Yes, another list of safety tips.
Since I really opened up on some of the grimmer realities of traveling as a solo female earlier this week, I thought I would try to re-assure everyone by providing some simple safety tips that can make all the difference when you are out there on your own.
It’s true, there are plenty of articles out there that cover this exact same subject. But you know what? I still get asked about safety on the road constantly, and there is nothing on this list that doesn’t bear repeating time and again. Nonetheless I’ve tried to come up with some tips that are more useful than “wear a fake wedding ring,” and I think all of these tips are applicable to both men, women and people who aren’t traveling solo.
Okay, now that is out of the way, here are some simple ways to stay safe on the road:
Watch Your Drink
I love beer as much as the next beer-loving girl, but solo travelers have to be extra careful to keep an eye on their beverage.There have been cases, all over the world, where people have been roofied and robbed, assaulted or worse (this happens to men too). Don’t let your drink out of your sight and be wary of people who offer to buy you drinks.
Pay attention to what kind of car you are getting into. If you are concerned, have your guesthouse call a taxi for you. If your bag is in the trunk of the taxi, don’t pay the driver until after you’ve recovered it.
Know Your Surroundings
I love to wander aimlessly in new cities, but at night I try to always know where I’m going and to avoid dark streets or alleyways if I can help it. I also always right down the name and address of my hostel, or grab their business card on my way out the door, just in case I get really lost.
It’s Okay to Be a Jerk
Don’t worry about manners if you are genuinely feeling unsafe. Women in particulare are conditioned to always be polite, even when we feel uncomfortable. Predators know this, and they take advantage of your good nature. But safety always trumps manners. Don’t be bullied into giving out information or agreeing to things you’re not comfortable with. If someone is making you feel weird, just leave or tell them to get lost. Don’t even worry about looking weird or rude.
Look Out for Each Other
Do you believe in karma? I do. And even if I didn’t, I believe in being a decent human being, so I always keep an eye out for travelers who might need a helping hand. At hostels I always have my eyes peeled for girls who maybe had too much to drink and need some assistance, or people who look like they need help getting out of an uncomfortable situation. If we all help each other out, then we’ll all be better off as a result.
Ultimately, safety on the road (or at home really) is about trusting your instincts and not being afraid to advocate for yourself (like I said, it’s OKAY to be a jerk). I recommend that anyone traveling alone check out the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. While a little paranoia-inducing, there are some really great tips about learning to assess the safety of a situation, and how to listen to you “gut.”
That said, I don’t believe in living in fear. The world is by and large a safe place, full of amazing things. 98% of the time when I’m traveling I’m absorbed in the culture, the people and the sights, but there’s always that 2% of me that feels the need to be vigilant.