Although societies from all over the world seem to express an understanding for fierce Solo Female Travelers, I cannot help but admit I still receive negative criticism, or even worse, utter confusion. Questions such as:
"Aren't you afraid you will get kidnapped? Have you seen the movie Taken?!"
"What about sexual harassment?"
"What if you get lost and have no one to help you out?"
And the most common:
"What if your couch-host turns out to be some crazy psycho ex-convict, sneaks into your guest bedroom, take all of your belongings, and sell your body to the streets, and, as a result - - start a whole new life living as a low-wage sex worker....Have you seen the movie Hostel or worse, Taken?!?"
Okay, okay - - maybe the last question isn't necessarily the most common from the conversations I have been encountering but you get the point. Solo female travelers, although it is the Year 2012, still seems to create quite the controversy.
There is nothing to fear but...'a pile of messy underwear' is what someone told me today. But, seriously, nothing to fear but fear itself. And, on a more serious note, we do still have to be careful, use street-smarts, and be aware of what we are getting into. After two months of traveling alone, I have compiled my tips on how to stay safe to avoid duplicating any scenes from the above Hollywood films:
1. Buy a Combination Lock and lock your bags when unattended.
2. Carry all important, most cherished items on your carry-on bag.
3. Wear a cute hairpin that has a very...very, sharp end. Look cute while tossing your hair up in a bun and in dire, scary situations - - can be used as a weapon as well.
4. Keychain Compass to hang onto your purse. They're cheap, reliable, and you're never lost. Just make sure you know how to read a compass...Otherwise, it's just junk. ;)
5. NEVER accept a drink from a stranger, especially if it's an iced drink or if it is a beer bottle that has been opened without YOU actually witnessing this. Perhaps I may be a bit paranoid because I've ready too many stories about being slipped the roofie but it won't hurt you from following this tip.
6. Always, always be aware of your surroundings and the environment you are in. Same goes with following your GUT instincts about a certain area. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
7. If you want to take an extra step to avoid getting lost - take pictures of the street signs you are passing for familiarity purposes.
8. If you want to try out Couch-surfing or volunteer exchange programs such as WWOOF, do your research such as checking out the hosts' references (positive/negative), previous comments, and communicate as much as you can beforehand. (Will plan on posting a blog specifically for couchsurfing tips)
9. Never count your cash in a crowded place. Do it in a private location such as the bathroom and keep note - - do not display how much money you actually have on you because you may be the next pick-pocket victim.
10. It is quite helpful to learn a few key phrases in the country's native language such as 'Help, No, Stop, I will cut you, and Get away from me'
I hope you have enjoyed reading my personal traveling tips and although this is coming from the perspective of a female traveler, these can also be applied to male travelers as well, of course. If you have any good traveling tips to add on, please do not hesitate to add a comment. I will fully appreciate it as well as other current or future travelers!!