Have you ever wanted to take that next courageous step to seeing more of the world? Are you a solo female traveler and are not sure how to travel safely? Here are a few tips that may help you on your next, brave journey!
As a single woman, I get asked often (as in before, during and after every trip) if it is safe for me to travel to our project locations. IDEAS works in remarkable locations but are often portrayed negatively in the media.
Thankfully, I have caring, qualified colleagues who meet me at every destination and know the local customs and culture. But there are many times when it is up to me to navigate a new country or community on my own. Here are a few things I do to bring peace of mind and travel savvy to my latest expedition:
1. Let others keep track of your whereabouts by always sharing your itinerary with someone you trust. You never know when an extra copy of your documents or the knowledge of your next stop in the journey can come in handy. To take this a step further, be sure to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This notifies the US government of where you are in case there is an emergency. STEP is easy to use and update, plus it's free!
2. Don't be afraid to wear a ring. If you are single, buying a cheap wedding ring can be the difference between fending off would-be suitors and hassle-free travel. A ring also signals to any local Lotharios that you may have someone waiting for you just around the corner.
3. You are what you wear. This is even more true for conservative countries. While tourists do have a sense of freedom to dress how they like, choosing a more conservative wardrobe can drastically cut down the unwanted stares, advances and even harassment. Plus, it shows respect for that country and its culture.
4. Use Uber! I often choose Uber over a local taxi because it creates a record of where I am going and shows my route with the destination pinned on a map. It also means less hassle over prices since it is established before you confirm your ride and it makes travel easier if you do not know the language. On a recent trip in the Middle East, I used Uber over a dozen times and it was a piece of cake! Be sure to check the local laws on Uber before you book your next ride!
5. Download your latest city or destination from Trip Advisor. This simple trick allows you to have all the information you need on your phone without using your data. Simply open the Trip Advisor app, search for your destination city, download the city onto your phone and let it work for you. Once you leave that city, you can delete it from your storage. This trick has saved me countless headaches in helping me find restaurants, taxi stands, hotels, attractions, tips on areas to avoid and local emergency phone numbers. It works like a charm if you don't know the local language.
As a frequent solo traveler, I have discovered so much freedom in seeing the world! Traveling can often take courage and planning, but by applying common sense (no dark alleys at night!) and taking a few precautions (carry extra copies of your passport), your next journey could positively impact your life for years to come.
About the Author: Sarah is the Director of Communications and Recruiting at IDEAS. She has worked at IDEAS for 10 years, traveled to 38 countries and is happy to show you all of her photographs.