More women are travelling alone today than ever, as a 2014 Solo Travel Report commissioned by Booking.com found. Half of women are more likely to go on holiday solo now than they were five years ago, while nearly two-thirds feel more confident now when taking a trip by themselves. With access to instant maps, hotels and sights to see through technology, smartphone devices are like instant travel buddies.
Yet for as much information as technology is able to give, it can’t provide the safety precautions that are so important to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable trip. The Government of Western Australia Department of Health lists dozens of health hazards travellers should be conscious of when going abroad. Death, unjust imprisonment, kidnapping, theft, sexual assault and more are all additional risks any traveller takes when going somewhere new. If you have the desire to see a part of the world and want to get to know yourself better by going alone, here are tips on how to stay your safest while on holiday.
Learn About Risk and Laws
Before you even start planning your itinerary, check the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website to see an official recommendation on whether or not you should head to the country. Each country’s page will have updates on terrorism news, tips for entry and exit, and penalties for breaking laws, some of which may vary extremely from Australian rules. In Singapore, for example, chewing and spitting out gum is punishable by fine.
Register Your Trip
Be sure to register your travel plans on the government site so that there is a way to get in contact with your loved ones should there be an emergency. Each trip requires a new registration. It’s also important to let those in your personal circle know about your trip so they can check in with you regularly, too.
Protect Your Documents
Passports, licenses and credit cards are precious documents with valuable personal information that need to stay safe so you can get home when you need to. Theft of documents such as Social Security cards and passports can result in government documents fraud, which results in stolen identity, which may be used by criminals. If you’re leaving your documents in your room, use the room’s safe to lock them up securely. Or, use a wallet or passport holder that is worn under your clothing to ensure your documents are securely on your body at all times. Take pictures of your documents’ information with a smartphone like the Galaxy S7 that is with you at all times and can connect to a cloud storage provider. This way, if your purse is stolen, you can still access your information.
Know Your Embassy
The Australian embassy, high commission or consulate in the country you’re travelling to is your ally in protecting you while travelling abroad. The embassy can help if you lose your documents, need emergency services, or are arrested. Make sure you always have the contact information of the nearest embassy in case you need its help.
Act Like a Local
By obviously acting like a tourist, you’re making yourself more vulnerable to crime. Act confident while in public spaces by maintaining eye contact with others and being alert to your surroundings. The Victoria State Government recommends dressing to blend in with locals, reading maps discreetly, and not overtly displaying valuables such as jewellery or your passport. A “dummy wallet” with a small amount of cash is something you can carry to quickly give to a mugger to alleviate dangerous escalation.
Each country has different cultures and customs that specifically relate to women. The Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade details more guidelines women should be aware of here, including how to get safe accommodations, how to stay safe in social situations, and what women-specific standards travellers should be aware of. By taking the time to learn about the country you’re headed to and diligently preparing for safety, you can enjoy travelling alone to new thrilling destinations.