How To Ensure Your Safety As A Woman, While Travelling Alone
Imagine yourself enjoying a sunset, sitting alone on a rock covered with soft grass. How many times do you secretly wish you could travel alone and sip the beauty of nature with tranquillity, with no one around to distract you?
For an Indian woman, a holiday involves travelling in groups. Most of the time, that group is family. If a woman is lucky enough, she can be allowed to travel alone where alone defines a group of people, except parents or husband.
Women love the idea of travelling alone. Then, what holds us back? Safety issues or social rules?
The truth cannot be avoided. You need to care for your safety but that does not mean you cannot travel alone. Indian women do travel alone safely. Travelling by train or taking a flight may not be an issue. But what about spending night in hotels? Not everyone can buy the safety the five-star hotels claim to give. Does it mean that cheap hotels cannot provide you safety?
Avani Parekh, director of empathy at SHEROES says, “I let people know where I am. I use the deadbolt and the hinge lock on the door when I stay in hotels.”
About being safe on the road, she says, “I share my location and always text friends when I reach the destination or talk to friends on the phone while going.
"I walk to a well-lit area with people around and I keep the police line on the phone, just in case. I stand up straight and walk with a purpose.”
Mahima Sharma, a senior journalist who loves to travel alone, discovers new places and pens her adventures. She has been to many places including Rajasthan, Manali, Uttarakhand and recently, Ahmedabad.
“Allow no stranger in your room, including women. Keep your family or a close friend updated, even if you find nothing suspicious. Book a place through references. Check for see-through glasses, hidden video cameras etc, especially in the washroom. Hiring a cab in any city is like gambling these days, still hire the one that has GPS.
Inform at least two people in friends and family about the driver's details, cab number, your movement etc. And if locally you know a person, keep that one in the loop too. I generally make these alarm calls in front of the driver so that he doesn't assume that a solo traveller is an easy bait. Secondly, I keep a pepper spray as well as a Swiss knife handy for safety. And avoid travelling late evenings inside any city alone in a cab, unless a driver has been hired through a good reference check,” says Mahima.
“Men do get curious and weird to find a solo woman. I usually stay very alert when travelling alone, preferring not to be away from the masses. But if I have to, I keep a watch on people and sensing oddity, I take quick steps to merge back with the masses,” she adds.
Unfortunately, women need to worry about protecting themselves more than a man travelling alone needs to. Women have tons of questions on their mind regarding travelling alone. RJ Manali of Fever 104 FM Kolkata has been a lone traveller for years and tries to answer some of the questions.
How do you ensure safety in cabs at night in an unknown city or country?
While travelling, taking cabs is necessary at night, evening or at any time of the day. Because mishaps don't see time, I always click a picture of the driver, the car number plate and send it to my sister. But now since we book cabs through apps, we get the details anyway, so I just forward it to her.
Any more cab safety tips?
We tend to get involved in fights with the driver. I avoid that. I keep it till I reach the destination. Do not keep shut after you have reached the destination. Take it forward, even legally if needed, but not at all when you are trapped inside the car with the driver. And please try to stay awake while travelling in cabs. Keep alarms or ask friends to call you at regular intervals. And yes I try to avoid sharing cabs.
What is your most important travel companion?
A power bank and a charger. My phone is always switched on with a full charge. The network may be unreachable or out of coverage area but the phone should be ready for any emergency situation.
How do you select hotels for night stays?
I always go for the popular ones. I go through their websites thoroughly. I check into the ones with good reputation regarding safety. I experiment with food but never with hotels.
Website information may not always be true. How does one find out about that?
I always reach the hotel much before time and if I smell anything wrong, I immediately cancel the hotel and book a new one. The reason why I never arrive at the hotels at night is that you will have to settle down there even if you feel unsafe and wait till next morning. There will be no other option left for you at that moment.
Do you think it is safe to get acquainted with the people living next to your room?
I believe it is a good idea. I make friends with the guests living next to my room and take their numbers too.
What precautions do you take to keep yourself safe in your room?
I first check the locks and intercom. It’s very important that the hotel room telephone line is working. I dial and confirm the important numbers to check their urgency to attend to customers. No matter how forgetful I am, I will never forget where I have kept the keys.
I don't prefer utilizing the cupboards and other shelves. My clothes, shampoo, cosmetics remain in the luggage bag. I don't like decorating the hotel room with these because it may so happen that I have to rush out of the hotel room in 5 minutes. So I won't take time to pack the things, neither will I have to leave them behind.
Do you think women tend to keep their location a secret, except for parents or husband?
I think there should not be any hush affair about that. No credit in keeping secret. I inform my friends, share exact location and even video call to show them the places I live at while travelling.
Do you go shopping while travelling alone?
Trust me, when you are shopping extravagantly outside your city, there are people who have an eye on you because they do have an eye on tourists. Don't come across as a rich person carrying loads of money. My suggestion would be buying everything from one shop or mall.
Suppose you are wandering alone in a less crowded place and suddenly some men approach you intentionally. What will you do? Has this ever happened to you?
Even after being so cautious and alert, situations did arise in my life as well. And trust me, at that time, the courage, the fightback spirit, the ‘I dare to face this’ attitude will - at least for 30 percent - make the opponents think.
I have been travelling and working from a very early age. I did face men approaching me intentionally. If I am away from a crowd, I usually walk and get myself involved in the crowd nearby or around an open shop. I don't wait till they approach fully. Also, I avoid sitting all alone or far away from the crowd. I always ask the locals about any gang I find shady and inform the police if the need be, but getting out of the situation is what I do in the beginning.
I don't ever get drunk or slashed because then I will have to depend on someone. Think, be alert, connected, self-sufficient and very well informed while travelling alone.
Is travelling alone worth the risk?
Every person should travel alone to discover his or her connection to this world. A new place, different food, new language and the sound of music of that place clean the mind and make space for freshness. There should not be a reason as to why you are travelling alone.
Sometimes girls want to teach their boyfriend or husband a lesson because they may be too busy with work nowadays. That's absolutely not how it should be. Travel alone for your own self, to have fun.
While doing so, you just need to be your own parent. Create memories to cherish throughout your life. We women are much more stronger than we think we are. Pack your bags. Armed with self-confidence, go out to experience the world. Travel alone like a queen.
What are your thoughts on this article? If you have more tips to share about solo travelling, let us know in the comments below. Join our Travel community and share your experiences with us.
S*****Thanks Ansari and Rashmi. 😊😊 Ansari I will try to find it out 👍
S*****Am scared to travel alone even locally so this did instill a bit of confidence in me .It's never late to start anything.Another thanks Shiny, for inspiring me to start a blog.Sent the link to Aspiring Writers and English Winglish a few days ago.Please offer your comments.
R*****Wow! That's quite helpful for lone travellers.