Women Travelers: 2006
Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in Europe? What are some of the challenges you've faced and how have you dealt with them? Are there places women should not travel alone? How do you stay safe?
Be smart, but do it!
I felt quite safe when I travelled alone to Italy for five weeks in 2004 (I was 22 at the time). In addition to a sense of independence I've never experienced anywhere else, I was treated well by the Italians if not better than when I travelled there with my family years before. You will get more male attention as a tourist in Italy, but that's part of the cultural experience and is not scary if you view it with this attitude. I would always encourage the solo travel experience, and especially as a woman. In my experience, when I told people I was going alone they were usually against it because I was female and young. Now, having had such a memorable and life shaping experience, I regret ever having doubted myself because of other people's fears. You can do it, and having done it you will gain such a confidence that you'll feel as though there's nothing you can't do. Enjoy!
Boulder, CO USA Thu 12/28/2006
Train travel in Germany
I took the exact same ride from Heidelburg to Frankfurt alone, my first time in Europe. It was uneventful and easy. Keep your eyes open, stay alert, and don't be afraid to ask for help, like I did when I was trying to figure out how to get to the airport from the Bahnhof. Haben SpaB!
KS USA Wed 12/27/2006
Train Travel In German
My daughter and I felt very safe traveling during the day time. Have a lock on each opening of your luggage and back pack! Never leave them unattended. Hold or guard them when the doors are about to open or close to avoid the snatch and runs. ENJOY!
CA USA Wed 12/20/2006
Wedding rings in Polande
While traveling in Poland for two weeks by myself, I wore a "wedding band" on my left hand for almost the whole trip before I found out that Polish people wear their wedding bands on their right hands!!! What a surprise! I thought you would like to know.
Rita Van Zant
Hendersonville, NC USA Mon 12/18/2006
Confidence is Key
As a single 36 year old woman, it took me some time to start traveling internationally on my own. Despite being extremely independent I alway thought it would feel odd. NO LONGER! I recently came back from Italy - 7 days in Florence as part of a RS Tour, then 5 days in Rome on my own.
I never felt unsafe no matter what time of day. I often felt that it was safer being alone than in a small group. When traveling solo you don't always look like a tourist in the city.
I play it safe - watch how much I drink, manage my bags, keep my head up, etc. However, I find Europe safer than the US. . . next trip Paris for New Years eve!
Newport Beach, ca USA Fri 12/15/2006
Train Travel in Germany
I am 18 years old and plan on taking a train from Heidleberg, Germany to the Airport in Frankfurt, during the day. Is the train travel in Germany fairly safe for solo women travelers?
Charlotte, NC USA Thu 12/14/2006
I just got back from London. I hired a tour guide and felt safe walking around with someone that knew the area. It was a London Registered Guide Sally Botwright - she was very informative about the history and where to go that made it interesting.
Dana Point , Ca USA Tue 12/12/2006
I think it is incorrect to say that Europe is safe and that the US has a high crime rate throughout. Crime, including violent crime, is rising in Europe and there are certainly areas in London or Paris, for example where it is not safe to go. Though the overall violent crime rate is higher in the US, a lot of it is concentrated in inner-city neigborhoods with drugs and gangs and shootings, not in the vast majority of the rest of America. There are many parts of America that are safer than European cities and there are many parts of Europe that are safer than American cities. As such, regardless of whether one is in the Europe or the US, one should avoid bad neighborhoods and take the regular safety precautions and your chances of being a crime victim will be low.
USA Fri 12/01/2006
well ive only been to portugal and loved it
i found it pretty safe i would walk home late at nite and didn't have/percieve n e threats
i found most helpfule and didnt do n e thing differently than what i would do back in canada
ca Wed 11/29/2006
Have any of you ever camped alone in Europe?
How safe did you feel?
How about carrying your gear?
I've done the hostelling thing and am considering camping some of my next round - however I haven't met any women who have done such a thing (with the exception of a Hungarian woman) and would like to know if it is safe.
USA Wed 11/29/2006
What you need to remember, ladies, is that Europe has so little violent crime compared to the US, you are probably safer walking through the worst part of London or Paris in the middle of the night than you are in small town America in the middle of the day! You're more likely to get pick pocketed than anything. Of course, be smart. Pay attention to your surroundings. Walk tall and proud and confident. Criminals look for victims, so don't look like one.
I live and work in London, take the tube every day, and often walk alone at night. Believe me, I feel safer here than I did in my hometown of Portland, Oregon! Never ever let fear keep you from exploring the world!
Uxbridge (London), UK Mon 11/27/2006
Canadian living in Europe
I moved to London last March for 3 months and now live on an island in Greece and I'm 25 and came on my own. I've had no problems. Yes, guys will try to get your attention (probably no matter where you are) but just ignore them, don't make eye contact, and move on.
I also started taking karate in Sept and it makes you feel so much more confident and it's a lot of fun! I'd recommend it if you wanted to learn self defense.
Also if you act like a local you won't stand out as much. Like if you have to check your map, try not to make it obvious and always make it look like you know where you're going.
Paros, Greece (orig. Canada) Tue 11/14/2006
Don't bother with the fake wedding ring in Scandinavia. If anything, it will only invite the kind of attention you don't want - men, usually married, specifically looking for uncommitted flings with married women.
Oslo, Norway Thu 11/09/2006
Safe than Sorry!
As a single traveling professional, I would suggest purchasing an inexpensive simple sterling silver wedding band. When traveling abroad, a married woman is often perceived differently than a single woman! Plus it makes one think there is a man close by! (Not that we need one to be!) This is an age old suggestion but I think still relevant in today's world. Even more relevant depending on your destination abroad.
Canada Sun 10/29/2006
Re: Girls Unite
I agree that people should watch out for and help each other. It is also important to keep your guard up in such a situation because sometimes a man and a woman will pair up, create a scene by fighting, then prey on the person who comes to assist. I once had a friend who was scammed in a similar situation, assaulted and ended up with a brain injury for her efforts.
Iowa City, IA USA Tue 09/05/2006
Women should never be discouraged from travelling because of possible security issues, just be aware and strong. I went to London, Paris, then Lyon to meet my husband. I was trying to save money with public transportation, which is usually very good. When I got to the Lyon train station, I decided to save money and take the subway to my hotel. As I was looking at the map, to figure out my route, I noticed a young woman with an American/Canadian accent being accosted by a man, who insisted on kissing her cheeks and asking her out for a coffee. She was clearly uncomfortable, so I walked over and said to her, " May I ask you a question?" the man smiled and proceeded to come to me, arms out and put his hands on my shoulders. I ducked and walked over to the other woman and said firmly, " Excuse me, but I need to speak to her." I grabbed her arm and pulled her away. We talked for a moment, he shrugged his shoulders and went onto a french gal who gave him a strong shove and continued on. I think we girls should keep an eye on each other. A cute guy giving you the eye is one thing, but any decent man knows you should not push yourself on a girl by herself in a train station. Always keep yourself safe, but help a fellow female traveller out when you can. By the way, that incident made me decide to splurge on a fifteen dollar cab ride to my hotel. Well worth it sometimes.
Houston, TX USA Mon 09/04/2006
Paris - safety
Hi - just adding my comments to travelling safely in Paris here. I got home a couple weeks ago from my second solo trip to Europe, and it was my second time to Paris.
In general, I have found that if you are travelling alone, the main thing you can do to be safe is to always be aware of what's going on around you. Keep to places where there are lots of people around. Do your research before you leave home - find out before your trip which places in a city are sketchy and should be avoided. Be familiar with city maps and where your current location is on them, if you're out and about.
Paris is a great city - and I feel quite safe there. However...I discovered that men there can be quite forward. If they try to start a conversation with you, and you decide to engage in that conversation even a bit, you will inevitably be asked out. A girl from my hostel was even followed in the city by a guy she talked to in the metro. About 5 or 6 times in Paris, men started talking to me, and I didn't think anything of it - because you just chat to be friendly - but it always ended up in "will you walk with me", "go for coffee with me", "here's my email, will you practice English with me", etc,etc. Then I figured out the best way to get rid of the hassle is to just ignore them and don't respond, even if it seems rude. They usually quit after a bit. But also make sure you find a place with lots of other people around, because it's safer, if a man is really persistent.
So now, if I've just completely scared anyone about travelling in Europe by themselves- I've done 2 trips - one in 2004 (I was 24), for 8 weeks, and one this summer for 6 weeks - both on my own. And both trips were fine. I did a lot of reading and research before I went, which paid off once I was there, because I knew some basic things to expect. Booking places to stay beforehand, rather than showing up in a city and trying to find a place to sleep, also contributes to peace of mind.
So if you're dreaming of a Europe trip, and can't find anyone to go with you - just go by yourself! You'll meet great people, learn so much, and come back home with a new sense of self-confidence!
Canada Tue 08/29/2006
I spent two weeks in Paris this past winter, mostly alone. It was my first trip alone, age 21, and I stayed at a hostel in the Marais, where I felt completely safe. I mostly felt safe, but I did take some precautions; I did not go out after dark, and I did not go to the northern part of the city (around St. Denis) as I was warned by several people, including some Parisians, not to go there alone. I never felt exactly threatened, but there were times when I was slightly on edge; mostly on the Metro, esp. the area around Montemartre. I'd just say always be aware; don't stick out, don't be a target. I met another American girl at my hostel who was unbelievably naive and told me stories of talking to strange forward men on the train and taking up with random male tourists, experiences which could very easily have been avoided and could easily have turned out badly for her. But it's about the same as it is in the US, although, obviously, if language is a barrier, it's easier to get into a misunderstanding/potentially dangerous situation. Just be alert! And have a terrific time; Paris is a wonderful city to explore on your own!
Philadelphia, USA Sun 08/27/2006
Lucky you! My daughter is 19 and traveled to Paris twice last year on her own while studying abroad. The packing light is an excellent suggestion- for nine days (you don't say during what month) you could get by with two pairs of pants and just a few tops, besides what you wear on the plane. Your hands will be free and you should be able to fit everything in a messenger-style bag (but keep your important documents and most of your cash and cards in a hidden money "belt" of your choice.) Wear super comfortable shoes, of course! Take flip flops to wear in the hotel or hostel... Lastly, the only place she encountered anything sketchy or felt scared was in the Jardin des Tuileries. This may've been because it was February and much less populated with tourists. She said to pay close attention to where you are going, that she found it way-too-easy easy to veer off from the main (safe)path if you don't pay attention and that is where she ran into the two big guys...Have a wonderful trip!
USA Wed 08/16/2006
Veronica - I would suggest not carrying a backpack, or, if you do, make it one with wheels or that can also be carried like a suitcase. You'll get a lot more respect from hotels, taxis, shuttles, and restaurants if you're not looking like a backpacker. Also, you may want to get a shoulder bag rather than a day pack. You can safely carry this over your shoulder and neck without risk of someone trying to get into a bag that's carried on your back. Most importantly, have a great time. Paris is beautiful!
Seattle, WA USA Tue 08/15/2006
I am going to Paris for nine days and am traveling alone. I am 20 years old. I understand the importance of dressing conservativly and carrying myself with confinidence, but what are some other tips you have for traveling safely while in France? I would be very greatful for any sort of advise you have to offer. Thank you.
Poulsbo, WA USA Tue 08/15/2006
Periods and Traveling!
I have travelled a lot, and the worst thing that happens to me, and it always does is my period! Right in the middle of the trip. Here are some things that you will want to know. Britian and Ireland do not carry Midol or pamperin. They do have alternatives but you need to talk to the actual pharamsist for them. And they dont work the same, they tend to be strictly for cramps and pain. Which they work brilliantly! But do nothing for mood, fatigue and bloating.
Secondly feminie products in India, are not useful!
In the places i was in in Africa, Malawi and Tanzania feminine products can be just as illusive as a rhino. If you can find them in at a Western type store, tampax and Always products can be found. But they are ungodly expensive. They do have a local brand, which I was unwilling to experiment with.
So I reccommend something I learned about from reading the Graffiti wall. The Diva Cup! It isnt for those uncomfortable with their bodily fluids, it takes a little getting used to inserting. It is a menstration cup, and it is inserted like a tampoon.
It is very inexpensive in comparison to feminie products, it is small, enviormentally friendly, and you only have to clean it a couple times a day unless your flow is heavy. Granted the upfront cost is about 2 months worth of tampons and pads, but it lasts for 10 years easily, and is completely safe to reuse. You dont have to buy the other products! To learn more go to the Divacup.com It can be purchased online cheaper than what they sell it for, I got mine at Amazon.com
Oh and it never leaks, and you never have to worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome! So really how can you go wrong? Safe, convienent, small, and you dont have to worry about finding quailty feminine products. I bought one and really I never want to go back to anything else! Thanks to whoever reccommeded it on the wall!
Naperville, IL USA Thu 08/10/2006
Discouraging male advances
I recently discovered my personal trick to discouraging male advances while traveling in Italy. While I was by myself in and around Rome, I found wearing my sunglasses prevented many of the stares and cat-calls. I wore them even in the rain and found that with them on, no one would bother me. I don't know if they made me look like more of a local or prevented eye contact, but they work! Just watch where you are going, as they make scooters much more difficult to see!
Seattle, WA USA Tue 08/08/2006
I was nervous about traveling to London alsone especially since I needed to stay in a suburb and train into the city. I hired Sally Botwright to meet me at the airport and escort me to Croydon. The following day she met me in Croydon and we toured London together. By the end of the day I felt confident that I could train back by myself though Sally offered to accompany me. Sally was a wonderful guide. Our pastor recommended her. Normally she takes groups on tour. I was her first solo traveler and we ended up spending the day as friends. She tailored the tour to my tastes. I was not interested in standing in line at major tourist sights. Sally found the perfect spot to get pictures of the guards of Buckingham Palace away from the crush of people. I love architecture and she shared stories of the houses that made the history of London come alive. Sally helped me lay out my solo day including transportation. She even called to arrange my theater tickets. If you ever need a friend in London contact Sally Botwright at http://www.sallybotwright.co.u
REDDING, CA USA Sun 08/06/2006
Agressive boys in italy
I agree about the men in Italy. I went to a techno with some girlfriends of mine (there were four of us total). At the last minute a guy friend volunteered to go with us "to be our escort", the sweetheart, and about fifteen minutes into it we were SO glad he had come!!! We had heard that women had to be cautious in Italy, but we thought this is a public place, there were several of us, and when we tell the guy no surely he will get the idea that we are just there to dance and have a fun night out, not a make out session. WRONG We would tell the guys no, and they would STILL pursue! Ladies, beware. If you are going out with your friends, make sure you are just as agressive saying no as the guys are pursuing you! And if you have access to a sweet guy who's willing to pretend like he's your boyfriend, take him along! (that's partially sarcastic... just be aware!)-Jess
Kent, OH USA Sun 08/06/2006
A girlfriend and I toured Italy for 20 days in the summer, and I thought we could manage as two female travellers...whoa! The men were relentless and horrid. i seriously thought I had flown to another planet...there is NO RESPECT for women, (the kind I know anyways). There were also plenty of male/female couples travelling that we got to know who were very dismayed at the blantant cat-calling and disrespectful approaches by the men regardless of the fact that SHE WAS OBVIOUSLY ALREADY WITH SOMEONE ELSE!!, Couldn't wait to leave.... BEWARE!!!
Vancouver, BC canada Tue 08/01/2006
Ireland and Paris
I backpacked for two weeks alone (I'm 24) in Ireland and in Paris, and I never had a single problem. Especially in Ireland I always felt more than safe. I even felt at times like..in Dingle..that the locals knew I was traveling alone and kind of watched out for me. Men were very kind and never intimidating. I felt more than accepted and women were very friendly as well. I think that if you're careful, and don't go out to a pub by yourself (go with some other hostlers) and get drunk, you'll be fine. Keep yourself out of dangerous situations and always be in charge of yourself. In Paris, I even felt that people were much nicer than I was expecting. Besides some language barriers..I had no problems there, but was with a male friend much of time in Paris, so I can't speak much about being alone in Paris.
Syracuse, IN USA Mon 07/24/2006
Hi, I am a sixteen year old girl from the U.S. and I will be traveling with my friend and her family to Sicily (Messina), Naples (Capri and Amalfi), Rome, Venice, Livorno, Barcelona, Cannes and Dubrovnik. I would love to get some tips and pointers from women (and men) who may have at some point visited or stayed in any of these areas. Suggestions like, where to go, what places someone my around my age might like, how to respectfully deal with certain men who have difficulty understanding 'no' (Are there certain ways that are better than others given the places I'm going?), what few areas are generally unsafe all around and should be avoided, what attitudes/conversations/behavior are best avoided and really just the usual tips for someone my age. I'll probably just be with my friend most of the time when I'm off the cruise ship and on land. Any positive feedback is greatly appreciated!!!
Elisa Maria Valbuena
N/A, NC USA Wed 07/12/2006
be on alert when you travel to Thailand, Spain, Greece, South America, Indonesia and Morocco!!
I've just read an article of a true story in "Glamour" magazine about a tragedy happened to 2 young british girls while they were touring in Thailand. They went down a quiet beach at night to enjoy the peace. One of the girls decided to call home for her mom so she walked down toward the beach. The other girl didn't accompany her since she figured there was no one around so it should be safe.Just minutes later, she never saw her friend return, and that's how the tragedy begun, her friend was raped and murdered by 2 young fishmen who just watched some pornagraphy previously, apparantly the girl was their sexual victim. I was shocked after reading this article, I've been to Thailand more than 5 times, I could never picture something like this could happen in Thailand where people are so incredibly nice and tourist-friendly. I guess you just can't be careful enough!This is a reminder to all of us, be more on alert when you're travelling to Spain, South America,Indonesia and Morocco. A lot of rape cases happened particularly in those countries.Think again before you accept any stranger's invitation to his house.
Taiwan Sun 07/02/2006
I just returned from Greece a week ago. I had no problems at all.
USA Fri 06/16/2006
Re: "Can anyone give me advice as a single woman travelling to Nafplio in Greece for a week this summer?"
Hi Callie, it used to be that Greek men in Athens (nearby) would virtually swarm foreign women. The scene may have quieted down now, at least according to an article I read in a London paper. You can try Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, the Eastern Europe branch -- when I searched on Nafplio, I got a lot of hits.
Baltimore, MD USA Mon 06/05/2006
To Sarah visiting Eastern Europe...
Your itinerary sounds fantastic, I am very jealous! While the only part of Eastern Europe I have been to is Romania, I did not feel uncomfortable at all. I am Romanian-American, but my Romanian is awful. I would recommend learning a bit of the languages in places where English is less likely to be spoken, or at least "hello" "goodbye" etc. You will encounter gypsies in some countries, but simply keep track of your belongings and be firm. Be aware of your surroundings, and use common sense about what areas you visit at what time, just as you would in the U.S. Have a great time!
Atlanta, GA USA Sun 06/04/2006
Don't worry, you'll be old soon.
Tedra, My first time in Paris, I too was pestered, followed and had Greek restauranteurs in the Latin Quarter ringing bells(literally!)and calling out to me. I was younger and blonde. When I returned 8 years later, I was left alone for the most part, and my daughter was stared at by the men my age (I wanted to put a sign on her that said, "14!!!"). Don't ask me which I liked better.
USA Sun 05/28/2006
Tedra that must be very annoying. Although I have to say I never had a problem when traveling in Europe. Maybe it's when they see a foreign girl alone. It's one thing for someone to befriend you; it's another to pester you constantly. Even if you are petite use an icy stare and you big voice to tell them to back off!
L.A., CA USA Sun 05/21/2006
I am an 18 year old student studying at La Sorbonne in Paris. I am originally from New York. I am told that I am an easy target, being petite and not at all intimidating to the eye. Perhaps some women find persistency flattering, however, I am not one of them. Apart from the nearly daily stares, and cat calls, I had a man reach up the back of my skirt in the metro station. Mind you, the hem of the skirt was down by my knees. I am fortunate enough to have quick reflexes, and gouged his eyes, as to immobilize him. I screamed, and a police officer arrived. However, this same police officer asked me on a date after I filed my report. I find in Paris, the Parisien men are not only more persistant, but believe that it is their responsibility to recognize women and cat call, follow (which has happened on numerous occasions), etcetera. I feel as if years of feminism are being tromped upon. It can make oneself feel rather irritated if you find that you are unable to walk seven blocks to the grocery store without being pestered. I would not say Paris is not safe as a woman being alone, but know how to protect yourself (self defense), and how to make it clear that you are not interested. Also, I cannot stress enough how important it is to know your landlord before you sign the lease. Mine refused to give me documents unless I would go out with him, which resulted in me having to find another place very last notice. Be ready to fend off men.
New York, NY USA Sun 05/21/2006
Solo Female UK traveller
I spent 2+ weeks with nothing but a large hiker's backpack all over the UK this last January, and I would say it was one of the best experiences of my life. However, being a solo female traveler, I found myself always paying attention to my surroundings. When I stayed in London, I stayed in Kensington which is a little more upscale than a lot of areas and that alone helped me feel safer. I stayed on a main street (Cromwell Rd) within 3 blocks of a tube station (Gloucester Rd) so when I walked home from the station late at night, I didn't have to walk far to get to my hotel. Once, I went to a party at a local friend's flat in East London. I exited the Bromley by Bow station and instantly realized I was in a whole different kind of area- very working class and somewhat deserted. As it was already after dark and I was alone, and only had vague directions on how to get to her flat, I took precautions. For example, I put my wallet in my inner coat pocket, tucked and hid my day bag under my coat as best I could, and also tied my hair back into a ponytail and tucked it into the collar of my jacket. This way I tried to look less feminine. I also walked quickly and with a purpose, not making eye contact with anyone as I tried to find my friend's flat. I got really lost and nervous, but found a woman in a car of whom I asked directions, and eventually found the place. I probably shouldn't have been there after dark, but I was fine. In Scotland I got my butt pinched once in a pub in Edinburgh. Luckily I was with a group of local friends who laughed it off and said if it happened again to swat the hand away and walk away. I laughed it off too, though the American in me wanted to punch whoever did it! ;) I was always conscious of where my wallet was at all times, though, especially on public transit. All in all, I never felt threatened in my 2+ weeks overseas. And the main thing I learned is to look like you belong exactly where you are, because you do! I return to the UK and also will visit Rome and Paris this coming December and I absolutely CANNOT WAIT!! :)
Oakland, CA USA Thu 05/11/2006
Can anyone give me advice as a single woman travelling to Nafplio in Greece for a week this summer?
USA Wed 05/03/2006
I studied abroad for 4 months in Europe and traveled all over the continent on weekends and over a couple week long breaks. I traveled mostly with two other girls, all of us in our early 20s. We dressed appropriately and never had any safety problems. Of course there are random guys hitting on you, but it wasn't as bad as the States. There were actually more men in my study abroad program who had safety issues than women. In general, I would say use common sense and you will have a wonderful trip.
Ohio USA Tue 04/25/2006
I have traveled to England several times, twice with my husband and once with another female. My friend and I had one guy come out of a pub and pinch my rear end, commenting on my "bum". At the end of the trip, I had the same experience at a pub- another pinch from a very drunk Brit.My friend gave him a slap on the arm and told him to watch himself.We also had men run out of restaurants asking if we were married. My husband and I usually give each other a day to ourselves and I have had a couple of experiences when I have been by myself in Hyde Park.Like another post here, I have had a man follow me and then duck behind a public restroom and start making kissing noises at me. For once, I was really afraid, and I walked as quickly as I could toward a group of policemen. The man disappeared. Another time in Hyde Park, I had a man from Dubai asking me to show him around London. I told him I was meeting my husband, but he refused to take no for an answer, so I just walked firmly away from him into a group of people. He eventually left. Still, I think London is a fairly safe place. I am an average looking mom in my thirties, so I don't think men are simply swept away with lust. It may be possible that they sense I am a tourist, though I don't usually carry my camera when I am by myself. I like the tip about a flashlight. I think that lets people know you are on your guard. The only other tip I would give is to be firm instead of trying to be polite. My friend and I were too polite and finally had to turn on the girl power a couple of times to get the point across.
Houston, TX USA Tue 04/25/2006
you never really travel alone
I am in my early forties, and I have always traveled alone, just ends up that way. But when I travel it is in Greece for 3 to 7 months, Italy for 6 months and shorter visits to London.( I but a ticket and help out here and there to stay longer) It is interesting when reading past comments about being discriminated for red hair and wear comfortable shoes to run away in from men. I know that people look at everyone as an individual. I have had some great experiences, asked to pick olives and look for snails on a cold morning as a local on a Greek Island and invited to share and experience things,because of being by myself. You are never really alone, you have postcards to send backhome, calling cards and emails of friends you pick up alone the way, and a good book to read in a beautiful location if that is what you want.It is true you wish you had someone to experience the things you do. But that is the great thing about returning. Italy is wonderful food and I have found that even times when it was a little questionable about a situation, nothing happened. Not to say nothing does, you need to be responsible. Treat people how you want to be treated and smile and have patience. The more you worry or judge others the less you experience what is being offered you ,,,, a way of seeing things a different way and opening your mind. I love travel so much I am becoming a online travel agent. The whole reason people travel is to see and experience different people and food and culture. Common sense is the best travel accessory.
lubbock, TX USA Fri 04/21/2006
I have not travelled in europe but I think what I say may apply to travel anywhere in the globe. Dress properly - no exposure! you will get unwanted attention and that may land you in harms way!
charlestown, va USA Sun 04/16/2006
safe in Turkey
Mary, I guess it was your name, it is really very safe in Turkey. SOme of the comments here are unbelievable! If you are a beautiful woman, yes, men will look at you in TUrkey, but won't rape you! COme on... In Sultanahmet area, yes, there are some young guys who would like to talk to you, but most of them do it just to sell you carpets! Just, say, you are not interested and move on. They won't chase you... In other parts in Istanbul, you will never and ever have such a problem. Sultanahmet and Grand Bazaar are touristic places and people are after selling you things. ANd you can wear anything you like, shorts, pants, mini skirts... What will happen if you wear? Men will look at you, as they do in every other country if your legs are nice... If you want to go out at nights, go to nice places, don't spend time around Sultanahmet at nights as there is nothing much to do at nights there. Go to Ortakoy, Bebek, Kurucesme, Etiler, Taksim... You will find a lot of nice places there and you will have great time. THe thing is, Sultanahmet is the old town, Turkish people's residences are far away from that area. So, if you go to the places above you will see REAL TUrkish people there. The ones, asking for your mobile numbers, etc, and talking about camels(god, there are no camels in Turkey at all, by the way) are not from Turkey, they are the people mostly immigrated from Iran, Iraq, etc. You won't be prisoned in your hotel rooms if you know where to go. If you go to the places, Turkish people go you will have a great time for sure. Just, buy a "Istanbul Life", and you will see all the options. And about the Black Sea! I've been there last summer. I was travelling with my two girl friends. I had a great time there. But, language may be a problem. Cause most of the people can not speak English there. So, it is safe but I think it is best to go there with a tour. Just arrange a good tour from Istanbul, like Asya Tur, ETS, Duru Tour... Go there with a known company in Turkey. You will absolutely love the nature in Black Sea! Go to Sumela Monastry, Zil Kale, Uzunkopru in the city Trabzon. And in the city, Rize: go to Ayder Yaylasi... You will love and fall in love with Black Sea. But, as I've said before, don't go alone, not because it is not safe, just because you may have language problems. And though, it is not a problem to wear mini skirts in Istanbul, I think it is best if you wear jeans, pants in Black Sea. You don't need long sleeves there, too but just dress a little bit conservative there. Because the weather is usually rainy and chilly there, people are used to wearing trousers, jackets, etc there. So, if you try to climb the Sumela Monastry with a mini skirt, I think it will be a little bit weird. Just ask me anything you need to know. TUrkey is a wonderful country and be sure that there are no camels here at all. Men are men everywhere. And Istanbul is a very modern city where you can even wear bikinis in the streets (not in Sultanahmet) but you must see the women in the Bagdat Street here! It is only April and they have started to go out with straples blouses! So, don't be afraid, come and see with your own eyes. Don't be stucked in Sultanahmet area, just see the historical places there and then take a boat to the Asian side of Istanbul and have a look at the Turkish way of living in Bagdat Street. Or go to Bebek, Ortakoy, Etiler, Taksim in the European Side. Let me know if you need to learn more.
istanbul , USA Sat 04/08/2006
I am considering a trip to Eastern Europe in September by myself (Prague, Krakow, Eger, Budapest and Croatia). Has anyone done this? I have heard mixed messages regarding women traveling alone in Eastern Europe and I am doing some more research to make sure it is a safe idea before I commit. All comments are welcome. Thanks!
Cincinnati, OH USA Mon 04/03/2006
Black Sea and Turkey
I wrote earlier, but had no response. Am still planning to travel to NE Turkey and along the Black Sea this summer. Would like to talk to someone who has done this recently.
USA Thu 03/23/2006
Carry a Light with You--And a Grandma
Something I learned after one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, albeit one that turned out all right, was to carry a flashlight or other light on me while out at night.
I was in Florence one night, returning by myself to the apartment I was sharing with others, when all the lights in the city went out. It was completely dark--like in-a-cave dark. I continued walking after a few minutes, but eventually heard someone walking (and breathing) next to me. I heard a voice speak to me in Italian, and I responded that I didn't speak it, at which point the young man switched to English. He turned out to be nice enough--insisted on walking me back to my apartment, although I insisted equally strongly that he leave me at the piazza near it, which he did--although he of course asked me for a date, which I refused.
The moments before he spoke were terrifying--really some of the worst moments of my life. Although I have often traveled by myself and generally feel quite safe, even in Italy, despite the advances, I would recommend carrying a light with you, like a small LED light clipped to your jacket or purse. (I had a flashlight--in the apartment.) I have found mine to be helpful where there were few streetlights or during power outages, and they weigh practically nothing and the batteries and bulb last a long time.
I suppose it might be argued that having a light would make you that much more visible, but I sure wished I could have shone a flashlight on the man who walked up next to me in Florence that night.
I would say not to worry overmuch, though, as a woman traveling in Europe, even alone. Granted, there are some nuisances, but people are generally very kind, and if you are genuinely in distress, they will help you, perhaps even more readily than they might in the States. You can always glom on to an older woman or a couple in the street or on public transportation--men are sometimes hesitant to act up in front of older women or another man with a woman. Of course, I have also found that my "teacher" look works quite well to deter misbehavior --sometimes better than in the classroom :-).
Hays, KS USA Wed 03/22/2006
I always leave my passport and credit cards in the hotels safe boxes and only take them out when i need to.
Australia Sat 03/11/2006
Don't be afraid
I have travelled all over Europe on my own and generally not had problems I couldn't deal with. In Rome for instance men may look and try to make contact, but generally go away if it's clear you're not interested.
In some small towns in the south of Italy, and in the meseta in Spain, I have had problems with being hissed and whistled. I think that's not a thing about 'Europe', it's just backward small towns the world over where you have these problems.
As a woman you do have one great advantage, that often in southern europe and in France there are women's monasteries where you can stay. I have always found the Sisters give a great welcome if you're interested to chat to them, even if you're not a Catholic.
London, - UK Tue 03/07/2006
Cinque Terre while pregnant
Thanks for the encouragement to try Cinque Terre pregnant. I think I'm going to go for it, and I'm really excited! I appreciate the advice.
Silver Spring, MD USA Thu 02/16/2006
18 year old to Eastern Europe
If a Bulagrian tells you not to go to Bulgaria...I would listen. As far as Poland, you'll be fine, just prepare to see some depressed senior citizens.
USA Tue 02/14/2006
I went to Europe on a mostly solo trip in 2004 (my mom met me after 4 weeks) and I felt very safe. At the time I had just moved out of Houston, TX and I actually felt safer walking around European cities. My first stop was Rome and there was a train strike when I was trying to go to Assisi. Here's a tip -- if someone from the rail line tells you no, that you can't possibly leave today, just keep asking around. The third person I asked helped me find another train and I made it out only about an hour late. The strangest thing that happened was in Venice when an older man walked up and started talking to me. He kept saying that I needed to come to lunch at his house and showed me his ID to prove he was legit. I just said I was meeting some friends and walked away, which worked just fine. I could have outrun him anyway :)
TX USA Mon 02/13/2006
travelling alone in london
Hi. I travelled alone in London three years ago, and found a few problems. First make sure you travel light, not all folks working at the hotels will carry your luggage for you. Also, avoid eye contact...I had some sexual [unwanted ]advances made when I simply looked at certain men or smiled in their direction,..some will even chase you down the street! Wear a cheap plastic watch so if you lose it you won't suffer much! Also, wear only comfortable shoes, if you have to run you'll manage....if you pad you heels and toes with bandages you will avoid blisters alltogether!
Ladner, B.C. CANADA Sun 02/12/2006
Pregnant in Cinque Terre
I have spent time in the Cinque Terre and loved them. I have arthritic knees, so I have to strategize to get around. I like Riomaggiore the best of the towns and I stay there but I would have to say that it is probably not the best bet for you. All of the other towns have some car accessibility and some level walking. Riomaggiore is pretty much on a slant. There is a lovely flat walk around the top of town (elevator), but it is all residential. The walk between Riomaggiore and Manarolo is very doable, even 7 months pregnant. The path from Manarolo to Corniglia isn't taxing from stamina standpoint, although it ends in about a billion steps up to the town, but the footing is loose in places so please, please don't try it.
If I were you I would stay in Monterosso. It is the most "resorty" town, but easy to get around in. From there you would have access to the other towns by train or car and you could do as much or as little climbing as you wish.
USA Fri 02/10/2006
I traveled to Italy this past September. I went to Cinque Terre also. We drove right to the first town, Riomaggiore, and parked there. The walk between the first town, Riomaggiore, and the second town, Manarola, is not hard. It is called the "lovers walk" because it is so beautiful. It has been paved and is very flat. There is a train that runs between each town also. That costs about a euro. There is also a boat that goes to each town. There are many alternatives, but as previously suggested, I highly recommend it. It is truly one of the few unspoiled places left in Italy.
St. Charles, IL USA Thu 02/09/2006
Re: Pregnant & Cinque Terre
Don't be afraid to do the Cinque Terre while pregnant. There is a wonderful boat cruise that takes you from Levanto to Porto Venere w/ a nice long time to visit in Porto Venere or some of the other villages. Plan your trip times carefully! My sister and I (both seniors w/ health limitations) have done this twice. We loved every minute of it. You can choose to walk up some fairly steep streets or not.There is plenty to do that does not require strenuous exercise. As for another town to add to Florence I would suggest Greve. It will require a car to get there, but we really enjoyed the town. It is an easy town in which to walk. Good luck w/ your travels. Best wishes to you and your baby!
Karen E. Nikula
Forsyth, GA USA Wed 02/08/2006
Cinque Terre while pregnant?
Not sure where else to post this so I will put it here. My husband and I are headed to Italy in early May for six days. I have been many times before (spent a semester in Rome in college) and he has never been. We are tentatively planning a few days in Florence and a few days in Cinque Terre (which would be new to me). But I will be nearly seven months pregnant when we are there. I'm a little concerned that I will not be able to fully enjoy all that Cinque Terre has to offer if I can't do the strenuous walking (which, under normal circumstances, I would love to do) and if I'm uncomfortable hauling myself up and down what sound like MANY stairs throughout all of the villages. This is my second pregnancy and I did feel great during my second trimester last time, but I really don't want to push myself. I would love to see Cinque Terre, but don't want to go on this trip if I can't take full advantage of the joys of the area. If you've been (and especially if you've been pregnant before and can relate to my concerns), what would you do? And if we only do Florence plus a few days elsewhere, where should we go? I have seen Siena and San Gimigniano in the past and would really like to go to some new places this time. I was thinking of a day or two in Lucca. We are flying in and out of Pisa because the Florence airport will be closed for the next few months. Thanks for any advice, and happy trails to all of you!
Silver Spring, MD USA Tue 02/07/2006
@American living in Germany
Actually it's (EU?, national?) law to designate cheeses (or any other product) made from not pasteurized milk (e.g. in Germany with "aus Rohmilch", in France with "au lait cru").
So one is able to avoid not pasteurized cheese without abstaining from cheese.
But pregnant woman should cut off the crust of their cheese, as Listeria bacteria are found in the crust of pasteurized cheese also.
Berlin, Germany Wed 01/25/2006
to Chris-food in Italy
I live in Germany and the OB doctors here tell the pregnant women to stay away from cheeses because they aren't all pasteurized. I think that's the only thing but if I hear more I'll post it. I ate seafood in Italy but only at good restaurants. I felt the water was fine.
American living in Germany Mon 01/23/2006
Positive solo travel
Decided I might as well share my experiences of solo travel here. I spent 3 months last summer traveling around Europe, alone, at the age of 24/25 (had a bday in there). I went everywhere: Scotland (with a group for 10 days then on my own), England, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Belgium. Visited a few others but didn't stay there. I had a fake wedding ring but never really wore it. I stayed in hostels or with friends. In Madrid (on my birthday) I stayed in a hotel but that was because I got into the city late (11pm due to train schedule changes) and that was all I could find. I hit major cities and small cities. Did lots of solo hiking (alps, Cinque Terre, etc) and never had a problem. While receiving some comments, I never had any overly aggressive men. It was more waiters and people on the train. I was well prepared and used a money belt and put a keychain ring on my daypack to prevent thieves. I never was robbed or pickpocketed. I had a very postive experience and can't wait to travel again.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 01/22/2006
Last summer, my mother (63 years) and I (37 years) went to Rome for one week together. We encountered absolutely no problems. I think a lot of getting by is based on common sense. We followed many of the tips in Rick's book, walked as much as possible and carried only the amount of funds needed for the day.
Monterey, CA USA Fri 01/20/2006
Eastern Europe 1st time alone
I'm 18 years old and I've travelled alone to germany, czech republic and italy, as well as living in Greece for 9 months. i've decided to go travelling to east europe soon and though I've been to Czech, I have no idea what Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland etc. are like, but I think they will be a lot different from Italy or Greece. A Bulgarian friend of mine said I should never travel alone in Bulgaria, I'll likely get kidnapped, so I don't know what to think!
London, UK Wed 01/18/2006
solo travel in turkey
I spent a month in turkey last year. Apart from a 10 day tour I was on my own in Istanbul. It was the first time I've travelled solo. I had a few problems one with a carpet seller in the grand bazaar who I had tea with and wouldn't let me out of the shop until I gave him my mobile number (yes he checked it). He then sent me many msgs and when I made it clear that I was never going to go out with him he sent me a very rude and abusive msg. I laughed at first then got a bit scared. I told someone about it and they phoned this guy pretending to be the tourist police. That got rid of him and when I saw him again in the bazaar he left me alone. Another young guy that I had to walk past everyday across the road from my hotel "fell in love" with me and kept buying me roses and gifts. He was harmless but it made me feel very uncomfortable. I could tell more stories but I think you get the general idea. I found that telling the men you are married(which I am) meant nothing but if you tell them you have a turkish boyfriend they will leave you alone. I suppose my problems occurred because I was a bit too friendly. There is a fine line between polite conversation and giving them the come on. I'm going back this year for a couple of months, this time I won't be quite so friendly. I think Istanbul is as safe as anywhere though I definately wouldn't go out at night on my own.
Australia Fri 01/13/2006
solo female travel
I have done the "Europe in 3-6 weeks" solo trip twice (once fresh out of college and then a few years later) and had little problems, except for my own map reading skills. I didn't use a fake wedding ring, but did create a boyfriend waiting for me in Paris while I was touring Normandy. I was the only solo female on our tour and my tour guide thought I had a cute "American accent." Most European men understand a firm "No" and will leave you alone. It's good to know the culture you are in and how the men will pick up on the ladies. It can be very subtle sometimes. I did meet a few girls in Italy who had some horror stories about getting trapped in bad situations but they always said "they should have trusted their gut instincts" when things started to turn weird. trust them! I recommend staying in hostels because you can meet people to explore with, but don't stay at the ones that advertise how much they like to party. Security risk. Staying in single rooms are nice occasionally so you can have your own space for a night. I usually hang out in the hostel's community room and chat with people going through. Great place to find people too see the sights and go to dinner with. Having couchettes on night trains is safer and more comfy then open seats. The conductors are nice and watch out for you while you sleep. I remember a man who did not keep his valuables on him while he slept in an open seat compartment from Barcelona to Nice. He came running through the cars calling for the police saying he had lost his passport, plane tickets, camera, and wallet. Lock your bag to the rack and always have your valuables/things you cannot be without on you at all times. In a couchette, always try to get the top bunk because you can store your pack next to you, rather than on the floor or in another compartment. If you travel smart, your travelling experience will be great and you'll keep coming back for more.
San Francisco, CA USA Tue 01/03/2006