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There are hundreds upon hundreds of guides for women’s travel safety abroad, and many of them have conflicting advice.
One of the more controversial rules surrounding solo women travelers is whether or not they should pretend to be married or wear a fake wedding ring.
Some women interpret this advice by announcing that they’re married from the get-go to everyone they meet, from hostel guests to street vendors, even when in a nonthreatening environment. I don’t know what these women do after they become friends with someone.
Could pretending to be married keep you safe? Perhaps. In some conservative cultures, saying your husband is coming to meet you is often the easiest way to get out of a long discussion. But most of the time, it’s meaningless.
Let’s talk about Italy. Of all the places where I’ve traveled, Italy was where I got the most male attention. Italian men hit on everything that moves, and a wedding ring — whether yours or theirs — makes no difference whatsoever. (And you wonder why Italy is my favorite country.)
Thankfully, though, if you call Italian men on their behavior, most of the time they’ll protest your claims, blame someone else, and shrink away in defeat. And you can do that whether married or single. (My favorite response, which I’d hear often in Florence: “It is not me, it is the Albanians!”)
In my experience, a wedding ring may stop a few men who would have ordinarily hit on you if they thought you were single. Maybe. But it won’t fend off an attacker.
My advice? Guard your safety in smarter ways — like taking a self-defense course, getting cabs at night, and not getting intoxicated.