16:35:00

HOW TO STAY (AND FEEL) SAFE AS A FEMALE SOLO BACKPACKER IN SOUTH EAST ASIA (AND NO, I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT COVID-19)



You're only human if you're nervous about travelling alone.

As women, we have to keep our wits about us at all times - particularly when travelling. When I announced I was going away by myself, of course my friends and family urged me to 'stay safe' - but it was my own nerves that guided me to make sensible and smart decisions out here.

It dawned on me how scary it is when you're a woman on your own, and as someone who's just finished four weeks in Thailand solo, I thought I'd offer up all the safety tips and tricks I picked up along the way.


Even if it feels safe, don't walk home alone


Two days into my first solo trip to Bali, I was walking along the roadside at night with a backpack full of valuables. A motorbike stopped and attempted to pull it off my shoulders. Fortunately, it was more of a style statement than a practical backpack so it simply popped open when he grabbed the handle and sped up the road. In most cases, the bag is yanked off your back. I was lucky.

Now, I always get a ride at night. There's a great app for getting motorbike or taxi rides called Grab, which I suggest you download straight away. It's the Uber of South East Asia (as I believe Uber is banned!)

Whether it's on a Grab bike or with a taxi, it just feels safer to be in a vehicle. Don't get me wrong, people do report incidents of drivers demanding more money and accidents happen, but so far this isn't something I've experienced. I truly believe you're much safer this way than walking in the dark, and it's not going to cost much. I'm sure it'll be much pricier if all your valuables are stolen on the walk home. Which brings me onto the next point...

Leave your valuables at home 


When I was almost mugged in Bali, I was carrying quite literally all the expensive and important things I owned. My phone, all my cash, all my bank cards, a DSLR camera, an expensive lens (that wasn't even mine), my passport and my room key were in that bag, so I was unbelievably relieved when I managed to get away unscathed. Can you imagine how awful it would have been if he'd taken everything?

There really is no point carrying around all the expensive things you have. You won't need all your cash, all your cards, your laptop, phone, tablet, fancy camera and passport all at once. Take the bare minimum, and if anything happens, you're in much better stead. I was actually carrying it all as the safe in my room was broken. I immediately got this fixed, and now I always make sure it works.

Stay central for your own peace of mind


For me, it feels much safer to stay in a busy and accessible location. There have been times when I've ended up staying further away from the centre than I planned, and this just means you feel more isolated and are forced to spend more on taxis. You could, however, rent a scooter - but I don't know how to ride one and I've heard countless stories that scared me. If you're a confident and experienced driver, this will give you independence and save you even more cash on taxis.

Choose hostels


If you're like me and prefer being surrounded by the hustle and bustle, I'd also advise staying in hostels. There's a comfort in sharing rooms with other people for me, as you know you're not alone, but even if you get your own room, it's good to know there are staff there to help too. 

I always stay in female-only dorm rooms too, which reduces risks and makes me feel much more comfortable and relaxed.

If you've got it, don't flaunt it


As Western travellers, we're very privileged. Don't make it any more obvious than it already is.

Keep your valuables away when you're walking down the street or out in public. Taking tourist pictures is fine, but be careful. 

If it can happen in the UK - one of the safest countries in the world - it can happen anywhere. Let my story be a warning!


A note


While this isn't a matter of safety, I wanted to mention something I feel is super important when travelling: respect.

I've seen countless backpackers being super rude and disrespectful on my travels so far. From making fun of accents, to being plain nasty, it's not OK.

Research the culture before you travel and ask questions. There's nothing worse than disrespectful and ignorant travellers. It'll keep you relaxed during your travels, while also keeping the locals happy. 


If you want any tips on which hostels to stay at in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines or Bali, drop me a message on FacebookTwitter or Instagram. And don't forget to drop me a cheeky follow on Bloglovin' too!
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