Travel Safety Tip: Do You Have a Traveller’s “Safe Word?”

Posted by - June 1, 2016 | Category: Library

You’ve probably heard of the term “safe word” for folks involved in kinky sex, but what about a “safe word” for travellers?

Bear with me, I’m in a rambling mood.

Travelling gals 1920s
Sometimes when we’re out and about in this great big world of ours, things are sunshine and lollipops. Everyone wants to be a Good Samaritan. When you’re travelling, that free drink/ride/room you’re offered is actually free, and those strangers do actually just want to help you along your way, and you come out of it with a story of just how astonishing humanity can be.

Sometimes though — and depending on how and where you travel — things are borderline sketchy, or even downright dangerous that you end up wishing you ran a people search of the people and businesses you deal with while traveling. I’ve had my share of close calls, run-ins that could’ve ended badly, and brushes with the seedier side of travel (like that ping pong show in Thailand) but I like to think that I’ve got a pretty good intuition of when a situation is about to go sideways. That’s when I bolt. It’s “feets don’t fail me now” time.


Not everyone is wired with that flight mechanism though. And even sometimes when I’m in a new place, and I’m unfamiliar with the local scams aimed at travellers, it’s another seasoned traveller who has come to the rescue.

The point of all this is, how do you let the person you’re travelling with know that you’ve got a bad feeling about this place/person/situation without letting the cat out of the bag to the other party? How do you tell someone, “We need to get the hell out of here!” without actually saying, “We need to get the hell out of here!”

Enter the “traveller’s safe word.”

So What is a Safe Word?

Oxford defines a safe word as:

“A word serving as a prearranged and unambiguous signal to end an activity, such as between a dominant and submissive sexual couple.”

A safe word doesn’t have to be limited to the boudoir though. Having a word or phrase that you can use with your travel partner to let them know that you don’t feel safe in your current situation and want to make a speedy exit can definitely put your mind at ease.

TRAVEL SAFETY TIP -- Traveller's Safe Word

A safe word for travellers serves as an excellent tool to get you out of all sorts of questionable situations. Potential thieves, dodgy cab rides, rip-off artists at bars and shops, money exchange scams, and probably the most brutal of all travel scenarios — those boring travel mates you met along the way.

No one likes getting ripped off on the road, and having to wait for money to be sent from back home is just a pain. (If you’re in a bind and wondering how to get moola without getting raped on fees, check out this Transferwise review.)

My ex and I had a travel safe word: Cindy. And we were surprised at how handy it became when we started using it.

Think that shop stall guy is ripping us off? “Hey, aren’t we supposed to meet Cindy now?”

Believe that cab driver is going to take us for a ride? “Oh rats, don’t we have to meet Cindy?”

Don’t want to go to dinner with those sketchy folks you met at the hotel? “Aww, shucks would love to, but we can’t leave Cindy hanging.”

Vintage friends Man On The Lam travel blog directory

Whether you’re travelling with your partner, your friends, or your family — or even with people you’ve just met along the way, a safe word may be just what you need when you come into those inevitable questionable situations.

And the best part of a safe word outside of the bedroom is that it’s not only good for travel. It can be used in all kinds of scenarios. You can invent an imaginary Cindy of your own to get out of sticky situations in your own hometown, or even just to dodge backyard BBQ invites from those boring neighbours across the street.

What would your traveller’s safe word be?

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Traveller s Safe Word Travel Safety Tip

*All black and white images courtesy of Shutterstock

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13 comments - add one
  1. Very clever applying a safe word to travel – I hadn’t even thought of that, but can think of so many situations where it would have come in super handy! I might loan Cindy from you :D!

  2. I’ve never really thought of a sage word, but I love the idea. I guess the name is the best as it’s the easiest to use in a conversation.

  3. I really only travel with my husband and we’ve got plenty of “in” words that we could use, but I think it’s a great tip and one to think of if ever I travel with someone else.

  4. Great idea, I never really thought of this. We generally travel within western countries such as the US or New Zealand, but shit can happen anywhere and you don’t need to be far away from home. Am definitely going to give this a thought!

  5. Haha interesting idea, I’ve never thought of that! Frankly I usually don’t mind just saying ‘no, this guy is ripping us off’ out loud, so they know I’m on to them! lol.

  6. After reading the ping pong show post, I thought we were in for another ride haha! Pretty genius idea, it’s almost like back
    In the day, having your friends call you with an “emergency” to get you out of a date haha! May have to use this one some time. I think I’ll go with chimichangas.

  7. I just loved this! 🙂

    Very clever usage of a safe word ! Though we used to use a ‘Cindy’ to refer to a person in our childhood but never thought it could be used during travel.

    Very good choice and it fits everywhere. 🙂

  8. What a great idea……I particularly like it was a persons name that way the other person cant tell it is a fake and it is pretty easy to bring a name into the conversation. nice article



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