Staying safe when travelling alone
More women are choosing to set off on the adventure of a lifetime and choosing to go travelling solo. While we have the right to be and feel completely safe wherever we are as women, the sad reality is that we sometimes need to take more precautions than men to ensure we are.
Whether you’re planning a road trip or a backpacking tour, here are some tips on keeping yourself as safe as possible.
Don’t skip on insurance.
Travel insurance can help you with the costs of many travel disasters. Make sure you’re covered for pickpockets and for any loss, theft or damage to any electronics you take with you, like your camera or your phone. Be sure you have good health insurance too. You don’t want to be hit with a large hospital bill after an accident abroad. Visit an insurance broker to find the best coverage for your trip.
Some places will naturally have more dangers than others. It doesn’t mean you can’t visit somewhere a little off the beaten track; it just means you need to plan accordingly. Do your research so you know about any areas you should avoid, or any other safety precautions you should take.
Practice common sense.
It’s easy to get a little more relaxed when you’re away on a trip and let your guard down. Remember, even on the trip of a lifetime, it’s important to think sensibly about your safety. Don’t take anything expensive you can do without. Don’t wear headphones if you’re walking alone at night. Make sure you always have somewhere safe to stay and a safe way to get back there after exploring.
Think about protection.
Don’t carry a weapon but something like a whistle or a personal alarm can be wise to carry with you.
It’s not nice to think about, but should you be attacked, being able to raise the alarm is important.
Dress for the location and climate.
As well as being sure you respect local culture with your clothing (such as dressing conservatively in more conservative cultures), your clothes can protect you too. Wear light fabrics, but cover your arms and legs to protect you from insect bites and sunburn. A hat keeps the direct sun off your head, which can help you avoid sun stroke if you’re travelling somewhere hot. Wear sensible shoes to protect your feet if you’ll be walking a lot.
Make sure your hotel is safe
You need somewhere safe to lock away any money or expensive belongings. Keep your money and important travel documents close. Be very careful when you’re out and about. Anything that you can’t leave in the hotel safe should be kept very close to you. A money belt or a neck wallet keeps your cash close, and you’ll be much more likely to notice if someone tries to steal from it than you are from your backpack.
Make photocopies of your passport, ID card and any insurance information. Pack them into different bags, so if one is lost or stolen, you haven’t lost all your copies. Take pictures of all these documents too, as well as any electronics you take, and upload the pictures to the cloud. This way, you have something to help you claim back stolen items and a backup if your documents and copies get lost.
Get your injections.
Before you go, make sure you’ve had any suggested injections or vaccinations to protect you from some nasty illnesses. If you have an existing condition, make sure your Doctor is aware of your plans, and make sure you have enough of any medication needed to last throughout your trip. If you’re travelling with medical supplies, check the laws in your intended destination to save trouble at the airport.
Speak to other travellers who’ve made the trip you’re considering. Chat to other travellers in your hostel. Ask the employees of where you’re staying for advice on what to see, and for any safety advice you should know. You’ll have a richer trip for taking advice and safety tips from people with experience.
Learn local emergency numbers.
If you need emergency help, you don’t want to be desperately trying to find out how to phone for help. Save the local emergency numbers into your phone, and learn them by heart too in case your phone is lost or not working.
Make sure someone knows where you are.
Give someone you trust your itinerary and let them know when you’ll be arriving somewhere new. If you don’t arrive when you should, they’ll know there’s a problem. Check in regularly so people can keep track of where you are.
Appearing to know exactly where you’re going and what you’re doing will help you appear like less of a target. Walk with confidence, with your head high, and you’re soon feel as confident as you look.