Is Travel Safe for Women?
Is India Safe for Solo Travelers?
Is India Safe for Solo Women Travelers?
Is World safe enough to travel Alone, especially for a young woman?
Someone or the other version of these question on safe travel is the second most frequently asked question I face as and when I speak in public, or even in private. The first most frequently asked question is – How do you make money from Travel Blogging? Well Google it and you will find many answers to this question. On the travel safety, you will mostly find views that come from cultural conditioning.
Travel Safe Talk for Solo Women Travelers
Sharing my talk at the National Summit for Women 2018, Hyderabad on Travel Safety for Solo Women Travelers.
I always say the world is as safe or unsafe as your hometown. Most crimes against women happen in their own surroundings than among the strangers. In fact, if you go strictly by data, you may be safer among strangers who have no motivation to harm you under normal circumstances. In conditions like riots or extremists activities, no rules apply.
Having said that, being cautious and alert always helps. Here are some of my practical tips to stay safe while traveling.
01 Merge with your surroundings
Wherever you travel, remember the more you stand out, the more vulnerable you are to any threat. The more you merge with the destination and its people, the easy it is to connect with the locals and be like one of them. The more you stand out as different, the more you are visible to fringe elements. And the more you are visible as an outsider, the more you are prone to be harmed.
The question is how to merge with your surroundings? First of all, merge visually, as this is how you first either connect or stand out. Dress like locals as much as you can. If in extreme places it is difficult to dress like them, try to wear universally acceptable attire. When in doubt wear something that covers you well. Wearing local cloths also tells the locals that you are making an attempt to be one of them, even if it only for the duration of travel.
The second tip to merge in is – Learn a few words of the local language. In my experience, speaking a few words of local language gives locals a lot of confidence in you, even if they laugh at your funny accent or mispronunciations. Again, it tells them you are trying to learn their culture.
02 Respect is your biggest weapon
Respect works like a charm. The more respect you give, the more you get back and the safer you are. A lot of times urban travelers in rural settings and travelers from developed countries in other countries come with an attitude that can be disrespectful. Even if you are polite in your words, your body language sometimes does not convey respect, and that is where you create a potential window of vulnerability for yourself.
In my personal experience, giving respect has literally meant that I am blocking any bad energy that the other person might have for me.
There have been many times when my drivers have become best tour guides but they chose to be one when they felt being respected for their knowledge of the destination.
03 Follow you Gut or Intuition
More often than not, your gut feeling can give you an advanced signal of potential danger. Do not fight it, even if it means missing out some experience that you really want to have. I remember, in Kurukshetra, I really wanted to see the Light & Sound Show at Jyotisar. However, when I and friend reached there, both of us felt we should get out of that place. There were no people around and the air sounded scary. We were disappointed, but we decided to head back to the hotel and stay indoors for the evening.
If you sense a tense situation either in your surroundings or while dealing with some people, just get out of there, make yourself safe. Any other action that you need to take can be taken from the safety of your home or hotel.
04 Plan your evenings well
I am in general a morning person. I like to get up and see the city waking up. And by end of the day, I am too tired to step out. For my own travels, especially solo travels, I also feel the Tamasic or the negative energies are at the peak after dark. I am usually inside my hotel after dark, unless I am well escorted by a trusted person or group.
Not saying, you must stay indoors when you travel, but plan them well and stay safe
Drink what you can Handle
This is a no-brainer for me as I do not drink. I am also aware that I have no right to preach about it.
However, I see many young girls getting inspired by the solo women travelers and their night long drinking sojourns as ‘The travel moments’.
This is pure fiction. Practically, these women are not traveling alone and they are smart enough to not drink irresponsibly. Be aware of it, that travel writers could well be serving you fiction as non-fiction. Being aware of the fact that what you read can be a figment of imagination to boost their brand of travel will help you make wise decisions.
05 Choose your Stay Wisely
On my solo trips, I make sure that I stay in the central location, close to public transportation and other facilities. These places tend to be crowded and used to travelers and tourists. Not to forget they have most things that travelers need. Yes, this is not a perfect solution if you want to have a relaxed holiday. But it helps save time, money and anxiety.
If I must stay in an obscure location for holiday, I choose to stay in higher end places where relative security is an inbuilt feature of a price tag.
In an ideal world, all of us would be free to do anything anytime. The choice is between waiting for the world to become ideal or adjusting yourself to the world in a way that you can stay safe and still travel. I choose to do the latter.