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An Expert's Safety Tips for Female Travellers

MORE PLACES TO HIDE YOUR MONEY -- Journeywoman carries a small, soft covered photo album (bought at a dollar store) that holds a dozen photos. In it I carry pictures of my family and family pets. These are fun to share with travellers you meet along the way. However, what nobody knows is that there are $20 bills hidden between each of the two photos displayed. This is just backup emergency cash which adds to my solo traveller's peace of mind.

MAKING CONNECTIONS, DISCOURAGING CONNECTIONS -- When on holiday, leave those formal business cards behind. Instead carry colorful postcards from home and give your new acquaintances a glimpse of the city or town where you live. Relevant contact info can be printed on the reverse. For example, there is no need to give a stranger your home address or phone number. Instead a hotmail email address is perfect for testing out new relationships.

A DESK CLERK IS A WOMAN'S BEST FRIEND -- Whether you are staying at a bed and breakfast, hostel or hotel, the people in charge know their surroundings and can tell you which areas are best to avoid. Discuss going out at night unescorted with them. You'll find that in some cultures a women alone is considered a prostitute and therefore fair game for the local men. Sometimes it's just best to have your big meal at lunchtime and to picnic in your room in the evening. There's no harm in going to bed early so you can be up bright and early the next day ready for sightseeing in broad daylight.

TRICKS FOR WEARING YOUR PURSE -- Always wear your purse strap slung across your body so it can't be easily slipped off your shoulder. Many purses have exterior zippered pockets which attract deft-fingered pickpockets. Journeywoman suggests that you turn your purse around so that these pockets are flat against your body and inaccessible to anyone but you. Often thieves will walk by, cut the strap of your purse and run off with it before you know what has happened. If you are wearing a daypack keep all zippers closed with a safety (diaper) pin. This will foil thieves who might fiddle with your pack on an escalator or crowded bus.

JOURNEYWOMAN RECEIVED A GREAT TRAVEL BAG TO REVIEW -- Pacsafe's 'Metro Safe 200' secure shoulder bag passes the safety and good looks test with flying colors. It's designers have thought of everything. It's slashproof shoulder strap has stainless steel wire embedded in it. The front of the purse has a layer of stainless steel wire mesh that stops contents from dropping out if the material is slashed. The shoulder strap unclips and secures around chairs or other fixtures to foil bag snatching when dining or relaxing. The zipper that keeps the purse closed stays closed with a security clip on the side of the purse. Finally, it's roomy, not too heavy (the metro safe 100 model is smaller and lighter), and has a zippered pocket in the back of the purse that is a welcome added safety feature. Safety conscious travellers love this bag -- pickpockets hate it. Available in sage, black and choco brown. Website:

CHECK YOUR GOVERNMENT'S WEBSITE FOR GLOBAL TRAVEL ALERTS -- Often governments post information on safety and security, local laws and customs as well as health issues in foreign destinations. A smart traveller will take advantage of these services by doing their pre-trip research at these sites. Examples of assistance offered are: Canadian Government, USA, United Kingdom, Australia.

ALWAYS TRUST YOUR OWN GUT FEELINGS -- A well-informed female traveller listens to experienced travellers' opinions, does her own research and reads what the experts have to say. Then, with all of this knowledge under your belt, we suggest you check in with your own gut feelings. If you feel something doesn't feel right, just don't do it. In the majority of cases you will have made the absolute best and safest decision. You go, girls!

Questions for your credit card provider...

In 2001, authors Catherine Comer and Lavon Swaim wrote a very practical how-to guide entitled, 'The Traveling Woman, Great Tips for Safe and Healthy Trips.' Here are a few excellent questions from that book to ask your credit card provider prior to travelling. Their answers will help you to handle any financial difficulties you might encounter along the way.

1) Can I use this card in _____________country?
2) What is my spending limit?
3) What insurance benefits are provided with my credit card membership? (Lost or broken items, rental car accidents, life insurance, etc.?)
4) How can I contact you if I lose my card?
5) Get a local as well as a toll-free number.
6) If my card is lost or stolen, can you issue me another card immediately and where can I get it?

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