The appeal of being able to push out of your comfort zone, experience new cultures and meet new friends, have all led to a dramatic increase in the number of females choosing to travel around the world solo. In fact, in the first three months of 2017, small-group adventure travel company Intrepid Travel saw a 35 percent increase in women booking trips*. While all travellers face risks, unfortunately women can face greater risks than men and be particularly vulnerable in certain countries and cultures. But that should never be a reason to stop exploring. Our tips below outline some of the key things all women should keep in mind when travelling to stay safe.
Be safe, not sorry, research before you go
For some of us, planning and researching your next adventure is almost as fun as actually traveling! In between scoping out the most beautiful beaches and coolest cities, take some time to look up safety information for where you are headed. Researching simple things like how you plan to get around, what’s the safest mode of transport and what areas of a city you should avoid can help not only make your trip safe, but also more enjoyable. Some countries also have legal systems that impose strict limits on women’s rights which can be very different to your home country. In some places women are legally required to travel with a male escort – so make sure you’re in the know before you depart.
Try to blend in
One of the reasons why travellers are usually targets of crime is because locals can easily identify them as tourists. The best way to avoid unwanted attention? Opt for clothing that suits your environment, dress respectively accepting that in some cultures more conservative clothing is the norm, and avoid unnecessary displays of affluence in public. As well as making sure your appearance allows you to fit in, you should also make sure the way you act doesn’t make you stand out either. Always try to act confidently, even if you’re a bit lost, it will help you keep a low profile. If you really need to check your map, slip into a shop or café so you can consult privately.
It’s not rude to say no
Just because you’re a tourist doesn’t mean you always have to accept how you are treated as part of the experience. While it’s important to be respectful to the locals in the country you visit, that doesn’t always mean that they will be respectful back to you. Being firm and not accepting ‘help’ from a stranger, if you are feeling unsafe is not rude. If you find yourself in a situation where politely declining is not working, try to maintain your composure and remove yourself as quickly as possible. Get to a safe, public location and if need be seek assistance.
Stay charged and connected
If you do find yourself in a place or situation where you feel unsafe, your phone can be your saviour. Make sure your device is always fully charged when you head out for the day, have your maps pre-downloaded in case you are lost and without a data connection, and save important numbers such as your hotel, trusted taxi companies and our travel assistance team – so you know you’re just one click away from help if you need it.
Travelling as a female can be an invigorating and empowering experience. While there are risks involved with any type of adventure, being aware and wise about your decisions can keep you safe and ensure your trip is memorable for all the right reasons.