There is a rising trend of women going on adventure travels by themselves. Either with their best friend, sister, mother or alone, women have let go of the stereotype that frowned upon “ladies” travelling on their own. Thank you, modernity!
However, as unfortunate to say as it is, women can still face many more dangers out in the world than men. Many countries have laws to prevent girls from voting, choosing their clothes or marrying who they want, and when entering those countries, you must do as you see. Which is why we have some special tips for women travellers, to enjoy and stay safe throughout their entire journey.
1. Do your research
As obvious as it may seem, many of us still make rookie mistakes and end up booking a hotel in a sketchy neighbourhood or a plane ticket that arrives late at night. These simple things often imply a certain level of risk for women travellers, since they can easily become a target if they walk to their hotel during night-time, or if they are spotted on a bus ride and then walking with a suitcase to find their accommodation.
If something like this happens, do not put yourself at risk, and spend a little more money on your safety. Maybe book a hotel with transport to and from the airport or take a safer ride instead on venturing through the city alone.
Research also includes looking up the local language, currency and culture, to see if you need to stop by a currency exchange office beforehand, or dress with a specific code as well as the polite customs and a few local words to get around your destination.
2. Trust your instincts
Women are particularly perceptive, and if something does not feel right, trust your intuition even when it seems silly or paranoid. If a cab driver is asking strange questions, or you feel like someone is following you, act quickly but naturally. This means, change your route, enter a store or coffee shop until you calm down or approach someone you think that might help you.
Instincts have to come with common sense. Although that sounds like something your parents would tell you, it is true. Do not get drunk or leave a drink unattended, do not trust people too easily or leave your belongings with anyone. Also, choose a well transited road and a busy hotel to stay in.
Specially avoid situations where you can be exposed, this is, never accept a ride from a man you don’t know or trust or follow anyone to far away places. It is never a lot of trouble to be cautious, but not being cautions can cause a lot of trouble.
3. Keep your things safe
Many destinations are crowded with pickpockets or con artists just waiting to prey on tourists. To avoid having your most precious things stolen, be extra careful. For example, do not carry all your cards or cash with you -you can take a fair amount of money to use during the day and leave the rest locked up at the hotel, along with your passport, and a backup credit card for emergencies.
When travelling to a country with few internet access, phone reception or ATMs, try to keep a part of your money in your wallet, another tucked away in your underwear and a credit card in your socks or bra. All these small actions are in case you lose or get your bag stolen.
Make sure that when travelling by bus, train or plane, you never leave your valuables (phone, laptop, camera, jewels or documents) in the checked bags. Always take a small crossbody or pouch with you and your most important things.
If possible, it is highly advisable to hire insurance for your belongings and yourself while travelling. You never know if you will be caught in a situation when you need it, but if you do, it will be better to have it than not, trust me.
4. Blend in
Try your best not to look like a foolish tourist wherever you go. In some places, it may be acceptable, but in many others, it is just a silly way to attract unnecessary attention to yourself. If you are going to India, wear baggy clothes or make sure to cover your head, arms and feet, or when going to Mexico City avoid wearing slippers and shorts and dangerous neighbourhoods.
You are not always going to look like a local, but it is important to respect their traditions, and more importantly, to look confident. Do not walk with your phone map and act all lost, it is better to ask for directions or maybe stop at a restaurant, check your map and continue on your way.
5. Let people know where you are
As inconvenient as it may sound to an intrepid and adventurous traveller, this is a great tip that can help you even in the smallest situation.
If you won’t have cell phone reception or coverage where you are going, get a local SIM card for your phone so you can text your parents, friends or boyfriend at least once a day and let them know your whereabouts and if you are okay.
Your phone can be a great ally, since you could send someone your live location and ask for help in case you feel threatened. Finally, let your hotel receptionist, Airbnb tenant or someone local what time you should be expected or when you will get in touch, just in case you don’t, there is a person looking after you.
To sum up, have fun but be alert! This rule applies for every single traveller, male or female. But as women, we should always be a little more careful and a little more prepared, to enjoy a wonderful trip and to face any challenges that may come across our way.