How can you travel safely as a woman? I wish I could say that women are treated equally when they are travelling solo but it’s unfortunately not always true. Most importantly of all though, do not give into fear. Recent world events are starting to rock traveller’s foundations but in true British fashion my dears: Keep Calm And Carry On. Look after yourself and ensure you can travel safely by following Teacake’s Guide to how to travel safely as a woman.
How To Travel Safely As A Woman
Before You Go
Before you even leave your doorstep, there’s a couple of things you can do to be fully prepared, covered and ensure you are going to travel safely.
Get Travel Insurance
Yeah, yeah, I know it can be a little expensive and who wants to pay for something which may not happen? Well ladies. Trust me…life happens and stuff breaks / gets stolen / goes wrong! I’ve had terrible food poisoning, a contraceptive implant break in my arm (ouch), motorbike burns and seen friends get into unfortunate situations too. A couple were hit by a drunk driver, another fell right through a glass table and quite a few have had cameras and gadgets stolen.
Do the right thing and get insurance. I trust World Nomads Travel Insurance. Their coverage for everything is top-notch and their prices are good!
Make Sure You’re Vaccinated
Each country has their own little (or big) things going on. Make sure you don’t come home growing a third arm or something by checking what vaccinations you need for each country.
Make Copies Of All Your Important Documents
Make electronic and physical copies of your passport (you’ve filled in your emergency details on the back page right?!), visas, personal ID, driver’s license, credit cards, cash cards and travel insurance documents. You can send these to yourself in an email, upload them to a cloud drive, carry them on a USB or upload them to TripIt (an awesome app on iOS and Android). Talking about electronic stuff…
Download Some Essential Apps
Want to know the most up-to-date currency rates? Where to hang out with good people? Want a working map, directions on how to get from A to B and your health information at your fingertips? Check out my Best Travel Apps post.
Ensure You Have The Best Travel Gear
You can find all of my favourite travel gear and accessories in my Teacake Travel Shop and backpacking packing list.
Learn Self Defence
I studied Jiu Jitsu in China for 3 months to learn how to defend myself on the street. It has changed my life forever. I feel way more confident and assured that if it comes to the crunch, I can handle myself. In fact, it has come in handy already. Check out my 8 Self Defence Techniques For Travellers.
Read Up On Travel Scams
Every country has them. Cambodia has one I unfortunately fell for and my travel friends have shared even more travel scams in Asia so you don’t fall for them. Do your homework and try to dodge them as best you can.
At The Airport, Bus, Boat Or Train Station
Keep Your Valuables Safe
Keep most of your stuff in your main bag but make sure to have a carry-on / separate bag for valuables. I always carry a backpack to put my laptop, chargers, phone, headphones, camera, memory cards, purse and passport in. I hold on to this bag and watch it like a hawk! My Deuter Pro SL 34L is on my back (I love it for its size, setup and durability!) and my carry-on is strapped to my front.
Packing a few extra simple things in your carry-on can help you travel safely during and after your journey. Some earplugs are good, a set of extra clothes will help in case your luggage goes missing and taking some medicine for travel sickness won’t go amiss!
Whether you plan ahead months in advance, or in my case, very much the last minute (!), ensure you book your accommodation ahead of time! Booking websites allow you to read reviews, see exactly what security measures there are and know for sure whether a place has a bed for you to sleep in.
Where To Stay As A Solo Female Traveller
For hostels I use Hostelworld every time. For hotels, Hotels Combined let you compare many booking websites at once to get the best price. For something more local, there’s AirBNB (get your free $20 here when you sign up!) and Couchsurfing (just make sure to read the host’s profile carefully and check out their reviews).
What To Do When You Get To Your Accommodation
If you’re in a hostel, hotel or home stay, grab two copies of their business card immediately. It has their name, number and address on there. You’re gonna need it! Pop one in your bag and one in your pocket. If you lose one, you have the other.
Locals know best. They know whether it’s good to take local transport or taxis, whether to walk around everywhere and at what times. Listen to their advice and suss it out for yourself where you want to go, how and when.
Have things to store away? Make use of their security box!
A Couple Of Extra Things To Buy When You’re There
Sunscreen! I’ve been burnt too many times and still get caught out being the English Rose that I am. I recommend nothing less than Factor 30 and if you love driving bikes like me, invest in a long sleeve shirt to protect yourself from the sun. A scarf can also protect your shoulders and face.
A Quick Checklist Before You Step Out The Door
Leave a note to say where you’re planning to go that day on your bed. Make sure your phone is charged! Don’t leave without the following things in your day bag: Accommodation Business Card / Mobile Phone / Room Key / Light Scarf to cover yourself / a Water Filter Bottle (get 15% off at Water To Go with special code TEACAKE15 / your chargers / condoms (if you’re going out for that reason!)
What To Do Out On The Street
Wear The Ring And Show The Photo If You Have To
Many locals still struggle to understand that a woman is on her own, not married and without a boyfriend or children. Buy a cheapo ring and pop it on your wedding finger if it helps. Carry a photo of a handsome model and he can be your husband for the day.
When riding a motorbike around a country, avoid the short pants and vest top fashion party to a) keep your skin in one piece and b) not receive any unnecessary attention. In Marrakesh and Bangladesh I completely covered myself up head to toe like the rest of the local women there. I still got a lot of unwanted attention but it was more manageable than if I had been in some sexy pink hot pants.
It’s not just about being culturally sensitive. If you look rich, thieves are going to be very much attracted to you. Expensive jewellery? Forget about wearing that! Long expensive-looking earrings? No no! They’ve been known to rip them right out.
Separate Your Money And Cards
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! I have some money on my Pockit (UK only) card, some on my Revolut card and I have a Halifax Clarity Credit Card too in case I really get in trouble. Not only do these cards help you manage your spending but putting a set amount of money on each stops thieves taking everything you’ve got in one go.
Have old cards that don’t work anymore? Keep them and put them as ‘dummy cards’ in your wallet! If a thief demands you hand over your cashcards, you’ll have these to throw at them.
Never physically have your money in one place either. Put some in your pocket, some in your purse and some in your bra with Eagle Creek’s Bra Stash!
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Watch Your Alcohol
Sad but true. Be mindful of who you’re drinking with and whether you trust them. Keep asking yourself, ‘Do I really need this next drink?’ and whatever you do, don’t leave your drink unattended.
Walk the walk
The way you walk down the street can speak volumes. Are you confident or are you feeling unsure? Walk with your head up high, at a leisurely pace and swing your arms as you stroll to increase your size. It works. People will believe you’re confident and think twice about taking advantage of you.
Travelling or not travelling, don’t be scared about expressing what you want and need. Say what you want clearly, calmly, confidently and respectfully. Not being assertive enough in life will stop you from giving and receiving many things. Change this around girl! Equally, do not speak at the top of your lungs! Do not draw attention to yourself for talking so loudly or inappropriately.
The Best Way To Travel Safely: Trust your gut
No matter what your head or heart is saying, your gut is the most powerful compass in deciding what you should do in any given situation. Trust your deepest feeling and there’s a good chance you’ll make the right decision. Feel weird? Just leave.
Need Some Inspiration?
These Wander Women are kicking it solo just like Teacake. Read their advice and travel tips and find out more about their experiences.
How do you travel safely as a woman? Share your tips in the comments below!
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