"These are general tips, take them or ignore them as you please. For some they might seem rather conservative, while for others they will increase your feeling of safety. The general rule should be: Trust your guts, don't do what you don't feel comfortable with, and take the risks you feel not risky."
For safety reasons, some preparation is recommended for female travellers traveling alone. If you're wondering about what the risks are, just ask some one from the region about the issues which are scaring you. Take different advices and hear different opinions, from other female travellers or from local females: often there are a lot of scary stories, sometimes there might be a serious risk to be aware of.
Think twice before choosing your host, Go on your own intuition, as they say, "Listen to Everyone, but do as you Wish"
- If you have concerns about staying with a single male, you might feel safer with a girl, a couple, or a guy who lives with his/their family and/or children
- If you choose a male host, make sure that:
- He has some positive comments (also from female guests). Spend some time reading comments and try to not be satisfied with party-comments only.
- Exchange some emails with your future host before actually meeting him.
- Meet him in a busy part of the town first, before going to his place, if possible.
- If anything in your host behaviour makes you feel uneasy, refuse to stay at his place. It is better to pay for a hostel than to find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Always have a back-up prepared
- If you do not have a guide book, google and print out the numbers of cheap hostels or hotels in the places you're going to visit.
Have the emergency numbers of the respective country ready!!
- General emergency numbers are listed in most guide books
- You will find a list for specific emergency numbers on this site, but it might not be complete. Print it out, since you might not have access to a computer with internet.
Precautions to take when you are on the road
- Some country people watch your every move on the road
- If there is a Police officer, ask him/her to know about any address, location, or any other help
- Board a car (tuk tuk) after enquiring well and fixing the price and conditions etc. Check if they are going to charge by meter and if their meter is working or not.
- Listen to your instinct and think of your safety when talking to strangers and making friends with them.
- Don't trust too readily, and take your time to take any decision.
- Don't walk in dark places alone.
- As a general rule, just look what other locals do. If they do it, it should be safe.
Think about the culture you are going to meet
- Dress appropriately. Remember that clothes make a statement about yourself. Do not provoke. Proper clothes may be a very good and efficient barrier. You can even discuss this with your host before visiting his/her place or their country
- Keep your distance. Be ready to show you are not interested in conversation or something you don't like. Sometimes turning around and walking away is the best thing to do. Do not let men provoke you.
- Try to save yourself from unnecessary arguments
- Be aware that in certain cultures men tend to show their attention in a special way that may not be acceptable for you! In most cases, the best solution is to ignore.
Tips and tricks
- Don't tell men you are traveling alone. Your big and very jealous boyfriend just went to the toilet, or you are already engaged or married or your boyfriend/husband is waiting for you somewhere
- Buy a cheap "wedding ring". In many countries a married woman is seen as property of another man and therefore "out of reach"
- Avoid going to pubs and bars on your own
- Avoid dark and deserted places
- If you ask for advice or directions choose police officers or women to help you.
- Think twice about accepting eatables/drinkables from anyone you don't trust completely, it might be intoxicated
What to do in risky situations
At your host's place
- As soon as you notice any inappropriate behaviour, react in the best possible manner. Don't let your host feel that you will allow him everything.
- Again keep your distance. Cross your hands on your chest and stand with your legs a bit apart. This position says: I am not interested in having any contact with you.
- State clearly and forcefully, that you are not interested in any closer contact.
- The stronger and more confident you seem, the bigger chance your oppressor will be discouraged
- If you feel in danger, leave the house as soon as possible. Don't worry about your things, they can be recuperated later with a key local volunteer or police assistance
- Don't hesitate to call the police or a key local volunteer. They are there for you to help.
In the street
- Take any chance to run away and be loud. Shout for help. This will discourage your oppressor. Statistics show that a combination of strong verbal response (yelling) and physical resistance (which includes running) provides the greatest chance to escape.
- Address passers by personally ("You, with the red jumper and the baseball cap, help me, or call the police!"). That way people can not hide in anonymity.
- It might be a good idea to have a pepper spray or a loud whistle. Don't hesitate to use both of them. If you don't have a pepper spray, deodorant spray works perfectly well. If you know Martial Arts or any other defending art, you can use it too.
Things to remember
- Whatever happened it was not your fault. It is important to let the community know: report it. The abuse team is there to help you and to prevent any further situations like this.
- Don't hesitate to write a negative comment, even if nothing happened but you felt that the behaviour of your host was inappropriate.
Tips by continent
http://victimsupporteurope.eu/ Different national member organisations are affiliated to Victim Support Europe.
Tips by countries
You find hotlines and help in most towns in Germany.
- The best way to check what is locally available is this webpage that also provides some information in English, French and Spanish: http://www.frauennotrufe.de/
- Frauenhaus: All over Germany there are houses for women and girls in emergency. For Nordrhein-Westfalen you can find out here: http://www.frauen-info-netz.de/ For the rest of Germany you can best google ("Frauenhaus, name of the city you are")
- If you are in an emergency situation or if you became a victim of a crime while you were travelling in Germany (Switzerland http://www.weisser-ring.ch/, Austria http://www.weisser-ring.at/, Czech Republic http://www.bkb.cz/, Hungary http://www.fehergyuru.eu/), you can find help all over Germany here: http://www.weisser-ring.de or under this number: (+49)116006 (free of cost).
- There are special train compartments exclusively for female travellers, usually the first compartment in the metro train, and middle compartments in Mumbai or some other national trains
- A ring on the second toe of your right (or left? to be checked), foot, and/or a ring in the middle finger indicates you are married or engaged. To ensure that they beleive that you are married, you can also wear Mangal Sutra(a sacred thread which married women in India wear) on your neck
- People here stare a lot, be it men or women, so try to be prepared for it, and ignore them
- You will get lot of attention here, so prepare yourself to feel especial and overwhelmed most of the times
- In crowded places, most of the people will try to touch/grope you from different parts of your body, so STAY ALERT!!!
- People here don't know much about Privacy or Privacy rights, so your Privacy would be at stake, so you can expect to get minimum to No Privacy
- Try not to eat much outside, and go slow on consuming eatables in India(Indian food) in your initial days in India, as it may lead to stomach aches and health problems etc. Also don't eat anywhere or at anyone's place just like that, as they may mix intoxicants in your food(eatables or drinkables) to make you lose your senses, and do as they wish
- All over India, mainly in metro cities( Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai), and other big cities, there are houses for women and girls in emergency
- Do not believe in anyone's sweet talks/words, they might have an hidden agenda
- Do not take lift(hitch hike) from any stranger either in their car(big or small), bike, auto or whatever
- Human rights is also an alien concept for majority of people here, so if any human rights issue arises, be prepared to go to a human rights organization, which is near Mandi House Metro Station in Connaught Place in Delhi, for other cities you will have to Google.
For Delhi: National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi, India, the website link is: http://www.nhrc.nic.in/, National Commission for Women: http://ncw.nic.in/, International Human Rights Association: http://www.ihra.co.in/ -> It's available in French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, and Hindi. For Metro Train help: Ph.No:155370, For Booking Cab/Car/Taxi: Merucab: 011-44224422, Mega Cabs: 011-41414141, Super Cabs: 011-41004100, Iris Cabs: 011-44334433, Wyn Cabs: 011-48000000
- In case of emergency Policia Nacional Civil dial 911 (same as in the US) they answer to any kind of emergency, police related, health problems, accidents, the service is free and in case of accident or need of medical attention is free of charge too.
Most Important Ones:
- DO NOT take lift(hitch hike) from any stranger either in their car(big or small), bike, auto or whatever
- DO NOT join anyone for anywhere when you are headed to your host or any other place.
- DO NOT accept anything to drink or eat from anyone.