Let us put "JOY" in your travel!
Women are often cautioned against travelling alone, and indeed, many women stay home unless they have someone to travel with, either a significant other or a friend. While it’s true that women have to deal with circumstances men don’t have to worry about, that doesn’t mean a woman cannot or should not travel alone. Following common-sense tips can reduce the likelihood of danger for you as a woman travelling alone, while allowing you to fully enjoy your solo journey.
If you know women who have lived in or visited the area to which you plan to travel, ask them for tips on how to conduct yourself. Otherwise, check out guide books so that you have some awareness of cultural customs.
Many non-Western cultures place strict limitations on how a woman can dress and conduct herself in public. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a burqa or ask permission of a male hotel employee to go out on your own. However, you will draw less unwanted attention if you wear modest attire, at least when you are travelling outside urban areas. In particular, cover your thighs, upper arms and midsection. If you are travelling in the Arab world, consider wearing a headscarf.
Gestures or actions that are totally innocuous to you may signify to locals that you are available for sexual favors, thereby drawing unwanted attention. For instance, in some cultures, when a woman approaches a man or invites him to visit her, he may interpret her overture not as friendliness, but as a sexual invitation. This doesn’t mean that you can never approach strangers – just be sure that your intentions are not misread.
Some women wear a wedding ring when travelling alone to discourage unwanted attention. Certain countries have “women’s cars” on trains where men are not permitted. Even when “women’s cars” are not available, consider sitting near other women when you travel on public transportation in countries with a strong male-dominant culture.
When travelling alone, practice common sense safety measures, just as you would if you were at home. Be aware of your surroundings. Keep your hotel room door locked at all times. Never let anyone into your room unless you know the person. If someone claims to be a hotel employee, ask to see photo identification, and then call the front desk to check it out. Check out whether there are “no-go” areas from hotel staff, guidebooks or friends who are familiar with the region. Leave your flashy jewelry at home.
As a woman travelling alone, you don’t have to miss out on a foreign city’s nightlife. However, if you’re travelling after dark and you don’t know the area well, take a cab to get to your destination, and be sure that you will be able to hire a cab to get back to your hotel. If you’re travelling by car, stick to well-lit roads. If you believe you are being followed, drive to a police station, not to your hotel. Wear shoes you can comfortably walk in – if the worst happens and you are accosted, you may need to make a quick escape.
Try to learn at least a few words of the local language. It will be much easier to get around if you can communicate simple concepts like “hotel” or “street.” Find out where you can obtain local currency, toiletries and other necessities, either before you arrive or by asking staff at your hotel. Let someone at home know where you are and how to reach you, in case an emergency occurs at home. Taking care of such basics allows you to enjoy your trip with a minimum of worry.
For Further Reading
Five Things Every Woman Should Know Before Moving Abroad
Safety Issues for Women Travelling Solo
The Top Ten Things Every Woman Should Know About Personal Safety
Tips for Travelling Abroad
Travelling Tokyo Solo: What Every Woman Should Know
Liz contributed this guest post on behalf of Customer Care Australia. Liz is a freelance travel writer.