You won't be kidnapped or come home minus a kidney from your holiday in Asia, so put on your big girl pants, grab your bag and jump on a plane. Being a single female travelling in Asia will give you more incredible moments than frightening experiences. Travelling solo is one of the most liberating and self-empowering adventures that you can embark upon.
- If you are of the timid ilk, then fly solo but within an organised tour group, or pick out accommodation such as "glampacking" hostels, small bed and breakfasts or boutique hotels where you can easily meet other people to go on adventures with.
- Make sure you are healthy before you fly off, and check with your local doctor as to what vaccinations you may need. Create your own small medical war chest and definitely include anti-diarrhea tablets and plenty of tampons, as there are a lot of towns where female sanitary items come in the shape of huge cotton surfboards, if at all. Do-it-yourself wax strips are better for your bikini line or legs than running the risk of being subjected to second, third or fourth-hand pube infested molten wax. And, always carry some body wipes of some description, as most Asian toilets do not bother with the Western must-have of toilet paper.
- Do a bit of research before you head off to Asia in relation to where you want to go and where to stay. Check online reviews and prices. Familiarize yourself with the local public transport system and download any apps that will help you navigate your way around.
- Learn a few phrases in the local lingo, such as thank you and hello, or download a translation app as you may need to ask, "Where's the bathroom?" If you are linguistically challenged, practice your hand language or your pantomime skills.
- Give yourself a bootcamp routine of squatting prior to walking out of your own home so that the sight of an ablutionary hole in the ground will not make you weak at the knees. Practice your "rolling up" technique in case you have baggy long pants on that you really don't want trailing onto the suspiciously wet floor of the bucket-flushing toilet. It may even be necessary to practice your water bucket slushing skill.
- Be aware of religious and cultural differences, such as slipping your shoes off before entering a private home or a temple, wherever you are so that you do not offend the locals.
- You don't have to pack much, as clothes in Asia are dirt cheap and more appropriate for where you are, such as "fishermen's pants". Grab a sarong to use around your shoulders, as a scarf, as an impromptu beach towel or to create a carry bag out of. Dress like the local women do and you won't stick out as being a foreigner so much.
- Don't sunbake in the raw, wear revealing clothes or flash expensive jewellery.
- Remember that it's forbidden for monks to touch a woman, so this is when you must keep your hands to yourself.
- Bag/mobile phone/camera snatching gurus will be your biggest threat that can be outwitted. Opt for bags with straps that can't be slashed easily, never stand facing the road with your mobile in your hand in front you and keep your camera out of view until you need it. Motorbike bandits cheekily swoop and grab when you least expect them, so don't walk too closely to the road.
- Leave your self-preservation mode on at all times, especially at night. Don't go to unfamiliar destinations once the blood-red sun has set, leave your drink on the bar making it an easy target to be tampered with or carry valuables around with you.
- Do carry a photocopy of your passport at all times and lock your original passport in your accommodation's safe. Never hand over your passport to anyone but the person on the desk of your accommodation or when crossing a border at immigration. Always ensure that you get it straight back, as you will be going nowhere without it.
- At all times trust your gut instinct. If something, someone or a certain situation you find yourself in gives you pause for concern, get yourself back into your comfort zone quickly by moving away.
- Create a phantom male partner or even wear a pseudo wedding ring if you feel the need, and don't let on that you are traveling alone, as this can make you a target for unwanted male attention.
- Act confident and assertive, as it will make scammers have second thoughts if they feel that you will stand your ground.
- Get stuck into the local food, from Indonesian satays to Bangkok's pad Thai or Singapore chilli crab, Nepalese momos and Sri Lankan curries. Every Asian country has a unique dish and flavour that requires exploring, from curbside carts to bustling open-air markets. And be sure to master those infuriating chopstick manoeuvres to get the food actually in your mouth.
The main point to remember is that Asia is an amazing place waiting for you to gallivant around with an open mind, but at some point you may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time and your lifeline will be your travel insurance.
Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.