Advice For Women Travelling Alone: Although it could be great travelling as a group of friends or with a partner, sometimes the thought of travelling alone can have a special appeal. Traveling by yourself is a great way to get to know yourself better and develop your confidence and sense of self-assurance. And if you travel alone, you can more likely have the journey you most want to take, without clashing with what someone else wants. Especially if what you want is spontaneity, adventure and being taken along with the unexpected.
However, if you’re a woman, it can be frustrating to constantly be told by friends and family that you couldn’t possibly go backpacking by yourself because “it’s not safe for a woman to travel alone”. There are, however, some practical guidelines to follow to avoid trouble.
What To Do and Not To Do
Research the most common techniques used to pickpocket, isolate individuals or run scams in an area. Unlike the locals, criminals know that tourists are less of aware of the common tricks, making them easy targets. Also, always be aware of your surroundings, and watch people carefully.
Although part of the lure and reward of backpacking is meeting different kinds of people, don’t feel the need to be trusting and friendly to everyone you meet. For instance, never tell strangers where you’re going or where you’re staying. This doesn’t mean you have to go around being paranoid and suspicious. You can stay friendly, while keeping people at a safe distance.
When in Rome, dress as the Romans dress. Try to blend into your surroundings as much as possible. The less you stand out, the less likely you’ll be a target. Also, it’s best to err on the side of conservative clothing. Wearing a lot of jewellery, showing too much skin, flashing expensive gear – all can draw attention to yourself you might not want.
A pretty standard principle is that anywhere at night will be far too dangerous to walk around alone in. But also ask locals about the specific areas that are typically dangerous and best avoided, particularly for a woman traveling alone. Be sure to ask a few different, unrelated people and compare their opinions. You could research this as well, but local opinion would be best.
Although you’re on holiday and want to enjoy yourself, don’t drink alcohol to the point that your judgement is impaired. This is good everyday advice in general, but vital when travelling alone.
You don’t need to take an entire language course, but do try to learn a few, useful common phrases in the local language. For instance, if you’re backpacking through Europe, and know you’re going to be making a stop in France, make use of online facilities providing a French translation. Not only will this be useful, but it gives the impression that you’re competent and in control, and therefore not an easy target.
If you plan ahead, and take the appropriate precautions (which everyone should do anyway whether male or female), then there should be no reason why you can’t have that trip you’ve been saving up for and dreaming about for years.
Queenie Bates is an avid reader and writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s grateful for all the times she’s had company while travelling, but the times that she travelled abroad alone were very special times for her as well. So she doesn’t want other women to be put off by people saying it’s not safe for to do. Share your view on “Solitary Wanderer: Advice For Women Travelling Alone” in the comment section below.