Don't let safety worries put you off travelling alone. With hundreds of solo trips under her belt, Wanderlust's editor-in-chief shares her hard-won travel advice for lone females
Despite the horror stories that make the headlines, one should bear in mind that you are usually at no more risk while travelling than you are at home. But we can feel more vulnerable when we travel, and sometimes put ourselves in dodgy situations through lack of local knowledge. So, here are a few common-sense rules that I set myself when travelling solo – and they should help to keep you safe on your own adventures, too.
This should be done at the very least. Where possible, try to pre-arrange your airport transfer too – especially if arriving at night.
This applies especially at night. Make the most of reliable local sources such as hotels and restaurants that are able to book legitimate and trustworthy public transport.
Unfortunately, in some societies, how you dress can make you a target. So, err on the side of caution and dress conservatively, whether that involves covering your legs, shoulders, arms or head.
And never admit you are single!
Don’t look too obviously touristy: use a local carrier bag and avoid using maps or guidebooks on the street. Instead, find a safe place to step aside and find your bearings before moving off again.
Acting with confidence even when you are in an unfamiliar location or situation will go far. Walk and talk as if you know what you are on about.
Practice commonly-spoken words and phrases in the local language. Not only will it make you feel more familiar with your surroundings, but it will help you to engage with people in the area. Learn standard greetings and manners such as "please" and "thank you", as well as phrases that will raise awareness to those around you, including “go away” and “help”.
Now you know some of the local language, don't be afraid to use it and make people aware if you are in trouble. More often than not, bystanders will step in if they know you’re in trouble.
Whether you check in on social media or send a simple message to family or friends back home – always make sure there is someone that knows your next stop. You don't have to be attached to your phone or calling home every day, but sharing where you plan to be and when will keep minds at rest.
Ask your accommodation staff about any areas that you should avoid, and store the phone number and address of your hotel in your mobile phone. It's also worth having them written down in the local language, in case you get lost or your battery runs out.
Think you’re being followed? Cross the street and try to find a group of people you can join or talk to, for example in a café or shop. Either that, or head to a reliable-looking hotel to relax in the lobby for a while. This is always a good way to get your equilibrium back.
Whether it's friends of friends, long-distant relatives or a travel community, make use of people that you know in the places you are visiting.
Your gut instinct is usually right. If you have any doubts about a situation or person, then just get out of there.