Traveling solo can seem a bit unsafe, but as long as you know some solid safety tips, you should be able to feel comfortable and stay out of harms way. I’ve traveled to over twenty countries completely solo, so trust me when I say…I know how to travel solo like a freaking ninja.
Unfortunately, Liam Neeson can’t always be there to save us when we’re traveling solo, which is why it’s good to know a few safety tips in case you need to be stealthy like a ninja in sketchy situations. The good news is that there are ways to appear as though you might be a ninja in order to avoid such situations, the bad news is that, you’re not, and there is still a possibility of something happening any where you go.
But not to fear! As long as you take the necessary pre-cautions, and always remember that crime can happen pretty much anywhere, you should be able to protect yourself from evil, and ward it off as well!
Ninjas know everything, especially facts. Don’t let stereotypes or media propaganda determine how you feel about a place you want to visit. While it’s smart to listen to current events on the news, make sure you research what’s actually going on somewhere before you rule it out as too dangerous to go to. Also, make sure you do the same for places you automatically rule out as “not” too dangerous to go to.
Look up reviews from past travelers, stories from bloggers, and especially local current events from news sources in the actual area.
Ya, I know, I sound like your mom…and in fact it was my mom who forced me to do this the first time I traveled alone. I’ve never had to use it luckily, but it doesn’t hurt to do as a pre-caution to send an email to your embassy in the country that you’re traveling to (i.e. mine would be the U.S. Embassy in _____). The reason for this is because if anything were to happen to you, your embassy (AKA ninja allies) would have a record of where you are and what dates you were supposed to be there.
You can also report to them if anything you have gets stolen, like a credit card, or passport, and they can help you get a new one.
Ninjas blend in, which is why they’re so hard to catch! Just because you’re used to wearing shorts and a tank top back home, or wearing a flashy watch, doesn’t mean that it’s Ok to do it in a place where you’re not from. Not only are cultures different in what they find appropriate to wear clothing wise, but you can easily make yourself stick out like an easy target if you’re not covered up enough, or if you’re wearing something expensive.
Research what people wear in the areas you’re planning on traveling to (hint: Tweet a local blogger!), and always bring a cardigan, sweater, scarf, etc., just in case you need to cover up.
Want to know an easy way to stick out as someone to rob or kidnap? Be obnoxious. Nothing screams “tourist” like someone being overly loud and obnoxious, especially if alcohol is involved. You will never see a loud and obnoxious ninja…fact. At the same time, don’t appear to be timid or skiddish, because that will only make you seem like you’re more vulnerable, and easier to attack.
Want to know what scares the shit out of people? Confidence. Walk around with your head up high, look people in the eye, straighten your shoulders, and even sport a smirk that says, “Yeah, I’ve walked these streets, want to fight about it?” Well, maybe not “fight”, the goal is World Peace here, but hopefully you get what I’m saying.
Confidence will also automatically make you feel like a ninja because you’ll have that “Yeah, what?!” strut, like you own the place, even if you secretly have 0 idea where you are.
People are targeted for crime when they appear to not know where they are. Tourists looking at a map, solo travelers walking in circles back to their hostel, even a mother waiting for a taxi outside of her hotel, if you look confused, you look like a target. If you act like you live there however, that means you’d obviously know where to run to to escape a potential attack…or at least like you’d know how to get the person in some damn bad trouble if they were to even try you!
There’s a good chance you don’t look like you live there, but I’ve seen a blonde American easily ward off a Thai haggler just by waiving her hand and snuffing at him (she lives in Thailand).
Although I’m secretly a super nice person at heart, my death stare has been known to ward off the evilest of evil; from people judging me for traveling solo, to gypsies considering slitting open my purse. Have you ever seen a ninja who doesn’t sport a death stare?
All you really have to do is make eye contact, then squint a little bit, and kind of snarl your lip. Potential threats are an automatic turn off to attackers, and a clear warning that you may be a ninja.
It’s ALWAYS a good idea to learn some phrases of the language that is native to the place you’re traveling to. Not only is it polite, but it’s EXTREMELY helpful in case you find yourself in a situation where someone is talking about you or trying to “offer” or ask you something. It’ll also make you seem like you’re knowledgable of the area, and like you have been there for a while so know what’s up with people trying to be sketchy.
Just look up basic phrases online or download one of the many language apps on your phone…just be sure to write them down as well since you probably won’t have data and/or wifi when you’re walking around in another country.
You should never walk around with your passport unless you’re staying in a hostel or something where your room can’t be locked or there’s no safe. If you lose all your money, or if you lose your passport, you’re screwed. JUST KIDDING!!! There’s ways to get out of it, it’s just not going to be easy.
Instead, make copies of your passport, and put them in everything that you have (i.e. your purse, backpack, wallet, luggage, pocket, etc.). As for money…….as someone who has gotten their debit and credit card stolen….I’d highly suggest bringing multiple forms of money and also hiding them in different bags. I’d also suggest getting Travelers Cheques because they are MUCH easier to use than trying to wire yourself money.
By “Non-Weapon-Weapons” I mean, objects that you know can be used as a weapon, but have no immediate threat as one, and would never get taken away by TSA. Clearly ninjas just use their sweet ninja-moves for self defense, but in the event that you haven’t taken karate, there are other options.
My weapon of choice is my travel “purse” which is made from seatbelts, and so tough that it can’t be slashed through with a knife. I imagine if someone were to attack me, I would just swing my purse and whack them in the head with it since it also weighs about 10 pounds.
Although I don’t fully recommend walking around with that brand new iPhone 6 out because it can make you a target…I’m just going to throw it out there that the corner of your phone can be pretty painful if you hit someone with it.
I actually do this…often. If I feel like someone is looking at me like I might be an easy target, or if I don’t feel safe in a certain area, or walking alone, I’ll take out my phone and have a full on conversation with…myself. If you can actually call someone, great, but I usually don’t have service when I’m abroad and long-distance charges are a bitch (unless you’re really scared…then make a call).
Additionally, act like you’re pissed about something…people are less likely to attack someone who already seems to be angry and aggressive.
Also use phrases like:
“Yeah, I’m almost there”, “You see me? Oh yeah, I see you too!”, “I’m Passing ____ Street now”, and “What do you mean the police are at our place?”
Sometimes criminals think they’re ninjas who are super sneaky and can do things without being seen. But it would be hard to not be seen if you had a video recording of them, now wouldn’t it? If you feel like you’re in an unsafe area, and feel comfortable enough to take your phone out (this is up to your judgement), start taking pictures or a video of your surroundings, and even add commentary about where you are so it seems like your whereabouts are well documented.
If you feel like you’re being followed or targeting, turn into the nearest cafe or restaurant that you can find. You can wait it out, or maybe even tell a waiter that you feel like you’re being followed, and see if they’ll take a peak outside so that the predator knows you told someone. You can also use the phone there to call a cab, that way you don’t have to walk.
If there are no restaurants, shops, or taxis nearby, it may be a good time to use those long-distance minutes to make a call as you continue to walk.
Solo travelers get targeting because, well…they’re solo. It’s not as likely to attack a group of people as it is a single person, but no one has to know that you’re actually by yourself! Although it may be slightly awkward, if you feel unsafe or in danger, and there are other people around, nonchalantly walk up to them and ask a question, or just go ahead and tell them that you think you’re being followed, and ask if they mind if you join them until it’s safe.
Just make sure that the people you’re approaching at least look safe…you don’t want to walk up to a group of gang members or anything…
Although (once again) the goal is World Peace, if you’re being attacked, touched, or aggressively approached, it might be time to bust out the ninja moves, and judo chop the shit out of the person coming at you. I’m no ninja trainer, but I always imagine that if I were being attacked, I would first try to kick the person in balls (assuming they’re a male), and if I couldn’t do that, I would punch them in the nose.
Realistically, I would probably start screaming and scratching at their face, but that works too because nails are painful, and screaming is scary.
*NOTE: If someone is trying to steal your bag and they have a weapon, just give it to them by throwing it away from you, and run. It’s not worth getting hurt to try to save your stuff!