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Hints to Lady Travelers – From the Victorian era to the 21st century
Mad about cycling and born in Brooklyn in 1853 writer Lillias Campbell Davidson may have been the first hipster in history.
Jokes aside, she was a pioneer in addressing a perennial concern for women over the years. She was the first author to write a travel guide for women. ‘Hints to Lady Travellers: At Home and Abroad’ a book of tips to make the journeys of Victorian women safer.
If safety and security is a concern for all travelers, it’s particularly so in the Energy, Resources and Marine sector.
After impactful movements like #MeToo, we’re seeing an increase in companies adding specific travel recommendations for women.
A lot has changed since Victorian times. Piano legs are no longer considered sexy for one. But many of Lillias’ tips are still applicable. Here are a few:
1. “Dress plainly in comfortable clothes and avoid jewelry”
This is still a good tip to follow since in many parts of the world dress codes for women are strict. When it comes to jewelry, leaving your most precious pieces at home will keep you from attracting interest from thieves.
2. “Have a strong pocket made in your upper petticoat, and in that carry your money, only reserving in your dress pocket a small sum for incidental expenses.”
This can be translated to always carrying your money in a money belt or handbag that you can keep under your clothes. Just keep a small amount of cash in your purse. This way if you are confronted, potential thieves will be none the wiser.
3. “If confronted with an impertinent or obtrusive stranger lower your veil and turn from him, either looking from the window or reading. A dignified, modest reserve is the surest way to repel impertinence.”
Outrageous Victorian sexism aside, if you’re feeling uncomfortable, ask for assistance. And if you see a woman being harassed, call out the harasser.
4. “The best travelers are those who can eat cats in China, oil in Greenland, frogs in France, and macaroni in Italy; who can smoke a meerschaum in Germany, ride an elephant in India, shoot partridges in England, and wear a turban in Turkey; in short, in every nation adopt their habits, costume, and taste.” In other words, respect the local culture, whatever your gender.
And moving on from the Victorian tips, a few recommendations for companies to bear in mind:
5. Assess the physical fitness of your travelers. Pregnant women may require special care, for example. Having a designated team of specialists from various departments, and an appointed executive officer, are paramount for an effective security policy.
6. Know where your staff are at all times. Recent attacks in European capitals have shown that emergencies can happen in low-risk countries too, and reacting fast is hard if you do not know where your staff is. While most companies still track based on itinerary, there is an increased interest in real-time tracking.
7. Book services like hotels and drivers for your female travelers with providers that you have confidence in.
8. Book rooms for them on higher floors and ask them to carry a door stopper in their luggage for added security.
As Lillias Campbell Davidson said: "If, by my endeavors, I have in any ways assisted my sisters in their wanderings, or encouraged a single woman to join the path of travelers by land or sea, I shall feel I have achieved the object of my labors."
Blog author: Carrie McCabe, Senior Director, program management EMEA, CWT Energy, Resources & Marine.
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