Safe travel for women and tips for pregnant travellers
Thousands of women of every age travel alone both in Europe and farther afield. How can you stay safe abroad? Here are our tips for travelling solo, plus guidance about safe travel for pregnant women.
19 tips for women travelling solo
Many of these tips apply to anyone travelling solo, men and women.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home so they know where you’re supposed to be at certain times, and check in with them regularly to confirm you’re on track
- Scan vital documents like your passport, visas, tickets and reservation documents and save them to the cloud so you can access them anywhere with an internet connection
- Add all the relevant emergency contact numbers, including the British Embassy phone number, to your mobile phone before you go, and take great care not to lose your phone, a vital lifeline
- If you’re lost look at your map or phone discreetly so you don’t look too much like a tourist
- If you’re doing Airbnb, choose places with plenty of good reviews and avoid those without reviews. The same goes for couch surfing or any other online accommodation service
- If you have an expensive smartphone, might it be better to leave it at home and take an older, less valuable phone abroad with you? Whatever you do, don’t forget your charger
- Apps can also support safe travel. The app development scene is fluid, with new apps coming online every day, so check for the latest, best and most relevant travel apps before you go
- Travel light. The less you carry with you, the less attractive you are as a target for robbery
- Spread your travel money, cards and so on throughout your luggage and your person. If something gets lost or stolen you still have stashes of cash and alternative ways to get more
- Leave good jewellery and watches at home, so it doesn’t don’t tempt thieves
- Check out what the locals wear and take their lead – you’ll blend in better
- If you’re on a train, sit in a carriage with plenty of other people, not an empty one
- If you’re concerned about unwanted attention from men, wear a wedding ring
- If you’re likely to feel nervous alone in a hotel room or hostel, take portable door and window alarms with you
- Cover up with an all-in-one swimsuit rather than a bikini, especially in countries where local women don’t expose a lot of bare flesh
- Find a local friend. There are all sorts of online networks designed to connect solo female travellers with supportive local women. They’ll be able to tell you which areas to avoid and which are safe to visit alone
- Never leave your bag unattended
- You can’t take a can of Mace on a plane… but you can take a loud whistle to put off potential attackers or attract attention if you’re being bothered
- Don’t hitch-hike and beware unofficial taxis – never get in a cab unless you know for certain it’s legitimate, properly registered with a cab firm
Just like at home, it’s sensible to trust your own instincts. Be alert, be friendly, calm and polite, but don’t be scared to raise the alarm and make a noise if you need to.
19 tips for pregnant travellers
- Bear in mind long haul flights and long journeys in general can be very uncomfortable when you’re pregnant – a short-haul holiday might be best
- Take a travel pillow for extra comfort
- Take a break every hour and do some simple stretching exercises to fight cramp and heartburn. Better still, get up and walk as often as you can
- Wear special compression stockings to help avoid deep vein thrombosis
- Put your travel pillow behind the small of your back if it aches
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
- How long is the transfer between the airport and your accommodation? The more pregnant you are, the shorter the better
- Just in case, make a note of the nearest hospital at your destination
- Buy comprehensive travel insurance and tell the insurer you’re pregnant. If you need to buy extra cover for your condition, do it
- Check which travel vaccinations – if any – you need at your chosen destination before you book. Ideally you’ll go to a place or places where you don’t need any. Ask us if you’re uncertain. Our travel nurses are perfectly qualified to recommend which vaccinations are safe and which it’s best to avoid when pregnant
- Plan ahead bearing in mind what stage of pregnancy you’re at when you go away
- Comfort is everything. Take loose clothes and wear flat shoes so you can enjoy your holiday rather than feeling uncomfortable
- Your bump can grow remarkably fast at some stages – will your clothes still fit you if your holiday lasts two, three or even four weeks?
- If you feel weary, give in to it and chill out
- Eat healthily on holiday to avoid constipation
- Don’t drink tap water unless it’s guaranteed safe, and avoid fruit and veg washed in tap water. Don’t take ice in your drinks and take great care over personal hygiene. If fruit has a skin, peel it first
- Take antibacterial hand and body wipes with you, for a belt-and-braces approach to avoiding stomach bugs
- Stick to gentle activities
- If you’re hell bent on sampling a demanding sport or activity, ask your GP whether it’s safe before you go. A long-ish hike is one thing, bungee jumping is quite another!
It’s all about common sense, really. You know best how your body is feeling – go with the flow, take it easy and if in doubt, don’t do it.