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As seen in Transitions Abroad Magazine January/February 2005
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A Black Female's Tips

For Safe Solo Women's Travel in Europe

By Brande Nicole Martin

When I decided to travel to Europe alone I was at first concerned about being a single black female going to predominantly white European countries. Then, I learned that there is nothing to fear if you use good judgment and do adequate research before and during your journey. Remember that in most larger European cities most people are accustomed to diversity. Therefore observe essentially the same safety precautions as in the U.S.

Be aware of your surroundings. Get a good idea of where you want to go and what you want to do before starting your trip. In Europe, ask a local to identify the unsafe areas of the city.

Ask the local tourist bureau if there are areas to be avoid. It is wise to register with the U.S. Embassy in your host country so you can be located if necessary.

Never forget to have a map handy. If you have extra money, buy a handheld global positioning system. More important for safety when traveling alone is a cell phone. Companies such as Nextel and T-Mobile sell phones and calling plans with world access and no roaming charges.

Do some research beforehand and learn about the local male-female customs, such as how men approach women and how to respond to advances, particularly aggressive advances from men. To learn about the customs, search for web sites about the country. Join a travel list serve and post a message asking about solo women travelers and safety. Your guidebook may also offer some information on the topic.

Resources

Adventurous Wench, www.adventurouswench.com, offers specialized trips for solo women travelers.

Minority Travelers' Forum, www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/graffiti15.html, is an online forum where minority travelers can post questions and comments about travel-related items.

Editor's note: See our selection of the best women's travel websites for more resources.

Safety and Security for Women Who Travel by Sheila Swan and Peter Laufer (Travelers Tales, San Francisco, CA, 1998).

BRANDE NICOLE MARTIN is a frequent traveler to Europe. She is currently a teacher and M.A. candidate in English at Northern Illinois Univ. She also works as a freelance medical editor.