My company, Escape the Wolf, recommends that travelers use its THREAT™ matrix to research travel before global travel. In addition, below are steps women can take to travel safely. Read more ways to protect your security in my book, 100 Deadly Skills.
Limit the amount of information shared about your travel plans–before and during the trip.
Use covered luggage ID tags and remove upon arrival.
Dress and behave conservatively, as appropriate for the local culture.
Observe local customs as much as possible and try to learn unintended implications of your personal behavior, mannerisms and dress. For example, smiling, making eye contact, or touching males can be misunderstood in some cultures.
Keep alert for anyone who seems to be following you or takes special interest in you.
Vary your daily routine. Never take the same route to or from your hotel and vary the times of your comings and goings. This will make it more difficult for someone to target you for an assault or kidnapping.
Carry your handbag on the side away from the street to avoid grab-and-run attacks.
Stay at reputable hotels and avoid rooms by elevators, hallways, or terraces.
Choose a room above the ground floor but not higher than the seventh floor for fire safety purposes.
You are at your most vulnerable arriving and departing from your hotel. Don’t linger in the public space around the hotel, the parking lot or indoor garage.
Use a door alarm, carry a whistle, and keep a self-defense weapon near your bed (a fishing weight wrapped in a handkerchief makes a great weapon).
Consider carrying pepper spray or spray deodorant.
Preventing Sexual Assault
Wear clothing that is hard to remove. Avoid tight-fitting clothing and makeup.
Consider wearing a wedding or similar ring, even if you aren’t married.
Remember assaults can also be at the hands of acquaintances, so choose fixers, interpreters and drivers carefully.
Avoid wearing anything that could be grabbed–jewelry, ponytail, etc.
In case of a sexual assault attempt, yell loudly and smash or break items. Tell the attacker you’re pregnant or have AIDS.
Urinating or soiling yourself in the event of an impending attack may be a deterrent.
Carry a condom as it may prevent you from getting AIDS if you can’t fend off the attacker.
Escape the Wolf thanks the Committee to Protect Journalists and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Professor Judith Matloff for contributions on how to avoid sexual assault.