Please stop telling girls how to stay safe on the road. Please stop singling out females as a ‘higher safety risk’ when travelling than males. Have you ever read an article that outlines the ‘Top tips for solo male travellers’? No. We don’t worry about the boys, the big strong men can take care of themselves, but our girls need to worry, they need to be fearful and careful, they are much more at risk than guys, or so it would seem from the barrage of media dedicated to this topic.
I took a look through a few articles offering tips directed specifically at females planning to hit the road alone and summarised some of the common suggestions here (thanks to the authors!):
- Keep valuables and important documents stored discreetly, e.g. in an inside pocket or money belt.
- Don’t worry about loneliness – connect with people at hostels, restaurants etc. Perhaps having a deck or cards can help you to meet people if you are shy.
- You will surprise yourself with your resilience when you need to.
- Keep copies of important documents somewhere safe and separate from the originals
- Make sure you can carry your own luggage, particularly on public transport.
- Check out apps that provide offline maps particularly for rail and transport systems
- Pack plenty of tampons and stock up where you can – they are not so easy to find everywhere!
- Avoid arriving in a new place late at night
- Have scheduled check-ins with someone at home so they know you are safe
- Avoid advertising that you are alone as this may make you more vulnerable.
- Try to blend into your surroundings, don’t dress to stand out
- Have an emergency fund in case you need to get out of a difficult situation
- Trust your intuition, you can always say no
From that list I see only one point that applies only to girls, unless there are any males with a need for tampons. So let’s stop writing about how girls can stay safe and start writing about how everyone can travel safer and more securely.
Many Thanks to the authors of the articles from which I pulled the tips (they are great tips; they just apply to everyone!):
Kiersten Rich’s 6 Fears you Face as a solo female traveller
Jillian Finley’s 9 Things you need to know before travelling alone as a female
Bemused Backpacker’s Solo Female Backpacker Safety Tips