Heading away for a solo adventure: Here are some tips to stay safe

Women have some more hurdles to jump when it comes to travel.

Women have some more hurdles to jump when it comes to travel. Photo: Getty

Aussies love a good holiday, but for women, travelling alone comes with the added pressure of taking extra safety precautions.

Almost 90 per cent of women business travellers take safety precautions to enhance their security when travelling alone, a survey commissioned by travel risk management and assistance provider World Travel Protection found.

The survey reveals 63 per cent of respondents feel travelling as a woman is less safe than travelling as a man, and more women (44 per cent) express concern about the risk of sexual assault than men (29 per cent).

These safety concerns likely apply to female travellers at large, rather those just travelling for business.

The Australian government’s Smartraveller website even has a whole page dedicated to advice for women travellers; there is not a similar page dedicated solely to male travellers.

Kate Fitzpatrick, EMEA regional security director at World Travel Protection, says it’s important to acknowledge that women often face more harassment and discrimination than men while travelling.

Factors such as cultural norms, gender-based discrimination and safety concerns can significantly affect women’s experiences while travelling.

“When making plans for travellers who identify as women, it’s important to think about the social rules and safety of the destination they’re visiting,” she said.

“This includes how they will get around safely and any political problems.”

Steps solo female travellers can take to protect themselves include arranging timely flights, as well as avoiding late-night trips between airports and accommodation.

How you use social media can also play a big part in your safety while travelling.

If you’re going to post about your trip online, Smartraveller recommends increasing your privacy settings to avoid advertising your location; a general rule of thumb around online safety is waiting to post about a location until after you’ve left.

If travelling alone, women should avoid letting other people know that’s the case, and be cautious about divulging the details of travel plans.

When researching local culture, travellers should also look up local laws; even if they seem harsh to Australian women, they still likely apply to people travelling through.

For example, some countries may imprison foreigners for having sex outside of marriage.

This could mean victims of sexual assault may face criminal charges rather than protection if they report the attack to authorities or seek medical attention.

In 2022, travel hotspot Indonesia passed changes to its criminal code, including a ban on sex outside of marriage.

Tourists may turn out to be exempt, as only the spouses, parents or children of the accused will be able to report acts of premarital and extramarital sex, but the case highlights the importance of being aware of local laws and customs.

For more tips on keeping safe as a woman traveller, head to Smartraveller.

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