One of the biggest anxiety-inducing factors for travelers is whether they’re going to be safe abroad – it discourages so many people from even attempting to travel at all. It’s also impossible to deny that this can be even more difficult due to factors that you have absolutely no control over; namely, if you’re female or LGBTQ. With this in mind, I’ve been looking for a good travel safety app for some time.
Fortunately, I’ve found one which is absolutely brilliant – clear, informative, and one of the most trusted travel apps out there!
So here’s my safety tip for today: download TripIt. You don’t even need to get the paid version (even though that has a ton of rather awesome features which I’ll be sharing with you!), and you’ll be increasing your chances of having a safe travel experience. You’ll lessen your chances of being in an emergency situation by avoiding those skeevy locations in the first place.
Plus, it’ll even organise your trip for you! It’s like having a personal travel consultant in your pocket, without having to answer awkward questions about having a tiny person in your clothes, or accidentally whacking them with your phone. I mean, that happens to me all the freakin’ time.
So let’s look into why women and LGBT people looking to travel need to check out TripIt!
(by the way, TripIt provided me with a review copy of the app, but I received no payment for this article – I just like what they do! All opinions are my own, as always!)
Why LGBTQ and female travelers need a travel safety app
The world is a wonderful place. Unfortunately, there’s still some people residing on our lovely globe who have some seriously outdated, hateful, or misogynistic views.
I know a lot of fierce female travelers who trot the globe, whether as a travel blogger or purely for their own enjoyment. Devastatingly, I also know a lot of women who have been assaulted, harassed, or threatened when they’ve been traveling.
It can happen to anyone, no matter what their level of travel experience. My wonderful friend Jessie is a full-time travel blogger and globetrotter, and even she had a terrible experience being sexually assaulted on the road. (I highly recommend reading her story, and being aware of the resources she links to in this article!) All of us need to be aware of what can happen, and what we should do.
It’s sad to say, but a personal alarm has become a must-have item on any packing list I create. Whether you’re at home in the United States or backpacking around South Africa, female travelers are always at risk. There have even been incidents of female travelers being targeted in somewhere as generally safe as New Zealand, such as the tragic case of Grace Millane.
Unfortunately, female travelers need to pay special attention to their safety when abroad, just as much as they would do at home. It’s a major cause of fear, travel anxiety, and a feeling of being trapped.
Similarly, I know a lot of gay travel fanatics who have experienced hate and violence purely for their sexual orientation, and something as innocent as holding hands.
LGBTQ travel safety still varies wildly across the globe – what isn’t a problem in New York, can be a big issue in the Middle East. Same sex marriage still isn’t legal in the majority of countries: only 28 out of 195 officially recognise it. It’s a depressing thought, but many gay travelers still can’t be as open about their life as they would like – on occasion, being true and honest can result in confrontation and violence.
If you’re traveling to somewhere which isn’t known for being LGBTQ-friendly, local laws regarding homosexuality should always be checked, just to keep yourself ahead of the situation.
The world needs to change. But until it does, we need to protect ourselves, and be informed.
What is TripIt?
Regular readers of this blog (whom I often shower with iced unicorn cookies and heart-shaped confetti), will probably know of my love for the TripIt app, and TripIt Pro in particular. Because frankly, I don’t know where I’d be without this thing. Literally.
Basically, Tripit is a travel app which keeps all of your travel plans in one place – namely, on your phone. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely the best place for me to have them! My phone is always on me, and having it all contained within an app means that I don’t need to print off 8 billion pieces of paper reminding me which hotel I’m staying at. Instead, I have master itineraries at my fingertips whenever I need them, and I get to do the environment a favour too.
Not only that, but TripIt is so fiendishly smart that it’ll actively assist you on your travels. Need a reminder when it’s time to leave for the airport? It’ll do that. Want an email giving updates for your flight, such as the number of your gate before it even appears on the screens in the terminal? It’ll do that too.
Not bad for a free app, right?
You don’t even have to enter the plans yourself – TripIt imports all the details from your booking confirmation emails. Because it’s made by the trustworthy Concur Technologies, you don’t even need to worry about your data!
Take a look at this link to the TripIt site, and snag a download for iPhone or Android!
How do I use TripIt as a travel safety app?
Got yourself a copy of TripIt on your phone, and set up your account? Congrats; you just made travelling a lot easier for yourself! But most importantly, if you’re a female or LGBTQ traveler, you just got a travel safety app that’ll help you stay safe.
Imagine this: you arrive at your hotel, and you’re a little concerned about the area its situated in. You saw some shady-looking places on the way in. You’re not sure if it’s the kind of place you can walk in at night as a solo female traveller. It doesn’t seem the kind of place you’d feel comfortable holding hands with your partner.
How about if you could get tips about your security directly from your phone? Wouldn’t that make you feel so much better, if you knew which areas to avoid? And what if you could look up potentially dangerous neighbourhoods even before you travel?
TripIt has updated and upgraded their app, and I genuinely think it’s the most genius thing I’ve heard in years. Let’s look at the details!
Neighbourhood safety scores
The neighbourhood safety scores have long been one of my very favourite features on the TripIt app, and they’ve just become even more awesome!
TripIt imports your travel plans from your emails, so it knows which hotel you’re staying at. You can go into your Trips tab, click on your forthcoming journey, and then tap the name of the hotel. Not only does this bring up some rather useful info such as the address, check in/out times, and your dates, but you can tap again on the Neighbourhood Safety Score.
This is where TripIt suddenly changes from a travel planner to a bona fide travel safety app!
The app brings up a series of scores, using up-to-the-minute data from GeoSure. It’ll rate the neighbourhood on a number of factors, such as it’s safety in regards to physical harm (muggings, drug activity), theft, political freedoms, and health and medical coverage. It gives them a score out out 100, and tells you whether you’re at a low, medium, or high risk in those areas.
But! TripIt now covers women’s and LGBTQ safety. It’ll give you a score out of 100, the same as for the other categories, and tell you how much risk you’re at in that area. You can look it up before you travel, and plan accordingly; maybe taking a taxi instead of walking there.
And you can do this for any hotel, restaurant, or activity which has an address! That’s genius! You can avoid potential trouble, and go somewhere in a safer neighbourhood instead. You can swerve an emergency situation by not being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
TripIt is the first travel safety app to include LGBTQ safety, and I think that’s brilliant.
Day and night safety scores
Hmm, that Neighbourhood Safety Score feature sure sounds awesome. But how about putting some sprinkles on top, and making it completely awesome?
Well, the Neighbourhood Safety Score now has scores for safety during the day – but you can toggle it to show the scores at night.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to plenty of places which are perfectly fine during the day, but then seem to be solely inhabited by dodgy types at night, who hang around being generally intimidating. I’ve stayed in places which were perfect in the day, and then turned into an oasis of strip clubs and sordid characters at nighttime.
Use this feature, and you can plan avoiding scummy types in advance, simply by checking an app! It’s a game changer!
You can never make travel 100% safe – but by using TripIt, you can significantly reduce your chances of running into trouble. It’s a feature worth its weight in gold – and it’s absolutely free to use.
International Travel Tools
One feature on the TripIt app which requires a Pro subscription is the International Travel Tools. I’m going to quickly highlight this, purely because it’s freaking rad.
How many things do you Google before you go travelling? Have a think about it. Do you look up the exchange rate, the international dialling code, the type of plug you need? Vaccinations? Tipping rates? WiFi coverage?
Well, you can do all that in the International Travel Tools feature, which shows up as a little passport symbol on your trip summary page. Yup, it’ll tell you all that info above, with one single click.
I’ll be right back; I’m just going off to marry this app and live with it forever.
Additional steps to keep safe abroad
Okay, I think we’ve established that TripIt makes one heck of a travel safety app! But there’s additional steps you can take to make sure that you’re covered on your travels, and have a fab time whilst not worrying about getting back in one piece.
Here’s a selection of the best!
Geez, guys, get travel insurance already! The number of people who don’t get it, and then really need it, kind of blows my mind. It’s an essential!
Like a lot of travel bloggers, I recommend World Nomads – simply because it’s travel insurance made by travellers, and they get the mind of a traveller much more than Corporate Corporation Ltd. Get a quote from this here widget, and get yourself covered!
Check the U.S. Department of State travel advisories
Simple one, this. Have a look at the state department’s website before you leave, and make sure that there’s nothing that you should be aware of. Wars, tensions, zombie invasions; you know the drill. If you’re not based in the U.S., your government will undoubtedly have a similar site; I’ve used the UK one.
Keep your loved ones informed
Sounds so basic, but can be super-effective if anything goes wrong. Keep your loved ones back home up to date with your plans, so in the event of anything going wrong, they can be on alert and potentially help you out from their end. Send them dates, times, hotel addresses and phone numbers at the very least. Have them written down as emergency numbers, just in case.
Have a first aid kit
Again, this is an incredibly simple, yet effective way to help save your life. Browse these American Red Cross first aid kits for the super-duper stuff, though even a basic first aid kit from Amazon will do the trick.
Get information and travel tips from locals
Who knows your destination better than anyone? The locals, that’s who. If you’ve got concerns over anything, or just want to do some advance scouting, Reddit can be a saviour. Go into the subreddit of your destination and just ask a few questions – you could even ask the local LGBTQ community about safety travel tips, or enquire if there’s an annual pride event (sometimes a good barometer of how gay-friendly a place is).
More than anything, I want to assure you that you can absolutely travel safely, despite all of my warnings above. Don’t let the worry get to you, and don’t let travel anxiety stop you from doing the things you love. That really sucks.
Although fear is useful for keeping us alive, there’s no reason to let it overcome you. The majority of places in the world are friendly and safe, and the local people will welcome you as a guest.
We just have to use the information we have to ensure that we stick to the friendly and safe parts, in order to minimise the risks. Use TripIt as your research, your careful foot-in-the-water, to ensure that the places you visit don’t come with unnecessary risk.
Love travelling the world.
I really hope that you found this article informative, instructive, and mildly amusing! If you did, consider sharing it using the share buttons below, or pinning the below image to Pinterest. Sharing this information genuinely could save someone’s life, thanks to this rather wonderful travel safety app feature from TripIt.
Let’s spread the word!
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