Nunchucks- Check, throw knives- check, chainsaw- check; who’s going to war we wonder? In a perfect terrorism free world with no air travel regulations, this would have been staples in a solo women travelers packing list and maybe a few cans of maces as well! That’s just about enough of fantasies, let’s just snap out of it and step into reality, shall we? Girl power needn’t these weapons to manifest itself. And what better than GDA, we who’ve sent hundreds of women travelers on their dream solo trips abroad to preach the truth about this. It’s true, you’ll always come across a tool or two in the flesh of a human being to whom you might just appear like a sitting duck. All you need is a good dash of courage, a tested self-defense rulebook, Yes, maybe a few cans of mace and your loved ones’ support to send them right back under the rock they crawled out of!
Don’t scare away from your plans. There’s no such thing called the right time. There’s just NOW. So why hinder your YOLO plans when you have an addition of these tried and tested tips to your travel arsenal!
1. Connect with fellow female travelers. There are multiple blogs by solo women travelers. Connect with them for some genuinely useful tips, and if by luck or by chance you find someone in the same country, do catch up with them for they will prove to be a valuable contact in your telephone list. You also look up women travel bloggers from the country you’re traveling to (trust me, they are everywhere) and connect with them. Who’d know their country better than them!
2. Be aware and conscious at all times. Keep your eyes and ears open and be aware of your surroundings at all times and don’t let your guard down when in public places.
3. Share your trip itinerary with someone back at home. That way someone will always have an idea about where you are when and where you’re gonna be for how long. God forbid, if something goes wrong you can be easily tracked down.
4. Keep a regular check-in scheduled with a family member or a friend back home. No matter how lost you are in exploring the places around you, take these calls as urgent appointments and make a habit of not missing one, anytime, any day!
5. Keep a decoy money pouch on you with a few smaller bills in it along with some junk papers to look like it's filled with money. Keep the bigger bills on your persons, someplace where no one would even succeed in swiping.
6. Don’t keep all of your money in one place. Leave some money back in the hotel in a safe, if the hotel has one or keep it stashed in a safe place inside your room. Keep some larger bills and some emergency money on you.
7. Leave a trail behind. With Facebook, Foursquare check-ins and Instagrams live features and photos everyone will know where you are when. And if they don’t get consecutive posts or check-ins every day, they’ll know something is wrong. No matter the pros and cons of living online, Social Media tools are powerful weapons in your travel arsenal.
8. Consider getting a slash-proof bag. Granted they would cost you a big chunk but it’s an investment that’ll keep on giving during your travel abroad.
9. Invest in an alarm door stop as an extra safety measure. If anyone tries to enter your room without you knowing this handy little tool both slows them down and sounds an alarm at the same time.
10. When venturing outside make sure to have safety products on you at all times. Be it a pepper spray or a cat keychain, in times of distress, quick thinking on your part and usage of these can prove to be helpful. But let’s just hope our world is better and you never have to use any of those. Make sure to put these products in your check baggage and don’t make the mistake of carrying it aboard the flight.
11. Don’t leave your hotel keys at the desk. Keep it on your person at all times rather than keeping in the bag.
12. Don’t make the mistake of putting on both your earphones if you’re listening to music in any public places. No matter your taste in music, music has the power to transport you to a different place and thus make you less conscious. Also if you’re blasting your earphones you won’t be able to make a sense of the people around you and someone might try to take advantage of that.
13. If you’ve lost your way somewhere, don’t look the part in front of everyone. Trust me, I speak from personal experiences, Google maps can make you go round and round and lead you to odd places. Don’t worry if you’ve fallen victim to the misdoings of Google Maps and don’t fret. Simply locate a nearby shop or restaurant and get directions from the local people in there rather than standing out in the public and looking lost. There’s no better way to go when you’re lost in an unknown city, and trust me these experiences will become some of the most memorable pieces of your journey.
14. Always keep public transit as your first choice when traveling around the city. Be it local cabs or cabs from popular aggregators like Uber, they might take a toll on your budget. Not only that, you’re all alone and you never know the intentions of the person at the wheel who is, after all, controlling where you go. Public transports are cheaper and full of people and are the best way to get around any city in the world.
15. Keep a contingency fund labeled “Taxi Fare Fund”. There may arise a situation or maybe an emergency when you can’t avoid opting for a taxi to take you back to your place. In times of need, a cab might just prove to be the perfect getaway car for safety for you.
16. Track your ride if you’ve taken a cab. Have a route to your destination all set on your phone and follow it carefully and don’t let the driver divert from that path no matter if he says it’s a shortcut or the other route will get too much traffic. Stick to your route. Period.
17. When taking a cab click a picture of the license plate before boarding the car and share it with your friends and family. Moreover, if you’re getting a cab through apps like Uber, share your entire ride details with people you know and share a track ride link with a local friend.
18. Resist drinking too much and avoid getting sloshed when you’re out on your own in a foreign city. There’s no harm in a drink or two but make sure to stay in your minimum limit.
19. Do pay heed to your sixth sense when traveling by cabs. If you get a feeling like something is not right or even if that’s not the case, take out your phone and make a fake phone call when traveling in a cab. Make it look like you’re meeting up someone and they are waiting for you at the destination and also let the driver know that the person on the other end has the cab details as well.
20. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. No matter how chivalrous looking the man is or how sweet looking the lady is, you can never lose your guard and leave your safety on their trust. You wouldn’t even get to know if something has been slipped into your drink. Your safety is in your own hands. That being said, I won’t discourage from making friends when you’re out, especially local people. Hang out with them, have a great time, just get your own drink.
21. If you’re renting a car to explore the outskirts of a city, make sure to get the gas topped off and if possible keep a reserve so that you won’t have to stop for a recharge in a shady place.
22. Avoid traveling during night time if you’re all alone. If you’ve booked for a tour and you are traveling with a group that’s a different scenario. But if you’re alone, avoid taking trains or buses at night for they tend to be nearly empty with very few people.
23. Avoid staying out too late and get to the place you need to be at before nightfall is possible.
24. Make friends with local people. Becoming friends with trusting local people has its own benefits. Not only do they prove to be your “local” guardian angels in times of need but they also bring you travel advice that can’t be done better than by a local. They also get you good deals on travel packages and help make your travel plans successfully. Most importantly, going like this you’ll have a small piece of you left in every corner of the world you travel to in the form of good friends.
25. Don’t feel bad about saying NO to some things. When traveling alone abroad you need to remember that you’re in charge of your security and if you feel like some activity or some plan might just interfere with it have the heart to say no. Rather than hovering over things you’ve missed out on, focus on the memories you’ve already made and the much more yet to come.
This post is not at all about giving you a negative point of view on traveling alone or planning your gap year abroad as a solo woman traveler but rather a run through on all the precautionary measures that you ought to exercise in these respective situations. At GoDiscoverAbroad, we all are stern believers in women power and nothing should stop us lot from making the best of travel plans abroad. And GDA has brought exclusive gap year trips all over the world so that we can lend a helping hand in making your travel plans a huge success and we do enjoy doing that a lot!