You do hear horror stories about what can happen to single female travellers. But if you can follow a few simple rules when travelling alone, you will make yourself less vulnerable to attack – whether it’s of a personal nature or regarding theft of your belongings.
Image (c) hannah.rosen
Some people let the rules they follow in their own city go by the by when on holiday –it’s as if they throw caution to the wind because they’re on vacation. Stick to the same safety rules you’d follow at home, and bear in mind the following tips when travelling alone in other countries and cities.
Personal safety is a priority for solo travellers and getting in a taxi in a foreign city has always had an element of risk attached to it. An innovative new app in Malaysia has been developed for travelling safely in Kuala Lumpur. If you’re thinking of travelling to this part of the world, have a read of this article on the Freedom Asia website for more information on how the app can help you: http://news.freedomasia.co.uk/new-app-harnesses-safer-taxi-travel-in-kuala-lumpur/. The MyTeksi app provides passengers with vital info on the taxi that they are going to travel in, including the vehicle registration number, driver’s name, photo and mobile contact number. There’s also the facility on the app to ‘Share My Ride’, so that passengers can share the travelling route in real time with a relative or friend. For anyone who is nervous about getting into a taxi, the MyTeksi app adds a layer of reassurance and it’s also useful for getting around a large city like Kuala Lumpur – which spans around 94 sq km.
In other cities where a similar app is not available, the best advice is to book taxis through a licensed taxi firm and never to hail a cab on the street if you are travelling alone. As well as being aware of which areas of town you are passing through, you should avoid travelling on foot through areas that don’t have many people around after dark. If you have to, then walk with someone you know and carry a small and solid flashlight in your hand. You can find further tips and advice on travelling in Asia on the Freedom Asia news section here: http://news.freedomasia.co.uk/.
Protect your belongings
Women are more likely to be mugged than men – as thieves perceive them as an easier target. It’s an obvious piece of advice but try to stay in the safer areas in a city. When in a crowded place, be especially vigilant about your belongings. Anywhere with dense crowds where you can be jostled around, you may be victim to a pickpocket.
Stash your cash
It’s a good idea to split up your cash and store it in different places. Most travellers use money belts, but this isn’t always reliable as thieves know to look for a money belt too. If you are going to be mugged, your underwear is a pretty safe hiding place. Sew a pocket into your bra and keep an emergency supply of cash there. You might want to put a bit of cash in the bottom of your shoe too.
Follow the local dress code
Respect local cultures and dress as local women will do. For western tourists, this usually means applying a degree of modesty, covering their arms and legs and in some cultures wearing a headscarf. It also helps to blend in – if you make yourself stand out from the crowd as a tourist, it’s more likely that you might be seen as a potential target for a thief.
When travelling, don’t advertise that you have might be worth mugging. Don’t wear ostentatious jewellery that asks to be taken from you. Not only might it encourage someone to target you, but it could also cause you injury if a necklace or bracelet is yanked off you by a thief.
Be prepared to let go of your bag
If ever you do get mugged, the recommended course of action is to let the thief take your bag and then shout for help as loud as you can. Cause as much attention as you can for your own protection.
As long as you use your head, there’s no reason to be nervous about travelling alone. It’s just advisable to use at least the same caution you would in your own city.