GFGL TRAVEL BLOG: 5 Solo Travel Tips

By Courtney Fisher

Years ago, before there was a rush of violence and known drug wars in Mexico, I traveled there alone on spring break during my sophomore year of college.  I didn’t hit the normal tourist spots such as Cancun or Rocky Point, I yearned to see the countryside, to see the local culture and taste the rich history of the people. I neatly stuffed my small backpack and boarded a flight from Phoenix to Mexico City. I took trains, public buses, hiked from one small city to the next, Pachuca, Cuernavaca, Puebla, and Acapulco.

I had an idea of how dangerous it could be. I was well equipped and smart about how I traveled and who I traveled with, but looking back I was ill prepared, with over-romanticized ideas of exploration and adventure. Thankfully mine is not a story of tragedy, there are no plot twists, or cliff hangers, my vacation went according to plan, with exceptionally short lines at security check points, no flight delays, no close-calls in terms of my safety or loss of personal belongings or dignity. Unfortunately for women traveling solo, the endings of our stories are not always so pleasant; the odds are always stacked against us.

Violence against women is an international issue that takes place every day; it can happen anywhere and to anyone. In her Forbes.com article published early last year, Elisa Doucette describes a situation that unfolded while she was traveling abroad, alone. Doucette was walking through the city at night when she heard footsteps following her, the pace quickening, she quickly turned her body and raised her fists in defense against a man following her on the street, she says; “You’ve got to be ready to do things like this when you are in situations where you are the only defense you’ve got.”

Sadly, in many cases, no matter how well prepared you are, danger can find you. The potential dangers of traveling alone are not just a women’s issue, they are a human issue. Men too need to protect themselves, perhaps not from strong sexual harassment or physical violence, but pickpockets and muggers can do more than their share of damage.

There are various methods of prevention and protection, small things you can do, even if you’re traveling on a budget. Here are five suggestions, so that when you are the only defense you’ve got, you’re safe.

1. Since pepper spray is not allowed through air travel, a safety whistle can be your next best weapon. It may not seem like much, but it’s a valuable asset in a variety of emergencies.

2. Even if you are staying in a nice neighborhood, or quality hotel, consider packing a rubber doorstop to be wedged from the inside of your room at night.

3. Watch how much you drink and how you dress. While this suggestion edges into controversial issues of personal freedom of expression and lifestyle, if you drink too much and don’t have control of yourself, someone else could take control for you.

4. Be aware of the political, religious, social goings-on of the country to which you are traveling. Research the specific customs before leaving, or evening planning for your destination. There are ample government resources available and dedicated to the safety of women traveling abroad; and guidebooks and tour guides often include helpful hints for female travelers.

5. Let people know where you will be. This doesn’t mean checking-in on social media or simply calling home to give updates at the end of the day, it means registering with your local embassy. Even if you are only staying for a few days, this can be very helpful in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.

No matter where your destination, the outcome of any journey should be a positive experience, and happy memories. No matter what you forget to pack in your carry-on, the most important thing you could forget to pack is your preparation for your own safety and well-being. Travel happy, but more importantly, travel safely!

Works Cited

http://www.forbes.com/sites/elisadoucette/2013/02/07/sarai-sierra-emphasizes-that-women-need-to-keep-traveling/

Photo Credit

http://www.reneenaturally.com/blog/how-get-over-jet-lag-naturally

Categories: GFGL Travel Blog, Home

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