Are you a solo traveler? Maybe you’ve just been thinking of doing it but haven’t made it yet. Either way, this post is for you. Over the years I get ” that look” from people as I talk about my solo adventures. You might have seen it yourself before- the look of oh my goodness you’ve lost your mind traveling alone in the world! My parents laugh over this a lot, partly because it drives me insane and partly because they know how I was raised because well, they raised me to be this way.
A few days ago on a Facebook thread, I saw an article about a solo traveler who was found murdered, and then tonight, as I’m thumbing through twitter I see several posts about tragic incidents that happened while traveling. It saddens me to read these because I also have learned of the fantastic people you can meet while traveling and I spend a good bit of time telling people all about how many wonderful individuals you will encounter while exploring the world.
But I also understand that with the good, there’s always the bad. I was not raised in a world of sugar plums and unicorns. In fact, I didn’t do girl things really into my mid-twenties. But I was raised to take care of myself, to be situationally aware, and to be able to defend myself if necessary both by hand or weapon. Because of this upbringing, all these skills were ingrained in my memory early on, making it very natural for me to do these things automatically and without thinking. Now, this by no means makes me a bad-ass or invincible, but it does help to keep me safer than most while on my travels. With that being said, I should also point out I’m 5’2 and about 125 pounds. When I was much younger, I barely weighed 95 pounds soaking wet, so as you can see I’ve never been big.
So on occasion when I read something, or someone brings up something that happened to someone else while traveling solo; I want just to scream and shake them. And the reason I don’t is that not everyone was raised like me. I really truly do understand that. Sometimes it’s just hard for me to remember at the moment because for me, at that time in my life, that was my normal. So, I’d like to help them to become more situationally aware while on their travels and even during their daily life. So here are my top tips for situational awareness.
1.Situational Awareness is Key
Situational awareness is probably the biggest thing you should learn. It’s the act of making sure you know what is going on around you at all times. It does take practice, but after a while, this will become second nature to you as well.I cannot stress enough how important this is. Honestly, I’m pretty sure this is the most important one. For the love of god women everywhere listen to what I’m saying! Pay attention to your surroundings!
- Learn how to tell if a person is following you and what to do if they are.
- Learn to be able to spot someone following your car.
- Learn to check and take note of who is around you, especially in a parking garage or empty lot type of situation.
- Pay attention to body language.
- NEVER EVER leave your drink unattended. For that matter don’t turn your back on it, or put it off to the side either. This can give someone the opportunity to put something, such as drugs, into your drink
- Remember If something feels off- it probably is.
2. Take a Self Defense Class
Please goodness, I don’t mean go learn how to break boards in a karate class. I mean an actual self-defense class. One that teaches you how to escape holds and get out from under an attacker, how to hurt or maim someone severely in order to be able to escape without them following you, and how to prevent yourself from getting into that situation in the first place.
3. Spend Time at the Range
While this won’t work for most cases outside of the U.S. this is still something every woman should know. How to properly handle, clean, and accurately shoot a firearm. Classes are offered all across the U.S, and they aren’t super expensive. Learn the safety rules and state laws and be a responsible firearm owner. Learn how to accurately shoot what you’re aiming for and how to keep your shots in close proximity to each other. Oh, and don’t stop practicing just because you have it down. This is a skill that you will lose should you stop.
4. Learn to Take Calculated Risks
This is something I learned a long time ago, and it has come in handy while traveling with my son. As I’ve mentioned a few times, my son has a rare medical condition and with certain injuries can go into an adrenal crisis within twenty minutes. So since I don’t plan on making him the boy in the bubble, I’ve also taught him to look at the risks and safety plans to make a calculated decision before deciding to go somewhere or try something new. This helps to weigh out what could happen, and what are the odds of it happening part of an adventure as well as to make emergency plans in case something happens.
5. Understand that none of this makes you invincible.
Keep in mind that just because you have this knowledge doesn’t mean that you can take on the world. ( Even though I know it can make you feel like that) The world will have to save itself though; you have to look out for you and yours.
While your confidence will be boosted, you must above all things remember that your most significant asset is, as a woman, your assailants don’t expect you to know how to do any of these things. The element of surprise is what will save you should you ever need to use the things you’ve learned. These skills are not for you to be able to go out and pick a fight with someone thinking you will win. But if you remember that and keep what you know low-key, I’d say the odds of something happening to you will go way down.
Do you have any useful tips to add? Leave them in the comments and let’s all work together to become safer travelers!