While traveling on your own can be liberating, it can also be an intimidating experience. While the female roadwarrior is often an independent and capable woman, she is also vulnerable to a particular set of dangers when she does venture out alone. Here are some ways to keep you and your belongings safe when you travel solo.
Do Your Research
The best piece of advice is probably the easiest. All you have to do is Google Map the city or area where you’ll be staying and get familiar with its layout. How close is your hotel to places you plan on visiting? Will you need to schedule transportation late at night? Where are the police precincts and the hospitals? This is a great way to get to know the neighbourhood and to identify new spots, and it helps you plan your movements in an otherwise unfamiliar place. Also, you will probably be booking a hotel online, so read the reviews. Most sites have evaluations as well as descriptions of the surrounding areas. This is a simple and straightforward way to get a feel of where you’ll be, and the precautions you might have to take.
Share Your Game Plan
At least one other person should know what you’re up to on your travels and when you’ll be doing it. Give someone back home a copy of your itinerary. This is not to say that you have to call them before every event in your schedule, but rather, if something does go wrong, there is someone with a general idea of your movements. Scheduling a check in with someone else would also be wise to ensure personal safety.
Don’t Look Like a Tourist
While easier said than done, a quick read up of the local garb before you travel should give you an idea of what’s more commonly worn. This might be particularly important for countries with strong religious or cultural rules about dressing. You definitely don’t want to offend or provoke locals with your wardrobe. This holds universally true for the wearing of fanny packs. Also, if you feel that the neighborhood you’ll be arriving in is not the safest, perhaps it’s a good idea to pack light. Nothing screams tourist like a giant suitcase being awkwardly wheeled through the streets.
Put a Ring on it
Another tip for staying safe: if you’re not looking for any kind of romance during this trip, you might want to wear a fake wedding ring. Women traveling alone will probably attract some unwanted attention. While we are in the 21st century and our words should be taken seriously, unfortunately in some cases, flashing a wedding ring is still the quickest way to say “No thank you.” And remember: don’t be afraid to be assertive. If someone is bothering you, feel free to let them know it, loudly. How do you scream fire in Czech?? You might want to get a little familiar with the phrases, ‘Help’, ‘Stop’, etc. Knowing some basic phrases and sentences will help you get more out of your visit, especially if you're travelling alone, while making you look less vulnerable.
Make sure that any taxi you take is registered and licensed. Don’t trust unmarked cars - it simply isn't safe. Try and note the company and plate number before you get in the car in case you leave anything in the vehicle. If you’re finding most local cabs pretty sketchy, spring for that Uber if it’s available in that city. If it isn’t, you can make a fake phone call to tell so and so that you will be home in just a little bit so that the driver believes there’s someone waiting for you. Also, have your hotel address written down so you can hand it to taxi drivers and not struggle communicate it in an unfamiliar language.
There’s always the option of carrying a can of mace. You can’t check it in, but you can put in your carry on. A whistle - a basically universally recognized sound of distress - or a safety cat key, is concealable, actually quite cute, and proven effective in emergency situations. Safetygirl.com has a great selection of self-defence tools made especially for women.
Befriending female members of the hotel staff and local shops or cafes might result in some insider tips about what areas are safe and which are not.