The idea of traveling alone as a single woman is just as exciting as the trip itself. I’ve done it for years and enjoy having to rely on myself. It alone is a powerful trip! But in saying that I have learned some hard lessons along the way that I attribute to street-smarts. The world isn’t a big scary place. 99% of the people you meet in your travels actually do have your back. Regardless of whether you are home or abroad, you have to use your noggin’!
The people in the Countries I have visited taught me the following words of wisdom; who would know better than they?
Lessons I’ve Learned
As a woman alone you are a target. You stand out. It is assumed you have money, that’s why you travel.
1. Carry some MAD Money when you are out and about but not in a purse, bag or fanny pack – Put Your Money in a Sandwich Baggy in Your Pocket. If I intend to spend the day at the beach for example, I bury my cash in the sand under my towel when no one is looking, Nothing to rummage through, no bothers.
2. Forego the Bling and Dress Like a Local, not a Tourist. Remove all of your jewelry! At the risk of stereotyping I always look like a hippie with a bandanna wrapped around my head, dressed like a tree-planter – like I’m camping.
3. Research the Country BEFORE you arrive!
4. Make Friends but don’t go anywhere alone or secluded. Let’s face it. As single women we often find ourselves in countries whose economy doesn’t compare to ours. This means you are a commodity and will have a line-up of people wanting to befriend you. Use your judgement in finding the one person you really feel you can trust for back-up if need be. The only time I ever use my money to save my butt is if my back-up is no where around and I am in a seriously sticky. If I get myself into a potentially extreme situation I will choose someone who appears a little sketchy and a lot tough, befriend him with a little treat of beer, rum or food. He’s probably the mean-ass street person everyone walks around; and that’s the point! You chose him, he feels special and no more worries – however unorthodox this seems, it is tried and true. Keep in mind however, he isn’t to be become your best friend after!
5. Sometimes you may have to become a Liar and Lead EVERYONE (even your back-up) to believe you are broke; by your appearance and actions! During casual conversation or when I am approached by someone who makes me feel uncomfortable and is trying to sell me their wares or, I simply don’t feel like stopping and talking I just tell them, “Nah Man, I live here. I pat them on the shoulder and I keep on walking – which they can totally relate to and take to mean; I am flat ass broke like the rest of the population.
6. Do Not, Do Not, Do Not Avoid Eye Contact! I have seen people become truly offended by this maneuver and you are asking for trouble! Maybe not at that moment, but they will remember and may find you later when you least expect it!
If you do they,
a. feel as though their country is good enough to visit but they are not.
b. interpret it as a sign of arrogance and fear.
c. and you aren’t aware of your environment – bad news! Make eye contact smile, offer a “Hey” and keep on walking.