4 tips for women to note when travelling alone

4 tips for women to note when travelling alone

Over the centuries, the notion of travel has evolved drastically.

In the past, the act of travel was about expedition, about voyages, about grandiose adventurers venturing into the grand unknown.

It was about the discovery of novel lands, about the establishment of new boundaries, about the breaking of past frontiers. And it was almost always by men.

Fast forward several centuries; while the notion of travel has greatly evolved and it is now safer than ever for women to embark upon solo trips, women travelers are still disadvantaged by our physical fallibilities.

Beyond harmless cat-calls and wolf-whistles, the dangers of robbery, rape, or even death are all too real. Here are 4 tips that every woman traveler should take note of when travelling alone.

Research upon the countries that you are going to

In a recent worldwide survey, 5 cities emerged as the world's most dangerous places for women travelers:

Bogota, Colombia

Mexico City, Mexico

Lima, Peru

New Delhi, India

Jakarta, Indonesia

Many of these places are filled with rich heritage and cultures so it would be unfair to condone a visit to these cities.

However, these are all places with a poor track record of safety for women travelers - high rape rate, poor law enforcement, violence and drug abuse - and if you're new to travelling alone, these are cities I'd advise you to avoid.

If circumstances dictate a trip to these places alone or if you're set upon travelling to these countries alone, a good measure would be to procure weapons like stun guns or pepper sprays.

These weapons may be condoned in Singapore but not in these countries. Before embarking on your trip, order them online and forward them straight to your first hotel or hostel so that you can pick it up straight away.

Be sure to read up on how to use them; a weapon only works in your favour when you have control of it

Dress codes: Wear sunglasses, Bring a fake(or real) wedding ring, Blend in with the locals

There are several nifty tricks on avoiding attention from men.

One trick that most women will be familiar with is having a wedding ring to slip on easily, which will prevent unwanted advances from eager men.

Wearing sunglasses is another similar trick as the sunglasses allow you to get a brief sensing of your periphery, without making extensive eye contact with the men around.

In certain parts of Europe as well as the world, a prolonged glance can be taken as an invitation for a man to approach, but customs as well as general attitudes towards women differ widely across the world.

Take sartorial tips from the locals as well.

Dressing the way that locals do is definitely a safe bet if you do not wish to attract undue attention, as it allows you to blend into the crowd more easily as well.

Dressing the way that local females do is also a sign of respect for the culture of the place in some places where the dressing is more modest, especially in the Middle East and in some South-East Asian countries.

Women-only…

There are many dormitories and facilities that cater specifically to women.

In 2002, Japan implemented women-only carriages on the Tokyo Metro to protect female commuters from frequent groping and improper lewd conduct.

Brazil rolled out a similar women-only carriage system in 2006 on the Rio de Janeiro Metro, and many countries across the world have slowly begun to take up such policies to protect their females on public transport.

As a lone female traveler, it is definitely good to read up upon your women-only options, especially for dormitories and overnight train cabins.

For example, France has women-only cabins for their overnight trains, located closest to the train conductor's seat so that you can alert the conductor if you are threatened.

Women-only dormitories are also common world-wide, so if you're travelling on a budget it is a good idea to look for dormitories that have gender-segregation and curfews.

Simple self-defence tactics

While dabbling briefly in taekwondo, muay thai and karate has given me better reflexes than most, when it comes right down to a fight, I don't delude myself.

A lightweight Asian woman has very slim chances of winning a fight against a burly male attacker. The key thing that every woman has to remember is that it is not about winning a fight against a man; it is about getting free to flee.

This means that speed and strike zones are your best friends. When threatened, there are 3 strike zones to aim for: Eyes, throat and groin.

Strike fast and throw your body weight into it. If you're walking alone at night, it is also good to loosely clutch keys in your hands so that you'll have a weapon handy, but the same logic of striking the eyes, throat and groin applies.

Travelling solo is a valuable and enriching experience. Having travelled extensively across four different continents, the experiences and emotional journey that I underwent during my solo trips have definitely been the most memorable ones.

But a girl has to know how to protect herself, especially on solo trips where there's nobody to call for help.

If anything, remember what the author of The Gutsy Traveler, Marybeth Bond said, "No nice girl. If someone talks to you, you don't have to talk back. You don't owe anyone an explanation or time."

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