It is not simply about wanting to explore new places to travel for women. There are many logistics that women, as opposed to men, have to think, worry and plan about to fulfill their love for travel. The world is enormous, diverse and colorful, and a deep desire to explore, to learn about new and interesting things, keeps that fire for adventure burning within women who wish to experience all this.
■ As a woman, traveling alone can have many advantages. You not only experience the world, but also become more confident and empowered. It is usually an amazing life experience.
There are downsides to this, though. The world is also an unsafe place, and when you travel alone, you make yourself vulnerable to predators. Yes, today's woman is independent, but independence does not mean being reckless or throwing caution to the wind. It is all about finding that perfect balance between having amazing experiences while being safe and secure.
Let's consider ten tips related to the safety aspect of traveling alone as a woman, and making the most of your journey.
1. Plan your packing.
Many tourist locations have pickpockets and petty thieves on constant watch for people carrying expensive items with them - cameras, brand name purses, their general look and style of dressing, phones, jewelry or cash. Watch out for these and keep your valuables safe.
Carry a tote or a handbag for your camera and other gadgets. Take them out only when you are using them. Especially, keep them well hidden when using public transportation.
■ You can never be too careful with smartphones. Countless times, people have had their phones slip out of their pockets onto the taxi seats. Phones have been snatched right off of people's hands even in major cities like Amsterdam and London.
No reason to feel scared, negative or even paranoid. It's just about being cautious and using good judgement. Put that phone into your bag when climbing in or getting off trains. Use common sense, it goes a long way!
2. Avoid travel at night. Stay alert!
Night time is intimidating for all people in general, with most crimes happening under the cover of the dark. As a woman traveling alone, it is normally alright to visit a crowded concert or nightclubs, but remember to call an Uber on your return, or have friends drop you to your hotel.
■ Avoid going in the dark by yourself even for a short walk. Avoid even public transportation unless you can secure all your items in a handbag.
3. Practice alert words in local language, to use in case of emergency.
At any time of the day, stay alert and look confident. Read the vibes around you. If things feel wrong, find a way to get out of the situation quickly.
If and when in need, you could reach out to the locals for help or in times of an emergency. The general tendency of a criminal would be to isolate you, separate you from crowds that can help you. But, follow your gut. If you feel that something is not right, do not hesitate for even a moment to reach out to a stranger, asking for help or even start talking to them.
■ It is in general a good practice to learn a few words of courtesy in the native language of the place you are visiting. It just endears you to the people more, and fills them with a feeling of respect. You will probably win over the kindness of strangers if you simply take the time to practice a few key phrases.
4. Make friends wherever you go!
This comes naturally to women, it is so much easier for you to simply start talking and bond in the process. You can see relationships getting created right in a span of a few minutes. Use this capability to your benefit.
■ Staff at your hotel are there to help you not only with your stay, but they can also provide you with information related to best places to visit. They know the area very well, so you check with them about the areas to avoid in the day, and especially at night.
They should usually follow this as a rule, or you could inform them yourself, to not speak your room number out loud, in case of some unknown and foul people listening in. Maybe even notify the hotel when you leave, where you are going and when you plan to be back, and to make a judgement call to alert the authorities if you are missing after your intended time of return.
5. Update your family with your plans on a daily basis.
Letting someone in your family back home know of your plans for the day, helps with raising alarm bells if something is out of the ordinary. Even if you plan to check out the local attractions, or go hiking, or dinner out with a new friend, let your folks know. Even locally, let your hotel receptionist know, so they can raise the alarm if you do not return in time.
It does seem like an intrusion of your privacy - keeping people updated, but such is life. You are traveling for fun and to enjoy the experience, and yet, all of this should not be done with a compromise to your safety.
6. Keep your travel documents safe.
This is important, else you are stuck in a country without your passport. Make an extra effort to keep these safe, maybe even make copies and keep in different bags. These are extremely difficult to replace immediately, and you will not even be able to continue with the rest of your travel, keep aside returning home.
If you are carrying your laptop, scan the documents and save them in folders. Maybe even have a copy on your smartphone. Copies will not be treated as originals in case you've lost your passport, but they can show the local authorities that you truly had a passport and a valid visa. These will also help with the replacement of the passport at the local embassy.
7. Check to confirm your phone is loaded with all the necessary emergency numbers.
These days, at least in the US, most cellular providers have international plans that you can avail of when traveling. You could buy pre-paid or toppable SIM cards to make calls that will not break your bank.
Save emergency numbers, the local police, ambulance, your hotel staff-friends, etc whom you can call immediately if you need help.
8. Beware of the headphone deafness!
Most times, we are listening to music on our phones and have our headphones/ airpods plugged into our ears. It can be easy to drift off into your own world when you are using public transportation in and around the city.
It is really important that you stay alert and not be distracted. Also, understand that your expensive airpods may attract attention from unsavory sources. So, it would be better to invest in some cheap ones when traveling.
9. Beware of participating in controversial topics of conversation.
Depending upon the country you are traveling to, avoid topics of conversation that are controversial in nature. For example, discussing religion, political unrest or local government policies may not be conducive to a happy experience, let alone safe. Best avoid them, not all countries are as liberal as the west.
10. Do some culture research.
Some manners that are normal in the US may be considered rude in some countries as well, so be careful to avoid these scenarios. Do some research over the culture of the countries you plan to visit.
Some religious countries may require dress codes when visiting their place of worship which may also be a visually appealing monument you would like to visit to enjoy its aesthetic qualities. For example - the Basilica requires you to cover your legs and shoulders. Not conforming to these norms will simply get you unrest and unwanted attention.
■ A few EXTRAs -
* US citizens can enroll their trip with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate, in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
* Make sure you have Travel Insurance for medical and travel protection.
At the end of it all, just be aware of your surroundings and the activities that are happening around you. Women are generally believed to possess a very strong sixth sense, and pick up on the currents in their environment. Use your natural gifts to your benefit, and enjoy traversing the wonderful world that offers such rich diversity and experience.
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