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How to Stay Safe During a Night Out


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You’ve got your high heels on and are ready to paint the town – as they say: work hard, play hard. But regardless of what your game plan is, the end goal should always be to make it home in one piece! Whether you’re hitting up a party or dancing at the clubs, take into account these simple tips to ensure you have a safe night out.

Go in Groups

The saying “there’s safety in numbers” definitely rings true in a going-out situation. The more trusted members you have in your party (who have your best interests at heart), the more likely you will be to feel secure with your status and decision making.

Though everybody feels comfortable with a different amount of people, generally a group of 3-5 is fine with most. Keep in mind, however: If groups get too large, keeping tabs on everyone may become difficult as the night progresses. Have your cell handy, partner up, or set a common meeting point if you get separated from the crew!

Carry the Essentials

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Clutches aren’t clown cars, so unfortunately you can’t throw in the whole kitchen sink when going out. Of course, we all have our makeup staples for those bathroom-break touch ups, but before you leave, add these items for some extra insurance:

  • Phone. An obvious choice, but very crucial! Make sure it’s fully charged, especially if you don’t plan on returning home for the night.
  • Keys/ID. If wallets are too bulky, consider a cute wristlet.
  • Cash. This is more important if you’re going downtown, but you also never know when you’ll need to make an emergency purchase or call. A general rule to go by is to have enough to cover a round trip cab ride. Also, be sure to have at least a few dollars worth of quarters on hand! That way, you won’t have to scramble for bill exchanges when you need to take care of parking meters or use pay phones.
  • Extra pair of flats. Heels of some sort are often the shoe of choice when going out, and can be the difference between a casual and wow-worthy outfit. But after hours of sporting a 4-inch pump with no platform, we don’t blame you for wanting to take a break. In that case, consider tucking away some Dr. Scholl’s foldable flats so you can move around easier as the night winds down.
  • Band-aids. It never hurts to stash away a few, just in case.

Also be sure to check out our article on 5 things every college girl needs in her bag for more suggestions!

Check on Yourself

There’s no need to self check every minute of every hour – after all, you’re going out to unwind and have fun! However, taking mental notes of how you’re doing can provide comfort and reassurance in regards to your well-being. Ask yourself (or have a friend ask you) the following questions at these three midpoints to see how you’re doing throughout the night, and to make sure you’re OK.

  • Before the night begins. Do I have everything I need? Do I have someone to call and a place to stay in case something happens?
  • In the middle of festivities. Am I having fun? Is anything making me uncomfortable? Am I getting too carried away? Do I need to slow down?
  • As the night winds down. If I want to stay out later, do I have a way to get home in the morning? If plans have changed, what are my options at this point? Given my circumstances, which is the best?

Have a Back Up Plan

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As with all things in life, not everything always goes according to plan – something happens to our phone or keys, we get separated from our friends, or we have a little too much to drink. If you find yourself in a sticky situation, though, don’t panic! There are steps you can take to make tough circumstances better, so long as you take a little time to prepare beforehand.

  • Write down important numbers. Sometimes having contacts stored in your phone is not enough – especially if it gets lost, broken, or the battery dies. By stocking your purse with a paper list of numbers of trusted friends and family, cab companies, the police, and other important people, you’ll have a safety net if you ever get stuck in a bind.
  • Secure someone you can call in case of an emergency. As mentioned above, before you head out for the night, find a friend who will be willing to pick you up/allow you to stay over if a situation heads south. Though doing so may seem tedious, this little action can go a long way, especially if you are unable to grab a cab, drive, or have run out of cash. Also, informing others of your circumstances beforehand will save you time if you need or want to get back fast.
  • Know the basics of self defense. Hopefully you’ll never be put in a situation that’s dangerous or unsettling, but unfortunately we can’t always predict what will happen. Just as a precautionary tactic, learn some self defense maneuvers so you can protect yourself. See if your University offers specialized courses specifically designed for women, or locate a RAD program close to you to learn more.

Extra Advice!

  • If you’re at a party or decide to grab something to drink downtown, always keep a close eye on your drink. Holding onto it at all times is the best way to make sure nothing foreign gets dropped in.
  • Know your limits. Despite peer pressure, don’t give into doing something you’re not comfortable doing. You know yourself better than anyone else. If you put your foot down on something, others should respect your decision.
  • Try not to go home by yourself! Unless you have a legitimate ride waiting outside for you, walking home alone can be dangerous at late hours of the night, even if you live just a few blocks away. Have someone you trust walk with you, or make an agreement to leave together at the same time.


How do you stay safe when spending a night out? Do you have any stories, tips or advice for other girls? Let us know in a comment!

Posted on on January 29, 2012 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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31 Responses to “How to Stay Safe During a Night Out”

  1. 1
    January 29th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    It’s so unfortunate that College Fashion subscribes to rape culture. It’s always the women who are doing something wrong, and aren’t being “safe” enough when they go out. Stop blaming the victim!

  2. 2
    January 29th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    It’s unfortunate that we need articles like this :/

  3. 3
    January 29th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I can be sensitive about media etc “blaming the victim”, but I have to disagree with Lindsay. Some of these points can even apply to men, especially the ones about not going places alone or having emergency contacts and backup plans within reach. Women can be seen as more vulnerable or weaker than men, thus being easier targets, but the last few armed robberies just off my campus have had male victims! A lone, drunk person is a very easy target regardless of age or gender. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging ALL college students to be proactive about their safety and health.

  4. 4
    January 29th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Lindsay, no one is subscribing to rape culture and no one is blaming the victim. However, we can’t just assume that everything will be fine and dandy if we don’t protect ourselves because ‘it’s not our fault’. Being prepared is the only way to prevent awful things from happening, otherwise you’re just playing the odds.

  5. 5
    January 29th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Lindsay – I definitely don’t blame the victim when unfortunate events occur; I wrote this article because I live in a rather large town which has a very heavy night life and party scene, and I myself (along with other girl friends) have been in sticky situations where we didn’t know what to do. Therefore, I believe that there are certain precautions girls can take in order to protect themselves for unpredictable circumstances (not just in regards to rape, but in general, like being trapped downtown.) Not saying that whatever people do is their fault (as I said in my last sentence – “Hopefully you’ll never be put in a situation that’s dangerous or unsettling” as opposed to “hopefully you’ll never put yourself …”) – that was not my intention with this article and I never meant for it to come across that way.

  6. 6
    January 29th, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    As the girl scouts say “Be prepared!” It is NEVER the victim’s fault but it should be their (male or female!) responsibility to not only be safe but speak out.

    Thank you, CollegeFashion! Sometimes, we all need a little reminder that not everyone out there is good. But you forgot the most simple tip of all: COMMON SENSE!

  7. 7
    January 29th, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Just as you wouldn’t leave your car unlocked, you shouldn’t leave yourself unprotected.

    These are great rules and EVERYONE should know them. Spreading awareness is a great way to support prevention! Thanks CF!

  8. 8
    January 29th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Amanda, this is a great, smart article. It’s important to address these issues as women can often be taken advantage of. I no way see this as a “blaming the victim” article; it’s simply precautionary.

    I also think it is smart that you wrote it almost as a checklist. Next time I go out, I’m definitely going to skim it to make sure I’ve got everything, as I tend to be pretty forgetful! Those dang quarters just always seem to be eaten up by laundry day.. I rarely think to bring some when I go out. But like you said, in case my phone dies and I need a payphone..

  9. 9
    January 29th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I really found this article helpful and like Caitlyn said I would definitely use this as a checklist before heading out to “paint the town red”. Haha~

    Thanks for the great advice as I feel that EVERYONE will benefit by having someone remind us of the importance in checking up on ourselves and being aware of how the night is heading.

    I look forward to more articles by you Amanda~!

  10. 10
    January 29th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I love that the ‘carry the essentials’ bit has a photo of a lot of clutter! It’s difficult to strike the balance between carrying the stuff you need and fitting it all into those tiny going-out bags…

  11. 11
    January 29th, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Great post, Amanda! I hadn’t thought of a lot of these before. Definitely going to write down essential phone numbers, since I pretty much only have my home, parents’, and best friend’s numbers memorized.

  12. 12
    January 29th, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    I think it was a great article, thank you for this.

    I just wanted to emphasize how important it is again to NEVER go home by yourself. If you don’t have a ride home, call someone, or stay with a friend or so.

    A while ago I went home on my own. I got attacked, beaten and almost raped. I managed to escape, but it’s not something I’ll forget. I can’t even begin to imagine what would have happened if I had got raped that night.

    It’s never the victim’s fault, of course, but that doesn’t mean it can’t and won’t happen. It’s wrong that we have to precautions like this, but the thing is, they are necessary. Things like robbery and rape can happen to everyone and just because it’s not your fault doesn’t mean the consequences will be less awful.

    It really doesn’t matter how much fun you’re having, make sure there’s always someone with you.
    It just isn’t worth it.

  13. 13
    January 29th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    It’s a great idea to write down important numbers – sometimes you don’t have the time to charge your phone before going out. I’m definitely going to do this and keep the list of numbers in my wallet.

    I’m going to repeat what Nina said – never walk home by yourself. One night as I was going home someone attacked me and tried to rape me. Thankfully I got away, but since then I always carry a pepper spray and never walk home by myself.

    It’s awful that we girls should do so much to keep ourselves safe but you can’t just hope that nothing bad will ever happen to you.

  14. 14
    January 29th, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    @Tara and Nina: Oh God, that must have been terrifying. I hope the both of you are not too emotionally and psychologically scarred by the experience and that you are stronger because of it.

    I liked this article, thought it was in no way blaming the victim because it identifies how you can avoid staying out in the cold at 6am with no hope of getting home all because you didn’t plan ahead in advance (true story).

    I would however add condoms to the essentials list.

  15. 15
    January 29th, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Thank you for not including things like what not to wear. It’s so easy to victim blame, but you have stayed very clear of it. It’s sound practical advice for anyone because unfortunately, there are horrible people out there.

    But don’t forget the number one tip: Don’t rape anyone.

  16. 16
    January 29th, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I agree, it’s so important to remember these things and don’t see it as victim blaming at all. After witnessing one too many close calls these are all precautions I follow myself. Of course it is never the victims fault, but there are horrible people out there and I want to take reasonable precautions just in case.

  17. 17
    January 30th, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Great tips BTW. We girls need to practice these WAY more often!!

  18. 18
    January 30th, 2012 at 12:31 am

    I think this is a great article and has a lot of good and helpful tips.

    I live in NYC, and while I love going out at night to hang out with friends/coworkers, I am often consumed the entire time I’m out with thoughts on how late it is, how I’m going to get home, etc. Getting a cab is not always a great plan – depending on where I am in the city, it can be very expensive to take one back to my house in Queens. Taking the subway is much cheaper – and generally safe, depending on the day of the week or location – but still, having a buddy system is always safer. It’s good to be with people you trust, to know they have your best interests at heart and won’t abandon you or hesitate to travel with you late at night.

    It’s unfortunate that we have to worry about things like this, but the truth is that it’s not safe out there to be alone sometimes, wherever you live, especially when intoxicated or in an area you’re unfamilar with. It’s not about being vulnerable or “asking for it” – no matter what you’re wearing or what your gender, it is possible for anyone, male or female, to be a victim of a crime.

  19. 19
    January 30th, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Thanks for this article!
    It’s also helpful for international students coming to the USA.

    I never once thought this perpetuates women being taken advantage of more. Actually, we often take safety for granted. We assume things will be OK and though they usually are, it’s often because we take precautions that become habitual. Unfortunately, some people are not taught safety measures by their family or their social circles, so articles like this are necessary.

    I’d also agree that many points can pertain to men here. Safety tips are good for both men and women of all backgrounds.

  20. 20
    January 30th, 2012 at 4:53 am

    I agree this is a great post!!
    I am from Switzerland and the cities are very safe here (some of these tips are still usefull here).
    When I was in the U.S. I really underestimated things like this.. I just wasn’t used thinking about all that. Nothing really bad hapened to me but I had to call people in the middle of the night to come pick me up at a bad place and that wasn’t so cool for them..
    Thanks great post!

  21. 21
    January 30th, 2012 at 8:08 am

    I’m pretty sensitive to articles that victim blame (read: any article that is basically, stop drinking so much you hussies because you probably consented and don’t remember). This one steered clear of all those horrible things and didn’t once tell the readers not to drink, not to go out, not to walk at night, etc. This is one of the best articles I have read regarding this topic and applies to much more than rape (e.g. knowing your limits with regards to partying, drinking, drugs etc for your own health and emotional wellbeing, not just in regards to not getting attacked.) I think it’s easy to spit out the reactionary, victim blaming comment, because there’s such a fine line between articles like that and articles like this, but this one is on the safe side, by a wide margin.

  22. 22
    January 31st, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I don’t go out and party much, but this is a good post! Especially writing down phone numbers, I will have to remember that one.

  23. 23
    January 31st, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you for pointing out how important it is to go out with a group of trusted friends. This Halloween, my best girlfriend was out with a group of her classmates and had her drink spiked. None of the girls cared, they just told her she shouldn’t have drank so much and left her vomiting & hallucinating alone in the bathroom. Thankfully she was able to call her boyfriend before the worst of it kicked in, but she still can’t remember *how* she got home that night. I was so disgusted when she called me the next day and told me what happened. We don’t go out on the town anymore unless we actually know & trust the people we are out with.

  24. 24
    January 31st, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Great idea Amanda, thanks.

  25. 25
    February 1st, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Thank you for the bit about remembering numbers. I know my parents’ numbers, but they don’t live where I go to school, and I definitely don’t know any of my friends’ numbers off the top of my head. I’m definitely going to make an effort to do that in the future.

  26. 26
    February 2nd, 2012 at 7:20 am

    At my college time if we went for late night party we girls stayed together and always booked a cab earlier to pick up after the party is over.

  27. 27
    February 2nd, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep an eye on your drink. If you have to set it down, do not drink it again, no matter how much it costs to get a new one. Do not accept a drink from someone that you haven’t seen being made in front of you. Any decent guy will understand these rules and not be offended when you request to get one yourself.

  28. 28
    February 10th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Thanks for your responses ladies! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and found it helpful.

    @Tara and Nina – Thank you for sharing those stories with us – I’m so sorry that happened to you both. I’m glad you all came out OK though, and hope you’re feeling better now a days.

    @Hannah – Ugh, are you serious!? I cannot believe they’d just LEAVE her behind … completely and 100% unacceptable. I’m glad your friend is safe now, however. When it comes to going out, I’ve found that trusting people you go out with is pretty key.

  29. 29
    July 18th, 2014 at 12:44 am

    Add on to the thing about the drink,
    If you put it down NEVER pick it back up. Leave it and get another because it only takes a second for something bad to get into it.
    I also suggest having a friend you trust (a girl) go to the bathroom with you just to be shore.

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