Travel Safety Tips
Having FOMO is extra real when it comes to seeing Instagram posts of people traveling via VTL — most of us already can’t wait to plan our next getaway. However, it’s also important to remember that there are more dangers beyond Covid-19 out there. Especially for women who are often seen as more vulnerable, travelling solo is no easy feat.
We spoke to 7 women in Singapore to share with us some lesser-known travel safety tips when overseas. Speaking from personal experience, these ladies have shown us why it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
1. “I bought a travel money pouch that can be hidden underneath my clothes”
Image courtesy of Jia Hui
“I used to travel often both by myself and with other people. Solo travel gives me a lot more freedom to go wherever I want and meet new people, but travelling with others is a lot more fun and secure.
I think some dangers women face overseas are being followed and catcalled or approached by con-men on the street. But I also think we are prepared as we tend to be more wary while overseas, especially since these incidents are common.
When I travelled overseas, I bought a travel money pouch that can be hidden underneath my clothes to put cash in. I also try to hide my cash in candy tins, envelopes and in between books to keep it discreet.
I keep multiple wallets on me, one filled with many coins of the local currency so that if I get stopped by con-men or beggars, I will take out the pouch. If they ask me for more money, I will say that this coin pouch is all I have.
While I have thankfully not experienced getting robbed, doing this gave me a peace of mind. The tip worked well when I was at touristy attractions in LA. I think it definitely applies universally as well.”
Additional advice for women who are planning to travel via VTL: “Be careful about your surroundings. Always keep a physical copy of local emergency contacts and of your hotel in case your phone gets stolen.”
— Ling Jia Hui, 23
2. “In dangerous situations, head to the nearest convenience store because there are CCTVs inside”
Image courtesy of Jia Yi
“I don’t travel often, but I did my degree in Taiwan and travelled within Taiwan myself. Most of the time, women are faced with the dangers of personal safety, especially at night when you travel alone.
I remember talking to a taxi driver in Taiwan who taught me that if I felt like I was in a dangerous situation, I should head to the nearest convenience store because there are CCTVs inside. I used this tip in my first year when a guy who boarded the bus followed me, alighted at the same stop as me and then asked if I was from a certain university.
I quickly walked into a 7-11 and texted my friend about the situation. After making sure the guy wasn’t around anymore, I made my way home. My place didn’t have any CCTVs around so I was extra cautious to make sure the guy didn’t know where I was staying.
I think all genders do face similar issues but it’s more prominent for women to share their stories. In general, when you feel unsafe, head somewhere that has CCTVs or alight at the nearest police station.”
Additional advice for women who are planning to travel via VTL: “If you feel uncomfortable with someone around, head to a crowded place and make sure not to let the other party know that you’re travelling alone — you might not know their agenda. Be wary of your surroundings!”
— Yeow Jia Yi, 26
3. “Always plan your route and use Google Maps to check the area first”
Image courtesy of Shermaine
“Prior to the pandemic, I mostly traveled with my family and a couple of times with my schoolmates. If you’re travelling alone, you have to watch out for yourself at all times. But if you’re with others, everyone can keep a lookout for different things.
Women are probably not prepared for the dangers of pickpockets and sexual predators. Since we’re in foreign countries, getting our way around is our main concern and we wouldn’t be as aware of other dangers. We tend to let our guard down when we’re having fun too.
When it comes to navigation, always plan your route and use Google Maps to check the area first — even though it’s quite time-consuming. Try not to travel along small alleys and unknown or suspicious-looking places. If possible, keep a safe object like scissors in your bag accessible just in case you might need it.”
Additional advice for women who are planning to travel via VTL: “Covid-19 is the biggest fear right now so masking up and staying hygienic is also important. The last thing you want is to waste your money on a trip.”
— Shermaine Lim, 23
4. “When walking by yourself at night, walk fast with a purpose”
Image courtesy of M
“I tend to travel with people if I go to a new country. But ever since I live overseas in the UK, I have to run errands on my own. Being by myself, I get to go anywhere I want to and follow my own plans. But it can get dangerous and lonely too, especially if it comes to bullies or theft.
I think most females will know how to prepare themselves in some way, such as not walking home alone at night. Media has mostly depicted females as the weaker sex so people take advantage of it. It’s slowly changing, but it takes time to change people’s mindset.
When travelling, don’t use your phone and dawdle. Especially when walking on your own at night; walk fast with a purpose so you don’t look unguarded. If you’re using a sling bag, don’t sling it on one shoulder, but make sure you put it across your body. Keep your important stuff like your wallet on your body, and wear clothes with deeper pockets or zipper and button pockets.”
Additional advice for women who are planning to travel via VTL: “If you’re unsure of an area, try a reliable tour group. Don’t just follow the internet blindly, and ask shopkeepers for directions or help.”
— M, 25
5. “Book an Airbnb that is close to the airport and comes with transport”
Image courtesy of Yanling
“I usually travel with people, but I do love travelling around by myself too. But travelling by yourself means that you [have to] take charge of your own safety, spendings, bus ticket timings, and baggage — on top of navigating on your own.
When you’re alone, it makes it ten times more dangerous because it looks like you’re an easy target. Most women are probably not prepared for the worst, even if we say we are. Because in that state of mind, it is normal to not be able to react.
I try not to put myself in these dangers as much as possible. When I went to Alberta, Canada alone, my flight was scheduled to arrive at about 8pm. I did extensive research and read reviews to make sure I got the safest Airbnb in the area. I also made sure that the Airbnb provided to and fro transport from the airport so I could minimise any potential threat along the way.
For accommodations, especially when laying over, it’s good to book an Airbnb that is close to the airport and comes with transport. It reduces the chances of you having to interact with other people in the wee hours of the night.
I also would recommend getting up early for your tours because you can end your day early and get back to your Airbnb while the sky is not fully dark.”
Additional advice for women who are planning to travel via VTL: “Check out YouTube videos of people who have gone to the country and “borrow” their itineraries. You can also find the accommodations or tours they recommend. Afterwhich, do some research and read the reviews!”
— Tan Yanling, 23
6. “Ask the convenience store workers to call the police to walk you home at night”
Image courtesy of Jou Teng
“Before Covid-19 happened, I travelled once a year. I don’t think many women in Singapore are prepared for the dangers of travelling overseas unless you are trained in self-defence. Since most of us grew up in Singapore, we barely encounter such issues and are used to how peaceful and safe it is.
As I lived in Korea for 8.5 years, there is this tip where you can ask the convenience store workers to call the police or volunteers to accompany you walking home at night. It only applies from a certain time and to specific convenience stores.
There is also an app called Emergency Ready that gives you notifications in English about what is happening around you — especially if you don’t have a local Korean number. Koreans themselves receive these compulsory texts from the government on their phone.
Doing research about the country you are going to and joining solo travel Facebook groups that are specific for females are important too. This is where you will be informed about the dangers that other people encountered. For better resources. you can also join a specific country’s travelling guide forum so you can get a rough idea of how the country operates”
Additional advice for women who are planning to travel via VTL: “I would suggest avoiding people who are asking for directions, especially if they approach you in pairs in tourist-filled areas like Myeongdong and Hongdae. Most of the time, they may have ulterior motives.They can even be as young as high schoolers.”
— Tan Jou Teng, 28
7. “Try not to bring attention to yourself in a way that clearly marks you out as a tourist”
Image courtesy of Rachel
“Before the pandemic, I travelled about 2 to 3 times each year with my family. I think the main danger for women is that they are seen as people that can be easily taken advantage of by. scammers or pick-pockets. This is especially dangerous because women often do a lot of shopping while overseas, and it is during those moments of distraction that we become most vulnerable.
When I was in Athens, Greece, my family and I had done quite a bit of shopping and were holding a few bags. As we were queuing in one of the shops, a lady came up to tell us that she had seen a few locals targeting us, but she had notified us just before they could do anything.
After travelling to so many places, my main tip is to try not to bring attention to yourself in a way that clearly marks you out as a tourist. Don’t be loud and obnoxious, don’t wear “I <3 [CITY]” T-shirts and don’t have your camera out and take pictures of everything you see, even though you might be tempted to.
For women, my best tip is to always prepare beforehand and be confident. The city you’re in might be completely new to you, but try to not let that show on your face. The moment you appear too lost or scared, you might become a target.”
Additional advice for women who are planning to travel via VTL: “Don’t be afraid to splurge on safer accommodations. Choose slightly reputable hotels and highly-rated Airbnbs where the safety of you and your valuables will be guaranteed.”
— Rachel Wong, 23
These Travel Safety Tips Shared By Women In Singapore Are Useful For Your Next VTL Adventure
There’s no such thing as being too safe when it comes to travelling overseas. For females who are planning to travel via VTL soon, hopefully these travel-safety tips will come in handy for your upcoming adventure.
Additionally, females can also check out this list of travel-safety items to prevent thefts or accidents during your trip.
Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
All images courtesy of interviewees.