I can't believe I have been back in America for five weeks! My chaco tan-lines are fading, my backpack has returned to its home under my bed, and I am starting to feel nostalgic about a trip that now feels like a distant dream.
The obvious cure for this? Planning another trip! Ha..ha..ha. No worries, family. I wouldn't do that... I don't have the money.
Option 2? Write about it.
This is a long overdue post, and not because I really care about writing it. Rather, it is all anyone can seem to talk about in regards to my trip. Forget the history and culture. Can I, or can I not, confirm the preconceived notion that Asia is not safe, and I am lucky to be standing here today?
Well, while I am very lucky, I am sad to inform everyone that Asia is very safe.
Granted, I am giving everyone who hops on a plane to traverse 5 countries by themselves the benefit of the doubt where common sense is concerned. This might be too grand of an assumption. That is why I am sharing...
MY TOP SAFETY TIPS FOR SOLO FEMALE BACKPACKERS:
1. DON'T BE DUMB
This is what you need to get through your trip. Don't get me wrong - I met plenty of idiots while traveling, and I met plenty of idiots who made it home in one piece. Don't push your luck - use your head!
2. TRUST YOUR GUT
I never thought I would actually be saying this, but If something seems fishy, it probably is.
3. DON'T DRIVE A MOTORBIKE IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW
You're not going to listen to me on this one, but I have to try. Motorbikes are easily the best way to get around Asia, and are very easy to rent. That being said, everyone I met who rode one for an extended period of time got into an accident.
Do you see what I did there? I said don't drive one if you haven't done it before. I said nothing about riding one.
4. WHEN YOU RIDE A MOTORBIKE, WEAR A HELMET
5. GET A SIM CARD WITH DATA AND TELEPHONE
Just as America has managed to inflate the cost of higher education to an inconceivable rate, American cell phone plans fall into the same category. Pretty much anywhere else in the world, one can get a few gigs of data and hundreds of telephone mins for just a few bucks. I know you want to ~disconnect~, but if you are traveling alone, it is just not smart.
6. SAVE LOCAL POLICE NUMBER, AND YOUR HOSTEL/HOST NUMBER
Once you have your sim card, find out the local police number, and save it into your phone. Also, because the police probably won't speak English, save the number of your hostel/homestay.
7. SHARE YOUR LOCATION ON YOUR IPHONE WITH PARENTS/FRIENDS
If you have internet connection (data or wifi), it is possible to share your location with someone at all times if they also have an iPhone. Go to your iMessage with them, hit details, hit "Share My Location," then hit "Share Indefinitely." Now they can see where you are in the "details" section of your conversation as long as you have internet.
Yeah, it is a tad big brother-y, and sometimes my dad would text me things like, "I see you are home." However, this really is the safest thing you can do.
8. UNDERSTAND THAT EVERY SOLO GUY YOU TALK TO WILL THINK YOU'RE HITTING ON THEM
...because men suck, and equate kindness and flirting. Don't be naive.
9. STAY IN LARGE DORM ROOMS
I felt 100x safer in a dorm room of 12 people than I did sleeping in a hotel room alone. As long as you secure your belongings properly, it is much safer to be around a lot of people.
10. DON'T GET TOO DRUNK
I attribute a large part of my safety on my Asia trip to it coinciding with my 3 months of sobriety. Okay, maybe sobriety is an exaggeration. Did I drink? Almost daily. However, it was usually only one beer, maybe two. I got what I would actually consider drunk once while in Asia.
I was able to have an amazing time, make friends, and have fun nights without getting blackout drunk. You can too.
11. STAY ALERT
12. DON'T BE AN IDIOT/TAKE DUMB RISKS
Oh, everyone is going cliff jumping or paragliding? That is cool, I am going to not do that.
13. EXPLORE IN DAYLIGHT FIRST
I am not going to tell you to no walk around alone at night. Many parts of the world come alive at night, and that is actually the safest and most public time to be walking around. However, if you just got somewhere and it is dark out, wait until the next morning to get your bearings in the daylight before doing hardcore exploring.
14. WEAR HEADPHONES TO IGNORE PEOPLE TALKING TO YOU
If you just walk around with headphones in, even if they aren't playing music, you can ignore people talking to you.
15. DON'T RIDE IN CABS ALONE AT NIGHT
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