How to Travel Alone as a Woman: Part Two: Safety

 

What woman in her right mind would travel the big bad world alone? This one right here… ME! I do! And so many other women are doing it and I love it.

So if you’ve watched Taken one too many times and believe your kidnapping is inevitable and in fact you’re worse off because you don’t have Liam Neesen on hand to rescue you, well this might change your mind.

Now so far, I’ve only hit a few countries in Europe and New York on my own, so I’m yet to venture out to the Middle East, South America, Asia and the rest of the world’s beauty by myself. But I’m sure with the techniques I’ve picked up along my travel years, both myself and you will be just fine, anywhere we decide to go!

Whether you’re already a solo traveller, you’re thinking of your first ever solo trip or you’ve never thought to do it because your concern for safety is stopping you then this post will have you covered.

(I also have covered a lot of safety tips in How to Travel Alone as a Woman: Part One, so check those out too!)

 

Before your trip

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the best modes of transport? Are there more than one type of taxi? Does Uber operate there? Or should you rent a car? What’s the situation for getting around at night time?
  • What are the best neighbourhoods? Are there rough areas?
  • Learn about potential scam and problem areas – and then avoid them
  • Accomodation – have you looked at the reviews of the hotel/lodge? What are other women saying about it?
  • Do you need vaccinations? Are there local hospitals, or walk-in clinics nearby? What local health issues are there that you need to be aware of and prepare for?

Your arrival

1: Arrange a transfer – If your flight is arriving at night, see if your hotel can arrange a transfer for you straight to them, or arrange your own privately rather than just hoping for the best when you get there. This is important if you think it could be a bit shady or it’s not a bustling night city, where public transport would otherwise be sufficient.

2: Arrive in the day – try to have your flights arrive during the day where possible, you’re likely to have cheaper and more options for transport.

3: Explore the immediate area of your lodging – Right after dropping my bags, one of the first things I do is walk around the area that I’m staying. I try to see all the different routes that take me back to my hotel/ flat. This way, if I am coming back late, it’s easier to recognise the streets or closest landmarks or shops so I’m not floating around looking like an easy target.

 

 

For your stay

1: Stay in a well-known hotel, or a highly reviewed one, so you already have a great idea about it before you go.

2: If you want your own space – I love Airbnb for the security I feel when I’ve got my own place. But only stay at a place that has had a whole lot of good reviews. I’ve never been the first one to try an Airbnb home. I’ve never done Couchsurfing but I would say the same rule applies. Do your research and see what other women are saying about it.

3: If you think for any reason your hotel is not quite up to scratch or you suspect dodgy staff, then before you leave to go about your day, put the ‘Do not Disturb’ sign on the door and leave some music or the TV on inside your room. This should be enough to keep anyone out if you’re worried about anything being stolen.

4: If it seems dodgier than just that, then get out and have a back-up accommodation in mind!

5: My honest advice is – fork out a little extra cash to stay somewhere you know theft or intrusion wouldn’t be a concern. There really isn’t a price on your safety.

 

Now for the juicy stuff!

Your every-day tips

1: Walk with purpose – when I’m out, I walk with so much conviction people would ask me for directions. This happened in Venice, so firstly I couldn’t be happier that they thought I could be Italian =) but secondly, I was actually lost at the time, so believe me it works!

2: Take in your surroundings – although you can be in awe of a place and so excited just to explore and discover, really take it all in. Look at what is around you. Are there any officials nearby? Get your bearings, what shops are around and are open, look at who is walking around – men, women, children. When I was roaming at night, I looked out for police officials who were sometimes just walking the streets and I would ask them for directions instead of locals if I felt particularly vulnerable.

3: Meet locals and make friends with local business owners or neighbours and other women in tour groups, restaurants, or wherever you are exploring. Some of them might keep seeing you around, and you can always reach out to them if you need. Plus it enhances your experience getting to know the people!

4: Don’t act alone – If you are approached by somebody and you feel vulnerable or scared of their intention, then act like you are not alone. You’re waiting for a friend who is just getting a drink next door. Or if there are people around, then wave at someone behind them, act like there’s someone with you and they are outnumbered. They’ll see you’ve caught someone’s attention (they don’t know that you don’t know them haha!) and it helps to buy you time or can guard them off altogether. If you’re in a cab alone, make a fake phone call and say ‘Yes I’m almost there, see you in a bit!’

 

 

 

5: Have a mental map – we rely on our phones for maps, but keep it guarded and have a general idea in your mind which way you’re going ahead of time. Try not to stand in one spot for too long looking at Google maps and someone can notice that you’re lost/have an opportunity to swipe your phone from your hands. If you need to check it, then walk inside a café or shop to do so, particularly if it’s at night.

6: Walk walk walk – I spend a lot of my trips walking from place to place throughout my trip, more than getting transport because it gives me a better idea of which areas are always busy and which ones are quieter at different times of the day and night. But of course where needed, use transport to help you get back home faster.

7: Don’t sleep on public transport…ever. And perhaps take a cab if it’s getting late and you’re not staying in a very busy area.

8: When getting into a taxi – keep all your bags and belongings with you instead of in the trunk of the car so if you feel uncomfortable at any time or the cabbie takes a longer route than you expected, you can jump out quickly if you need to.

 

9: Don’t stay out too late – common sense. Make it back at a decent hour and you stay clear of any weird night crawlers.

10: Share your itinerary and your movements with a friend or family member. It’s always smart for people to know your whereabouts even if they aren’t around. Ever seen 127 hours? Exactly. If you’re using Uber then that alone is safer than taxis, particularly if you’re worried about being ripped off or simply not trusting drivers. You can also share your Uber journeys with people so they can keep track of you should anything bad happen.

11: Stay connected – if you’re from the UK and you’re travelling to Europe, your phone network should allow you to roam at no extra cost or at least provide you a good deal so your phone can still be used as a phone! You can then also always be online and have internet access for maps to get you around and keep in contact with everyone at home. If you’re travelling outside your network zones, you can have an international phone card or sim to do the same job.

12: When taking cash out of a bank – try to use the ATM inside the bank rather than out on the street, I always felt this was safer and you attract less attention this way.

 

13: Put all your documents like your passport, visa, estas, accommodation confirmations and any other reservations in a Dropbox folder so you can still access them should you lose your phone and bag.

14: If you’re listening to music – don’t have both your earphones in. You need to be alert and know what’s going on around you – eg. If you’re being followed (sorry, I don’t mean to scare you), or even just conversations nearby so you know what’s up.

15: Always keep more money on hand than you budget for – in case of an emergency or you decide you need to take a cab if you feel unsafe. Though I mention that, don’t keep all your money in one place. There’s a few places I hide mine, places that aren’t so accessible to others, maybe you can get creative on this one 😉

16: Some women go as far as having a ‘dummy’ purse (or wallet for my American friends) with only a few small bills in there, so if someone tries to steal it, it’s no biggie, you’ve got the real dolla in your hidden spots.

 

Bonus tips for First-Timers

 

For your very first time travelling alone, it might be a good idea to have someone you know at your destination. A friend or family that you can visit, whether or not you stay with them. I would actually recommend staying alone so that you gain your independence and confidence abroad, with the reassurance of their help only if needed. Do this until you can start venturing to completely foreign lands!

Then why not try a 2-day trip (one night) somewhere not so far from home and see how that goes, then build on that?

 

Yay you made it to the end! Now having said all this, I’ve travelled solo three times this year alone and I never once felt unsafe and have hardly ever needed to use these techniques. In reality, there’s more people willing to help you than harm you. So remember to keep a positive attitude but also have your wits about you. Hope this helped, now get out there and explore the world honey!

If you liked this post, feel free to share it with your friends and follow me on my Instagram. It’s where I share all my latest pics and adventures =)

 

~ S

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2 Comments

  1. October 15, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    Reading this as a male it makes me think how many things you do as women to avoid danger and harassment. It really makes me feel ashamed on behalf of my gender sometimes xD

    Anyway those are great tips even for men. I’ve felt uncomfortable travelling alone as well and danger can hit both genders.

    I’ve never taken precautions that made it even more expensive for me just because I’m alone though. But sure rather spend more money and be safe, specially for women who inevitably are more vulnerable. Love the tips! 🙂

    Also one more tip I usually give to first time solo travellers: Go to Japan. It’s the safest even for women and it is far and different enough for you to gain real travel experience with the cumbersome parts of travelling like communication, directions and more. Low risk but max adventure 😉

    • sarasalih
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 8:53 pm

      Haha it’s alright, it’s not like you’re a psychopath 😉 but very true that both genders are vulnerable in new territory, so important to keep tricks up your sleeve. Love your tip thanks! I’ve heard this about Japan and my friend recently went solo and she loved it so for sure you’re right =) Can’t wait to go!

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