Friday, October 24, 2014

Travel tips for solo female travelers

I have been traveling alone since I was 19.  I love it.  I feel it’s the best way to actually see and experience where you are.  That being said, being a solo female traveler can be risky and tricky.  I’d like to share a few tips that I’ve learned over the years:

1)      Carry a roll of toilet paper.  Because drip drying is the worst.
2)      Bring a fake wedding ring.  This is a really god trick to avoid unnecessary attention.  I usually just switch over my thumb ring I always wear.
3)      Be compact and sensible.  Don’t carry a big sloppy purse.  Carry a little messenger bag that latches, an organized wallet, a watch, minimal jewelry, shoes you can run in, hair pulled out of your face.
4)      Always wear a scarf.  The perfect lady companion.  To cover your head if in a mosque, to cough into, to dry your hands, to cover your boobies, to crumple up into a pillow.
5)      Don’t give away money.  The kids are cute.  And they have no arms.  And that’s sad.  But don’t give away money.  The act of taking out your wallet in public is always a bad idea.  Even if the kids are harmless, look at the periphery, they are often being watched and so are you.
6)      If you are taking public transportation and you are in a car with only men, get out and switch transportation.
7)      Don’t hook up when you’re traveling.  You don’t want to be in that kind of vulnerable position and you don’t know what kind of creepy crawlies he/she has. Thas nasty.
8)      Protect yourself physically.  Mace, alarm, self-defense.  Personally I’m afraid to carry mace or a knife because knowing me I’d fuck it up and spray myself.  But I do carry a rape alarm with me at all times and in my hands when in a scary situation and I plan on taking a self defense course.
9)      Don’t drink past tipsy, don’t do any drugs.  Watch your drinks and always have enough cash for a lengthy cab ride home.
10)   Ask for help.  It’s ok to rely on the kindness of strangers.  I think it’s inevitable.  But don’t be simpering.  Power stance, clear voice, directive.  Always be gracious.
11)   Don’t pack a bag too big for you to carry.  Even if that means you have to buff up a bit for travel.  I have actually done this for this reason.
12)   Mosquito repellent, wet wipes, sunscreen, fluconazole. 
13)   Always let someone know where you are at all times.  Email your itinerary, give numbers of your friends.  I called my parents before following a new friend into the red light district in Bangkok.  They had his phone number, place of work, and his medical history.   
14)   It’s ok to be pushy.  Don’t be worried about people perceiving you as a bitch.  Fuck them.  It’s ok to speak up and push back for what you want, especially if you feel uncomfortable.  Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for putting them out.  Guilt is a wasted emotion and often acts as permission for unwanted situations.
15)   It’s ok to be nice.  Be friendly, be polite, be kind, make friends.  Just because you’re cautious doesn’t mean you have to be cut off.  That being said, men, just because woman is nice to you doesn’t mean she wants to sleep with you/give you a green card.  Doesn’t mean you can follow her and doesn’t mean she owes you a phone number/email/Facebook.

Enjoy. Write. Take pictures.  Try everything.  Open your eyes, mind and heart. You’re going to end up taking shelter in a hut with five men, one armed with a rifle, no cell reception, in the middle of nowhere.  This is not a controlled environment.  It’s probably the farthest thing from it.  This is the adventure.  This is living.  Scary shit happens, gender based and otherwise, so protect yourself where you can.  And then just wing it.  It also helps to have a family who would cross the world to cut someone for messing with you. 

I’d rather be out here than in there, wouldn’t you?

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