Women travel alone for all kinds of reasons – and why not? Traveling has never been easier and never before have so many possibilities for exploring the world been accessible to so many. Still, women traveling alone can be vulnerable if they don’t take some common sense precautions. This is not to imply that women can’t do anything or go anywhere – it is simply the truth. File these ten tips from seasoned world travelers before your next adventure.
- Trust yourself. If something does not seem right to you – leave. Don’t worry about being polite. Don’t worry about looking foolish. Women who have found themselves in harrowing situations often say later that they wish they had listened to that queasy feeling/hair-up-on-the-back-of-their-neck sensations.
- Keep in touch. Let people back home know your itinerary and keep in touch via text or email on a regular basis. If you are traveling outside the country, look into the best phone plan that fits your budget. Also leave copies of your passport, id, credit cards and other important documents with someone at home as well as placing them in a secure cloud.
- Appearances matter. There is no need for your to try and dress like a native. However, as a woman traveling alone there is no need to draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Stick to neutral colors. Avoid wearing any clothing that screams ‘tourist’.
- Make friends. Make friends with the people at the front desk when you check in. If you have a map with you, pull it out and ask which places are safe and which areas should be avoided. Ask if they have other tips for people new to the city. People at the front desk should also be able to help you learn the best and safest means of travel around your location.
- Leave a paper trail. This may sound a bit melodramatic but, my mom always made me promise to do this when I traveled. Can’t hurt. Whenever you’re leaving your hotel (or other lodging) leave a note in your room stating your destination and expected time of return. If nothing else, if you keep all of the notes from your trip, you’ll end up with a nifty little travel journal and it will make your mom happy when you get home.
- A little white lie never hurt anyone. If you’re traveling on your own and are not interested in finding romance, stick a simple ring on your left finger. This doesn’t always work, particularly if you are very young or your suitor is determined. However, in most situations it sends a clear, silent signal that most people will respect.
- Let’s talk about your purse. Like your wardrobe, your purse tells people a lot about you. A trip to a new city is not the place for your obviously expensive handbag or backpack. Choose something utilitarian that can be worn close to your body and does not scream “I’m full of electronics and a juicy wallet.” Some women like to stop first thing in a new town, stop in a shop and buy something small. They then carry their belongings in the bag from the local shop rather than in a purse. If you’re not willing to sacrifice “the pretty” look into bags designed especially for travelers – bags with cut-proof straps, secure fasteners as well as some style.
- Pay attention. Women multitask. We can’t help it. Ask a police officer and they’ll tell you that women unintentionally set themselves up as targets by trying to do too many things while moving. Get to know your destination before you go. Once there, locate train stations, hospitals, police stations in relation to your lodgings. Walk with a purpose. If you need to look at a map, stop into a cafe or shop rather than standing in the middle of the street. Lose the headphones. And, if a phone call or a text is that important, stop somewhere and handle it where you can safely focus on the call/text.
- Know your limits. By all means enjoy a drink or two while you’re traveling. But, if you are alone, stay in control. If you meet some friendly travelers, it’s fine to meet up for drinks but remember, you do not know these people. And never, ever, leave your drink unattended.
- Learn to say “No.” Many women find it hard to say “No.” It’s an important life skill across the board. Learn it early and practice it often. Saying “No.” with meaning and sincerity is incredibly helpful when you are traveling alone. Often, people are just trying to be helpful or feel protective of a woman traveling alone. Trust your instincts! If someone gives you a creepy or uncomfortable feeling a definitive “No. Thank you.” said in a voice loud enough for others around you to hear should be sufficient. If it’s not, repeat it again in a louder voice and start moving toward other people.
There’s no reason not to travel on your own, I do it all the time and love it. It’s exciting and it offers an experience entirely different than traveling with a partner or traveling with a group. Use common sense, trust yourself and have fun!