For a woman, travelling alone through Asia can definitely be a double-edged sword: on the one hand, the freedom and independence of solo travel is more often than not liberating and life-affirming, but on the flipside, without a companion you can feel quite vulnerable in some countries. |
The solution? Don’t be scared to throw your dreams out in front of you and walk into the dream (with thanks to Carl Jung), but never, ever throw your caution to the wind.
Top Tips for Travelling Solo in Asia
1. Invest in the appropriate Asia travel insurance: This first tip comes first because, well, right after buying your ticket and starting the countdown on social media, organising your Asia travel insurance should be top of your "to do" list. One thing to be mindful of, however, is that Asia can be a difficult region to define, so make sure that whatever countries you plan to visit are actually covered under an Asia travel insurance policy – in some cases you may need to take out a worldwide policy instead.
2. Don’t put yourself at risk: That may sound like common sense, but you need to be aware that risk can have different triggers in a foreign culture. Specifically, don’t leave yourself vulnerable by being in a situation where you are alone with a male. Latch on to other travellers, if needs be, and never let a man into your room – and that includes staff.
3. Be aware of your surroundings: If you're out at night stay in busy, populated areas and don't go down any dark alleys. If you're in a high-traffic area, make sure you walk towards oncoming traffic rather than having it at your back.
4. If you've got it, don't flaunt it: Travelling through Asia is no time to bring out the bling. Keep any valuables and money well concealed on your person and don't flash any fancy electronic equipment around. Most opportunistic theft happens in the busy tourist places rather than in the more remote areas.
5. Learn to lie: Ok, that's maybe a little extreme, but for your own safety it's a good idea to "invent" yourself a husband or male travelling companion. Wearing a fake wedding ring is a great idea and, hey, create your dream proposal and honeymoon story if it floats your boat!
6. Fake it before you make it: The same inventive tactics are often a wise move when it comes to losing your way. If you're feeling vulnerable, don't look lost (even if you are); walk with a purpose and exude confidence. Work out the details later.
7. Check your bills: While it's definitely not fair to tar every operator with the same brush, there are those who frequently take advantage of foreigners by overcharging their credit cards or adding in a few "extras". This also applies to taxi fares and tours; ask up front about the cost and make sure you understand.
8. Public transport: It's often on packed buses and trains that women alone find themselves getting unwanted attention or suffering some form of sexual harassment. Try not to travel at the busy times, but if you do, sit as close to the driver as you can and keep your arms crossed.
9. Security trumps style: It may not look as fashionable as a vintage Chanel clutch, but a close fitting, cross-body bag is far more secure. It's also a good idea to thread any loose straps through your belt loops for extra security from bag snatchers.
10. Dress conservatively: All that lovely sunshine might make you feel like stripping off to a skimpy outfit, but to avoid unwanted attention, and also to show your respect for the culture, covering up is the way to go. Loose fitting flowing cotton garments, saris and sarongs are available very cheaply at local markets.
If you follow these tips and add a liberal dose of common sense, travelling alone through Asia can be one of the most exciting, enlightening and fulfilling experiences of a woman's life. Girl, go get that dream…
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip, family, annual, cruise travel and winter sports insurance. If you need Asia travel insurance, or for business or leisure travel to any other destination worldwide, InsureMore has the best policies to suit. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
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