Let me preface this post by saying that I always err on the side of caution when it comes to traveling. It’s not that I don’t like to have adventures or let loose, it’s more that I try to stay aware of other people, particularly men, when I’m abroad.
This usually always begins while I’m en route to my destination. Traveling alone means there’s always an open seat next to you, whether you’re on a plane, train, or bus. While I think it’s wonderful to make friends once I arrive at my destination, I try to steer clear of people who ask me a lot of questions about my travel plans.
Here are a few tips for avoiding the creepers, from someone who has probably seen the movie Taken one too many times:
1) Look busy. After taking my seat and waiting for the plane/bus/train to depart, I usually listen to music or start reading a book. I will usually say a polite hello to whomever sits next to me, but then I resume reading, etc. This is also a prime time to sleep, so that you’re well-rested upon arrival.
2) Be slightly vague. As I mentioned above, I am always wary of people who ask me a lot of specific questions about myself and my travel plans. I tend to keep things pretty surface-level, and always steer the conversation back to small talk.
Don’t say you’re traveling alone, don’t say which city/hostel/area you’re staying in, and don’t give out your phone number.
If I meet a person I would like to meet up with again while traveling, I usually give them my email or Facebook information. That way I can kind of screen them, and have more control of the situation.
3) Lie. Okay, I admit that I definitely pull out the “I have a boyfriend” lie from time to time while traveling. Rease wrote a great post on this subject, with the general consensus agreeing that it’s silly to lie about your love life to please other people. And I most certainly agree. But when I’m in a new place, and a strange man is asking me about my love life, I tend to cut them off at the knees with my trusty boyfriend shtick. This is a helpful way to ward off any advances in a train, plane, bus, bar, club, hostel, etc.
4) Common sense goes a long way. Traveling is about new experiences and new adventures, but it’s not a free pass to be a total idiot. While I never want to be paranoid in a new place, I’m always cautious. This goes double if I go out at night and especially if I’m drinking. If you do meet up with someone, be smart. Go to a public place. Make sure someone always knows where you are. Luckily here in Korea, I have a solid group of friends to look out for me. If you don’t know anyone local, send an email to someone from home, like your parents. Have fun, wander, get lost, but don’t fall off the face of the Earth, technologically speaking. People will worry.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, I hope it helps you remember to be smart, safe, and a little more guarded than you might be at home. Travel your hearts out ladies, just remember to take care of yourselves!
What about you? What do you do to stay safe and avoid the creepers?