African countries

Challenges and Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone

Female tourists in search of fun, relaxation and relief usually travel to these beautiful islands and countries, but it is not always a fairy tale trip.

Some of the challenges encountered are common such as language barrier and others are deep rooted challenges such as xenophobia.

Forbes has listed the 10 worst countries women can travel to; Egypt, Morocco, Jamaica, India, Peru, Bahamas, Colombia, Turkey, Ecuador and Guatemala. The main reasons are terrorism, violence and sexual assault.

According to the Women’s Danger Index, South Africa is one of the most dangerous places for women. The report states; “South Africa is the most dangerous country for women to visit alone, followed closely by Brazil and Russia. Spain, Singapore and Ireland were the three safest places for soloing.”

Over Easter weekend, a young woman, Zainab, who traveled alone to Zanzibar for her 23rd birthday, posted a thread on Twitter about how she was sexually assaulted and nearly raped in a hotel.

The thread was heartbreaking and scary. Although she reported to the hotel authorities and the police, she did not get justice.

It got us thinking about why solo travel for women is difficult.

First, there is the assumption that a woman traveling alone is a prostitute or “coward” woman whose trip was sponsored by a man. So even when she complains, she is looked down upon and ridiculed.

Second, the absence of a “protector” or a group puts her in danger and makes her vulnerable. It is sad that society makes the presence of a man necessary for women to feel safe from harm caused by other men.

Third, there is the risk of sexual assault, violence and shouting from locals for being alone. In India, it is advisable to dress like the locals so as not to be harassed. Several women reported intruders in their rooms and general abuse

There is also the risk of theft and loss of property. People have had their belongings stolen from hotel rooms or while traveling around town.

Extortion is another big problem. From immigration officers extorting at the airport to mistreatment by locals, the journey can be traumatic.

How can women protect themselves when traveling alone?

If you’re like me, you wouldn’t want to wait for someone before exploring the world. The world is too big to wait for someone to find out.

But as a woman traveling alone, there will be challenges no matter the country. So. here are some safety tips;

  1. Research the country properly. Know the currency, how much do you need to have? How much can take through the airport? and how can you convert the currency of your country? Know the mobile networks that work and the means of transport. Are Uber and Bolt working on it?
  2. Use a travel agency. There are so many tour operators who can help you with planning, flights and itinerary.
  3. Tell the hotel staff that your boyfriend or husband will be joining you soon. Don’t give the impression that you are alone.
  4. Get a more secure lock. Most of these thefts and assaults are committed by hotel staff. Go online and buy an air BnB security lock.
  5. Stay sober. If you are drunk or passed out, your thinking and judgment are impaired.
  6. Have an electronic copy of your passport.
  7. Have the number of the Nigerian Embassy or also contact their local police number.
  8. Use pepper spray or a knife.

Finally, it is up to the country, the hotel and the resort to ensure that foreigners are safe and have a good time. It is negligence on their part if they cannot ensure the safety of their guests and property.