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Staying safe when travelling alone

It can be wonderful to go on a trip alone. Whether you call it an adventure, a rediscovery of oneself, or hard earned “me” time, travelling solo is an incredibly liberating experience. But never throw caution to the wind and neglect personal safety (especially if you are female).

ALWAYS remember to:

Trust your instincts

You are more perceptive than you think. Though there’s no need to be paranoid, don’t ignore your instincts or gut feel whenever you sense something is amiss, or notice someone is acting suspiciously.

Inspect and secure your hotel room

Make sure your door lock is not faulty, and be sure to secure it (windows included) every night.

Look into the peephole before opening the door

Check that the phone is working too and note down the telephone number of the front desk reception.

Be self-reliant

Carry your own water, food, cash, guidebook and handphone so that you don’t have to approach strangers for help.

Do your homework

Obtain information and maps from online sources beforehand instead of asking for directions. Alternatively, ask the hotel concierge for assistance.

Watch your body language

When you wander around with a camera slung around your neck, clutching a map and looking clueless, you are announcing to thieves, crooks and muggers that you are a lost tourist. So walk around confidently, take note of your surroundings and visit accessible places that attract a good crowd.

Learn from wildlife documentaries

Do not advertise you are alone by skulking around in solitary fashion. Move along with groups of people whom you may not even know, to avoid being singled out by snatch thieves or you’ll be like a lone gazelle just waiting to be pounced on by a lion!

Ask the right people

If you are lost, ask for directions from females, families, hotel concierges or shopkeepers. Again, trust your instincts.

Blend in

Observe how the locals dress and try to follow their style of dressing.If not, dress modestly –  you will be courting trouble if you are the only person sauntering around in micro-shorts. If you have invited unwanted attention and are being accosted, be firm and walk away.

Be careful

Leave your valuables at home and be as inconspicuous as possible. Avoid brandishing wads of cash too. Zip up your bags at all times and wear a money belt.

Speak the lingo

When in a foreign land, learn some useful phrases like – taxi, bus, toilet, help and hospital. A phrasebook will help enormously.

Keep your eye on the time

Be smart – e.g. don’t go on a hike when you know it’s about to get dark.

Plan your route well and ensure you return to your hotel at a reasonable hour.

Check and confirm bus and train departure times

Inform hotel staff or fellow travellers whom you have befriended when you will be back.

Reserve judgement

Refrain from sharing your life story with someone just because he or she is nice to you.

Never be too trusting of people whom you have just met.

Carry a whistle

The reasons are obvious!

 

– The Star

 

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