Mindful Tips for Travellers – Staying Safe As A Solo Female
If you’ve never travelled alone before, the prospect can be quite daunting. But at OM we’re strong believers of feeling the fear and doing it anyway, not least because being slightly fearful will work to your advantage and make you more aware when you’re out and about. There are so many benefits of travelling alone – being more receptive to meeting new people, doing things on your own terms, embracing new opportunities – so why should you ever be put off? Here are a few pieces of advice on how to stay safe as a solo female traveller:
Trust Your Gut
It’s easy as a female in a new place to feel obliged to be polite and accept offers that come from people who say they mean well. But it’s okay to trust your instincts and say no – whether it’s to a tour, a taxi, a meal, or a gift. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t be pushed into anything. Equally, if you find yourself walking to a ‘must-see’ spot but you don’t feel safe, turn around.
Do Your Research
Before you visit, look up the country’s/city’s customs. Do they use particular hand gestures it might be beneficial for you to use? Are there modesty requirements you need to abide by? Dress is extremely important because it can mark you out as an ‘outsider’ or ‘tourist and make you a target – you’ll find that you’re more safe the more you fit in. When you arrive, make the most of local knowledge by asking your host if there are any areas you should avoid and any common scams to be weary of.
As a solo traveller, it’s not uncommon for locals and other travellers to help you out. Although it’s important to be vigilant, being approachable and making eye contact with couples and families could save your life should you find yourself in a situation where you need to look less ‘alone’. It’s worth interacting with other women and attempting to place yourself near them in public and social situations.
Keep your belonging at close range, and your valuables at home
Needless to say, wearing any valuable jewellery or listening to music with expensive headphones isn’t a good idea when travelling alone. Leave your valuables behind. Keep your belongings at close range and make note of where everything is (notes could be in your bra, your phone in your front pocket), and when it comes to money, keep small change in a purse. That way, if anyone does try to pickpocket you or demand money, you won’t lose out as much as you could.
Invest in your safety
As sinister as it sounds, invest in a slash-proof bag. It’s also worth splurging on a taxi at night – never walk home alone – and if where you’re staying has Uber, use that. Uber tracks your location, so is generally a safer option. With taxis, again make use of local knowledge and request reputable companies and standard rates (so that you’re not taken advantage of). Our tip? Get the business card of your hostel/hotel and have it to hand to give the taxi driver so there’s no risk of miscommunication.
Don’t forget to share
The people you leave behind are a valuable lifeline. Keep them informed of your daily itinerary, and provide them with any phone numbers they can use to contact you. Before you go, create a Dropbox and share images of your passport, visa/s, ticket numbers, drivers license etc – if you somehow lose any important documents, they will be easier to request if you have key details to hand.
Throughout the experience, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. If the experience becomes too overwhelming at any point, find a safe space (most places will have an expat restaurant where you don’t have to worry about the language barrier), and take a breather. Generally, most people are very friendly and will want to help you, but just be aware and take precautions where you can.