We all love travelling. But there are times when it is wise to be aware of the risks involved in travelling alone.
While we are big fans of equality, it's no secret that female travellers are targeted for a wide range of crimes, including theft, rape and murder.
So, if you are a female and plan on going travelling, these tips should help you.
1) Stay aware of your surroundings
In my experience, women are naturally more perceptive than men in general, but it doesn't mean that we can't be complacent when travelling alone. It is good to keep looking behind yourself every once in a while, which means don't spend all the time walking with your head down looking at your phone.
This is because you could be attacked by surprise from the back!
You're travelling, so look around you and take in the location and scenery but also keep an eye out for potential threats.
2) Be discreet but not overly submissive
This might seem odd advice to give for women, but please do not act like a damsel in distress. Confidence is one of the signals that attackers hate, why? Because you are likely to fight back and make things difficult for them.
All criminals hate the risk of capture and fighting back increases that risk. So, while you don't want to draw too much attention to yourself, you should walk with confidence.
The best way to do this is to always know where you are and also walk with your shoulders back and your head up.
With regards to knowing where you are, it's OK to get lost sometimes, but we live in an era of GPS, smartphones and of course, maps. If you're lost, try and exhaust those options before telling others you are lost.
This might sound odd, but if you're lost, you're going to ask for help from someone, and they are either going to be nice or evil. You just don't know.
3) Avoid suspicious places at night
No matter how tempting it might be for you, do not be tempted by picturesque alone spots especially at night where there is no one around but just plain emptiness and coldness - literally!
The other mistake is to ask strangers 'where's a great place to go' because the worst thing you want is for them to say "I know a great place, I'll take you there" and then you feel obliged to go.
4) Choose an appropriate transportation and drop-off point
Always try to choose public transport that are mostly populated by women. Try to avoid those long-distance buses or coaches who travel through a place which is isolated enough to be far away from civilization. If you have no choice but to take this kind of transportation, try not to sit next to two women who are travelling together.
This is pretty simple stuff, but don't end up alone at tube stations/ tube trains late at night or on buses late at night or bus stations. In these situations, you tend to be pretty vulnerable.
5) Always carry money with you for self defense
Carrying less amount (but enough cash in hand) might help you as possible bait.
This might seem odd, but if you are robbed and you say "this is all we have" and give them $40 out of your pocket, they'll probably go away.
This is what we call 'emergency cash'. It's money for an emergency, be that a taxi, phone money or giveaway cash in the event of an issue like an attack.
Never spend this and keep it in a separate pocket to your wallet/ purse.
6) Learn how to fight back!
Most of the time, what stops women especially from defending themselves when attacked is because they are caught by surprise, and their instincts kick in, telling them that surrendering might be the best possible thing at that moment.
It's up to you if you fight back or not, and you need to not trust your instincts but make a tactical decision.
My advice is that if it's a robbery, don't fight back and give them what they want. If it's a sexual attack, I'd fight back.
But again, you won't be able to do well, this unless you have training. So if you plan on travelling, I'd get some time spent in a self-defence or martial arts club first.
7) Watch out for dangerous people!
Drunks, drug dealers, thieves, wild party boys, stupid people.
It sounds simple, but people just lose all sense of normality when they travel. So avoid bad people and only mix with responsible people.
Idiots tend to attract trouble too, so avoid them as well.
8) Make use of any objects in your surroundings
If you are in a situation that is getting out of hand, try not to be afraid to throw objects on the assailant's eyes. If things get really nasty, bite and hit back! Kicking might work for some but remember to make use of any object near you as possible weapons.
9) Learn how to run away if being followed.
Sounds simple, but when was the last time you actually ran or sprinted?
I'm guessing a bit. So practise short sprints at home, learn how to move your body fast over a short distance.
10) Always have a scream ready! (make one!) A loud, continuous scream can deter most attackers immediately.
Attackers don't like or want attention, so don't be afraid to scream.
Now, some people will tell you to scream 'fire'. Personally, I hate that advice. A blood curdling scream for help is clearly very different from a scream for fun.
11) Let Others Know Your Plans
In an internet era, make sure people know where you're going and what time you will get to your destination.
This helps family members to feel that you're safe, and also if there is an issue, they can alert the local authorities if you haven't arrived at a destination.
Use common sense when you are travelling, that's the main tip. Trust your instincts often and don't let others take advantage of your good nature.
If it's a case of hurting someone's feelings by saying no to something because it doesn't feel right or your safety. Well, your safety matters more.