Safety as a Solo Female Traveller

Aside from money related questions, I was often asked if I feel unsafe travelling alone. Yes, I sometimes do feel unsafe, both abroad and at home.  The solution to this is to not just stay in the house and never leave, but to do things at your comfort level.  I’ve always operated on “gut feeling,” and if something doesn’t feel right, then it usually isn’t.  I don’t do anything that makes me feel uneasy or uncomfortable, and I never do anything out of obligation if I don’t feel good about it.

I don’t limit what I do when I travel though.  I’m a lover of beer and pubs (like, big time), and part of my travel always include indulging in delicious beverages in pubs.  This can put you in an awkward situation if you let it.  I always tend to ruck up and sit at the bar or a table near by.  I get my bearings and find my comfort zone.  I also try to find a spot that has wifi, so I can check in on Facebook (mostly out of being pretentious and braggy, but also so people know where I am).  Often times, locals or other travellers (men), will approach me and for the most time this is harmless.  With my guard always up, I never give too many details.  When asked questions, I always had stock responses ready.

  • Where are you from?  Oh, I’m from the east coast of Canada.  I live there with my big family. I was just chatting with them and telling them about how great it is here.  I’ve been checking in with them daily, giving them updates.
  • What do you do back home for work?  I work in an office.  It’s nothing too exciting – tell me about yourself!
  • So are you single?  No, I have a boyfriend who is meeting up with me in a few days.
  • Can I buy you a drink?   … I almost always accept a drink from someone if I feel safe.  I never ever let him go to the bar and get the drink for me.  Instead, I make sure I get the bartender’s attention and watch him pour it and pass it to me directly.
  • Where are you staying?  Oh, I’m staying near “x landmark.”  I never give away the hostel I’m staying in, but will say that I’m staying in a certain area.
Generally, I think all people are good.  There are loads of really, really shitty people out there, and I’ve encountered one or two on the road, but go with your gut.  If you’re in a new city, and you hail a taxi and when they pull up and you don’t feel good about it, don’t get in.  Walk away and hail another taxi.

If you don’t feel safe wandering around at night, don’t.  Limit your activities to the day.  If you’re curious about something that’s going on at night, check with your hostel to see if they have anything organized.  Pop into the hostel bar and chat up some other travellers and see if anyone is interested in joining you.  The odds are, you’re not the only solo traveller who’s looking for someone to chat with/do something in the new city with.

Whatever it is, trust your instincts.  This not only applies to travel, but when you’re at home.  Do what feels right and if something doesn’t, then remove yourself from the situation before it becomes uncontrollable.

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