Planning to travel solo? Follow these safety tips

Solo female travellers feel uneasy about heading to a large centre all by themselves. They are overcome by the fear of being harassed or having no idea of the place what so ever due to which they miss out on the  anecdote that the alleys and streets speak of. You should know that going solo in a city is not scary at all, but really liberating. Forge a life set by your own rules and keep aside that growing corporate career  you had been running after for so long to reawaken your passion for travelling. You sap your joy and vitality in order to feel scared but it is now time to let go of fear and pursue a life of no regrets and exploration. 

As a solo woman traveller, you’re just looking for a little perspicacity from someone who’s done it previously. You might be pleased with the notion that you can travel by yourself, but maybe your parents won’t consider it’s possible until they discovered from someone who made it home without any harm. After all, it’s all well and good to assert to guidebooks guaranteeing that solo voyage is safe for ladies – but how do you know those books weren’t written by men? You want to hear it from women who have been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale.

You happen to have some money socked away and extra vacation time accrued. There’s nothing to stop you – now’s the time to go, but you’ve never really travelled alone. Not like this. You’ve never been to an exotic place, where you can’t speak the language, can’t even read the signs. A place where you’ll have to do all the research for yourself, find hotels, get yourself from airports to towns, buy train, bus or boat tickets, order your own food. That is where this article comes in, purely to your rescue. Albeit I do not hesitate to stalk my travel dreams, I am always careful about my preparation — to make sure I don’t arrive on a train platform isolated in the middle of the night for instance and I am careful about my dress and demeanour. Given below are the top safety recommendations and travel tips for women who travel solo.

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH WELL: With meticulous planning, common sense, and respect for religious and societal differences, you can minimise your risks and maximise your chances of having a safe and successful trip. Always remember, your destination is massive, diverse, traditional, ancient and it can be an overwhelming travel destination. Knowing as much as you can about the culture can help prepare you. With an expert analysis of the place you are about to go to, you can as much as avoid theft and harassments too. Before you leave, be sure to complete a risk assessment of any country you’re thinking of visiting.If you doubt you can put up with the challenges and hazards of a particular country, strike it off your list.

2. BE STREET SMART: Being self-reliant and prepared makes you safer and independent. By planning ahead, you’ll avoid hassles later. Carry your own cash, maps or guidebooks and common sense along with you at all times. Walk with your head held high and with a body language that says you know the place well. If you get lost, make sure who you ask for help. Ask from women or families, best if you consider asking at a restaurant or a functioning store. If you need to draw cash from an ATM machine, make sure it's during daytime and in a crowded street and not at night with a very few people around. 

3. TRAVEL LIGHT: Always travel light and be proactive. With less luggage, you'll be less vulnerable and more independent. Check for weather details of that day for all the destinations you're willing to cover and pack your bag accordingly. The right zippered daypack is easy to carry and has inner compartments for added security. Beware of credit card frauds and never let your card out of your site. carry a "waist pouch" for money and keep your identity tags hidden from prying eyes. 

4. DONOT KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS TOO HIGH: Always remember, you are visiting a place which is very different from where you live. Accept the reality that you cannot do things freely like you do at home and most places are traditionally innate and in the throes of a great change. Be wise and play it safe. Wear loose, modest clothes and refrain from overly friendly behaviour with unknown men; and be very cautious about moving around at night. Stay crime proof and know how to keep yourself safe. Keep the emergency police and ambulance numbers of the place handy. 

5. BEING FAMILIAR WITH THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: When leaving a bar or restaurant, get someone to walk you to an auto or taxi. Or call someone, and loudly tell them the number of the taxi, so the driver can hear. Plan your travel so you don’t arrive in the middle of the night and try to have someone meet you at the train station or airport. Many hotels and tours offer this service. Always let someone know where you’re going, and stay connected to friends and contacts. Before you leave a city, consider visiting the train or bus station you're going to leave from, so you'll know where it is, how long it takes to reach it, if it feels safe, and what services it has. Reconfirm your departure time. When taking the train, avoid sleeping in empty compartments. You're safer sharing a compartment with a  family.

6.FINDING SAFE HAVENS: Travel early in a day, so you’ll have time to find a suitable place before dark. Better still, book your lodgings in advance, especially if you’re due to arrive late at night. You’ll have the peace of mind of not having to search for a hotel on the shadowy streets of a foreign town. Understand the risks of staying in low-budget accommodations, such as hostels and campsites. Never leave valuables or travel documents behind in your room and keep them close to you if you sleep in a dorm. Even if you choose luxury accommodations, you should always be vigilant. Ensure the door of your room is locked, even when you’re inside. Never leave your window open, especially if your room is on the ground floor or has a balcony. Be aware that stairwells allow troublemakers to hide and to come and go undetected. Don’t get in an elevator unless you feel safe.  Keep your room number and location private.

7. CARRY MOBILE PHONES AND STAY WELL CONNECTED TO YOUR CREDIBLE SOURCES: In today's time, every nation is a mobile phone obsessed nation. Carrying a phone is essential for both security and ease. You can buy a cheap phone, even get a SIM card for your conventional phone when you get to your aimed destination. Just make sure you have a copy of your passport and visa in order to get yourself a sim card of that place. Stay in touch with family and friends back home, especially if you’re travelling solo. Whether by e-mail, social networking, phone, fax, or letter, keep them posted on where you are and where you’re headed next. Even if you’re moving alone, it’s a good idea to link up with other women along the way. A prattle with a seatmate on a long train or plane ride may create enough trust to feel safe about sharing a taxi or becoming interim travel mates. While savouring the company of alien identities, be wary about sharing personal information or placing undeserved trust in them.

8. BEHAVIOURAL CONSIDERATIONS: While abroad, a foreign affair with a fairytale ending may be more than a flight of the imagination, but it may also be fraught with danger and disappointment. If meeting your possible online dating partner for the first time, be sure to do so in a public place, such as a restaurant or café. As an added precaution, leave a note in your room stating where and with whom the meeting will take place. Don’t divulge information about personal finances or how to access your bank accounts.Have an exit strategy. Safeguard a return airline ticket or sufficient funds to get back to your country and most importantly, safeguard your passport with your life. Women romantically involved with overseas suitors are sometimes victims of crime or fraud, so do not get scammed. Regretting will not help, on the later stage. 

Many people encounter feelings of dislocation and unease while overseas, particularly during extended association with a foreign culture. One of the best survival approach is to make a conscious effort to feel more at home in your new surroundings. Keeping all this in mind will ensure a perfectly safe and healthy trip for you. 

Beeba M Singh