Danger and doom!
I am, obviously, a lady who travels alone. I have read so many times that women who travel by themselves need to be especially careful and take extra precautions. I have analysed this and have decided it is a load of nonsense. This is why:
• ANYONE who travels by themselves, at home or abroad really needs to be self-aware at all times. I strongly suspect that it is men who suffer the most from ignoring this fact as they probably think they are tough enough to go wherever they like at any time they like with whomever. This is silly. The odds are if you are going to a suspicious place then there are plenty of suspicious people looking for overconfident or inexperienced looking people to take advantage of.
Even perfectly nice places can have bad people in them. Drink spiking doesn’t just happen to women, you know. Best not to drink (especially alone), or to drink a moderate amount. Always watch your drink and don’t accept candy from strangers. Most people who want to talk to you will be lovey I’m sure, but others might just want your cash.
• ANYONE travelling should kind of make sure that they don’t look too much like an easy target. Both men and women are robbed by both men and women. Again, if you are not aware of your surroundings and possible problems then you could become the victim of organised or random crime.
I don’t generally wear jewellery but I do usually carry a shoulder bag. I have never had any real problems with this and do not carry valuables anyway. Someone tried to pickpocket me once but as I was not drunk I just dodged him. Also, since I had gone out at a silly time in an area where there was crime I let people know where I was going, had nothing valuable on me whatever and stayed on main streets. Things like that. You know sensible stuff.
• I tend to think that the only reason women are told to be more careful is because of sexual abuse, again, it happens to men too. I am not sure why this has to be such a thing. Surely is just a way to apportion blame onto a solo traveller if something happens? Surely it shouldn’t matter if I go out half naked and get drunk as a skunk every night. If someone rapes me then my behaviour in no way mitigates theirs. Rape is rape.
Also, since the majority of sexual offences are committed by someone known to the victim, going out alone should be safer? Nobody advises not to make friends with new people in case they rape you. That would be strange. That said it might be worth considering potential culture differences if you hang out with locals. In some places just being a woman out alone is enough to brand someone a prostitute. Appropriate clothing is probably the most obvious precaution here. I don’t think it should matter, but then again I’m not some perverted creep.
• Research! The best way to prevent an issue is to plan your journey well. Individual landmarks can have their own scams so it’s good to check them individually. I think Solo-female travellers are especially good at this. See ‘Same same but different’ Re. the white Buddha.
Expat guides and websites catering to tourists are also good to give you an idea of the sort of crimes that happen in the area. The groups of people who are most likely to cause trouble, what you can do if it happens.
For example in Koh Samui: Quite safe mostly petty and opportunistic crime from the sounds of it. Common scams in: Buying houses, Jet Ski rental and connect four (really). Don’t piss off taxi drivers or ladyboys.
In Nha Trang: Quite safe except late at night. You might get robbed or have your drink spiked. Common scams in: motorbike rental. You may also be charged too much by vendors and hotels. Don’t piss off gangsters and apparently some bartenders.
Gonna skip India, as I met many scams and was sad. Live and learn.
• Other risks like disease, animals, coconuts (they’ll getcha) and the sun are things to be considered too. Sunscreen and repellent good. The rest is probably just down to luck. Cobra in toilet bowl = dead, not in any guidebook that’s a free tip right there.
• Although it’s fun to worry about dangers and suchlike that’s not why we travel! Remember, even if something goes wrong that everyone is just doing their best with what they have. If someone has just stolen your phone. Good. They probably need it more than you anyway. If someone takes your good camera (I flipping hate them now. That imaginary dick.) I hope they can buy a new wall for their house. Whatever.
• If you find yourself in a situation that you don’t want to be in that is especially good to remember that the person doing it is human too. I saw a documentary once about a little girl, maybe about 9 years old, who was abducted by a very dangerous serial paedophile, she was telling it herself. She was in this man’s car and being driven further and further away from home. She said that although she was frightened and knew she was in trouble she stayed calm and thought ‘what would Jesus do’ she then started being really nice to the man and chatting to him. Telling him about her life and trying to generally be open hearted and understanding. Eventually the man realised that he did not want to hurt the girl. He actually let her go; dropping her somewhere she could be found. It is terrible that other children had not been so lucky and it is horrible that she was ever in that position but that story is one of the most inspiring things I have ever heard and it has helped me get out of danger too. I am honestly just in awe of that girl and her strength.
Most people are nice anyway and all this stuff just relates to a tiny fraction of society (any society). If you go about thinking that everyone is out to get you you’re A. going to look mistrustful and alienate people (therefore becoming more of a target) and B. Going to miss out on allot of fun. I like to remember that every ‘tourist hotspot’ is also a place where people live day to day. That means they go out and do things every day without getting mugged and killed. It’s probably fine (within reason, if people do get mugged and killed on a daily basis in the area you’re going please skip that tip).