Women travelling alone is still quite a rarity among the general population. We are people ahead of the bell curve, the early adopters. So as with early adopters in anything, there is the element of higher risk. The world may not quite be ready for the woman travelling alone, but we are not going to let that stop us, are we?
I could give you a bullet-point wise list of things you could do to keep yourself safe on your solo travels (I will do that, later on) but like everything else safety begins with the mind. We, as women need to start believing that we are capable of safeguarding ourselves and keeping ourselves out of potentially dangerous situations and we should be able to trust our intuition and gut. Believe me, your attitude/beliefs counts more than any self-defense technique!
Your instinct is your most valuable travel asset.
As in everything else, the more practice and exposure you get, the better you would be. As Indian women, we are not short of situations where we have to constantly be on our guard. Be it in the local metro train, ‘the over-stepping’ neighbor, ‘the more than friendly’ colleague or the long journey back home in a cab. We absolutely have more than enough material to get practicing. Practicing with the same material gets repetitive, though. Travelling to new places, meeting new people is fodder to hone your instinct to work even better. You will instantly become completely aware of your surroundings. From then on, you just need to trust your instinct to tell you what looks right and what doesn’t.
If you have got the previous point covered and are right now nodding your head saying– ‘I know what you are talking about, but I still need to know the practicalities of travelling alone!’ then the next section is for you. A list of precautionary measures you could take to cover your bases.
Learn the local language
It definitely helps to know the basic sentences – ‘When will the bus arrive?’, ‘How do I get to this hotel?’, ‘What is the price of the ticket?’, ‘Are you going to this place?’ in the local language whether in India or abroad. It shouldn’t take you too long to master it with google translate or a guide book.
This obviously depends on the situation. But, in places where you are feeling comfortable, a smile does help make friends and before you know it you have a travel buddy for the day– which consequently reduces your safety risks.
Self – defense
In most travel situations, you would rarely need to call upon your self-defense techniques. But it does help improve your confidence to a great extent, thereby avoiding most unsafe situations. The less confident you look, the more you attract trouble. So, you could consider investing time in a few self-defense sessions. You could also consider carrying a swiss knife or a pepper spray with you.
Have a clear plan for the day. Know where you are heading, how and when to head back, get the local map or a phone with a data connection. Keep someone informed of your plans for the day.
This is probably the most valuable thing you can carry with you when travelling alone. Always err on the side of modesty with respect to clothing, be aware of how other people conduct themselves and try to blend in and be inconspicuous, find a buddy if you have to go out alone at night. Don’t withdraw money from an ATM in lonely places or at night and avoid dark alleys.
Try to keep your valuables on you as much as possible while in transit. And when unnecessary, don’t even carry them with you.
Now that you are armed with all the practical information, just go out and have fun. However prepared you are the purpose will be defeated if you let your worries take over and stop having fun. So here’s to more adventures. Happy and safe travels!
This article is contributed by Bharathi Ragothaman. If you would like to join the tribe and share any travel related article, we would be happy to publish it here. Do write to firstname.lastname@example.org