Travelling solo is one of the best ways to see the world, giving you the freedom to do as you want, change your plans or follow your nose. Female travellers may still find that travelling on their own can cause some worries, but so long as you follow some precautionary measures and use common sense you should find that you can limit any exposure to danger.
Research Your Destination: Knowing the situation on the ground and being aware of local customs is the best way to be prepared. Check the foreign and commonwealth office website https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for up to date advice on travelling to potential hotspots such as Egypt, India and Kenya. Make sure you know the local procedure for contacting Police or your embassy in case of any problems.
Be Aware of Local Customs: Blending in and respecting the locals is an essential part of global travel. With the expansion of western culture more and more countries are used to the sight of scantily clad women on TV and in advertising, but on the ground it is generally safer to remain modest, especially in countries such as India and the African nations. In Muslim countries solo female travellers should at least cover their heads with a scarf to avoid unwelcome attention. Some people find that learning a little of the local language can help deflect unwanted attention and help you blend in.
Firm but Polite: As a lone female traveller you are likely to attract advances from brave local men who want nothing but to chat to you. Sometimes these advances can escalate to more macho posturing and even the odd proposal of marriage! Keep calm and try and be as polite as possible, no matter how many wolf whistles you’ve experienced that day. Always allow your suitor to maintain face as embarrassing them can cause problems – mention your husband (even if you don’t have one). Some women find it helpful to wear a ring on their wedding finger as a way to back up claims of marriage. It may not be empowering but it does have the desired effect!
Safety in Numbers: If you are expecting to do a trip through a potentially risky area then it can be wise to find a fellow traveller to accompany you. There are tourists in even the most unlikely area so even if you simply travel to your destination on the same bus as other travellers this can limit the risk for yourself. If you do need to travel somewhere on your own let someone know, either someone back home or someone you’ve met on the road. Don’t forget to let them know you’ve arrived safely too!
Don’t Be a Target: The same rules apply to any traveller anywhere in the world. Wearing jewellery, carrying expensive items and waving money around can attract unwanted attention. Use common sense and be discreet, especially in public areas. Don’t leave cameras or phones on the table in street cafes and carry small amounts of money in different pockets so if you are pickpocketed you aren’t left broke!
Be Aware: The same as anywhere, be careful with unguarded drinks or accepting snacks from strangers. Sharing food is part of the travel experience and more often than not you will find yourself being offered snacks on trains and buses by friendly locals who just want to be hospitable. Be aware of the situation and if you think there may be nefarious intent simply say that you’re not hungry or you’re ill.
Most of all, enjoy the experience and the locals and remember that not everyone is out to rip you off or con you. You quickly find your travelling mindset once in situ, so just remember that common sense is the best form of defence.