20 Ways to Avoid Unwanted Attention as a Solo Female Traveller
Most of us have already accomplished our dream of travelling solo or at least taken a few steps towards living that dream. And it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine from the start. We had to shut our ears and ignore society’s negativity, and only then have we managed to step out and do what we love. And I appreciate all of you for doing this!
However, do note that a few things that society warns you about are actually true. One of those is getting a lot of unwanted attention. And when you are travelling solo, you need to take extra care of such things. While I have met some fantastic people during my solo trips, I have also met some shady people. All of this is a part of solo travel.
Sometimes, these situations can be very tricky to handle. And if you are on your first solo trip, you might never travel solo ever again because of these hurdles. But don’t worry, it happens, and it has happened to me too. After a couple of bad experiences, I have come to know a few tips and tricks that you can use to avoid unwanted attention as a solo female traveller.
1. Don’t dress to impress all the time
Let’s face it, your appearance directly determines the amount of attention you get, not only from men but also from women. Think about it yourself. If someone dresses up and looks fancy, you would stare at them too. This works both ways. However, you can wear whatever you want, but be mindful of the unwanted attention you would attract. A rule of thumb is to research a place before visiting it to know what is acceptable there.
2. Avoid stepping out after sunset
I know you’ve heard it a thousand times. But there’s a reason behind it. In many places, women travelling alone at night give some locals a wrong idea about their intentions. It happens, but only in some places. Refrain from going to secluded areas alone after the sunset. However, if you are in a metropolitan area, you don’t have to really worry about it. If possible, you can step out with a friend you would have made on your solo trip.
3. Trust your gut
Sometimes, your gut can help you more than anything else in this world. If someone is trying to be sweet and friendly, but you think otherwise, just walk away or say no. There’s nothing wrong with following your gut instinct. And the best part about intuition is that it gets better with time, proving to be very helpful while solo travelling. And it is astonishing how a little voice from inside you can guide you in the right direction almost every time.
4. Don’t be so friendly all the time
We were always taught to be friendly, smile back if someone smiles at us, reply to a greeting, and whatnot. But when you are travelling alone, you need not do it all the time. These gestures might be misinterpreted by a few people and can attract unwanted attraction. Sometimes, you need to be stern and not indulge in a conversation. However, in social places like a bar, you can use your judgement to make decisions.
5. Be careful while travelling in private transportation
Private transportation is usually much safer than public transportation. But I’ve heard from people that some drivers ask for numbers, make a pass, or stare blatantly. What can you do to avoid this? Book a taxi only from a reputable application, sit in the backseat, let your hotel know where you are going, always have your earphones on, even without music, or pretend you’re on a call with someone and update the ride details if the driver acts shady.
6. Always wear a ring
It might sound strange, but it works. Even if you are not married, always wear a fancy ring on your ring finger, not necessarily a wedding ring. If there is any unwanted attention towards you, just tell the other person you are married, pointing at the ring. This should be enough to ward them off. You might think that saying that I have a boyfriend might work. It does work, but not as well as wearing a ring and saying that you are married.
7. Read a little about the culture
Different things mean different in places other than your home country. Be it gestures, body language, or clothing style- everything can differ in a significant way. A friendly gesture in your home country might mean something totally opposite in another country. Or a specific type of clothing that is normal in one country might be considered revealing in another. Make sure that you research and read a bit about the culture of the place before visiting.
8. Ignore the catcalls confidently
No matter where you travel to, you will find people catcalling you. You will find some who whistle, some who call names, some who call you beautiful, and whatnot. You know that you are gorgeous, but these people don’t really care. The best way to deal with such people is to ignore them and walk away confidently without showing a sign of discomfort. You can have your earphones on and put on sunglasses when you go out in the afternoon.
9. Sometimes, hotels are better
Don’t get me wrong. Hostels are a great place to socialise and make some friends. But sometimes, you can attract unwanted attention from your roommates and some men also. But if you choose to stay in a hotel, you can just head back to your room without having to talk to anybody. I understand that it can get quite lonely on a solo trip if you don’t opt for hostels. But trust me, a lot of hotels provide a sense of peace like your own home too.
10. Be careful while flirting
There is nothing wrong with flirting. But you never know what the other person might think when a traveller flirts with them. You might simply be acting friendly, but they might feel that you want something more. If you aren’t planning to go any further than just flirting, let the other person know about it. And if you aren’t sure how to flirt without giving a signal that you want something more than a conversation, it’s better than you don’t flirt at all!
11. Never trust any man
You will make a lot of friends on your solo trips. And men will always appear to be more friendly than women. That’s a great thing, but remember that not everyone wants to help without some ‘give and take.’ You will meet people who want to help you genuinely, but please don’t jump to conclusions right away. Always make sure that you don’t give away too much personal information, and it’s even better if you just stick with making female friends!
12. Limit your late-night parties
Everyone loves dancing and late-night parties. But this is the place where you get a lot of unwanted attention. When going to the bar, try and take a friend instead of going alone. Also, take a cab and let your hotel know where you are going and when you will be back. In case of any mishap, your hotel will be able to help you. If you do not want a problem at all, it’s best to party at famous places or not party at all. I know that sucks, but there is no way out.
13. Learn to say no
Remember that solo travel is all about you and not about impressing others. You don’t have to say yes to everything to be nice to others. There are many situations where you would have to take a call, and you end up saying ‘yes’ due to peer pressure. For example, saying yes to shots of drinks when you don’t want can get you overly drunk, and good things don’t happen when you are drunk. So be careful.
14. Blow that whistle
You wouldn’t need a whistle in most cases as a simple ‘no’ works. But when things get out of control, it can work wonders. If someone tries to cross their limits in a public place, you won’t have enough time to call the police. Instead, pulling out your whistle and blowing it can save you. The embarrassment and the legal procedures that the other person would face might change them forever! But make sure that you don’t use it unnecessarily and trouble others.
15. Learn a bit of the local language
A great way to blend into the crowd and avoid unnecessary attention is to spend some time and learn a bit of the local language. For example, if you are travelling to Sri Lanka, you can refer to these words and phrases, which can be helpful in more than a few ways. Casually speaking in the local language will send off a message that you know your way around the country. This way, you can make friends with the locals or simply interact with them.
16. Learn some tricks from the locals
There is an abundance of information available on the internet, and due to this ocean of information, it can be hard to know the truth. In such situations, the locals can help you more than anyone else. You can ask your hotel staff about some tips and tricks to tackle unwanted attention. This can help you deal with things better, and it is an excellent start to the trip! This way, you wouldn’t need to worry about it for the rest of your journey.
17. Dress like a local
Other than not dressing to impress, you should consider dressing like a local to blend into the crowd. I know that you should have the freedom to wear whatever you want to, but sadly, you can’t do that in some countries. Again, read about the culture online so that you have a better idea about everything. The best part is that not only will you avoid all the unwanted attention, but you can enjoy some outfits different from your basic ones too.
18. Don’t be flashy
It goes without saying that being flashy grabs attention like a magnet. Just think about it, wouldn’t you stop and stare at someone flashy? You know you would! If you do not want this to happen to yourself, think twice about your outfit before you step out. No matter where you are in the world, you will attract a lot of attention if you are flashy. There’s no doubt about it! To avoid all this, wear a basic or the local outfit and also subtle jewels instead of the flashy ones.
19. Get into a nearby property
If you think that someone is following you or you feel uncomfortable due to some reason, just get into a nearby restaurant, shop, mall, or any other such place. This will allow you to relax a bit and plan what to do next. Either book a cab and get out of that place or call the police, whatever you feel is the right thing to do! You can also simply wait until everything is clear. Maybe, nobody was following you, and it was all in your head, who knows?
20. Save the emergency numbers
You won’t need to use these numbers as most people go away when you say ‘no.’ But if things go too far, don’t hesitate to use the emergency numbers. Don’t think about what people would think and what would happen next. Before travelling to any place, make sure that you save the local police and tourist help numbers on speed dial. I hope you never have to use these numbers, but it is always better to be prepared for the worst.
Solo travelling is a beautiful experience. All you need to do is be brave and follow the tips I have mentioned above. If you think that things are getting out of control, do not hesitate to call the police. Just make sure not to create a fuss about something trivial.
And to be very honest, it isn’t rocket science. Things aren’t much different as compared to your home country. The same tips and tricks work at almost every place. If these little things hold you back from solo travel, read about some safety tips to gain all the power! Happy travelling!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.