Don’t let yourself be put off travelling just because you’re a solo woman. Although it pays, as always, to be careful, with a bit of preparation it is safe to travel alone. While it is important to take into consideration the country to which you are travelling – its cultures, its habits, its differences and similarities with your own – there are the top tips in general if you’re planning a solo trip.
1) Trust your gut feeling – this is very important. If you get a bad feeling about a place, just leave. If a person is giving you an uneasy feeling, then there is probably a reason for it.
2) Dress appropriately. Research beforehand recommendations for what to wear. There’s nothing worse than standing out and in the worst case you can offend people or attract negative attention. If in doubt, dress down rather than up.
3) Split up your cash. Carry only a small amount in your bag and hide the rest either inside a body pouch, or even inside your shoes, socks or bra. One great tip I’ve heard is to store your cash inside a nearly-empty vitamin bottle. Thieves are not really going to want to steal your Vit C, are they?
4) If talking with strangers, never tell them where you are staying. Your accommodation should be your safe place. If you are nervous about people approaching you, try carrying a photo of a large, intimidating man in your wallet. If people engage you, you can say he is your husband and you are just going to meet him. Other ways to put people off is to tell them you are lawyer or policewoman on holiday.
5) Do not accept drinks or food from strangers. Although most people will be just trying to do you a good turn, the risk of them being spiked is too high.
6) If travelling on public transport, try to stand in the busiest compartment and avoid empty carriages. Keep your luggage in full view. Some countries have introduced women-only carriages. If available, use these.
7) Do not consult a map in public. You are advertising the fact you are a tourist. A better idea is to stop in a restaurant, cafe or museum to check your map – this is much safer.
8) On a similar note, do not flash valuables or money in public. You are asked to get robbed. You could even try roughing up your electronics to make them unappealing targets for thieves.
9) To really blend in, nip into a local shop. Buy something small and use the plastic tag to store your valuables. No would-be thief is going to try to steal your loaf of bread and pint of milk!
10) Do a lot of research beforehand. Seek out local forums online and ask people questions. Ask for tips about restaurants, hotels, dodgy areas, sights and so on as well as local customs. The more preparation you do, the more comfortable you will feel while travelling and this will show. If you are nervous, unsure and totally confused, people will be able to spot it a mile away. A bit of knowledge gives you a confident edge and will keep you safe.