Traveling alone can be the most amazing experience. Yes, it’s scary and it can be a huge, unpredictable adventure, but that’s what makes it all the more enjoyable. For those of us who love travel, taking on a challenge like a solo-trip brings a whirlwind of exhilaration.
For me, it’s one of my dreams and one I hope to accomplish very soon. My next solo trip will take me to the exotic lands of Thailand and Nepal, followed by the stunning Australia, New Zealand and a short trip to Papua New Guinea, where I hope to live an unforgettable adventure.
However, as exciting as solo travel can be, we ladies need to take precautions to stay safe. Below is some handy advice to make sure you travel safely on your solo travel route.
Take Proper Precautions
Be one step ahead by preparing for any sort of situation that could occur. Pepper spray can be a lifesaver in a challenging situation and is easy to carry. Take self-defense courses before heading out on your trip. Make sure to research the area and once there, make friends with other tourists in the hostels so they know you. Join groups for risky tourist activities rather than going solo.
Always keep an open eye for anything suspicious or seemingly dangerous. Make smart decisions to keep you safe, like not sleeping in empty train compartments. Dress modestly (feminist debate aside – sorry) because minimizing attention as a solo female traveler is a safer choice. Most importantly, trust your instincts: if something feels wrong, it is wrong.
Avoid Unsafe Cities and Areas
We all like to feel independent and powerful, but let’s face it, there are places which are naturally dangerous for women, especially for those traveling alone. There could be places with high levels of insecurity, rape, abuse and theft.
Generally, regardless of how strong a woman is or whether she’s trained in self-defense, it’s unwise to pass by those areas alone, especially at night. There are plenty of safe cities for women to travel alone, so why take a huge risk by going down an unsafe path?
Know Who to Contact for Legal Advice
There are many horror stories about solo female travelers who had legal troubles in foreign countries. Whether it’s due to be scammed or just plain ignorance of the country’s laws, punishment can range from being killed, deported or even sent to prison. Before flying anywhere, inform yourself about the country’s laws and who you can contact if you need help.
If you get into any legal trouble, your best bet as a solo traveler is to contact the embassy or closest consulate. They have a solid understanding of the country’s laws and can provide information and legal assistance. In most cases, they are also obligated to protect you. Have their contact information on hand at all times.
Never underestimate enforcement in foreign countries. If you are unaware of the type of situation in which you could get involved, you may place yourself in a dangerous situation. Take Thailand for example. An innocent tourist in Thailand may be unaware that criticizing the monarchy is not only against the law, it’s also enforced with serious jail time. A simple joke on a Facebook status or at the bar is enough to be taken, prisoner.
Be Conscious of Your Surroundings
As women, we, unfortunately, have to be more aware of societal norms and our behavior in countries we visit.
For example, Muslim countries tend to be very conservative, so they do not welcome bare skin – doing so can result in being verbally harassed or worse. Kirstin, a solo traveler who went to Indonesia, was attacked by men on the street for showing too much of her arms – a simple mistake that had her fearing for her safety for three days. Although most situations won’t reach this extreme, dressing scantily by the local community’s standard or offending them through your actions is a sure-fire way to feel unsafe.
Catcalls and men attempting to take advantage of your solo situation will always be present, so try your best to safely deal with any male harassment. Don’t place yourself in difficult situations that could be easily avoided by saying “no” long before. (i.e. Feel uncomfortable with an offer to join you for a walk? Say no. It’s easier to reject a person before a situation than to try to stop it once the harassment is taking place.)
Inform yourself on sexual harassment in each country to understand how common it is, how unsafe it could potentially be for you, and try to sit next to women in public transportation. Buses are the perfect place for a man to corner you in – been there, done that, and lesson learned.
Have Fun While Keeping Safe
By no means should women allow these fears to burden us in our solo adventure? Traveling solo is an amazing and unique experience and the majority of it will be well worth the investment. Although you need to travel with one eye open to keep safe, always remember that you are there to have fun and experience a wild, unforgettable trip.
Have you ever traveled solo? Tell us about your experience or tips below!
The unedited featured image kindly provided by Vector Open Stock.