Travelling the world alone as a woman, I often hear how much in danger I am. Am I not afraid? Of pervs, of thieves, of catcallers, of murderers... in short of my general safety? To be honest, I am not more afraid than I am at home. Sure, some countries are safer than others but what matters most is common sense, vigilance and knowing these safety hacks to not be seen as an easy victim to begin with.
Always let your family and friends know about your travel plans. You can even share your travel documents and itinerary with them online through a shared cloud folder.
Ask the tourist information or at your reception which areas are safe to walk in and when. Sometimes certain side streets are known to be dangerous but if you’re new in town, how would you know?
Always fully charge your phone and save offline maps and screenshots of your routes on it in case you cannot find access to wifi.
Split your money and credit cards and keep them separately.
The most important things should be on your person in hidden pouches, for instance.
If you can, don’t walk around alone at night and avoid empty and/or unlit streets. Try and stick to streets with CCTV recording and lots of people.
Avoid dressing too flashy or provocatively. Check with local customs and dress codes. It’s better to dress like a local – especially if you walk away from touristy areas.
Wear comfortable shoes that allow running if need be. High heels make you look sexy but also seem an easy target.
Don’t flash your valuables. Instead, hide expensive items in an unimpressive, crumbled grocery bag rather than in a (fake) designer purse when you are out.
Don’t reveal personal information, where you are staying, that you are alone, etc.
Even when talking with friends in public be aware that you might be overheard when you spill such information. Keep it simple.
Wear a fake wedding ring and keep a photo of your fake husband in your wallet to be able to ward off people who come on too strong or disrespect single women who are travelling alone.
Carry a personal Screaming Device or a Storm Whistle with you and have it in easy reach. Pepper spray is banned in many countries, though.
Always be aware of a safe place in your surroundings. If it’s not a police station, it could be an open supermarket or petrol station. Go where more people are.
Ignore unwelcome remarks and catcalls. Sadly enough, you might get in trouble if you start defending yourself.
Join tour groups or (free) walking tours.
Always meet strangers in public places and let someone you trust know when you do.
Arrange a fake call or install an app that does it for you in case you want to leave.
Be wary when strangers offer you free car rides, food or drinks. Never leave your drinks unattended and do not get drunk when alone.
Only use taxis that have a metre and registration label. Alternatively, have your hotel or restaurant call an official driving service.
Learn basic self defence techniques and don’t be afraid to use them.
In case you are threatened by a robber, hand over your wallet (it’s good to keep a fake one) – or throw it away from you and run away as fast as you can.
If you rented a car, always lock the doors when you are in so nobody can sneak in after you. Also, don’t get into your driver’s door if someone is waiting in the passenger seat in the car next to your driver’s seat.
Store safety and other contact numbers in your phone (put them on speed dial). Check for the local ‘Call to Safety’ number as well.
Never forget to trust your gut and listen to your instincts.