By Charyne Pfeuffer
Small Luxury Hotels of the World has seen a 53% increase in demand for rooms booked by lone women in the past few years. So how do these independent travelers stay safe on the road?
Travel insurance helps cover unexpected crises like medical bills, but doesn't cover everything. We connected with Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, a crisis-response company that recently worked with the high-profile athletes of the US Ski team at the Sochi Olympics. Global Rescue and its team of former Navy SEALs and Air Force paramedics handle 1,000+ operations per year.
Here are Richards' tips on how women can prepare for a travel emergency:
1. Bring a communication device that works. In addition to bringing your cell phone (which you should make sure works wherever you're headed), a satellite phone or messaging device can be extremely important in remote areas of the world where there are no cellular networks. They can also save your life in an emergency or disaster where cellular networks become overloaded or crash.
2. Do your research. Read maps before venturing out to a new place and be conscious of areas to avoid before heading out for the day. Get detailed information on specific areas and find out the neighborhoods where crime is likely to occur. Sign up for text alerts to stay current on global events that may impact your travel. Women should also be aware of major international hotels or key public locations along your itinerary where you can go if you feel unsafe.
3. Purchase medical and security evacuation coverage. If you need to get out of a tight situation, your insurance company isn't going to do it. If you get hurt and need to be medically evacuated, or need to escape civil unrest, having coverage can save you tens of thousands of dollars.
4. Alert friends and family to your itinerary. Do this before departing for your trip. Include contact information for anyone else who is traveling with you. Let people know when they should expect to hear from you next. Register with the U.S. State Department before your trip here.
5. Brush up on practical safety tips. Avoid telling strangers that you are traveling alone. Try not to establish patterns such as leaving or returning to your hotel at the same time every day. Maintain "situational awareness" and avoid walking alone at night. Do not stay on the first floor of a hotel or hostel. When using public transportation (train, bus, or ferry) in an underdeveloped country, if possible, ride in the highest class available. Other simple preparations include: carrying a whistle; carrying a small flashlight; carrying or wearing comfortable shoes; and carrying an ID, a small amount of cash, and a credit or ATM card on your person and not in your purse in case of theft.
For more information on Global Rescue, go here.