Shopping Travel – Special Travel Deals

When shopping travel, and often I do, always I look for all the special travel deals. One day I realized that all those deals are strangely familiar. I became aware that the travel “pie” is one entity carved up among several of the larger vendors. Then those entities have their networks and divide their “pieces of the pie” amongst that network, larger the better. Then I understood, many of the most popular travel providers actually practice these same methods, otherwise known as affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketers are actually just online salespeople. Some create a storefront in the form of a website, some pursue email-marketing tactics, and others may commit to the social media for their promotional methods. No matter the methods, the fact is it all is part of the same large travel pie that they all share. Considering this actuality, why might one go to the smaller website?

The reason is in the packaging. As the quality marketers present a product, they will attempt to add value. Perhaps they may provide a comparative shopping value or a more dynamic reviewing process. Some are creative in the composition and compatibility of the offers present and others will focus on just hotels or flights. Then again, there are the many travel search sites.

In this search and purchase online world in which we have become, this is the most abundant method. Search, get the prices of two or three returned results, choose, purchase, and go. Well, I have found that there is great value in looking into more than just one share of the pie. Often when you search at more than one website you will find three of four that seem to be from the same piece of pie, and they are. This is where the value comes in. Wise it is to be sure you are searching more than one primary piece of the pie. Extending searches for special travel deals may be found to hold great value.

I have often found substantial savings with this type of search continuation. I search and have found that often one piece of the pie has worked out a better deal than the other pieces were able. I find one has better travel deals on hotels and another better-priced flight. The task then becomes in finding a central location for centralized travel shopping. Once you find that website and have a good experience then stick with it, but make notes of the other sites for comparative value. Create a travel folder in you bookmarks or favorites menu and house several in it for quick reference.

Frequent travelers will find great value in a little extra search and preparation of future searches. Of course, an organized structured approach will provide the most efficient shopping experience every time. If one knows that future shopping for travel is most likely to occur, prepare yourself a special folder, as I suggested. Special travel deals are more than worth a small amount of foresight. After all, the dollars you save should stay in your pocket whenever possible.

Should I Avoid Travel As a Solo Female?

Every question related to travel safety will never receive a full, encompassing and concrete answer; there are just too many variables. These ever changing factors are also what make traveling so exciting. You never know what to expect. Therefore it is important to prepare for aspects we can control, especially as a female traveling alone.

It is first necessary to identify the overarching main risks to travelers (in no particular order);

• Vehicular incident
• Criminal
• Violent attack
• Health issues and Disease
• Beach related incidents eg rip tides
• Fire – accommodations/nightclubs etc
• Travel at sea

These risks hold true for both male and female travelers alike. So what risks are females more vulnerable to? We believe two risks that female travelers have an increased chance of falling victim to verses male counterparts are;

• Criminal
• Violence (to include sexual attack)

Why Criminal?

Very simply a majority of criminals will try and focus on perceived ‘easy’ targets. It is generally assumed that women will not try and fight back and/or will be less able to defend themselves. Females also become easy targets because a majority of women carry purses or handbags which are much more accessible to criminals.

Why Violence (to include sexual attack)?

A majority of violent attacks by men against women are often sexual in nature. Some motivations for these attacks stem from personal grievances, issues of control, and social disorders. Unfortunately motivations can also be purely opportunistic and deviant in nature. Therefore it is vital for one’s safety to eliminate these perceived ‘opportunities’ for criminals.

There are always going to be exceptions to the rules, but now that we have identified two main topics that put female travelers at higher risk lets now focus our efforts on eliminating these increased threats.

Why an increased risk for solo female travelers?

If a criminal or an attacker is going to perpetrate a crime they will most likely try and find a target that is alone without ‘back up’. Criminals by nature are predators and will normally focus attention on ‘easy targets’. Sexual predators may focus on women they assume will not have anyone immediately ‘missing them’ or checking in on them.

Minimize Risk

To identify the main risks for female travelers and acknowledge these particular risks during solo female travel, then we can adapt and minimize the chances of encountering these threats. This is the underlying principal of travel safety. Identify the threat or danger early and prepare accordingly so as to minimize the risk. The trick is not to avoid travel, but simply to prepare and adapt to traveling as a solo female to maximize safety.

Prepare but don’t Prevent

Every traveler both male and female should prepare before traveling. There are threats everywhere that could affect travelers’ – men, women, individuals or groups alike. Should these potential dangers prevent us from traveling? Absolutely not! What these potential dangers should do is motivate us as individuals responsible for our own safety, to prepare accordingly and educate ourselves before we head out on our adventures.

Solo Female Travel Safety Tips

Prior preparation and planning

Researching your destination is vital and time spent researching is never wasted. Study the culture and get a general feel for the country. Is it a Muslim country? If so then ensure you have packed the correct clothing, think about how to dress and blend in accordingly. Does the country have strict laws on how a female should ‘behave’? As individual travelers we may not agree with particular country views but it is extremely important to be a respectful traveler in a foreign country to avoid trouble. Does the country have a culture of ‘hassling’ females, is there a history of sexual attacks against females, all these issues need to be identified prior to departure. With prior knowledge you can then plan to adapt to the environment.

Interact with fellow travelers

When one heads out on travel ‘alone’ it is rare that you remain alone once overseas (unless solo travel is actively pursued). There will always be people traveling the same ‘route’ or solo travelers in the same hostel or accommodation. Friendships are made and bonds formed through the mutual interests of travel and adventure. These new connections can provide additional safety, for example through other people watching out for you, other people to travel with, new friends to share taxis and buses with. While it is necessary to be open to new friendships it is essential to your personal safety to keep up situational awareness at all times.

Lose the jewelry

Try and avoid shiny or expensive looking jewelry and accessories. Nice watches, bracelets, necklaces and alike should be avoided. The same goes with top of the range phones, laptops and cameras.

Plan routes

Whether you are coming home from a bar, beach or museum think about what route you will take. Avoid quiet areas, alleyways or other perceived areas of risk. Always think about using a taxi and make sure it is from a reputable company that you have been recommended.

Don’t be misinterpreted

Sometimes it is necessary to think about what signals one may be giving off and ensure they are not interpreted incorrectly. Try avoiding prolonged eye contact with strangers, chatting excessively and being ‘overly’ friendly. For example, sitting in the front seat of a taxi and over sharing with the driver on a way back from a bar may give the wrong signals in some foreign destinations. If you are eating alone, perhaps take a book so as not to invite unwanted conversation.

This is not about one’s actual intentions; it is not about whether a woman should have to curtail her normal daily practice of smiling, talking freely and just being happy. Unfortunately in different cultures certain behaviors we define as ‘normal’ or ‘friendly’ are interpreted differently. Changing particular behavior is about being grey and not drawing too much unwanted attention. It is not for us to discuss the rights and wrongs of culture and practices in certain countries and regions, merely to adapt and decrease risk to ourselves.

Follow your gut

The trick to avoiding danger is to pre-empt situations and allow yourself time to react. This comes down to training and practice, we strongly advocate learning from professionals about how to identify risk and react accordingly, but a good rule of thumb is: Follow your instinct. If something feels wrong, there is a good chance it is wrong. React immediately to ensure your safety and worry about whether you were right or wrong later, when you are a 100% safe.

Pre-empt and visualize

We advise women that to survive situations they must pre-empt dangers, allowing time to react and visualize their next actions to allow for an effective response. What do we mean by this? We will use a nightclub fire as an example. In times of life and death, chivalry has been proven to fly out the window 9 out of 10 times. Panic sets in and a stampede effect can occur. If men and women are panicking, rushing to the one main exit that everyone had come in from, then men will by majority overpower women and the inevitable crushing and trampling will occur. What if as the solo female you had taken two minutes to pre-empt a risk and visualized an effective response. In this case identified secondary fire exits and visualized using them in an emergency. By pre-empting and visualizing a reaction in this case of the nightclub fire, whilst everyone was stampeding for the main doors, one would have been able to utilize a secondary exit and ensure survival through forethought and planning, not strength and speed.

Situational Awareness

Being aware of one’s surroundings is of vital importance to identify threats early. This is why we teach basic anti-surveillance to all our students. Criminals and predators may stalk their prey for a short time prior to an attack to provide the best opportunity of when to strike. With increased observational skills and awareness, chances of spotting an attack or threat are significantly heightened and allow a person time to react. This is also useful in avoiding pick-pockets, muggers, opportunistic criminals and many other dangers.

Hotel and Accommodation Security

Choose accommodations wisely by researching areas through travel forums, hotel websites, etc. Is the hotel or hostel well managed? Is the surrounding area safe to travel after dark? Does the hotel or hostel have good security? This does not mean stay in a 5 star hotel everywhere; it can mean spending a few dollars more to be in a reputable area but still in a backpacker hostel. We can provide extra layers of safety for ourselves, for example when traveling we advise carrying a secondary door lock ($5 worth and small enough to put in your pocket) providing this secondary layer of security. In addition never open your hotel or hostel door unless 100% certain, even if the claim is housekeeping.

Final Thought

Everything discussed above are merely tips and tricks of the trade. I have traveled extensively throughout my life and am still learning new ways to adapt and handle situations. This is why we have developed our travel safety courses. Professionals from all walks of life train constantly to ensure peak performance and to be prepared. We believe it should be the same for travelers. Take control and be responsible for your own safety through prior preparation. Travel is one of the great adventures life has to offer; it is worth taking the time to prepare accordingly to eliminate potential threats and ensure you have an experience of a lifetime.