE TO KEEP YOUR MONEY AND DOCUMENTS -- Journeywoman keeps everything close to her body in a poly-cotton money belt that goes around her waist and is kept extra secure by pinning the band closed with a safety pin. Even in the heat the cotton blend doesn't make you feel uncomfortable. This belt has two pockets. In the first goes copies of (1) first page of your passport (2) credit and debit card numbers and 'help line' telephone numbers to cancel stolen or lost cards (3) health insurance (4) plane tickets. In the second goes (1) credit card, (2) debit card (3) some emergency money. Then, in a secure pant or jacket pocket Journeywoman keeps money for the day -- transportation, museum entries, snacks and small purchases.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR PASSPORT AND OTHER VALUABLES? -- If the hotel has a safe in the room you can leave your valuables there. If the manager has a common hotel safe in which all guests can leave their valuables, check to see if the hotel is liable for any loss before you entrust your things to him. Put everything in an envelope, seal it shut and write your initials across the closed flap in the back of the envelope. This insures that no sticky-fingered staff member helps themselves to part of your possessions or cash. Get the hotel to sign your note that states you left your valuables with them for safe keeping.

MAKING A BIT OF NOISE NEVER HURTS -- It's no secret that wrongdoers want to keep their presence and their identity a secret. Keep that premise in mind by pointing your finger and shouting, 'go away' at anybody who is purposely invading your space. The language you speak is not important. What affects would-be thieves is the attention being drawn to them. Want to be prepared for any negative situations? Consider carrying a personal security alarm that emits a piercing sound to help ward off an attacker or deter an intruder.

A VITAMIN BOTTLE CAN HELP IN AN EMERGENCY -- When Journeywoman travels solo for long periods of time it's very important to have a good backup plan if I am robbed or if I lose my credit cards. Here is one of my best tricks. Save your empty vitamin pill bottles, generally you can't see through these. Roll up five twenty dollar bills, put them into the bottle and add some old loose pills. If you shake this bottle it still sounds like a pill bottle and nobody would consider looking into it for money. You can leave this bottle in your backpack, your hotel room or in your cosmetic case. The contents remain safe and ready for you should you need it.

My bra is my money belt...

Whether at home or when I'm travelling, I find that padded push-up bras are great for a night out. When I dress up for the evening, I take the pads out of my push-up bra, wrap the money I need for the evening in tissues and put the packets back where the pads originally were. Great solution. Works every time!
(Source: travel tip from Mary in Dublin, Ireland)

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