It’s great to be an Australian woman in the 21st century. OK, so the system may not be perfect but we’ve got a lot of rights and freedoms that we didn’t have 100 years ago. One of these freedoms is the ability to travel overseas whenever and wherever we want to (budget and time off work permitting, of course!). Add in the ease of air travel to any part of the globe that takes our fancy and the world is more or less at our doorsteps.
However, the world isn’t perfect and some people are still stuck in a mindset that says that a woman travelling on her own is fair game and asking for it – or at least that she’s an easy target for robbery and fraud. Sad to say, this mindset is found in some Australians, but it seems to be even more common in some countries overseas.
It galls me a bit to have to write an article telling adventurous women how to stay safe when they’re off on their travels – when it comes down to it, it should be the responsibility of those who want to mug, rape or defraud us to stop doing it. However, given that the world is what it is, here are some tips to help you stay safe and enjoy your overseas trip wherever you go.
- Don’t be an idiot. This means that wearing headphones while walking in a dimly lit street at night is a dumb idea, as is getting hopelessly drunk in the company of total strangers, or accepting lifts to your hotel from seemingly friendly guys. And all that stuff about keeping an eye on your drink, etc. Basic, commonsense stuff that you’d do here back home.
- Don’t travel alone. I’m not trying to be a killjoy here, but if you’ve got someone to watch your back, you’ll be a lot safer. What’s more, a trip can be a lot more fun when you’ve got a friend to share all the experiences with. If you can’t find a friend to travel with, then try advertising or asking around to find a woman who’s going where you’re going. You might end up making a great new friend.
- Swot up on the local customs as much as possible to avoid giving a guy the impression that his attentions are welcome. For example, while looking a passer-by in the eye and giving him a friendly smile is merely polite in Melbourne, the same thing would be taken as a come-on in Madrid .
- Be sensitive in how you dress. Yes, you might think that the way women dress in, say, Egypt , is barbaric but still be sensitive and don’t go making a point with short skirts and daring sleeveless tops. Think how you’d feel and react if a tribesman from Papua New Guinea walked around a Sydney shopping mall in his traditional loincloth and penis sheath. That’s how some of the locals may feel if you go walking around in skin-baring Western clothes.
- Wear a fake wedding ring (top tip from a woman from a volunteer aid agency) and possibly invent a fake husband (a photo of your brother, boss or co-worker, or maybe a cutout from the front of a romance novel in your wallet helps). If a guy tries to chat you up, mention that you’re waiting for your husband (nice and ambiguous – you may well be waiting for Mr Right, so you’re not lying).