Women’s Day special: Essential tips for women travelling alone| Last Updated: March 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM
Traveling solo has its advantages. You are your own navigator and you don’t have to tailor your travel plans to suit others’ tastes. However, traveling alone has its own risks. Unwanted attention from males and being considered easy targets by thieves are some of the common problems women tend to face. Again, these are more localized than a general notion. Some countries like Germany and Norway are particularly women tourist friendly while others like South Africa are universally considered unsafe. In India, all guide books will advise you to play it safe – whether in terms of attire or behavior.
Times have changed and the world is increasingly becoming a secure place for women traveling alone. However, it is always better to take precautions and keep harm at arms’ bay.
If you are considering going solo this vacation, we suggest 10 travel-tested tips. Read on…
Do your homework
“One of life’s most painful moments comes when we must admit that we didn’t do our homework, that we are not prepared” Merlin Olsen, American football player
It is always better to learn as much as possible about the destination you intend to travel to. Particularly important is to learn about religious or cultural beliefs which might force you to adapt your dressing style.
On the logistical end, explore transportation options available at your destination. Also read up on recommended options for stay, shopping, eating etc.
Arrive during the day
Again, this completely depends on the destination. But the general rule is you should make it a point to arrive in new cities during the day. Small towns tend to shut down early and vicinities around bus stands and train stations can be deserted at night.
You may not be the one for structured travel schedules and might prefer to be more impromptu, but make the hotel reservations in advance at least for the first night of arrival in the city or destination. It would save you unnecessary trouble and strain and allow you enough time to get more insights.
Don’t be Charlie’s Angels
If someone pesters you or stalks you, AVOID any confrontation especially when you are alone or in a secluded street. Silence, avoiding eye contact and moving away can go a long way in thwarting advances. That doesn’t mean letting the mischief-makers get away. It just means you have to act smartly. Don’t shy away from seeking help. Walk into a store, hotel or a restaurant and explain your predicament. It works every time.
Choose the hotel carefully
Large, luxurious chain hotels burn a large hole in your pocket; however, security is also better than smaller ones. Rooms too, provide much better security. Upscale bed and breakfasts are also better options to stay as they offer greater privacy and personalized service. Chances of getting unwanted attention from male guests at larger hotels are also less. If smaller hotels or guest houses are your scene, speak to the owners, get comfortable about the safety of you and your belongings before taking up the place.
Pack as lightly as possible. Lots of luggage weighs you down and makes you less mobile and more dependent on assistance from others. Pack smart – mix and match clothes and accessories, share if you are travelling with someone.
Dress as per the needs and mores of the place. Take the cues from women you see around. It might be difficult to go unnoticed as a solo woman traveler but be aware the people pick up cues from your attitude as much as from your dress.
Lighten up your wallet
Carry only credit cards which you intend to use during the trip and leave the rest at home. Pack an ATM/debit card too and a backup credit card. The backup credit card would come handy in case your credit card gets stolen or is misplaced. But remember to pack this separately from the rest of your wallet. Do not carry a cheque book unless you are going for a business trip. Put your backup credit cards, extra cash, passport and copies of financial information in the hotel safe. Same applies to gadgets like laptop, camera and iPod whenever you aren’t using them.
Keep your documents safe
A passport is de rigueur for traveling these days. Before leaving for your trip, scan the front page of your passport and send it as an e-mail attachment to yourself. It will come handy in the event you lose your passport as you will be required to provide details like issuing authority, passport number and expiration date. Notify the nearest embassy or consulate in case traveling in a foreign country. In case traveling within India, lodge a complaint with the police station. Don’t forget to ask for a copy of the complaint.
Hotel safety tips
Avoid taking new acquaintances whom you met over dinner to your room. Whenever you are away, leave the “do not disturb” sign. It’s a little trick to discourage thieves. Every time you return, check all windows and doors to ensure they are locked. Double lock the doors once you are in your room.
First Published: March 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM