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. It is all anyone asks me about in regards to my trip.
Forget the history and culture. Can I, or can I not, confirm that Asia is not safe for a women by herself?
I'm here to inform everyone that Asia is very safe for a women alone.
Granted, I am giving everyone the benefit of the doubt where common sense is concerned. This might be too grand of an assumption. As long as you have basic common sense, you're fine.
MY TOP SAFETY TIPS FOR SOLO FEMALE BACKPACKERS AND TRAVELERS:
1. DON'T BE DUMB
This is what you need to get through your trip! Don't push your luck and always use your head!
2. TRUST YOUR GUT
It's a cliche, but it's true. 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.
Notice that I said nothing about riding one. If you've never ridden a motorbike before, don't start while backpacking.
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, you need to be able to reach out to people.
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 with flirting. Don't be naive.
9. STAY IN LARGE DORM ROOMS
I felt 100x safer in a dorm room of 12 people than sleeping alone in a hotel room. As long as you secure your belongings properly, it's safer to be around around more people.
10. DON'T GET TOO DRUNK
It's just not safe.
11. STAY ALERT
12. DON'T BE AN IDIOT/TAKE DUMB RISKS
Oh, everyone is going cliff jumping or paragliding? That is cool, but I'm going to not do that.
13. EXPLORE IN DAYLIGHT FIRST
People like to say, "Don't walk around alone at night."
Well screw that. That's horrible advice. Many parts of the world come alive at night, and that is actually the safest (not to mention the most exhilarating) time to be walking exploring.
However, if you just arrived in a city and it is dark out, wait until the next morning to start hardcore exploring.
14. WEAR HEADPHONES IF YOU NEED 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 who start to harrass you (you can still talk to those who seem nice or need help!)
15. DON'T RIDE IN CABS ALONE AT NIGHT
16. LISTEN TO TRUE CRIME PODCASTS TO KEEP YOU ON YOUR TOES
You need to know the enemy. You need to know how evil people behave. Listening to My Favorite Murder podcast while traveling alone helped me become 10000x more vigilant than I ever was before.
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