Advice to women travelling alone.

Recently, I connected with Ellen vrana on Quora and discovered that she has some amazing solo traveling experience. She is a former management consultant, now writer. and publishes fiction and non-fiction weekly mostly about the human condition and the writing process. 

Talking about her experience in Solo traveling she says “I’ve budget-traveled alone throughout Europe, South America, Central America, Russia, Japan, wrote for a travel guide in Mexico, have done road trips through all 48 states plus 2,000+ solo hike of the Appalachian Trail.”  That’s like some dream for me, honestly. 

When I mentioned her about my blog and my initiative to inspire solo travelers and more over inspiring some female solo travelers, she really liked the idea and she very generously gave me permission to publish a tiny article from her experience.

You can read more about her and follow her blog here : http://therunciblegoose.com/

I’ve been accosted and threatened, but never hurt (except by goddam dogs). I’m careful. I’d recommend women to travel alone in any of the places I’ve been –  IF they are careful.

The most important thing is never forget you are a female. It is hard to get used to. I don’t walk around thinking “I’m a female!!” – ever. I just don’t. I’ve the luxury of growing up in a place where it didn’t matter.

When you travel alone, you have to think;

I’m a female. Other people might see me as vulnerable. It is not the culture, it is the individuals within that culture. There are things I can do to mitigate it, including;

  • Walk with purpose. Walk at a good pace, walk with a direction of where you are going. If you linger, do so near a wall, near other women or someone who looks older.
  • Don’t hitch-hike. Ever. Ride on public transportation if there are other women/children on it.
  • Don’t show all of your money in public.
  • Don’t stay in dodgy hostels. Many times, other travelers are the biggest threat and hostels are notorious for non-secure rooms.
  • If you need to ask directions, ask other women, people over 60, or merchants.
  • Don’t show cleavage or upper thighs. Just don’t, its disrespectful in many cultures and not appropriate.
  • Bring luggage that is easy to carry and move.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and in which you can move. I always wear sneakers when traveling, always.
  • Perfect and use the confident, polite, emphatic “No thank you.” Be rude if you have to, always walk away if uncomfortable.
  • Don’t get drunk around people you do not know.
  • Don’t tell anyone where you are staying or let someone walk you home unless you are 100% sure they are safe.
  • If you’re going out at night, tell your hotelier where you are going. They are usually very protective, I’ve found. Ask them to call taxis and get the card of the taxi to pick you up.
  • Always ALWAYS choose safety over saving money. It’s not even a question.

This all seems very prim and Victorian. To some, it might “ruin the experience.” No. Being groped, molested, accosted, or threatened ruins the experience.

There are malicious people everywhere and you are vulnerable because you are female and an outsider. These precautions help you get to a place where you can judge dangerous situations/people and then relax and enjoy those that are safe.

And don’t forget to ask someone to take a photo of you!

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

Some other tips that follow as well, this can instantly help you in the middle of some situations.

-If you stop walking, lean against a wall – don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk trying to take pictures of everything.
– Don’t wear t-shirts of the place you’re in when you’re there
– Pay attention to and even imitate the body language and gestures of locals
– Learn key phrases in the local language, and learn to roll your R’s (which helps in many local languages).
– Smile/eye contact with women around you
– If somewhere where no one speaks your language, look for a 20-year-old who is more likely to speak English, at least.

Hope you take that leap after reading this,

Love,

Ellen vrana

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