Travel 101: Tips for Solo Women Travellers

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Let it be known that the only time I ever travel alone is when on business.
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Ha! Just when you thought otherwise, I thought I should set the record straight.
Even for photo workshops I’ll have people whom I’d known around me.
Let’s see in the last one I had a friend, a ‘friend’ (can’t stand him frankly but I don’t travel alone), a doctor, and yes embarrasing as this may sound my chauffeur nearly came along!
I had someone to upload my images from the compact flash card to the hard drives, convert the RAW images to JPEG while I catch my precious 40 -winks! Photography workshops are tiring ok…
I also had someone (whom I’ve only met there) to carry my gears and dash for cover with ’em whenever it rains…
such is the sad but true reflection of me – the not so cool and independent traveller.

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It should also be made known that despite being chaperoned one way or the other, I have been successfully mugged (in Paris), bought colourful glass passed off as sapphires (in Thailand), held up for 2 hours in a construction makeshift office (in Egypt) and molested (in Morocco).

So, in all I am not the ideal person to write about this at all if you take those incidences into consideration.

Then again, I have survived some other 21 countries – Malaysia excluded – so I can’t be that bad either and I’d known of two renowned war photojournalist who were mugged in Amsterdam and Addis Ababa …

So seriously, I ain’t that bad and it’s a matter of relativity.

Nonetheless here’s some Tips for Solo Women Travellers … who would want to get home void of being zipped in a black bag! But more importantly this is a personal realisation as a person who travelled on business to the same country frequently, where I tend to get over confident, basking in the joy of familiarity … and that’s where the danger looms.

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ONE
Day travelling is safer. In many cities airport buses and trains don’t run on a 24 hours schedule, so in order to avoid having to walk through unfamiliar dark areas looking for a taxi in the middle of the night to get you to the hotel, schedule a flight that will get you to your destination during the day.
TWO
To avoid attracting unwanted attention, do some research before you go to find out the proper clothing requirements for foreign women travelling to the country. Also, learn something about the culture of the country you will be visiting and what gestures such as eye contact, a handshake or smiling may mean. Making eye contact in certain countries is considered disrespectful and small talk or a smile which you may think are friendly, innocent gestures, in some countries may be interpreted as a come-on. And in some African nations, putting up a struggle with wandering male hands and/or protestation towards licorice sweet come-ons is considered a positive response towards advances! {totally WT(blip)}
THREE
When going out, you should study your route carefully so as to avoid getting lost and walking around aimlessly and confused. If you look lost and confused you will attract attention and you will become an easy target. So frain that you are not lost – take long, purposeful strides and look straight ahead – oh, erase the frown on your forehead.

If lost, read a road map instead of asking strangers or accepting a stranger’s invitation to take you where you are going. And if you are incapable of reading a map {hey, even some men have problems here}, firstly you should not be wandering on your own, but in any case if you’ve ventured out nonetheless oblivious of your own limitations ask a woman or fellow traveller for assistance.

FOUR
If you feel lonely, the safest company will be other women or families. To discourage strangers from approaching you during leisure periods, read a book or write postcards to friends back home, but if a stranger still harasses you and faking ignorance doesn’t work, make a scene or walk away.
FIVE
A few contacts in the city you will be visiting can make you fell less lonely and safer , so before you go, use the hotel’s mingling website where you will be staying to connect with other business travellers who will be staying at the same hotel during the same period.
SIX
Go with specialised travel agencies catering for solo women traveller if you can afford it. Generally other than safety, you be able to engage in woman activities {which can be quite fun}

Bon Voyage!
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