Worried about a Girl travelling alone? Solo Travel? Travelling Safety for Single woman?
“Once upon a time, there was a little girl who dreamed to fly high, soar through the white clouds and embrace the sky..” This is the story of most women, anywhere in the world. But as the case may be, not everyone realizes the opportunities or dares to materialize their dreams.
Without sounding too demoralized over the tangible or intangible issues of feminism, the case is that both women and men are full of doubts and apprehensions over woman travelling solo. This is true for every continent, every soul.
So, is Solo Travelling for Women that difficult? Here’s what I think are the do’s and don’ts -
I started travelling solo couple of years ago and have been to some amazing places alone. (Read about my first solo trip here) I have read and seen many girls who are solo travelers across continents and also have been fortunate to have met some of them. They are normal girls with all the regular responsibilities and obligations of life. The only difference is they dare to live their dream.
1. Be Well Prepared
I love sudden trips too, but let’s see.. there is no sense in embarking on a solo trip to an unknown place without proper research or information. It is unlikely you will go to a very familiar place on a solo excursion, so it becomes imperative you spend some time to know the place you are visiting. The extent of research will compound basis the destination; more the place is remote, more will you be prepared.
Check out the transportation facilities, language challenges, distances between places you plan to visit, culture (this is important from your clothing point of view), general norms (web is filled with information these days), food options, etc. Also knowing in advance helps you cut costs and be aware.
Point here being — there is no smartness in being dumb. Realize the fact that you will be all on your own, so don’t surprise yourself.
2. Be Practical
Ummm.. let’s see. There are some basic things which becomes the checklist when you travel single anywhere. Things like -
- Leave your trail — drop in your itinerary details with your closed ones beforehand. I have a habit of checking in on the family watsapp group periodically when I travel solo. This is just a reassurance to them and to you, that all is well. Also there are many hi-tech gadgets and apps these days which help you raise an alarm, if need be.
- Know that the mobile signals may not available everywhere. This is true at remote locations, if you can, it is wise to get a local sim in an ordinary phone. This will also become handy if and when you come across felons who intend to harass you in future. Also, keep your phone charged at all times, pictures and selfies can wait. Power banks are mandatory.
- Take care of your belongings. Your money, ID cards, important documents, etc. cannot be at the mercy of other people’s care. It is important to carry your ID cards as necessary, but it is wise to also keep a color photo copy handy. I have had certain copies of my ID laminated and it works just fine.
- No point in showing off you are a Super woman! You may be the queen in your vicinity, but just be sensible to understand that this is a foreign land and we do not want to invite trouble. So no late nights travelling (aim to reach to a safe place or at your stay before say… 8pm), no offering insensible help (going out of your way to drop someone), no sharing a drink or a dance or two with strangers. I am not against all these, just that it is important to know when to stop.
- I love talking to strangers and meeting new people. In fact that is one more reason why I love solo travelling. But while it is fun getting to know a total stranger, there is no wisdom in giving out all your personal details to them. Exercise caution and know when to begin and where to pause.
- Travel with the crowd, take public transports and avoid secluded and lonely spots. I refuse to take private cabs or vehicles around anywhere without being absolutely sure.
- If at international locations, keep the contacts of the embassy handy. Know how and where to locate them, in cases of emergencies.
- Keep a pepper spray handy.
3. Know your instincts
I am told most girls have some sort of sixth sense when it comes to danger. I am not sure of that though, but time to recognize your instincts and apply common sense. When on a solo trip, ‘You’ are all you have for support.
Let’s see, because you are alone, you cannot escape not sharing your phone number with your guides or hotel desk or such other places. But there again, I try my best to not disclose the correct number. Such as if I am checking in, I have to share the number for my own safety, but while checking out and signing some random forms or surveys you don’t have to share the correct number. These days people even ask for the FB and email ids, just know who and when to share, that is if you want to share.
Be aware of your surroundings. look around and observe. I have had situations where I have asked the hotel manager to change my room, simply because I did not feel right. Most often than not, they oblige to single women travellers. Take notice of small things like web cameras around, people taking videos without your knowledge, if any vehicle is following you or people who are undue in their behaviors. Only if you are aware, will you be able to do something about it.
Feel free to say ‘No’. You spending time with a person as a co-traveller or just because someone is your guide, does not mean you are obliged to take selfies or click pictures with them, unless you feel absolutely comfortable.
3. Trust Everyone and No one
As kids do you remember parents stating, don’t accept chocolates from strangers? Well, you must not even now. I religiously practice not to accept food or drinking items from anyone in my solo excursions. Unless of course, your heart says it is okay!
While there are good people all around, let’s be conscious of the fact that it is the same world where we have daily news of rapes, thefts and all those unpleasant things happening.
There was this restaurateur who flashed me a bill, double the actual cost. They simply believe you can be conned. Perhaps this is true as most travellers in a foreign land with buddies and the whole excitement, do not really bother about the bills or any such things. But just be wise, there is no fun in being fooled around. Be nice where needed; at other times, its okay to be not-nice.
4. Be Open
This is a big one. When you travel alone, you only have ‘you’ for yourself. So there is no point in feeling dejected or upset about anything. It was your choice. This is the best part of being solo. Your mistakes are yours. You face it, learn from it and try not to repeat them.
Accept everything that comes your way. Much as you do not want to, there may be situations when you have to use public toilets or have to share seats with smelly co-passenger in a public transportation. This is a part of the deal. So take it.
Be open to new situations, new environment, new people. This means, to be okay to — “Let Go” to “Accept the Change”.
5. Believe in Yourself.
World isn’t as bad as what we make it sound like. If you are strong and confident, there is no reason why you will face the music.
So what if you are alone and do not know much of about the place. You know yourself… you are wise and that is just about enough. :)
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Till next time.. just travel!