Top tips for staying safe when travelling solo
For women travelling alone, safety remains the number one priority. And to ensure that no untoward incident hampers your vacation, here’s a safety checklist.
• Email all travel details to family or friends: Someone’s got to watch your back, girl! So as you head out on that scuba diving trip or out trekking that volcano, Amrita Das from Travelling Ides to March believes that keeping family and friends informed is vital.
• Never leave food/drink unattended or accept them from complete strangers: Some of the best stories you have of your travels are the conversations you pick up with complete strangers. However, when it comes to sharing meals, stay aware. As Anna Phipps from Global Gallivanting tells us, “The most important things that the last 3 years of full time travel have taught me is that the world is not such a scary place, people all over the world are inherently kind and really not that different from us but still, you can’t be naive and trust everyone. Especially if you are traveling solo you do need to be on your guard to avoid scams and hassles and be aware of your surroundings, be careful to not get too drunk and put yourself in a vulnerable position.Just don’t believe everything people say and be careful about who you trust.”
• Try and avoid sauntering after dark (especially within India): If your parents set evening deadlines for you when you were growing up, it is best to keep them in mind even while travelling.
• Check reviews before booking: Sonal Kwatra Paladini from Drifter Planet, recommends checking reviews and also choosing destinations which have hostels listed on HostelWorld.
• Elude confidence when you travel alone: Anna says that this is the single most important tip for solo female travellers- that is to be confident, assertive and hold yourself well. Sometimes it is safer to forget about being polite, it may be taken as a sign of weakness, and be prepared to stand up for yourself and not be afraid to speak out or ask for help – bystanders will usually come to your aid. Look like you know your way around and avoid getting out maps or guidebooks on the street or looking lost or confused and most importantly don’t look an easy target, act confidently even if you aren’t!
• Stay ‘culturally aware’ and adapt the way you travel: In many places the culture might be very different from what you are used to at home. Try your best to fit in with the local culture both for your safety and sanity! There’s no use trying to fight it, accept that things work differently, embrace the differences and go with flow and you’ll have easier and more enjoyable travels. Have an open mind and be sensitive to and try to understand and adapt to the local culture.
• Dress conservatively. Anna also recommends that when travelling alone it is best to not flash too much flesh or too much wealth. According to her, “you must not make yourself stand out as an attractive target. This is especially important in cultures like India but is a good tip where ever you travel as a solo woman. Respect local culture and avoid unwanted attention by covering up and copy the local women – they know best so follow their lead on what to wear and where to go."
• Let your gut instinct drive your decisions: It is for nothing that a woman’s instincts are known to be lethal in their accuracy! Believe in yours. All female bloggers that Skyscanner spoke to are unanimous in their opinion around trusting your own gut to take decisions on people you meet and the ones you should trust while travelling. There is no fear, just a piqued sense of awareness that ensures you enjoy your vacation- your way!
Skyscanner caught up with Smriti Modi, who runs the Itch List, and found out that her users have travelling solo on the top ten things they are planning to scratch! No reason why, you shouldn’t choose 2016 to make that happen! Check out some of these destinations recommended by bloggers to head out on that trip and create your packing checklist from the tips below.
Packing tips for women on solo travel trips
If you are a traveller that lands up with more suitcases than destinations to visit, you will love these packing tips sent across by other female travellers.
• Pack a Swiss army knife: Slice, dice, chop, open. Enough said!
• Get a power backup for your phone: It’s not possible to find a charging point everywhere and you never know when your battery runs out on the road.
• Sarongs: Sonal tells us why! “These can be used in multiple ways when the need arises – as a mat to sit on the ground, as a scarf to cover your head when the sun is too strong, as an eye mask in local transport to help you sleep, as a sheet when your hostel bed doesn’t look so clean, as a pillow if folded well, as a cute asymmetrical skirt with a knot when you don’t know what to wear, as a bandage if you end up injuring yourself, as a bag pack tag and of course as a sarong for the beach!” Wow! Who would have ever known!
• A light jacket/a warm shawl: When some rooms get extra cold, or temperatures change after a heavy downpour.
• A utility tool or an electric taser
• Snacks (energy bars, chocolate, potato chips-whatever suits your palate): Amrita recommends carrying snacks to handle those hunger pangs that strike you when you least expect them to!
• Large Plastic Bags: These will come in handy to keep your shoes, laundry, etc. These large sized plastic bags can also be used to cover your luggage from inside or outside if it rains.
• Super comfortable shoes: These seem like an obvious addition, but they are absolutely crucial to enjoying your holiday. Travelling usually involves walking and sometimes even climbing, so make sure your feet are happy – after all, they carry you around.
• Basic medicines, mosquito repellent, band aids: Sonal recommends this habit that has been passed on to her by her dad. “Till my mid-20s, he would pack a pouch for me with basic medicines for fever, cold, allergy, stomach pain, vomiting, band aids and mosquito repellent. Back then he had to literally force me to carry this but over the years I have realized the importance of this and I pack this on my own.”
• Sewing kit
• Pack three leggings and you are good to go!: If you are no fashionista, then “leggings can sort out your whole trip,” says Rutavi Mehta from Photokatha. Also a travel tip she gives is to roll your clothes when you pack them.
• Carry toiletries in small bags to avoid weight
• Download apps that will help you during your travel: Skyscanner listed out the top apps you should download to ease your international trip. Maybe a good idea to download these on your handset before you head out.