Travelling alone or even with a friend or partner can be daunting for women – especially if they are visiting a place that is completely different to home. With recent reports showing that 71% of women in the U.K have experienced sexual harassment in public places (report by the APPG for UN Women) it’s important to consider how you will feel safe when travelling. Here are a few things I consider every time I travel.
Before you travel do your research and investigate whether there are any particular concerns you need to be aware of. Are you visiting a place where you will have to dress in a certain way? Do you know how you’ll get from the airport to your hotel? Is crime rife in the area you are visiting? If you are prepared, your trip is likely to go more smoothly without any unwelcomed incidents.
Keep your valuables with you at all times
Never leave valuable items in a checked-in bag or with another person. Keep your most valuable items such as your bank card, passport, phone and camera on your person at all times when you are travelling. Obviously it would be an inconvenience to lose an expensive items such as a camera or jewellery, but remember that the most important items are those that you need to travel smoothly – your bank card, passport and phone.
Don’t get drunk with strangers
If you’re travelling solo it can be fun to go for drinks or meals with people you meet along the way, but remember that you have just met these strangers. By all means have a couple of drinks and enjoy yourself, but don’t let your guard down. Don’t get drunk or take drugs, and always let someone at home that you trust (or a member of staff at your hotel) know where you going and when you will be back.
Fit in with the locals
Dress and act as the locals do, and don’t let yourself stand out as an obvious tourist. Wear similar clothes to the local people (covering up in countries where it is the norm and wearing outfits that fit in rather than stand out) and don’t walk around with your head stuck in a large map. You don’t want to mark yourself as a target for pickpockets or anyone nefarious.
Always let people know your plans
You don’t have to stick to a rigid schedule when you are travelling, but do let people back home know where you are – especially if you change your plans. Regularly check in and let friends and family know when they’ll next hear from you, so they can raise the alarm if anything bad happens.
Don’t walk alone at night
Even if you’re staying in a place where you feel safe, don’t wander around on your own at night. Take public transport or reputable taxis, or walk with someone else. If you do find yourself somewhere where you will have to walk around on your own in the dark, carry a torch and panic alarm, and stick to brightly lit streets with other people around.
Know the local emergency numbers
Always know what your plan would be in any kind of emergency and commit to learning the local emergency phone numbers off by heart. If anything bad happens, you need to be able to react fast and remove yourself from troublesome situations as quickly as possible.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.