Safe Adventuring: Tips for Solo Women Travelers That Might Be Lifesavers
Our correspondent gathers intelligence from experienced Pinay travelers on how to have fun and stay safe.
by Kara Santos | September 15, 2016
Traveling alone, especially for the first time, can be pretty scary.
While both male and female travelers face risks on the road, it can be particularly challenging for women. But it’s not impossible. There are a lot of women out there who travel alone because it’s a very rewarding and liberating experience.
Here are some safety tips from daring women who have managed to travel alone around the Philippines and are now conquering the world.
1. Visit Public Places
When it comes to solo female travel in the Philippines, one of the top authorities is Gael Hilotin of The Pinay Solo Backpacker. This adventurous Filipina travel blogger has visited all 81 provinces in the Philippines, inspiring many other travelers, including myself, to follow in her footsteps.
She says that if you keep your wits about you and make sensible decisions, you can travel anywhere in the world. One piece of advice she gives for first-time solo travelers is to visit public places.
“It’s likely you’ll meet a lot of amazing people during your travels. While you’re still getting to know them, stick to public places such as restaurants and bars. Avoid, for example, going to someone’s home or somewhere more remote with people you don’t really know yet. When it gets dark, stick to well-lit roads.”
Read more of Gael’s Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone.
2. Research your Destination
Claire Madarang of Traveling Light managed to travel solo around the Philippines for two months, and three weeks around Southeast Asia. She points out the importance of researching about the destination before embarking on any journey.
“Always research on the place you are going to, especially if its culture is vastly different from yours. Research on customs, taboo behavior, and notorious scams, among others. This is for your own safety, even more so important now that you’re traveling alone.”
Check out Claire’s inspiring post about Why Solo Travel in Your 20s is the Thing to Do.
3. Inform Someone of Your Plans
Avid hiker Christine Fernandez, who chronicles her adventures in her blog Jovial Wanderer, says that a standard safety tip in hiking is to never go alone. However, she’s had to go on solo hikes when companions suddenly become unavailable. In this case, she says it’s best to hire a local guide and inform trusted people of your whereabouts before going somewhere.
“Always inform someone where you’re going or leave them a copy of your itinerary. You could also ask that person to start looking for you if you fail to contact them again after a certain number of hours. As much as possible, let someone know where you are. This would help the rescuers determine a starting point for their search (in case something happens to you).”
Here are some of Christine’s helpful Solo Hiking Tips.
4. Stay in a Central Location
Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering, who has been traveling solo locally and internationally since 2006, suggests first time travelers start with a weekend trip to see how they’d fare on their own before moving on to longer trips. When it comes to choosing where to stay, she suggests women take the location of their hotel or hostel into consideration.
“Consider paying extra for accommodation in a more central location. This way, if you had too much fun exploring and stayed out too late, you won’t have to go far to head back to your hotel or hostel. You also save money on transportation, especially if most of the attractions are within walking distance.”
Here are some of Nina’s Confessions of a Solo Female Traveler.
5. Trust your Guts and Instincts
Aleah Taboclaon, who started traveling alone at the age of 11 and went on a 70-day solo backpacking trip in Europe, offers a lot of guides and travel tips on th topic in her blog Solitary Wanderer. She advises female travelers to practice protective behaviors and trust their gut.
“Listen to your intuition. Wherever you are, pay attention to what your body is telling you. Do you, for some reason, feel uncomfortable in the situation? Don’t bother analyzing why, immediately leave the situation and seek a safer place. The nervous feeling you have (even though you may not be able to identify the reason why) is your body’s way of telling you there’s something wrong. Listen to your body’s discomfort and seek refuge. I have done it a couple of times during my travels and while I don’t know if I was right, I was happy not to find myself in a situation where I regretted not following my intuition.”
Here are Aleah’s 5 Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone.
6. Have Fun Responsibly!
Mica Rodriguez of Senyorita, who has traveled solo to places like El Nido, Batanes and Chiang Mai, says she finds it more fulfilling to travel to an unfamiliar place on her own. She agrees that female travelers should take the necessary precautions but still have fun, which is the whole point of travel.
“Be alert of suspicious behavior, but not to the extent of being paranoid. Bring a small notebook containing all important contact numbers and address of your accommodation. Your cellphone might run out of battery and having a physical copy of these details helps. Have fun responsibly. You can do this by not drinking too much and by dressing appropriately.”
However, traveling solo doesn’t mean you always have to be alone. When you go solo, you have a chance to befriend locals or form genuine connections with other travelers you meet on the road. In which case, Mica has this piece of advice for women: “Also, bring at least one black dress that you can wear which fits any kind of occasion. You’ll never know when you’ll be invited to a formal party or even a romantic date.”
Check out Mica’s reflections on solo travel in her post As I Travel On My Own.
Got any other safety tips for women traveling alone? Tell us in the comments below!