1.You are an easy target.
NO matter how strong and as independent women are portrayed these days, the truth of the matter is scammers still sees us as an easy prey. Yes men experience this too, but scammers are more persistent and motivated to push through with their evil plans on women travelers. The trick is to keep your wits with you and don’t panic. Listen to your instincts, if it’s saying you are in danger, there’s a big probability that you probably are. Go to a safe place and please try not to look like headless chicken or a deer caught in the headlights. Try to blend in like you know what you’re doing.
2.Don’t just wing it, read up about the culture, money exchange policies and dangers of a foreign country or city that you are visiting.
Sounds sensible right? But for us free spirits, throwing rules out the window, going on an adventure wherever the wind takes us in an unmapped city is as normal as our everyday routine. Our courage and adventurous spirit doesn’t exempt us from being mugged in broad daylight with all our belongings and of all horrors our passport though. Trust me this is not an adventure that our calm meditation can fix. Do your free spirit a favor and read up do your research before you go.
3. Bus Rides and Boat Rides are not like not like the movies.
Riding a bus or a boat for backpackers is a test of patience and endurance. It’s not like the movies where you just sit there, serene and contemplating how beautiful life is. Most of the time it’s an uncomfortable wait at a chaotic bus station and enduring a 12 hour heart stopping, bone jarring bus ride beside a chicken or an exotic vegetable. Sometimes you get lucky and see a fellow traveler who looks just as confused and uncomfortable as you and you finally say Hello to each other in one of the pit stops and whine about your backs and the horrible ride. Oh and hold on to your yellow teeth because you still have 9 more hours to endure, on the bright side you got a new friend 😉
4. You will be followed, catcalled or stared at.
If you are a woman traveler, expect to experience this at some point in your travel. Now back home, it is not really a big deal, but in a foreign land, this is kind of scary, especially when you don’t speak the language. This happened to me on my very first trip abroad . We were followed by ‘ Hey Honey, where are you from? Where are you going? the whole time and Followed back in the place where we are staying at twice! The scariest was when we were at the bus stop at 5: am in the morning on our way to the Airport and two guys followed us and lingered in the bus stop with us, They kept asking us our name and where we were going. Fortunately other travelers came in and they eventually left us alone.
5. Pack for Safety.
When packing for your first trip abroad, don’t just pack cute outfits and gadgets. Think about packing stuff that may be helpful to you in defending yourself. Now you don’t want to kill someone on your first backpacking trip abroad, so leave your 12-inch knife at home. Breath sprays, alcohol sanitizers on a spray bottle and a sturdy pen will do. Carry it with you and keep it handy when walking around even on daylight. And try to dress appropriately as respect to the country’s culture.
6. Travel with a Buddy
If it is possible, for first time woman travelers it is still best to travel with a buddy. I know, you can just meet new friends along the road right? Probably, but first time travel is a time of confusion. It can cloud your judgment. I still think it’s still best to have a buddy to travel with not only to be safe but most importantly so you have someone to high five and gush when you experience something epic or at least someone to share your culture shock with.
7. It’s not always life changing
First time travels are not always enlightening or epic. Reality may not live up to your expectation and the shock and the unfamiliarity of it all may be too overwhelming for you to appreciate the trip and you end up going home feeling the same as before and secretly feeling like that trip was a waste. Do not be deterred by this. This feeling is fleeting. Travelling takes practice. The world is a big place. If you really want to see and experience something amazing, setting foot and immersing yourself in the unfamiliar is a great way to start. Putting your brave cap and your adventure boots on is a big step. Keep going, one day you will look back at your first time travel and be glad that you took that exciting first leap in seeing this amazing world.