Traveling solo has many benefits, but here are a few tips to make sure you stay safe along the way.
You may be tempted to pack that new little sleeveless dress or those comfortable short shorts that show of your new tan but little do you know that what you’re really doing is setting yourself up for disaster.
You are being watched. Let’s face it, it’s true. Especially if you’re going to a homogenous country, you will stand out. A very important tip to safe traveling is to blend in with the crowd. We can’t emphasize that enough.
Remember that anything that glimmers or is shiny is bad. Flashy jewelry screams that you are rich and that you will have lots of money on you to rob. Also stay away from costume jewelry. The thieves won’t know the difference and you will still be a target.
Take care to dress like the women around you. Do a little research before you leave about what is considered acceptable dress in that country. For example, in South Korea it is totally acceptable to wear the shortest shorts imaginable, but to walk around in a tank top and show your shoulders is completely offensive. When traveling alone you need to blend in with the crowd and avoid any unnecessary attention.
Travel Bags, Backpacks and More
Make sure to pick an appropriate looking travel purse. Anything with too many decorations, or a name brand pattern could lead to problems. Again, you want something that will not draw too much attention to yourself. A Gucci bag will scream, “I’m rich!” and your robbing potential just got greater. Keep it simple.
It is important to use a purse that zips. It’s just way too easy for someone to slip a hand in your bag while on a crowded subway and rob you of your wallet or passport. If you find one that has internal zipper compartments then consider it a bonus and use those for your super important stuff.
When backpacking, make sure not to keep important documents in the outside pockets. People brush against you all the time and while in most cases it might be completely innocent, you don’t want to take the chance. An alternative to packing your passport and money in your bag is to use a money belt. These are worn around the waist and under your clothes and have proven to be very safe.
If possible, keep only one bag (looking after a single bag makes things a lot easier) and try not to make it too heavy. Take with you only things that are really necessary.
Trust No One
This may seem a little extreme, but for the most part it’s true. Let’s face it; you’re going to stand out as a tourist. I say it’s better to be overly paranoid than to have regrets. You never know if someone who is helping you with directions is really setting you up for a pick pocketing scam or worse.
People make serious money off of naïve tourists, or perhaps just trusting ones. Imagine how vulnerable you are even traveling with friends, so take extra precautions when traveling solo.
The first step in avoiding this scenario is to carry yourself with confidence. Ask for directions before you leave your hotel and look and act like you know what you’re doing. Walk briskly and avoid eye contact. Don’t feel rude when ignoring the hagglers on the street. You are doing it for your own safely and it’s very important.
Besides not trusting anyone, preparation is the best way to be safe. Read about your destination, imagine a possible itinerary, try to identify the areas that could be at risk for any reason. The more you know, the more you will feel confident
Be careful but not paranoid: safety for solo women travellers is mostly a question of good sense, and besides a few places that are really dangerous, the risks are very similar to the ones you might face at home.
Who Can Answer Your Questions
If you’re not going to trust anyone, then where can you go to ask all your touristy questions? You’re not going to know everything and there has to be someone that you can trust.
Visitor Centers will be multilingual and will offer advice on attractions, transportation and can even make reservations for you. They can be found at airports, train stations, and even around town. They will provide much needed maps of the area and in turn you will be able to walk around with the confidence we talked about earlier.
Make sure to ask all the questions you can before you leave your hotel. The staff is there to provide you a service, so make sure to use them.