It’s only a few days until I will leave rainy Austria towards sunny and hot Sri Lanka. Luggage is in preparation, a more or less general travel route is clear and I am really looking forward to that experience.
Traveling alone is an experience everybody should go through at least once. I’ve been to several cities alone until now for example and I also love spending some time alone on a mountain or while other sporty activities. It gives you the chance to really be flexible and do whatever you want. Watching people in a nice coffee shop for hours? Why not? Staying at the beach or in bed longer than planned? Go for it! No one will complain. The next thing is that you will get in touch with locals and other travelers easier which is in my opinion the clue to real secret tips and experiences. Of course, there are always hours where you will feel lonely and depressed, but this is part of the experience. You will get to know you better, and yes, that is maybe a bit uncomfortable sometimes, but also a good way to change the way you see life.
The only thing you shouldn’t do is: google for travel warnings and bad experiences others made while traveling alone. I made the mistake yesterday once again, it’s like googeling while your are sick. I read stories about women getting raped, getting robbed, getting kidnapped, about bad intentions of beach boys, “touchy” men in public transport and so on and so on. Sure, I felt a little insecure for a few minutes. Then I thought about the Libanese guy in Dubai, which is concerned as super safe city, who touched me in a way I didn’t like (to be polite) right in front of my friend and I could only get rid of getting very harsh and also used some physical power. I though about all the stuff I witnessed in Amsterdam or even in my hometown.
Of course I have to be even more careful in Sri Lanka. I won’t be scared, why should I. I think a rough “NO” to any approaches will help and maybe a clap on their hands to if they start grabbing me (something I truly hate, no matter where I am). And yes sure, I will be married if they ask me and my lovely husby is waiting for me in the hotel or next town (this obviously helps as I read in many blogs, something that was absolutely not useful in Dubai for example, because the guys there said, they won’t tell him haha) :-). There are some more tips I consider as useful not only in Sri Lanka:
- have a copy of your passport ready (put it into a book or something similar)
- I note important telephone numbers, since in times of mobiles I hardly remember any telephone numbers anymore
- I also have a bit of spare money hidden in my luggage, just in case
- in public transport, I sit next to other women
- I usually try not to be too nice and avoid eye contact if I have the feeling, that a guy is approaching me in the wrong way with the wrong intentions
- not too much alcohol, especially not when not in the company of someone I really trust, and I never leave my glass
- I avoid traveling when it’s dark and also long walks during the night
- safety over saving: when I feel insecure about a trip, I prefer booking it somewhere at a travel agency on site (day trips for example are often easier when organised) even if it might be a bit more expensive; or if possible I will look for other travelers who want to do a trip and we can go together so we can share the costs of a local driver; I only sleep in hotels where I can lock my room securely – a few euros more give a lot of safety
- I asked the hotel I stay the first two nights for a airport transfer since I absolutely don’t like to look for a trustworthy driver in the middle of the night; for all other days, I will try to arrive during the daylight times, so it’s easier and safer to find a place to sleep – if possible and wifi is available, I will book/reserve the room one day in advance and listen to recommendations of locals and travelers as well as I will study my travel guides
- and finally, something that should be clear anyways: dress up responsibly – no hot pants and bikini unless you are in a tourist area, nothing too short or tight, no bare shoulders… besides the fact that loose clothes aren’t as hot as tight tops, it’s clear that you won’t attract unwanted interest when wearing some wider shirts and long pants ;-) I always have a scarf and sarong with me, so I am prepared for all occasions; don’t wear designer clothes and visible expensive jewelry – you won’t need it anyways and don’t have “rich tourist” written on your forehead :-D
Without having visited Sri Lanka, I am sure, that it will be a good and nice trip. Many friends, also females, told me that it is a safe country. I personally think that with the right amount of care and human understanding combined with an open mind a woman can travel safely to many countries. Of course, it will be different to a country in Europe, but hey, that was the plan, right?