It is a hard truth but as female travellers we have to take certain extra precautions, especially when travelling solo. Yes, we are independent, empowered women who don’t need men to protect us…but just because we know that it won’t stop other people from trying to take advantage of our solo status.
Below I have listed some of my top safety tips whilst on the road. This list is by no means extensive. I can only comment on my experiences and what I have learned from them.
Don’t get drunk! This seems so obvious but, whilst on my travels, I have seen young girls do this. We need to have our wits about us and be aware of our surroundings. Sure, have a couple of drinks but absolutely know your limits and always keep hold of your drink. Being drunk puts us in such a compromising and vulnerable situation and any opportunist could be lurking around waiting for their moment.
When arriving at a hotel/hostel make sure that the security is sound. Check the locks! If possible add some extra security to it by using a door wedge. When I arrived at my hostel in Pai, I found that the door to the room didn’t have a lock and neither did the front door! Immediately I felt uneasy and got out of there. I checked into a hotel where I felt a lot more secure. Money shouldn’t be an issue when it comes to security.
When taking taxis, use google maps to track that you are actually going where you asked to go. Using Grab/Uber is great because the apps have a built-in GPS, so you can follow it on there. I always put my google maps on, even if it is to make sure the driver doesn’t take you the long way round to rack up the meter. Also, make sure to keep hold of your belongings. When taking buses, I always check with the hotel/hostel for advice on bus times/stops so I know exactly where I’m going.
Don’t walk alone late at night. This is a no brainer really. You are much more likely to meet a dangerous situation under the cover of darkness. Best not to risk walking alone, especially down empty side streets. If you can’t get a taxi, go into a nearby restaurant/hotel and see if they can help you get back to your accommodation. Or if you see a couple, ask them if you can walk with them so that you’re not alone.
‘I’m travelling with friends’
Lie about who you’re travelling with. With this one you just need to trust your instincts. If you get a weird feeling from someone when they ask you if you’re travelling alone, then lie. Tell them you’re travelling with family, friends or a boyfriend. I have only done this once and I think I was being overcautious, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe.
This is something I have had to deal with on one occasion on my latest trip. In a town, in Thailand, I met a local woman who showed me some sites. We conversed on messenger as I only had data to use, not minutes. She also brought her male friend along who proceeded to message me through Facebook continuously, sending me pictures and basically stalking me. Every time I walked through the main street, he would magically find me. On two occasions he tried to hold my hand, which is a massive no-no for me. I hate it when people assume they can touch me without consent.
On several occasions I held my hand up and told him, quite loudly, to leave me alone. He would not get the message. So, I told the people at my hostel, including the guy who ran the place. He helped me out with the situation and made me feel very safe. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable and won’t take a hint, tell someone about it. Someone you feel is trustworthy. Don’t let it go unchecked, because it could get worse.
On the whole people are good and decent, but there are bad apples out there and we need to take precautions to make ourselves feel safe. We are travelling to have a good time and learn about the world. It is so much easier to do that when we put our safety first. The world has so much beauty and happiness to offer, so we can’t let those bad apples stop us from experiencing that. We can trust our instincts, be respectful of other cultures AND have an amazing time.