20 TIPS FOR WOMEN TRAVELLING SOLO« Back
By Katarzyna Majchrowicz-Dolińska
When the thrill of adventure calls, you answer. But what if one day you have the urge to take off all by yourself? Some people (especially your family and friends) might consider this idea a bit risky, and truth be told, there is reason to be vigilant. Although men and women have equal rights in Western Europe and America, you cannot deny the fact that travelling alone is not as equally safe for us, women, as it is for them, men. There are parts of the world which are regarded by many as not-so-safe travel destinations for solo women tourists. If you are interested to know if your travel destination is on that list, you can check here. Just remember, whatever your plan, safety comes first. Having said that, let’s have a look at some ideas we came up with for our female readers, in hope of helping you stay safe.
1. Always let someone know of your whereabouts
Just let your friends and family know where you are, for how long, and what are your plans for the next step. Should anything happen, they will help you, and information about where you are is crucial in order to act quickly.
2. Check in regularly (if you can)
If you have a phone and internet access, it is a good idea to make regular check-ins, every 24h/48h/72h… – whatever suits you. Remember to agree on a “and what if there is no contact?” scenario. Again, this safety check will ensure quick reaction and help.
3. Make contact with your Embassy
Register with your Embassy and let them know your plans, ways of contacting you, and how long you are planning to stay. They will have the means of helping you in many cases, especially should you (knock on wood) lose your documents, money, or get in any trouble.
4. Know local emergency numbers
Registering at your Embassy is important, but also keep note of numbers to places such as a hospital, the police and your hotel, just in case.
5. Take care of your money
Actually, here we have a couple of tips, to take double precautions. For one, keep a dummy wallet with some change. If you get mugged, this is the wallet that you will give. Then there is THE wallet, which you will use on an everyday basis. But, just to be on the safe side, keep an extra stash of secret money, hidden somewhere deep, that you won’t tell anyone about. That should take care of it :)
6. A map
So you will not get lost. Don’t rely too much on technology (your battery may go flat when you least expect it, and phones have a tendency of getting lost or broken) as well as directions from local people. There are some documented cases, when the person asked for directions was too embarrassed to admit they don’t have a clue about what you are asking them…. so they made up the directions along the way. Tst, tst.
7. Forget about precious things
Why would you even consider..? Any jewelry items or expensive gadgets are a temptation for some less honest members of the local community to make an attempt of freeing you from your beloved possessions. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Leave your precious treasures behind - they will be waiting for you - as beautiful as the day you left them.
8. Hotels – checked!
Hotels can be a potential problem – especially if they are located in a district with a higher crime rate. Check them well before you book.
9. Don’t travel at night
Just… better not. If you’re not sure why, just get that imagination rolling, and try to recall some thrillers. Yep, told you not to.
Obviously, we don’t mean a 20 piece full-blown dictionary with every single word, expression and idiom ever spoken in the language of the country you are travelling to. Just a small, pocket size version, which you can look into if you want to ask about things like “how much is that dress?” or “where can I find a hairdresser?”
11. Learn about local culture
Having this knowledge won’t hurt, and will help you be prepared. Do some basic research on culture, cuisine, as well as check for some advice on local customs – the Travel with Mission guides, especially the section on “cultural etiquette” are a good place to start.
Taking care of your medical issues is also making sure that you will be safe. Check what you should vaccinate for at least a few weeks before departure, as some vaccines must be repeated after a few days or weeks.
Some basics, like antiseptic, a band-aid, painkillers, something to get the temperature down… Prepare yourself - especially if you are travelling to exotic places, where you don’t speak the language, and plan to stay out of big cities.
14. Make copies of your documents
If you happen to lose your documents, it will make it easier to take care of the paper work and ensure your quick return. You might also save time as well as unnecessary stress and hassle. And it doesn’t cost practically anything.
15. Dress safely
Find out what women wear in the country you are planning to visit, and pack elements of your wardrobe which will be suitable and proper for this trip. At the least you will avoid unnecessary glances or comments.
16. Eye contact
In some cultures, making direct eye contact is considered rude, or even aggressive. Better keep on the safe side, and try to refrain from looking into somebody’s eyes for too long a time.
17. Wedge in the doorstep
“Why the heck would I need one?” you might be thinking. Ok, that’s a fair question. Now imagine yourself, at night, in a busy hotel, alone in your room… oh, and do you remember that guy in the elevator, who gave you that stare and spooked you? You will probably sleep more soundly knowing that the wedge is your relentless guard, keeping your door firmly closed all night.
18. Safety whistle
If you get assaulted, blow your whistle, literally. You will draw attention and scare off the attackers, who most likely won’t be suspecting such a plot twist.
19. Don’t get drunk
It’s really not a good idea. Not only you do not have the same degree of control as you usually do, but also you are prone to being approached by someone you might not wish making closer contact with.
20. Don’t hitchhike or travel alone with total strangers
They might be nice people, but then again…. They might not. You must admit, that this would be pushing your luck. Even when taking a taxi, better take the legal ones, as they are more reputable.
Now, this is only a list. We wish it had magical properties, that everyone who reads it becomes immune to any harm and danger. But as far as we know – it doesn’t work that way. So please, be your own judge as to how and where to travel, and take care of yourself. Maybe you have some advice you would like to add? Feel free to share it with other fellow travelers!
If you are interested in the differences of travelling in a group versus going on your own, read other article on our blog: ON YOUR OWN, OR GROUP VOLUNTEERING?