Recently the remains believed to be Stephanie Foray, a French woman traveller, aged 30, were found in a cave in Tioman Island. Nobody could have guessed after a stint of adventures in India and Sri Lanka, Malaysia would be her last worldly stop. She had died in the hand of irresponsible people; hands and legs tied with a rubber hose and haversack aside. Buried in a cave by the murderous duo, it was hoped that the remains would be long gone, without proper discovery, to the centre of the earth. What else could be the worst nightmare for solo female traveller?
I travel solo at the umpteenth times. I never dismiss the chance of being/getting killed in a strange land. To be honest, my self-protection is always guarded at the maximum level when I am travelling alone. You fall into one trap; it might be difficult for you to find the way home. One mistake will make you look loose and be easily preyed on. Human’s being human, in the context of, to err is human, there are numerous ways how to enhance the protection and reduce the danger.
1. Dress appropriately
Not a new subject to discuss. How a person don his/her dress has always been the factoring element to the propensity of crimes. Practical usage of common sense suffices to decide what is appropriate given the circumstances. It will not be right to wear a hot pants and above naval top in a native village. Cleavage showing is a big NO. One must observe the culture and respect it like the locals do. For examples, in India, as a foreign looking person, you will be a subject of stares, thousands of stares. Stares are harmful but if you clothe yourself with minimal dress, they see it as an invitation to harass, mind my language.
2. Make friends with another travellers
More often than not, there is always another traveller heading the same way like you. Break the ice and make friends. The travellers I have met speak the same language that is travel. Just imagine the stories two travellers would share! Make a move and start the talking. By doing this, you will get noticed. In case, you are missing, someone somewhere will come forward to report where you have been last seen. Another solo traveller will always find security in company, trust me.
3. Wear a ring on your finger
In the words of Beyonce, “you should have put a ring on it”.
It does not mean you need to wear it at all time. When you get all flirtatious, you can take it off. Most people in South East Asia love the “love relationship questions”. When I was in Bali, I was bombarded with, “Are you married?”, “Why are you not married? You are pretty. Why?”, “Do you have a boyfriend?”It is like my whole love business is their main business to begin with.
If you are a one-night stander, you may wish to skip this.
I often create my own imaginary boyfriend or fiancée to create the wall of security with strangers especially interested men. In fact, they did ask for a picture! Bring a picture of your male friend, to be safe. At least the ring will keep the interested men away!
4. Good travel insurance
A must have! We never know what will happen to us.
5. Update your loved ones on your whereabouts
Email, phone calls and smses are common communication. If you are travelling for a long period, make it a habitual act to call/send email home at specific day of the week. If you do not send the email on the very day, it will alert your family that something might have happened to you. Inform your family if the places you are travelling at are isolated and internet network is restricted.
Plenty researches need to be done. From culture to crime rates to safe accommodation.
7. Use your natural instinct
Use your extrasensory perception. If you feel something is not right but cannot explain it, follow your natural instinct. This is the most useful tool when your physical senses cannot detect anything amiss.
8. Avoid prone-to-danger places
If you are alone, by all means, leave the pubs and clubs. If you have company with whom you trust your life with, enjoy and have the fun of your life. Never be in the dark place alone. Never walk by the beach at night alone. Your accommodation must be secured too! Make sure it has locks and seals. I usually do not book my accommodation in advance because I need to do some walk-in inspection for certain things.
9. Do not flash your valuables
Do not be too flashy. Hide your valuables in secured places. Bring extra padlocks, it will be useful in times of needs. I bring at least 5 padlocks in different sizes whenever I travel.
10. Bring a whistle
Be a whistle blower. I carry a carabineer and hook a small whistle with it.
Employ the above tips and stay safe you solo woman traveller. Drop me a comment if you have anything else to add.