“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you are always in the same place.” -Nora Roberts
Worn are my ears from hearing that women cannot travel solo. That is an absolute myth that needs to be broken. Women can and do travel alone.
There is a certain sense of empowerment that takes over while traveling on your own. Not only do you get to be on your own, but you also get to be your own person. You may do and be as you please, and live with a sense of freedom.
Last year, I got a couple of opportunities to travel alone: first, to soak the heat in Austin, Texas in the USA, and onward internationally to Nepal for a sponsored travel blog trip, and Italy through the summer to get a certificate in fashion styling. For a 21-year-old girl who had traveled to 11 countries with good company in the past, this was an utterly new dimension of experiences.
I stumbled, and learned from my mistakes, enough to come up with a solid list of five travel safety tips for women who want to travel solo:
1. Do your research
It helps to look at google maps and get familiarized with the places you are about to visit. Carrying a map can lead to unwanted attention publicly and make it more obvious that you are a tourist. It also helps to research about the culture of the country you are traveling to, in order to avoid violations and really blend in; for instance, to be in Saudi Arabia, women have to cover their heads with a scarf by law since it takes from the Islamic culture.
2. Keep it safe
It is advisable to keep your money hidden at a safe spot (like a hollowed book or an empty lotion bottle) during your travels. While going out, try not to carry too much cash or keep it on the outside pockets of your pant/bag. Pickpocketing has become more common across the globe, especially in countries with many tourists. Personally, I have practiced self-defense techniques through youtube so that I could feel safe and able while traveling on my own. Another tip is to have the country's emergency numbers memorized or on speed dial.
3. Basic language knowledge
A language is made from and makes a culture. Having basic knowledge of the native language makes it really easy to live and get around the country. For instance, knowing greetings, magic words, and numbers made it really easy for me to get around Italy, where natives prefer to speak in Italian. There are a couple of ways to practice a language through web apps like Duolingo and Rosetta stone. Google translate works too but isn't as accurate.
4. Travel minimal
The more you take with you, the more you are afraid about your safety. Hence, pack only what you need. On top of that, when you go out, take only what you need. Excess stuff not only makes you look like a tourist clearly but also attracts unwanted attention. You don't totally have to avoid carrying everything if you figure out a way to pack compactly. I generally only carry backpacks for week-month long travels since everything I need fits in them.
5. Check in regularly
Share your Itinerary with your family or a close friend while you are going to be away traveling so they can keep tabs on your journey. If you don't plan everything out and travel with more flexibility like me, you could use location sharing through iPhone. I would also check my bank statements, emails and social media just to stay on top of things.
Safe travels women!