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So, I just returned from a huge trip overseas to the Mediterranean for work. I'm a Filmographer/Photographer, and I recently landed an awesome gig for an indie film that took me all over Europe's southern coast. Greece, Spain, Monaco, Southern France, Morocco, Italy, I went to all these places. And mind you, I was on my own for a lot of the time when I wasn't working with my crew. There's a lot to think about when you're traveling, but going to all these different places with different types of people and cultures is ever MORE to think about!
So while I was doing my best not to get sunburn and to avoid heat stroke, here are some things I learned about keeping safe while traveling.
1. Get Crafty with Your Sports Bras
Sounds a little weird I know, but I actually ended up really being thankful about this trick twice on my journey. While I was never actually robbed, I did get pickpocketed in Barcelona Spain. But, thanks to my DIY pocket in my sports bra, all my cash and credit cards were safe in my boobs, ha-ha! Basically, you just take a small bit of sports grade fabric from a craft store and you sew three sides into the side of the breast. This keeps your cards and cash slightly under your arm, and out of harm's way. I didn’t use this trick all the time, but when I was in areas I KNEW there were pickpockets, I did this. Which leads to my other point…
2. Have a Decoy Wallet
If you’re like me, you have a really nice expensive wallet that you are scared of losing or getting stolen. Well, if you’re in a crowded city like I was, you will barely notice that you got pickpocketed. A great way to add to your bra security is to have a decoy wallet. This has come in handy time and time again. A friend of mine in New-York City recently used this trick to someone who was trying to rob her, she threw the decoy and ran in the other direction. In most situations, the thief doesn’t want to get caught by anyone, so they take their spoils and run. By the time they get to a safe place and check your fake wallet. For me, my favorite use of this decoy is putting it into my back pocket, so that potential pickpockets will see my decoy as a target, and not my purse.
3. Pack a Defensive Item
(DISCLAIMER: I do not condone bringing illegal items into foreign countries, so please do your research before packing anything when traveling abroad!!!)
So, now that I got that out of the way, I do recommend packing something into your checked bag (if you have one) to make sure you feel safe. Pepper spray and small tasers have this way of making a girl feel safer, and even the sound of a taser is enough to make a predator back off (yes, talking from personal experience). I checked my taser into a clear plastic bag with a note stating “I am a single female traveler, please do not confiscate” in case your luggage gets searched. I highly recommend the Vipertek Tasers, they’re rechargeable and have a flashlight (their $9.99 USD Price tag is also pretty sweet). If you’re traveling to a country where the use of these items is unpermitted, packing a defensive alarm is your next best bet. Brite-Strike makes one that is very loud and will alert anyone within a half mile radius.
4. Download the Offline Version of Google Translate Languages
To my surprise, a few people I have in my close friend circle didn’t know you could actually do this! Yes, you can do this- and it helped me so much in Europe when I was in more rural areas. It helps you talk to people when you normally wouldn’t have any way of doing it. Funny enough, locals can usually tell you need help, and they will get upset and frustrated if they can’t help you because of a language barrier (In my experience this is especially true in Greece, the people there are honestly the nicest you’ll ever meet), so if you can at least get your message across with a translation (even if it’s a bad one) they will be able to assist you easier.
5. Don’t Look like a Tourist
Now, this should go without saying, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Don’t have your map out all the time, don’t look lost, and don’t look vulnerable! If you need to take a peek at your map, try to do it out of sight of people. Step into a café, grab a drink and reassess your situation and position. If you stop every few feet to look at your map, you make yourself into a target. Try to also fit into wherever it is you’re going, if you’re going to Greece, don’t prance around in loud colors, or act too goofy. Wear soft colors, and be relaxed, in other words, pretend you’re a local! If you act like you own the place, and know your way around, you won’t be an obvious target.
With that being said, this is just some stuff that I noticed in my travels that made me feel much better about traveling alone. Just remember, not everyone is out to get you! When I traveled to the EU I met some of the sweetest people, and only had one bad experience with pick-pocketing. Just remember that traveling alone is an adventure, it’s empowering! You shouldn’t be afraid to do it. Stay safe out there, and enjoy your adventure!