If you have been following Trevellers for a while now, you’ll know that I travel quite a lot alone. If now, I do like to travel alone and do that a lot. As a 20-something non-ugly female, sometimes that can be quite frustrating. Here are some safety tips if you are travelling as a solo girl. It’s based on my experiences thus far, and some from my other solo girl friends.
Solo Girl Travel
As long as you are a girl, you more or less get attention. It can be non-intrusive like just staring and sometimes it can be intrusive like being touched. Depending on the cities and countries and how you look, it can attract more or less attention.
Related: Solo travel experience
- Dressing up in Manhattan or central London, that’s totally fine. No one cares and everyone minds their own business
- Wearing long yoga pants and plain t-shirt gets me stares and someone kinda followed me in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Just being me (generally more westernised) in cities like local areas of Vietnam gets unnecessary attention and weird experiences with Uber/Grab
- People taking pictures of me in places like Singapore, Greece, Spain, India, China
- Random profession of love on the streets in Turkey, Portugal, India
But hey, it’s just life. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine. It is just some extra rules to live by and be wary about. As long as I am not hurt and I feel safe, it’s fine. So here are some tips to be safe when travelling.
Tips & Tricks to be Safe
- Do not make eye contact with strangers, especially men. Make sure that whenever you’re walking down the street, you are either gazing higher than eye level or lower. Don’t smile at men. They will take this as an invitation. This is why I wear sunglasses all the time.
- Whenever they call you, shout at you, hiss at you or attempt to get your attention in any other way, pretend like you’re both blind and deaf. Don’t even look at where the noise comes from, don’t respond to the noise. Ignore. This is non-verbal communication which tells them to stop doing whatever they are doing – it is how you reject them. It usually works. Also, roll your eyes behind the sunglasses. Don’t give them the satisfaction that you are responding.
- Just cross the street when a guy or a group of guys is walking down the pavement on your side of the street. Physical distance usually helps. Same thing for back alleys or dark streets, just walk an extra block.
- Whenever you walk, do so with a straight back, head up high, and fast. Don’t walk slowly. Make sure you look like you have a destination to reach in minus ten minutes. Always look like you’re in a hurry. This is also good to avoid random people on the streets.
- Wear a ring that looked like a wedding ring. When someone’s bothering you, or your guts tell you the guy isn’t just being friendly, tell them your husband is at home and wave your ring in their face. They take marriage pretty seriously in Latin America, Africa, some parts of Asia.
- Make sure you know the words “Don’t touch me” or “Go away” in the local language and use them. Do not be afraid to physically push men away when they touch you. Do also not be afraid to make a lot of noise when they do so – catcalling may be socially accepted or even expected, but touching girls against their will is not.
- Make friends, especially male friends. This will allow you to go out without getting harassed, because it is assumed you are the girlfriend of one of them. 1 male friend is arguably better than 3 girl friends.
- Dress appropriately. I hate to say this, but dress according to the culture. Otherwise you can’t get mad when people stare at you if you stick out like a sore thumb. And if I dress whatever way I please, then I have to ignore the attention. Just extra rules to live by.
Of course, the safest place is very crowded and touristy places. The more touristic, the less catcalling. In more touristic places, they will be more used to (pretty) women travelling by themselves. In less touristic places, sometimes they assume that a woman travelling alone is a woman looking for sex.
Best Way to Stop Harassment
The best way to stop harassment is to be strong and assertive.
Don’t let them push you around and yell if you have too.
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.