Video: Tips for women travelers

msnbc.com
updated 6/6/2005 11:51:43 AM ET 2005-06-06T15:51:43

As authorities in Aruba continue to search Monday for 18-year-old Natalee Holloway, MSNBC's Chris Jansing talked with Phyllis Stoller, founder of The Women's Travel Club about what women travelers can do to stay safe.

To read an excerpt of the interview, continue to the text below. To watch the interview, click above.

Chris Jansing: Let's start with the basics, because this has a lot of parents freaked out, frankly. If you're a parent and your daughter is traveling, she's going to a foreign country, what do you say to her before she leaves?

Phyllis Stoller: I would first of all say, do your research. Start with the State Department, look at their website. Check out what other countries say about your destination.

Jansing: Aruba is considered to be pretty safe, so even if they find out that generally, this is a really safe place to go, what are general suggestions you would make to any woman traveling or staying in a room alone?

Stoller: First of all, I would say, don't stay in a room alone. The buddy system works from grade school on. Tie yourself at the hip with another friend, don't leave your common sense home. Don't flash - don't wear jewelry, don't wear expensive sunglasses. Don't have wads of cash with you, don't wear a t-shirt that announces your personal life, like where you go to college or the last marathon you walked in.

Jansing: You also say be careful about body language, because that can be very telling. What do you mean by that?

Stoller: For instance, 'Baywatch' is the most popular program in the rest of the world. It tells the rest of the world what American women supposedly like, so dress down.

Jansing: The one instance in which you kind of tell people to dress up is that if you're single, maybe put on a wedding ring?

Stoller: You know, that's kind of a story that's going around the travel world. If you're really in trouble, nobody's going to look at your left hand to see if you're wearing a wedding ring. But, you can allude to 'I'm meeting my friends," or "I'm meeting my husband."

Jansing: You know, we used to make jokes, like before the camera's got very small, about tourists always having the latest gadgets around their neck, but there are certain things that if you're in a certain country, you can pick an American out a mile away. Is that a bad idea?

Stoller: I think it's a bad idea to be picked out as a tourist. Whether or not it's an American tourist, it doesn't matter. A tourist is a person who is a little out of control, on vacation and possible prey.

Jansing: Can you actually work with your hotel? Talk to the concierge? ... Everywhere you go, there are more-safe and less-safe places you can go?

Stoller: For sure. Choose a smaller hotel, where you can announce yourself as a person alone to the management. If you ever feel uncomfortable, ask somebody from behind your desk to walk you to your room. Find a hotel with a small lobby. Make sure there is management next to the elevator, ask for help.

MSNBC Live with Amy Robach and Randy Meier can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m.-Noon.

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