Every solo traveller has problems that he or she will face in the course of exploring the world solo. But, there are problems that will come up as a result of being either female or male when you travel solo that need to be addressed. If you are a woman travelling abroad and you choose to travel solo, it is important to understand the culture you are entering in order to protect yourself and stay safe during your journey. Here are nine safety tips for solo female travellers.
Whether it is your first or fiftieth solo trip, it will take some time to get acclimated to your surroundings and get used to being solo. It will take a day or two to shake the initial nerves of being in a new place, and to manage the details, information and documents. If you have patience with yourself and with your destination, you will find steady ground and get into the swing of your solo adventure.
If your gut is telling you something is off—listen to it. Especially if you are alone. Remove yourself from the situation, and get back to a “safe place.” Younger women need to pay special attention to the unsavoury characters you may encounter and know ways to avoid those including defensive mechanisms like a whistle, mace or self-defence (see “Arm Yourself” below).
This doesn’t just mean when you pack your luggage. When you are walking around the city or town you’re staying in, only take the essentials with you. Be comfortable, casual and conservative, and plan what items are essential and which items you can leave at home. If you know that you’ll be shopping, bring a backpack to store your purchases as walking around with a ton of bags indicates that you have money to spend—potentially bringing you unwanted attention.
Leave your valuables at home and do some research before leaving to understand the cultural norms for dressing. Knowing what is appropriate for visiting the Pyramids of Giza or the Vatican can help avoid situations ranging from the embarrassing to the disturbing. You will always be more vulnerable when you aren’t on your home turf, so if you can, dress more conservatively.
If possible, take a basic self-defence course before you leave on your solo holiday. You will feel more prepared and able to take of yourself emotionally and physically after that kind of course.
This is a preventative move to ensure you won’t be walking down poorly lit streets alone and that you have a place to go. Plan to go out near your hotel or take a cab to your accommodation at the end of the night. The last thing you want is to be alone and unaware in a new location. At the very least, ensure you have a place to rest your head on the first night and plan to arrive in your destination by mid-afternoon so you have daylight to navigate the city and time to change your accommodation if the facilities don’t match it’s description or the neighbourhood isn’t as desirable as originally thought.
It is natural to feel closer to another woman you meet on the road. Oftentimes you will safer around other women. And when it comes to times of small danger, which probably holds true. But it is important to remember that there are just as many dangerous women as men who are capable to bring you into a bad situation. Be cautious and aware.
Nothing will ruin a trip faster than sore feet. Not only are heels and sandals generally unsupportive for long walking times, they are also harder to run in. Chances of you having to run away from someone or towards something are slim, but if the unexpected happens it is better to be prepared and able to depart quickly instead of tottering or tripping over your choice of shoes.
It’s fine to be social and to have a drink with dinner—especially if you are making new friends. But be wary of every drink. Only take drinks from bartenders and always keep your cocktail within sight, and even better, in hand. Avoid getting drunk so you can keep your full senses and observations with you.
Be aware of your surroundings and keep in mind the female-specific travel tips to take into account when you travel solo. It’s better to be safe than sorry and you’ll feel an extra level of protection with an international travel insurance policy from Cover-More Australia that will back you up during your travels.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Sam Howzit