10 Safety Procedures For Women Traveling Solo
Are you a woman who's about to set off on a solo trip?
Do you feel safe and prepared?
Do you have all the correct safety procedures in place?
Women should be able to go wherever they want without fear of being attacked. Unfortunately, the worrying reality is that women are at risk. A report by UN Women shows that 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence.
The website for their Ending Violence Against Women Now campaign gives further details about the dangers women face in certain countries. One such statistic is that an average of two women is murdered every day in Guatemala.
Thinking about statistics like this one is scary, but it doesn’t have to put you off traveling.
While women should not feel discouraged from traveling alone, it’s sensible to use certain safety procedures in order to minimize risks.
Read on to find out the best ways to protect yourself as a woman traveling alone.
Safety Procedures for Women Traveling Alone
1. Carry a Self-Defense Tool
A self-defense tool isn't something you should have to use, but you'll feel much safer knowing that you have one in case the need arises.
You certainly don't want to be caught without one if something does happen.
See our previous post on personal street protection tools to defend yourself with for more examples of things you could use for effective safety procedures.
2. Carry your Belongings Safely
If you must travel with valuable items, don't leave them in hostels or hotel rooms which don't have secure safes.
Carry them with you, but make sure you do it the right way.
A backpack is practical for carrying and storing your belongings but it’s easy to grab something out of it without your knowledge.
To make your backpack more difficult for people to steal from, wear it on your front if you can, and keep the most valuable items stored in inner, hidden pockets that are hard to reach.
In areas where pickpocketing is an issue, thieves are known to simply cut holes in bags and catch whatever falls out of them. To combat this, there are slash-proof bags available.
Keep your passport, cash and credit cards in a travel belt and wear it under your shirt to keep it as close to you as possible.
3. When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do
This famous proverb is good advice for traveling on the whole, but especially for women who are concerned about their safety.
If you're unsure about certain cultural aspects, such as how you should dress or behave, look around and take some tips from the local women.
While some of these aspects may differ wildly from what you're used to at home and may even go against some of your own beliefs, failing to comply may put you in danger.
If they are dressing conservatively, you should, too. If they are keeping quiet and avoiding direct eye contact, you should do the same.
This is not only for safety procedures, but to carefully tread cultural lines and avoid causing any offense.
4. Pack Emergency Contraception
Even if you don't expect to be sexually active whilst traveling, be sure to pick up some emergency contraception from a pharmacy before you go.
Depending on which country you're in, it may not be easy to come by, so it's worth having it with you to use in case of an emergency.
A study showed that American students who study abroad face a significantly increased risk of rape and sexual assault than they do at home. And this risk is even higher in non-English speaking countries. Women who travel alone for any reason should keep this in mind.
In that same vein, do some research on clinics for women in the local area and keep a note of them on your phone.
5. Register with your Embassy
If you're staying in a particular country for a while, registering with your local embassy is beneficial.
Nobody wants to have to visit the embassy, but in the event of any danger, you'll need to visit to report a crime or seek help after the fact.
The long lines and seemingly endless paperwork at embassies are a hassle, but if you jump through those hoops early on, you could save yourself a lot of trouble later.
This will also give you access to any assistance that you may need, as embassies can work with police and put you in touch with other organizations.
6. Don't Give People Too Much Information
When you're traveling, meeting new people and making casual conversation, you may think nothing of telling someone where you're staying, the fact that you're traveling alone, or your next destination.
While most may not do anything with that information, there's always the chance that they might, especially when you're talking to someone you don't know or trust.
In order to avoid unwanted visitors, be vague about where you're staying and with whom. Outright lie if you have to.
Create a fake husband's persona and casually slip it into the conversation. Some women choose to wear a fake wedding ring as a clear sign to put people off. While it's certainly not a foolproof plan, it's worth thinking about.
It's easy to throw caution to the wind and just go along with whatever opportunities come along, but it's not always wise to.
If you're invited out somewhere and it doesn't sit right with you, feel free to say no. You don't have to feel pressured into going somewhere you don't feel comfortable going.
Always trust your instincts and don't be afraid to say no. This is one of the most under-rated safety procedures there is.
7. Keep Copies of All your Documents
In the event that your belongings are lost or stolen, you could be left without all of your important documents.
Make copies of your passport, tickets and any other important information and keep it in a separate place. That way, you won't be completely lost if you don't have the originals for whatever reason.
Also, keep the location and contact number of your hotel with you at all times.
Most hotels provide this on handy business cards at the front desk. Put some in your bags in case you find yourself unable to find your way back.
8. Be Aware when on Public Transportation
When using public transport, be aware of your surroundings and follow safety procedures.
Don’t fall asleep on trains, buses or vans.
Keep your luggage nearby, and don't pack valuables in checked baggage.
When choosing your seat, opt for a busier area, where there are some people around. If there's a guard or staff member nearby, stick with them.
9. Don't Take Your Eyes Off your Drink
When you’re traveling and having the time of your life, you should be able to enjoy it to the fullest.
This means having a drink if you want to.
When violence against women occurs, people are quick to blame them for drinking alcohol, as if they’ve invited it. Victim blaming like this is entirely wrong.
You shouldn’t have to worry about not drinking at all (unless you’re in a country where it’s illegal). However, you do need to be smart about it in order to take care of yourself.
Don’t accept a drink from anyone unless you’ve seen it being poured, and don’t leave your drink behind. Keep it either in your hand or in plain sight.
If you’re with someone you know you can trust, ask them to watch your drink for you when you go to the bathroom, but know that when you’re traveling alone, you can never be truly sure who to trust.
When you do drink, know your limits and don’t drink so much that you aren’t aware of your surroundings and in control.
Speaking of being aware of your surroundings, you should take care when wearing headphones when listening to music or podcasts.
This makes you an easier target for a thief or assailant.
Avoid headphones altogether if you can. If you can’t, keep the volume relatively low and use only one headphone, so that you can still hear everything else around you.
10. Keep Up to Date with Travel Warnings
The US Department of State’s website has a page for travel alerts and warnings around the world.
Check that page before and while traveling to stay abreast of any reported dangers.
These travel warnings don’t just cover threats of terrorism, but also things like political unrest and risks of violent crime. They also provide details or safety procedures to follow.
Further Safety Procedures
The threat of danger shouldn’t stop women from getting out and seeing the world, but using safety procedures can empower them to take their safety and wellbeing into their own hands.
If you’re not quite convinced and still have some concerns, read our post on what do to if you’re afraid to go outside alone.
The floor is yours!
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