How to travel safely when you are a girl? This is a very important subject to me. Not only because it is the main thing women worry about but also because it is stopping a lot of them from accomplishing their dreams. This dream you probably have too, to go explore the world. And so many will never go out there and experience it because they are just too scared. Too many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. Your mind is the limit!
But what if I told you all you really need to do is to take the plunge, use common sense and listen to your gut, would you believe me? Because that’s definitely all it takes!
Don’t forget, you can go as far as your mind lets you!
However, here I’d like to share all the rules/tips I’ve come to establish within the few years I’ve been traveling solo.
BEFORE YOU GO
1. Learn about the culture
If you go to a Muslim country, even if you don’t have to cover yourself up completely, try not to wear provocative clothes. It may sound logical for most of you but I’ve seen many girls not giving a s*** about it when I was in Egypt. So, do your research before you go with the wrong set of clothes in your suitcase , ACCEPT IT and RESPECT IT (or don’t go).
2. Learn basic language phrases
Trust me, it will be very convenient when you get to a country where nobody speaks English and that you have to find your way to your hotel or even order food at the restaurant. If you suck at pronunciation, then at least write it down and always keep the list on you. You can always show it to people, because yes, they can read too 😉
3. Familiarize yourself with the country and the area you are going to
Before going somewhere, you’ll feel much more confident if you’ve familiarized yourself with the area you are going to be staying in. It’s always more convenient having a visual and being able to point out where you are on a map, what’s around you, if there is a Bus or metro station nearby (even if locals will always be happy to help you out). Also, do your research if certain areas need to be avoided.
4. Have emergency contacts
Not only write down but learn by heart your emergency contact numbers and pick the ones that you know will answer at any time (yes, we all have that friend who calls us back 4 days later, so no, that one is definitely not a good idea 😉 )
5. Take some self-defense classes
You will for sure not become Jacky Chan (or Buffy) after 1 class but it will give you more confidence, some techniques and put you in some situations that will make you think twice about the way you would react. Plus, you’ll probably meet other girls that are also going traveling the world so, it’s always a positive experience. It has been for me.
ONCE YOU GET THERE
6. Blend in
I’m not saying that you should dress exactly like a local and become someone else, but observe around you. If everybody else is wearing shorts and flashy colors, then go for it. If nobody does, you’ll do nothing but draw attention to you. And that is never a good thing!
Yes it’s right, you can’t dress like this, sorry!
7. Don’t show your valuables
I mean, as much as you can. I know, with all our fancy phones, GoPro, cameras, it is pretty hard to keep them hidden when you are traveling. But when you don’t need them, put them away! Also, leave your fancy clothes at home. For god’s sake, you don’t need to wear Prada when you are traveling!
8. Know the emergency number of the country you are in
You may never think about it or thinking you’ll probably never use it, but truth is, you don’t know it! It only takes 2 seconds to get it online (thanks google) so do it! It might not help you directly but it might save someone’s life, so don’t be selfish!
9. Be smart
The first thing I do before I leave my hostel is to pin my exact location either on googlemap or MapsMe (GPS app that works without an internet connection). That way, if you get lost (which always happens to me, even going grocery shopping nearby), you’ll be able to find your way back!
But, DO NOT only count on your phone. Your phone might run out of battery (best scenario case). So, always have a map on you with all the details of your hostel as the address, phone number, etc… They always have maps at the reception of any hostel/hotel and if you are renting an apartment, print it out before you arrive. Plus, having a map will prevent you from always having your phone in your hands!
Also, leave your passport and take a copy of it. I always have an other ID on me but I never go out with my passport, NEVER.
Please, if you have several credit cards, which I highly recommend, don’t take them all with you when you go out, it doesn’t make any sense! The point is having a second one in case you get robbed 😉
10. Walk with confidence
Confidence is key! You will more likely stop ill-intentioned people from coming to talk to you by doing that. I assure you, nothing attracts them more than a girl walking looking at her feet and looking like she is scared to death. So, even if you are, don’t loose it! Don’t let it show on your face. Walk like you own the place! Yes, I learned that from self-defense 😉
Ok, maybe not like that but you get the idea, right?
11. Talk to people
As I mentioned in my previous post “why traveling by yourself will be the best time of your life” , people don’t bite. And they are actually the ones that will worry the most about your safety, always giving you advises on where to go but also where NOT TO go. Since they live there, I always figured they were a pretty reliable source of information (yes, better than the lonely planet or even google).
ABOUT COMMON SENSE
12. Do not get wasted
I know, easier said than done haha. But you will put yourself in the most vulnerable situation it can be by doing that. So, unless you are with people you trust 100%, have a couple of glasses but don’t lose control of yourself. Also, keep your glass with you, at all times, even when you go to the bathrooms and make sure you are the one ordering the drinks.
13. Do not take drugs
Same as above, drugs can make you loose control of yourself and you never know how your body will react. So, don’t take any risks. It’s clearly not worth it!
14. Be present
When you are in the present moment, you’ll be more aware of what’s happening around you. You’ll be more likely to notice the creepy guy watching you from the other side of the street or if someone may be following you. No need to panic, do not assume the worse, but be aware.
15. Don’t do what you wouldn’t do at home
If you don’t go to creepy areas or walk in a dark alley in the middle of the night at home, why would you do it when you are abroad?
LEARN TO GO WITH THE FLOW
16. Stay positive
Stop assuming the worse! Yes, there are bad people, but if you live in this reality, that’s all you will ever attract! Truth is, the world is filled with amazing people who would do anything to help you. So, have faith in humanity. The world is beautiful.
17. Trust your instincts