Way too often when the two of us travel to Europe, Central, or South America, we hear sad tales from or about young women who were robbed and / or abused sexually by men who were also tourists or even appeared to be local residents. The stories usually have several things in common: two or three young women went to clubs for dancing and drinking, they took purses with them, and they dressed as they would at home, often in tight-fitting, skin-baring outfits. Very high heels are often part of their look.
While this works at home in the United States or in some parts of Europe, it very often does not work in many countries. In many parts of the world, women who want to be respected do not dress that way. And they do not drink excessively in bars and clubs. Local young women would not travel to some areas after dark and, if they had to, they would dress conservatively. And they do not take drugs when they are clubbing.
Unless they are going out for the evening with a group and stay with that group, it is very often unsafe for young women to venture out on their own after dark. If there is a club you absolutely must go to, be sure to take a cab both ways. You may need to arrange cab pickup in advance, when you go to the club.
Unfortunately, some men from conservative countries assume women who are in bars, dressed for fun, and getting drunk are there for one reason only—a sexual relationship with whomever comes along. The results are very unpleasant, judging from the stories we were told.
Not that this cannot happen in the US! A young girl recently died of hypothermia in the Lake Tahoe, CA, area because no one noticed she had been left behind with a long way to walk in sub-zero weather to where the group was staying.
Some tips for visiting clubs safely:
- Go out with a group of both men and women. Make sure you agree to stick together and account for one another. Pick one person who agrees not to drink who will make a head count when it is time to return to the hotel.
- Avoid drugs.
- Take a cab both ways.
- Leave your purse and your passport at the hotel; take a small wallet that you can tuck into your pocket, along with a photocopy of your passport. Try not to bring an excessive amount of money. Leave the camera at the hotel.
- Dress more conservatively; save the sexy outfits for home.
- Learn from the locals what the neighborhood is like at night. Areas that are perfectly safe in the daytime may be patrolled by gangs at night.
- Avoid getting drunk; act as if there is no one to look after you.
Save the drinking for when you get back to college or your home town or city. Play it safe when far away.