1. Plan ahead
This is a good idea for any traveller but, when you’re solo, it can make all the difference. Do your research on accommodation and book in advance, carry a basic, fully charged phone at all times and always hide some extra money somewhere on you for emergencies. Also, get the name and address of your accommodation written in the local language to show taxi drivers, plus any important contact numbers.
2. Leave valuables at home
If you can, leave any expensive jewellery or tech gadgets at home. It’ll be much less stressful for you on the road, as you need not worry about losing or ruining treasured possessions. If there’s anything you really must bring, use it discreetly. Most hostels and hotels have safety deposit boxes.
3. Keep to well-lit, populated areas at night
You’ll feel more confident and at ease if you know there are people around you who can come to your aid if needed. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings – avoid walking around with headphones on or consuming too much alcohol. Try not to travel alone at night as empty buses and trains can be foreboding places.
4. Be aware of cultural differences
What you dismiss as a friendly smile and polite chit-chat may in some countries be misconstrued as flirtation, so consider the need to adjust your behaviour to avoid unwelcome advances. The same goes for dress: Learn about cultural norms and cover up if it’s called for. To discourage unwanted attention, create the impression that you have a partner if necessary and wear a wedding ring.
5. Make a fuss if you need to
If someone is doing something to make you feel uncomfortable or threatened, don’t be afraid to move away, draw attention to the offender and, in more serious cases, report them to the authorities. Just because you’re in another country doesn’t mean you should put up with harassment.
6. Don’t travel in fear
There’s a difference between being cautious and spending your whole trip worrying about the very worst that can happen. You’re more likely to attract attention if you look nervy and on edge. Besides, this is your adventure: Embrace it and remember most people are good people.
7. Make friends
Meeting lots of new people is one of the best things about solo travel. Make an effort to talk with local women in particular and you’ll learn a lot, not just about being safe, but also about the culture you’ve come to experience. Sites such as Wanderful can help connect you even before you land.
8. Trust your instincts
Regardless of any of the above, if you have a strange feeling about a situation – trust it. It’s a well-worn cliche, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
– TEXT BY HANNAH STUART-LEACH
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.