I feel compelled to share a bit of my knowledge regarding solo female travel. Despite our modern times many women are still intimidated by the idea of traveling alone. Anything new in life is intimidating, regardless of gender, but nothing has empowered me more than traveling alone. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe on the road.
Follow Your Intuition
The more you travel, the better your intuition becomes. When you get a bad feeling regarding a stranger’s integrity, a guesthouse, or a dark alley, honor it. It may be fear of the unknown, but it may be your instinct telling you to avoid an undesirable situation. Listen to your gut, it usually knows when danger is present.
Be observant of what local women are wearing and blend in. You will already draw attention by looking different, you don’t want to invite more attention by being the girl wearing short shorts in a conservative country. Aside from safety, it is also a matter of respect. Save your scandalous outfit for a night in New York City, not Nepal.
Take Registered Taxis When Available
Registered taxis add another level of security to your journey. Aside from the fact that your journey is registered, the drivers are as well. In major cities this is the best and safest way to travel. I also learned to lock the doors of a taxi while traveling. This prevents anyone from getting in while you are stopped.
Arrive In A New Place During The Day
This will not only give you a chance to get your bearings, it will make you feel more comfortable in your new surroundings. Also, if you are looking for a place to stay, it is much safer walking around during the day. More light, less opportunists.
Ask Locals About Safe/Non-Safe Areas
Whether you inquire with a tourist information booth, guesthouse owner, or a local cafe, most locals are in the know and happy to share this information with you. With this knowledge you are free to wander about without feeling anxious or getting lost in a bad neighborhood. You may even make a friend or receive a recommendation on where to go in the process.
Have A “Story”
Having a story about meeting your “husband/boyfriend/fake man of your choosing” helps. Yes, I am strongly encouraging lying. I hate to admit that this the reality of the world we live in, but lying will deter interested parties. I recently had a man follow me around a museum attempting to make conversation and asking me where I was staying. I told him I was meeting my husband after the museum and went into a cascade of details(lies) about our fake love story. He stopped following me as a result.
Inform Someone Of Your Whereabouts
Whether it is the guesthouse owner, your fellow backpackers, or your family at home, it is good to have somebody know where you are. I once had a situation at a guesthouse where I felt very uncomfortable in the presence of the owner. I felt compelled to message friends and fellow travel buddies to inform them exactly where I was staying. Nothing happened but I felt better knowing someone was aware just in case.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say NO!
Sometimes we sacrifice what we really want in favor of being polite or pleasing people. It is not rude to say no or be assertive. Being assertive is an art that when cultivated will allow you to avoid unfavorable situations. This rule applies to getting in a taxi with a driver who smells like alcohol, denying drink/food from a stranger on the train, a hand attempting to grope you, or telling a new acquaintance you are uncomfortable walking down a dark alley. Use your intuition and your NO as much as necessary.
Be Observant Of How Many Women Are Around
This applies to many different situations from having dinner in a restaurant, to riding in a train car, to being in a nightclub. If there aren’t any women around it is a sign you shouldn’t be either. When you are alone and only surrounded by men you become the only glass of water in the desert. Congregate with other women if they are around. While traveling alone I have encountered many women who go out of their way to ensure my safety. Don’t be afraid to connect with them.