Congratulations, solo female traveller! You’re off to find yourself. By yourself.
You’re a tough gal; you know the big city rules.
Not so fast, lady!
Sure, you know not to leave your drink or boozily chat up the local football team, but there are a few other ways to stay safe on the road.
Exploration doesn’t mean exploitation
What’s the best way to get out of a bad situation? Don’t get into one. Browse local blogs written by women for tips, hangouts, the best local joints. Google Blog Search makes this handy. Even better, email your blogger with questions. Opening with ‘You’ve got the best blog in …’ never hurts.
Play aisle-window tic-tac-toe
Assuming the plane isn’t packed, this strategy increases your odds of calling that armrest your own. When booking your seat, look for a row with a booked window seat and an empty middle seat and aisle. Book the aisle. If the plane isn’t sold out, you’re in luck: what kind of sicko chooses the middle seat?
If this doesn’t work, try again 24 hours before the flight, when most airlines offer upgrades to regular customers.
The in-line luggage photo-shoot
If you must check a bag, document that sucker while waiting in line to check it. Take one of each angle: sassy, sexy, pouty, fierce. Problems with luggage at your destination? Your photos show that the bag wasn’t attacked by voles before it entered the luggage transport system.
Does this make my butt look fat?
Beware of two-way mirrors in toilets and changing rooms. Some places use them to prevent theft or vandalism. What’s scary about them is you can’t see who’s watching you, or-worse- know why. Not only can someone see that ‘special’ tattoo, the creep can also check out your gear at leisure. If the room seems ungodly bright, stick your finger against the mirror. See a space between your digit and its reflection? All’s well. If not, get dressed and get out of there.
What’s the safe word?
Keep in touch with folks back home via private messaging. Have a coded question and answer to let people know if there’s trouble brewing. A Chinese national with Australian residency planned to return to China for a quick holiday. Just in case, she set up a code with her sister. The sister send a message ‘Do you have your books with you?’ A negative answer would mean that her passport had been confiscated.
When the plane was due to land, the message got sent. ‘They took my books’ was the answer. The family haven’t seen the woman since, but at least they have an idea of where and how to keep looking.
Partly cloudy with a chance of vampires
Finally, when checking the weather, notice when the sun goes down. This doesn’t mean straight-to-bed-after-supper, just be aware that new places look completely different in the dark. Thwart crepuscular demons by knowing your surroundings and having a clear plan for getting home.
Fear shouldn’t motivate solo women travellers. Follow basic safety rules, get some good travel medical insurance and most of all, have fun.