How do you keep yourself safe during your travels? If there are two of you, you can watch out for each other. It’s unlikely that you’ll venture into dangerous areas, especially at night. But be aware of your surroundings.
Do Your Research
These days the internet is the perfect research tool to use before you travel. You can get to know your destination in depth before you arrive. Find out which areas are safe, and which to avoid. Check out this article, “20 Ways to Research a Travel Destination Before You Go” for the many sources available for research.
In addition to the things you’re going to see and do, you’ll want to know answers to questions like these:
- Are there any travel alerts or warnings for my destination?
- Do I need a tourist visa?
- Do I need to get vaccines?
- Can I safely drink the water?
- Are there areas to avoid?
Prepare yourself with knowledge.
You’ll Also Want To
- Keep your friends and family updated. You’ll relieve their anxiety about you being away.
- Make copies of important documents, like your passport, visas, and tickets you’re carrying. Keep those in a safe place, separate from the originals. It’s also a good idea to leave extra copies with someone back home. Most of us have important phone numbers in our phones these days. If you don’t, carry those with you on paper in case you need to reach them.
- Public Wi-Fi may not be safe. If you can avoid it, do, and use password protected Wi-Fi, usually provided by your accommodations.
- Safeguard your hotel room. Don’t make it obvious that you’re away. Instead of posting the “Please Make Up the Room,” sign, call the front desk on your way out to say that you’re ready for the room to be made up. Don’t leave passports, extra money, and jewelry sitting in site. Use the in-room safe or the one that most locations provide in their office. See Travel Safety Tools below for more ideas.
- Make sure your travel insurance covers theft and loss. See, “The 5 Most important Considerations about Travel Insurance for Seniors,” for good information about selecting travel insurance.
Travel Safety Tools
In truth, your voice is one of the most effective tools you have to ward off an attacker. Many will turn and run if you yell as loudly as you can, “STOP!”
The following items will help you remain safe in and out of your room. They’re small and easy to include in your luggage or carryon, and don’t require special training or brute strength to use. Many of these items are designed to help you defend yourself, if you (hopefully don’t!) need it! Most items link to an item on Amazon, recommended and available for purchase.
|What it is||What to do with it|
|Whistle||Carry this around your neck and use it if you feel in danger.|
|Flashlight||Use at night to light your way and/or to blind someone coming at you.|
|Pen||A simple pen, which most of us carry, can
be used as an effective self-defense tool. Carry it in your hand as you walk. Hold the pen between your index finger and middle finger and punch at your attacker. At the same time, yell!
You can also purchase a tactical pen that, in addition to writing, gives you a stronger striking surface since it’s made from metal.
|Stun gun||Most people think that a stun gun is the only answer, when in reality you can get stun guns that look like a ring, lipstick, or a flashlight. Search the internet for sellers.|
|Portable door lock||This lock better secures your room door. It comes in its own case and is very small and light and does not require tools or installation.|
|Pepper spray||Pepper spray causes a person to choke, cough, and have temporary vision loss. It is small and light enough to fit in your purse or pocket. Keep it handy if it seems like you might need it. Aim at your attacker’s face, hold your breath, and spray!|
|Safe Sound Personal Alarm||Use your voice as a first line of defense. Add to it a piercing alarm, and most attackers will abandon you.|
|Mini First aid kit||Whenever you go out, bring this along to cover you for minor injuries.|
|Keys||Carry your car keys in your hand with your index finger extended over the biggest key when you walk. Grip the other keys into a fist and stab your attacker. Aim for vulnerable areas like the eyes, inner thigh, or cheek. Women, in particular, do not like to hurt others and hesitate to take action. Don’t hesitate!|
|Trekking poles||If you are beset upon by an attacker, you can use your cane or walking stick to strike the attacker. Go for vulnerable areas, like the face or groin.
Stun canes are also available. The tip is electrified and can be used to deliver a powerful jolt of electricity. They are rechargeable.
|Scarf or Belt||Use a scarf or belt to wrap around your attackers’ neck to choke him/her.|
|Umbrella||Use an umbrella to stab at your attacker. Aim for vulnerable areas, or use it to put space between you and the attacker.|
|Rolled up newspaper or magazine||If you’re carrying a newspaper or magazine, roll it tightly and use it to stab at the attacker. Aim for vulnerable areas like the face, neck, and groin.|
|Handbag/Purse/Day Pack||When we travel, our purses or day packs tend to be heavier than usual. Use it to say, “get back and leave me alone,” by swinging it an attacker’s head or groin. Keep a solid grip on the handles or strap.|
|Groceries||Seniors on a shopping trip are open to attack. You’re holding your groceries leaving your purse vulnerable to theft. Use the heavy bags against the attacker. Swing hard to impact him/her. You can replace the groceries if you have to!|
|Mobile self-defense app||Feeling vulnerable as you’re walking? Have your phone out. But before that, download a self-defense app. You can easily activate it, usually by pressing a button. Search your phone’s app store and download the one that provides what you want. Make sure it works in the country you’re visiting.|
|Bag hanger for purse or backpack||Hang it from the table, rather than draped over the back of your chair to keep it in view.|
|Money belt or neck pouch||Buy a money belt or neck pouch, whichever is more comfortable for you, and wear it wherever you go. Use it to carry your passport, money, and other small valuables. Put replaceable items, like water bottles and snacks in your day pack.|
Traveling with someone else raises your safety level—there’s safety in numbers. Interested in finding someone to share your next journey? Look to www.seniortravelbuddies.com to find a great travel companion.