How Do You Protect Yourself When Traveling Alone?

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Travelling solo as a female is both courageous and inspirational, unfortunately, like most adventures in life, it comes with certain risks. This should not deter the devoted enthusiast or curious beginner; it just means being aware of the threats and knowing ways to avoid or reduce them. One of the key things I learned during my time in the military was ‘knowledge is power’.

Planning 

No one should leave home without knowing exactly what they are getting into. Research the country/city you intend to visit, gain as much information as possible about their laws, culture and the local environment.

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When searching for accommodation, ensure you identify the tourist areas using Google or other sources, tourist locations tend to have a higher police presence, less reported crime and, often, easier access to safer transportation.

As a female traveller, research whether the location has a history of incidents targeting women, or anything that could negatively impact them. For example, if traveling to India, research would indicate that there have been multiple incidents of female travellers being harassed or assaulted. Some great resources for information are travel guides e.g. lonely planet or travel forums (this article has some suggestions)

Preparation

As a female traveller you are more likely than a male counterpart to be targeted for either criminal intent or sexual attack. Preparation and working to avoid the threats to minimize danger is key as part of a pro-active strategy,

How do you become less of a target? Travel light and only pack essential valuables. Think about the country you intend to visit, is it conservative? Wear appropriate clothing and always try to blend into the local environment. Be sensible about the times you walk alone, look confident and pay attention to your surroundings.

Consider your location, memorise different routes/access points to and from your hotel. This gives you options if you think you are being followed. Never take the quiet shorter route, always stick to the main busier streets even if this means adding an extra 15 minutes to your walk. The most important aspect of female travel safety is situational awareness working in conjunction with local knowledge and research

Situational Awareness 

Situational awareness is being aware of your surroundings and understanding potential threats that may compromise your physical security and safety. The statement below sourced from this article is from a traveller that fell victim to opportunistic crime and highlights a lack of situational awareness:

“Iceland is ranked as ‘the safest country in the world’ by the Global Peace Index…Because Iceland feels so safe, my mindset was very laidback and I got lazy with taking notice of my surroundings”

Never become complacent and always be aware of your surroundings. When a country is considered ‘safe’ this does not mean the local opportunist won’t try their luck. In this incident, the individual made herself an easy target by dropping her guard. She had her phone and camera stolen, thankfully she was not on her own, if she had been, losing her phone would be losing her lifeline. Be vigilant at all times and start thinking about what target you present to potential hostiles.

Travel Safety Training 

If you want to know more about personal safety when traveling, the travel safety e-learning courses are designed by security professionals with extensive experience in Counter-Terrorism and personal safety. Our team stems from specialist backgrounds including the UK Government and Special-Forces and our coveted system focuses on pro-active avoidance measures.

Our courses include the following modules:

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  • Prior Preparation and Planning
  • Female Travel Safety
  • Avoiding Muggings/Robberies
  • LGBTQ Travel Security
  • Overland transportation
  • Heath and First Aid
  • Safety in Hotels
  • Surviving Terrorist and Active Shooter Incidents
  • Situational Awareness
  • Natural Disasters

This article was written by Naomi Robb of ExploreSecure®. Naomi is a former British Intelligence Officer and a senior member of the British Forces; she has deployed to some of the most hostile operational environments in the world and spent the latter stages of her career as a member of an elite covert operational team.