Is it a shame that women have to think doubly hard about staying safe as solo travelers? I can’t answer that. But, being a solo woman traveler doesn’t have to feel like being a walking target. After traveling 4 continents, I am listing 7 solo safety pointers. Travel on brave shelas!
- Information is power
Yes fellow female warriors. Travel beyond, experience, and enjoy your travel. Information gathering prior to your trip with arm you.
Points to consider when information gathering:
- What is the current political climate where you’re traveling?
- Any coups going on lately?
- What are ethnic and racial tensions like?
- What is the religion there?
- How do they view women and any other aspects of who you are (I.e. Sexual minority, religious minority, etc.)
In Belize, I met a lady who was riddled with interesting albeit provocative tattoos all over her body. She told me about how a taxi driver dropped her off at the hotel and followed her to her room and made strong advancements toward her. When I say provocative tattoos, one of them included a tattoo of women’s lips on her neck. Very cool indeed and her look would have been totally appreciated in say, Denmark but not on a small island in Central America where women are more conservative. I blame her not folks. I’m just saying, know where you are visiting. Not all appearances are going to be accepted the way we want.
Try to blend in as much as possible without loosing your sense of self. Example: do not wear a t-shirt of the US flag while visiting say, Iran. If visiting a Buddhist temple and you’re asked to cover your short shorts with a tunic, do so.
2. Take stock in your travel destination’s medical situation.
Are you in a malaria zone? If so, what are you going to do to prevent this? What is the medical community like where you’re traveling? Will you need to call in Seal Team 6 to rescue you if you incur a broken bone? Do yo u need to get travel medical insurance? I’ve broken bones in 3 continents and found these are good questions to ask.
Gaven de Becker in his book, The Gift of Fear writes about how our intuition is an innate gift, that it’s trust worthy and to use it.
Women tend to fear being labeled a bit$h or mean. But guess what, I would rather be mislabeled that mishandled. Men don’t worry that they might be thought of as an ass if they think they are being threatened.
4. Protect your documents like your life depends on it because it does.
Okay, that’s a little dramatic. I ‘ve known a handful of people who had their passports lost or stolen pre and post 911, and they finagled new papers to renter the ole USA. However, they couldn’t leave the country where they lost their data and it can take weeks to get your paperwork reissued. Maybe that’s a great way to extend a vacation!
When I backpacked and stayed at hostels, along with beach fronts, train stations, and other free and public locations, I kept my passport, money and other important documents in a little pouch under my clothes everywhere. This included when I slept and showered. Was it annoying? Yes. Did I ever loose anything? No.
Got a safe? Use it. I always divide my cash into different places in case, God forbid, I am robbed. I also travel with an emergency credit card which I keep in a safe and not on my person, again, lest I am robbed or loose my money.
How do I sum this up the way my dad would? I don’t think this is possible. Don’t count cash in public, close your curtains at night, don’t go out with a group of men until 4 am and be the only woman, lock your doors, don’t flash expensive anything anywhere, take a taxi if it’s the middle of the night instead of walking.
The best way to prevent an issue is to avoid it.
Ahh, this is one of my favorite strategies. Avoiding issues is the best way to stay free and clear of them. Again, my retired homocide detectice dad’s advice is echoing, “Be aware of your surroundings!”.
If someone is following you like white on rice and you happen to be heading to your hotel room and it’s late at night, change your mind and go to the lobby for a few minutes instead. See, issue averted and no one is exactly clear where you will be sleeping alone all night.
5. Pick up on some basic self-defense
Hopefully, problems will never arise and if they start to, you will avoid them. But. If you can’t avoid a sticky situation, it’s better to know some bloody self-defense. This is good advice if you’re traveling or not. Just knowing something you learn online is great but, if you can, take a class. Practicing something is a lot different than rehearsing it in your head.
When I travel alone, I do not stay at hole-in-the-wall hotels, or hostels in the middle of nowhere. Would I like to? Sure. Butt, that’s a bad idea and a hotel with more people around is going to keep me safe. Why? Because I am extra pleasant with hotel staff because they will help keep an even when traveling on a shoe-string budget, tip and well. They will help will keep an eye on you. Make some friends here and there because, safety is a group thing.
7. Technology is your friend
Okay, the Internet is dodgy at best in many places however, you can still find it. Check in with people. One of my favorite apps is Life 360. When you’re connected to the Internet, it marks your location anywhere on the globe, your route history, etc. I’ll make sure a loved one has my location.
Once when I was in New Orleans, there was a 10 person shooting on Bourbon street. I missed my sister’s call to make sure I was okay because I was having fun on Frenchman Street. What did she do? Looked up my location on life 360 and knew that I was A-Okay.
A smart phone is a great way to stay in touch with others as well for check-ins. When connected to the Internet, Viber and What’s App are free and allow you to text and call others who also have the app.
That’s it my friends. Travel well and have fun.