Monday, January 19, 2009


"If you still find yourself attracting sleazy men remember that advances can be thwarted by silence, no eye contact and quickly moving away from the source."

But should you see the potential harm that could befall you should you venture off on your own, I have conferred with my fellow female travellers and have here a guide to surviving the road alone.

Travelling Smart, Avoiding Danger and Dealing with Men

Now before you start worrying about what shoes to pack or whether or not you can live without your hair dryer (you can and you will), the main things that you’re going to need for the journey ahead are: a sense of adventure, some common sense and the ability to trust your instincts. When travelling you’ll be flung so far outside your comfort zone, a different country makes for a different culture and all that. You need to be able to just roll with it. You’ll need to be aware that as a woman travelling alone you could be a potential target, but don’t become paranoid about it. Just be aware. Don’t visit unfamiliar or empty neighbourhoods after dark; don’t carry a purse – use a daypack or a money belt instead; if you’re feeling threatened, scared, unsure, lost, etc ASK FOR HELP! I have never asked for assistance and been turned away.

Also before you leave, learn a little something about the culture you’re going to visit. Take the time to learn their customs and what would be considered obscene or suggestive to other people. Also learn the basics of a familiar language. Hello, goodbye, yes, no, please, thank you. You’ll be amazed at how far this gesture can take you. For the most part, as a solo traveller you’re going to want to dress and behave modestly, this is the best way to avoid unwanted attention. In Muslim countries it’s indecent to bare your knees or shoulders; in the Mediterranean looking a man in the eye and smiling is an invitation to have sex. If you still find yourself attracting sleazy men remember that advances can be thwarted by silence, no eye contact and quickly moving away from the source. If this doesn’t work, flip the coin and start screaming. There is power in a vocal assault, most predators don’t want attention drawn on them and the locals may not know what you’re saying but they’ll get the message and someone will help you. Another option is to pop into a shop or restaurant, explain your situation and ask them to call you a taxi to bring you home or, if need be, the police.

Don’t leave yourself open to harassment and hope that things blow over or Mr. Obnoxious just goes away. Use your head and take actions to protect yourself.

But please, don’t get the wrong message – You need to talk to strangers, to put yourself out there, try new things. You’ll miss out on so much if you cut yourself off from locals and other travellers. Also when you’re travelling in Continental Europe it is much more common for the men to speak English than women, so don’t be scared to talk to a man, just be smart about the who, where and when of it all.

Travelling Alone without getting Lonely, Meeting People as You go

Meeting people is one of the easiest things about travelling. Everything you do opens up an opportunity to meet someone new. If it’s other travellers you share the same sense of adventure and you’re both on the hunt for a new friend. Locals are able to share something more of the culture you’re exploring, while asking about your home as well. This gives you a chance to boast about the marvels of home. (The longer you travel the more you come to appreciate the everyday things you took for granted at home.) First off, book yourself into a hostel or B&B. This depends on your age and income really. Hostels really are for the young or young at heart. But the shared dorm rooms, kitchens, washrooms, reading rooms, chill out areas, etc are just crawling with new friends you haven’t met yet. There are often all female dorms available, if that’s something you feel you need, just ask. The B&B’s are a nice mix, you meet other travellers but you also get to meet the locals who run the B&B and hear their insights on their country, customs and culture. Be sure to pick a B&B that isn’t so busy the hosts won’t have time for a chat.

"If the time difference is a problem, then find a busy, well-lit internet café to catch up on your e-mails"

When you get to a new city take a walking tour. This helps you to familiarize yourself with different neighbourhoods and an initial glimpse at some of the sights you’ll want to explore further. This is also an excellent way to find out which neighbourhoods your better off avoiding and you get to meet other travellers new to the city. You can meet a friend to share dinner with or a little exploring later in the day.

Night times can often be the loneliest hours for a solo-female traveller as you’re often advised to stay in. There are many cures to this. This is a perfect time to make calls home, catch up with friends and family. Hearing a familiar voice is always an instant cure to loneliness, as is knowing someone is missing you. But if the time difference is a problem, then find a busy, well-lit internet café to catch up on your e-mails. Best part is that you get to send home tales of adventure and when you next check your inbox you’ve got friendly replies. You could also catch a late dinner; just try to find a place that is nearby where you’re staying. You don’t want to have far to go if you’re feeling uneasy about your surroundings. If you chose to dine out take a book or a journal with you for company. Another great idea is to book a room with a balcony over looking the main drag in town. Perfect for people watching. Most hostels and B&B’s will have places to relax with TV’s and movies as well. A quiet night will allow you to get up early the next day so you can cram in as much sight-seeing as you can handle.

The best way to meet people is to take every advantage you can to talk with people. Sure you’ll get snubbed by some, but that’s okay, you don’t want them for friends anyway. But the vast majority of people are always willing to partake in some interesting chit-chat.

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