When I was asked to write a piece about female lone travellers, for some reason my first thought was of Suzy Lamplugh. At that time, I was a career hungry 18 year old, full of my own self-importance, testing my new found independence as I had passed my driving test and recently left home. I felt indestructible until that day in July 1986.
Suzy was an estate agent, went out to conduct a viewing and never returned. No trace of her since, no suspect found, no further evidence, she simply disappeared and was presumed dead 7 years later.
This may sound dramatic but until that point I hadn’t realised how vulnerable I could look to someone with the wrong intentions. Since then, I have travelled for work extensively, both in the UK and abroad, either driving or flying and almost always on my own. Generally, I have felt very safe but every now and again, the thought of Suzy comes back to mind.
The fear of travelling alone
Some may think that this account of perceived vulnerability is over kill, however, the dangers are real and in these days of social media, the dangers appear even more prevalent than ever. Reports of missing people, attacks, stalkers, I cannot scroll a feed without seeing some call for information or support. There is no doubt we all need to take care and be more diligent, especially when travelling alone, to ensure we remain safe as we can be.
Travelling at night is my main fear, I could be driving down a motorway, it is pitch black, no other cars around and suddenly I feel how very much alone I am. On these occasions, I look forward to reaching the next junction and feel a sense of relief when I see some light.
I have flown late evening and into the night, airports always provide a sense of security and there are always people around, but what about when you leave the airport heading to your onward destination? Have you left your car in a darkened car park? Will there be other people around? Did your taxi turn up? What if it doesn’t? These are all questions that may cross your mind.
What precautions can we take?
Travelling can be pretty stressful at the best of times, whether it is for work or otherwise. You may be travelling to meetings home and away, there could be tight timescales to fit as much into the trip as possible. Considering the safety aspects of the travelling can also cause additional stress for some. So how can we take precautions, to keep safe and relieve the stress a little? Here are a few pointers I follow:
Trust your gut! Sometimes we can be too polite, even when we feel uncomfortable with someone. If your instinct is telling you something doesn’t feel right, don’t worry about what other people think. Stay safe and remove yourself from the situation that doesn’t sit well with you.
Stay confident. You can exude confidence when walking, keep your back straight and head held high, you will then appear less vulnerable.
Remain understated. Wearing expensive clothes and jewellery could make you a target to some, keep your valuables hidden and travel less conspicuously.
Stop the music. Listening to music while I travel is a big part of my relaxation process, however, when I’m walking around, I turn the music off. This way you can be more aware of your surroundings.
Stay connected. Wherever you are travelling to, make sure you have a local contact in case of emergency. Also keep in touch with family and friends while you are away and let someone know your itinerary.
Get alarmed! Carry a Personal Attack Alarm always and keep it where you can easily get hold of it, if needed. If you are staying away, you could invest in an alarm door stop which sounds if someone tries to open it.
Words from a regular traveller
We should never be blasé where our safety is concerned, taking simple precautions can lessen risks to ourselves, but we also shouldn’t let it make our travelling experience stressful.
The Chauffeur Group regularly collects lone female travellers to and from local airports and other venues and understand the importance of duty of care, particularly where these clients are concerned. Every traveller receives a photograph of their driver in advance of collection, the registration number and type of car, a tracking link and contact number. This eliminates the risk of any of our travellers getting into the wrong vehicle. In addition to this, all our drivers are advanced DBS checked and have been trained in the etiquette of exceptional customer service, which includes putting our passengers at ease and, most importantly, making them feel safe.
Karen Flanagan, Senior HR Business Partner for Amer Sports, travels regularly. She always books her airport transfers with us as we provide her peace of mind and a professional, reliable service. Here is what she had to say following a recent journey she booked with us:
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to my driver, who waited for me until the early hours of Saturday morning and made sure I arrived home safely. My flight was more than 2.5 hours delayed so it was a huge relief when I saw him at arrivals! I’d really like to make sure he knows how much I appreciated him waiting and staying awake until such a horrible hour. Please pass on my thanks.”
“My driver, Marion, was extremely professional and courteous and I felt as though I was in very safe hands. Thank you.”
- S Clark | Private Traveller