Solo travel for women can be full of fun but need to be prepared. There are differences in each place, each culture that you may experience. Any misunderstanding or complicated situation may cause an unsecured situation. This article will help you to know more about woman security while travelling. Check out these travel tips for solo women.
You will experience unwanted attention and even if this is not aggressive it can be exhausting if you are dealing with it day in and day out. In super conservative, often Muslim countries, where local women are often resigned to the home you will stick out in the crowd.
Pros of travelling as single women:
Women are more likely to form friendships quickly with other women than lone guys, so if you are open you will make some life-long new friends.
You will have the freedom to do whatever you please and will not be compromising your travel desires for a companion.
The confidence you gain from getting out there by yourself will have you skipping along the street in the knowledge that you can handle whatever life throws at you.
If you do meet a special someone you will be free to fall in love without the often complex issues around leaving a travelling companion on their own because you want to spend another night staring at the stars with your new crush.
Cons of travelling as single women:
Sadly you are more of a target for hassle and unwanted advances.
In some male dominated cultures, where male female friendship is rare, you will miss out on the open friendship offered to male travellers.
You will have to think about how you dress and act in order to not attract attention.
Eating alone can look like an open invitation to arrogant male locals who can’t understand why you are on your own …on such a beautiful night ..blah blah..
Tips for solo women:
Do as the local women do
.If they don’t make eye contact with men and they cover up then do the same. This does not mean you have to go out and purchase a head to toe Burkha to walk the streets of Egypt, but it does mean get some nice long pants and long sleeved loose top rather than jean shorts and a tube top. The more stubborn amongst us might make it a point of ‘why should I change?!’ the point is its less hassle for you.
Take your female intuition with you
You face unwanted male attention in Australia and you know when it is time to walk away, look them in the eye and say ‘leave me alone’, and when you need to ask for help or scream for help. This applies in any other country. You don’t need to be more polite because you are in their country and you don’t need to be less firm because you don’t know the language. A firm ‘NO’ or waving your finger in someone’s face will be recognised globally as ‘leave me alone!’
Avoid any threatening situations before they happen
Cross the street or walk into a shop if you are faced with a leering group of men or boys. Sit near women and children on public transport. Be aware of what is going on around you, and do not accept a drink from someone you do not trust. (Drink spiking is a problem world over). Read your guide book and know which areas are a no go. Do not walk alone at night, have enough money for a taxi.
Deal with advances clearly and firmly
Ignore stares or whistles and walk away. Say a firm ‘no’ to any advances and move away, preferably towards other women and children. If necessary publicly shame someone who is bothering you or inappropriately touching you by being loud shouting leave me alone! Another option is to move into a shop or hotel and ask for help.
Good phrases to learn
If you learn any local language before you travel alone, wherever you are heading these work a treat:
I am waiting for my boyfriend / husband (if pestered in restaurant or street)
Leave me alone (if followed or pestered on public transport)
That is disgusting (if inappropriately touched in the street or on the bus)
Please can you help me, this man is hassling me and I don’t know what to do.(if you head for cover in a shop or hotel)
Solo women in South and Central America
One word, ‘Machismo’, which means for your purposes you are in a man’s world. In most countries in this region you will enjoy whistles and sexist statements. As ‘Gringa’ (White women) you will be thought of as easy and worth having a go at. Ignore them or respond with an assertive ‘go away, rather than ‘Fuck you…’ as this could draw things out and get an aggressive response. Dress conservatively, think light and flowing instead of tight and short. Invent a Novio (boyfriend) or wear a cheap ring on your wedding finger. Like many places in the world rape and sexual assault is a problem, take the usual precautions by avoiding dark lonely places, long empty beaches, dark alleys and if you need to report a crime approach your embassy as well as the police who are not known for their efficiency in such cases.
Solo women in Europe
In modern and cosmopolitan cities in Europe you will face similar threats as in Australia, and this is not just from local men. Europe bustles with tourists most of the year and the party circuit is jammed with men (and women) looking to drink, get laid and have fun. It can be easy to feel like you have known someone a lifetime because you are both Aussie in a foreign land and have just finished your third tequila, but apply the same rules you would at home. If you have known someone 30 minutes and you decide to head home with them without informing anyone where you are, ask yourself would I do this at home?
In rural Spain and southern Italy you will face a conservative culture where men are widely under the impression that your sole reason for putting on shorts that morning was to gain flattery and appreciation in the form or cat calls and whistles everywhere you go. If this will drive you nuts, swap the shorts for a long skirt. Faking marriage works a treat in these regions where it remains the highly esteemed institution it is no longer elsewhere.
In Eastern Europe it is not usual to be approached by men on the street, but these advances are in most cases easy to turn down politely and move on. Whereas many women in Eastern Europe love to get doled up and party all night in stilettos and lots of lip stick, you will find yourself alone in this desire in the Muslim countries such as Albania. A solo women is a novelty and even more so when out about in cafes or at night, so if you don’t want the extra attention then do avoid these areas or go with a group.
Solo women in Asia
South East Asia like Vietnam or Laos is largely safe for female travellers. As long as you apply the same caution you would anywhere. In Muslim countries such as Indonesia (Aside from Bali) and Malaysia you will face conservative values and will attract sexist or anti western comments if you do not attempt to adhere to local cultural norms. This can be done easily, just wear longer pants and long sleeves and wrap a small scarf around your hair. This will mark you as off limits and that you require the same respect as local women going about their day.
Solo Women in India
Some kind of sexual harassment is fairly common place in India. India is still very conservative and skimpy clothing and public displays of affection draw the wrong kind of attention. The problems tend to be focused on Northern India and other very touristy towns.
Tips for solo women in India:
Think ahead and organise a taxi form the airport (pay more) if you are arriving at night.
Always refuse to ride alone in a taxi with more than one man.
Take taxi registration number and drivers name and give it to airport police as a clear sign you are not to be messed with.
Dress modest. Goa and Mumbai will be more liberal, but elsewhere go flowing not fitted
Dark glasses can avoid you worrying about meeting the eyes of onlooking men
If getting a massage or yoga instruction ask around about a place before you sign up for an hour alone with a man, a women or someone who appears to be a woman.
Going to the movies alone can send out the wrong signals
Lock hostel or hotel doors as staff may wander in without warning.
Pay a little more on overnight transport if alone. Some trains have female only carriages.
Solo women in Africa
Africa is a huge and varied continent and the challenges which face travellers, whoever they are, are also very varied. As a lone lady, or even a couple of women together, you will face the most constant barrage of male attention in Northern Africa, but the whole continent is conservative and you may be viewed with interest, confusion and even mistrust in most countries because you are a woman out travelling the world when you really should be at home with some kiddies. You will have to prepare yourself for being a novelty, not only as an independent women out and about, but also as one of few tourists in some locations.
You will meet many more men than women simply because they are more likely to be out of the home, and so meeting local women can be a challenge as they are not afforded the same freedom. If you want to break up all the testosterone you can usually make contact with local women at a school or community services centre. Lack of education can make language barriers widespread, but bring along photos from home as a point interest.
Unfortunately sexual harassment is expected at some point, but this can be ignored and avoided and rarely leads to sexual assault. As in all conservative cultures do as the local women do and cover up and be assertive and not aggressive when rebuking persistent male attention. It can be confusing when you are visiting a tribe where the traditional dress makes you blush, often with exposed breasts and a lot of skin on show, in these cases don’t do as the locals do. Remember that you are not a local and that you will still attract a lot of attention to yourself if you are kitted out in your skimpy tribal style outfit.
In general be sensible and be informed. In countries like South Africa it is no secret that muggings and rape are a common occurrence, so always ask staff at your accommodation where you should not go. Normally asking a local woman about dangerous places is a good idea. It is also worth coughing up for a middle range bed as the cheapest place in town may double as book by the hour seedy joint frequented by prostitutes.
Some useful Links
You are never actually solo – because there are so many other solo woman out there doing the same thing.
It can be really reassuring to read that others have the same fears as you and overcome them: Check out these sites for inspiring female travellers, and comprehensive tips on staying safe and making the most of your travel:
Journey Woman (http://www.journeywoman.com/SoloTravel/loneliness_road.html)
Women travel tips (http://www.womentraveltips.com)
Women on the road (http://www.women-on-the-road.com/avoid-crime-abroad.html)
The Aussie government also has a woman’s travellers brochure with practical and safety tips