This post was last updated on July 22nd, 2016
If you’re a woman, and you plan on travelling alone, here are a few things you need to know to stay safe.
Trust Your Instincts
If something “feels” off or wrong, go with your gut. Maybe you’ve been in enough situations that your subconscious knows a bad situation when it presents itself. Your subconscious mind makes lightning-like assessments, which are faster than your conscious mind can process.
That doesn’t always mean your subconscious is always right. In fact, many times it’s wrong. But, when you’re a stranger in a strange land, it’s difficult to go wrong by following your gut about a person or situation.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
There will be many times during your travels when it seems or feels right to say “yes.” There may be times when it even seems logical. But, you shouldn’t feel pressured into doing something you’re not completely comfortable with.
Sometimes, in hostels and bars, the herd mentality takes hold and the pressure to drink or party becomes too much. Don’t give in. That’s not to say you should never drink or have a good time. But, drink in moderation and pace yourself.
Keep A Second Wallet and A Whistle
Some people suggest using a dummy wallet and a whistle you can blow if you’re in danger. The dummy wallet is nice if you’re unsure about the safety of a particular area. You can keep some cancelled or fake credit cards in there. To make it look more legit, you could keep a small amount of local currency in there too (enough for a tip at a local bar).
If you are mugged, hand over the fake wallet and be done with it. Of course, don’t hesitate to consult with companies like Slater and Gordon about your rights after the fact. Just because you lost a fake wallet doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t find out what recourse you have after the fact. Maybe it’s nothing, but, maybe not.
Get Advice From Locals
Ask the locals about the local scene. Employees at your hotel or hostel, a guesthouse, or the local bar might be able to let you in on the local secrets, like whether there any tourist scams to watch out for. Find out what you should see during your visit while you’re at it.
Dress Appropriately For The Culture
Not all countries are as free as your home. In Muslim countries, for example, it’s not appropriate for women to dress in short skirts and low-cut blouses. Check the local laws and customs, and pack appropriately. Sometimes, it really is a matter of legality. Other times, it’s a matter of cultural norms.
Also, when you blend in, you make yourself less of a target for thieves.
Don’t Walk At Night
In some countries, it’s perfectly safe to walk around at night alone. In others, you’re asking for trouble. Of course, if you’re going out with a group of friends, there’s safety in numbers. Places like Nepal, for example, are usually safe, but sometimes the unthinkable happens.
If you have to go out alone, make sure you take something (legal) to defend yourself. Research the local laws on self-defence, and carry whatever is legal (and appropriate) with you.
Jude Rowley has been working as a travel planner for many years. She enjoys sharing her insights with an online audience and has also written for a number of different travel-related sites.