Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Safety Tips for Solo Female Travellers

Bad things can happen when you travel. Bad things can also happen at home. Let’s be honest: you can minimize risks, but there is no guarantee that anywhere in the world will be 100% safe. You can get hit by a bus when you walk out of your own front door. Should fear stop you from travelling? No. But it is a good idea to understand the possible risks of visiting any country, or doing any activity; and to take precautions. So here are a few tips for your solo trip:



Be Aware, But Not Be Afraid

Be cautious, but not paranoid. When you are aware of your surroundings, you walk around with confidence, you notice what goes on around you, but you do not look afraid – you are less likely to be harassed if you look confident and if you act like you know where you’re going. Staying aware of your surroundings means noticing anything odd (like that dodgy guy who has been walking a few steps behind you for half an hour, for example).

Being cautious means avoiding taking unnecessary risks, walking away from dangerous situations, trusting your instinct when you meet someone you are not quite sure about – but don’t be so paranoid you cannot enjoy your time. Some people are great, some people are not so great, and most of us have a gut instinct about people and situations. We have to listen to that gut instinct and take it seriously. If a person feels “wrong”, leave. If a situation feels weird, leave. If the cheap hotel you booked for the night feels unsafe, find another place to stay.

Use Common Sense

Would you walk around drunk and half-naked in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar neighborhood in your home country or home city? No? Then don’t do it in a country or city you have arrived in. We could all walk around drunk whenever and wherever we want to, wearing whatever we want to, at any time of the day or night. Unfortunately the world does not work like that.

Don’t go swimming naked in moonlight on a beach in Goa, however romantic that sounds. Don’t accept drinks from random strangers. Make sure you have safe transport back to your hotel if you have to be out late. Don’t tell people you’ve met in a bar that you’re travelling alone, and don’t proceed to give them the address to your hotel if you’ve told them you’re on your own!

Keep in Touch

If you’re heading out on your own for a daytrip or even a longer trip, let someone you trust know where you have gone and when to expect you back. Tell someone in your hotel, for example. Even if you like the freedom of doing stuff alone (I do, and I generally avoid travelling in a group or going sightseeing with lots of other people) it is a good idea to let someone know about your travel plans and any side trips you’re doing on your own.

Today staying in touch with people back home is easier than ever. Most of you update your Facebook profiles when you travel, or keep family and friends up to date by email. If you are going somewhere where you think you will not be able to send regular emails, and if your friends are used to regular emails, tell them you will be out of touch for a certain time. Tell them also approximately when to expect to hear from you again.

Pay Attention to What You Wear

Here I go again, talking about dress code, but this is important. In many parts of the world women do not show as much bare skin as women in, for example, Western European countries. You could wear whatever you want and do whatever you want without getting into trouble, but in many parts of the world wearing too little does, unfortunately, increase the risk of sexual harassment. Look at what local women are wearing and use that as a guideline. When visiting temples and other religious/spiritual sites, or when going to official environments such as a police station or an embassy for your visa application, dress appropriately.

Do Your Research Before Going

Read about your destination, including the bits in your guidebook that talk about do’s and don’ts. Understand the basics of the local culture and read also about women’s status in that culture – not only to stay safe but to understand your destination better. Learn a few words of the local language. And remember that in many countries you cannot trust the police or other authorities the same way you might trust them at home. Corruption is common around the world, but in some countries it is more visible than in others.

Book Your Hotel Room

for at least the first night, so you have a place to go to when you arrive and you don’t have to run around a new city looking for a room when you’re tired and jet-lagged anyway. Try to arrive in a new city before dark. If your flight arrives in the middle of the night, ask your hotel for airport pick-up or use pre-paid taxi services and airport taxis. If you arrive in a new country at night and have not booked a place to stay, it may be better to wait at the airport for a few hours before heading out.