The girl’s guide to staying safe

If you’re a woman heading out to explore the world alone, or even with a few friends, you’re probably already streetwise and independent. The truth is though, girls do sometimes face different travel challenges, so here are a few tips for first-time backpackers to help make life on the road run a little more smoothly.

1: Pack lightly!

Girls, as much as we think we need them, we don’t need to pack all our high heels and dresses for nights out. Remember that you will be carrying your backpack around for most of your year so pack like a man would. A couple of shirts, one pair of shoes and a jumper should be good enough.

2: Stock up on supplies.

Even if you’re packing like a man, don’t think like one when it comes down to ‘woman supplies.’ Make sure you carry plenty of stock for a few months which by then I’m sure you would have found a store which sells what we need. But remember if you’re visiting developing worlds, things might be harder to find.

3. Invent a husband

Many travel websites advise girls to take a ring with them so local men do not approach and hassle you. In doing this whether you are travelling alone or with friends, helps lower your profile and you will be seen as unavailable. So make up a fake husband, bring along a picture of them (Off the beaten path, no one will know who they are) and if approached talk continuously about your partner.

4. Find a friend or two.

If you set out alone the chances are you won’t stay that way for long. Finding some travel buddies is a great way to boost your confidence when you start travelling and it stops you having to talk to yourself. And whenever you fancy a bit of “you time”, you can simply move on to another city and start again

5. Beware of the danger spots.

Whenever you get to a new city it’s not a bad idea to ask your hostel staff if there are any areas to avoid. It’s not being paranoid. I’ll bet there are parts of your home town that you’re keen to keep away from, so don’t throw caution to the wind just because you’re on a gap year.

6. Dress like a local (especially if you’re going to places where showing skin is taboo)

Some people scoff at backpackers who wear burkas or traditional headgears, but often there’s a good reason for trying to dress locally. You don’t have to go the whole hog in wearing traditional dress but whenever you get to a new country, take a look around and check out local ladies’ attire. Bearing too much flesh in conservative nations can attract unwanted attention and even if you don’t agree with local rules forcing women to cover up, you’ll probably be glad you followed suit.

7. Money!

Having all your money on one card is a bad idea. What will happen when it gets lost or stolen? Take a few debit and travel cards and spread the money out on them. That way if one does go missing, you have back-up money to still fund you along the way.

8. First aid travel kit

Just having a little travel kit filled with plasters, antiseptic wipes and sabayon cream will do wonders when you scrap your leg or arm. It saves you time and you can fix yourself up without taking a trip to A&E.

9. Don’t scrimp on accommodation

Travelling on a budget is one thing, but don’t settle for a hostel light on security just to save a couple of bucks. You don’t have to go five-star, but look at a few basics: are the dorms open to all? Are there any lockers? If you’re opting for a private room does the door lock properly? If you don’t get the answers you want to these questions, look elsewhere, it won’t seem such a bargain if your stuff gets stolen.

10. Make sure you keep all documents together

The worst thing that could happen is that you lose all your documents and then you are stranded without any identification of who you are. Make sure to photocopy your passport, travel insurance, visas and any other documents you may have and keep them at the bottom of your backpack. You never know when they may come in handy.

Remember, these are just 10 tips that I have plucked out that I think are important for the female traveller. Use common sense when away and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do back at home.

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