Travelling Solo Safety Advice
Regardless of the crime landscape in your area, we all have to travel. We have to go to work. We have to go buy food. And, as the pandemic has so keenly highlighted for everyone, we need to see our friends and family somewhat regularly or we’re going to lose it a little bit. This is just how we all live our lives. It shouldn’t be up to us to try to be the least attackable person walking home at 6pm on a Thursday when you should be deciding what to have for tea but this is the world we live in. A predator is going to attack what appears to be the easiest target so you need to make it hard for them.
The easiest answer is get a car. If you literally have to just walk into your work carpark, drive home and walk to your front door, your chances of being attacked are hugely reduced. Its not that easy though. What if you’re a student? What if you’re in the middle of a city? What if you travel all over for work? What if your car is in the garage? What if you share a car with your significant other? What if cars are just too expensive these days? There’s a lot of reasons to not have a car and, frankly, it’s healthier and cheaper to walk if you can.
So, what are we to do? Some of this you will absolutely already do, I don’t doubt that for a second. However, I also won’t leave anything out if it could help someone.
These are things that you can do ahead of time.
Walk with people – this advice is easier for students who live and travel across the same general areas, but it can still go for everyone. Wait that extra half an hour so two of you can walk home, rather than both of you alone.
Carry an umbrella – I read a study many years ago where convicted predators were asked what they looked for when deciding on a victim -points from that will be interlaced throughout this article. The one I will always remember is that they avoided umbrella carriers, as they can be used as weapons.
Keep in touch – let someone know your itinerary. Check in with people if you live alone and there’s no one to miss you straight away.
Rape whistle or alarm- it’s kind of self-explanatory. If someone hears a loud noise, its human instinct to look up and see what it is. Even if they’re just peeking out the window to see if its their car alarm, it could save your life.
Taxis – come with their own dangers, but are at least regulated. Check their license to see if the picture matches and if it’s in date. Call from trusted companies: universities usually list ‘safe’ taxi services in the area, so even if you just happen to live in that area, look at the closest universities website.
Shoes – this can be just general life advice, but on your way home, put on some comfier, more walk-friendly shoes. Its easier to knock someone down in heels than in trainers, but also you feet will thank you.
Plan your route – learn what public transport will get you home the fastest.
Car pool – organise a car pool or ask your work about forming one. Some jobs that run later into the night offer shuttles to take employees home and those that don’t should do so.
Research – if you have to travel on your own, there are resources at your disposal with your safety in mind. There are certified women-safe hotels listed and travel management companies that go above and beyond to provide safe travelling experiences.
Apps – Have ‘find my friend’ activated on your phone and share your location/route. There are countless personal safety apps available to use when you fear you may be in a dangerous situation: PeopleSafe and SoloProtect are just a few.
Safety measures/precautions you can decide to do in the moment.
Public transport – if you’re on a more empty bus, sit near the driver and by the camera. For an empty train, sit near the door/exit.
One earplug out at all times – walking home is boring, especially when you’re already tired from work. Some music or a podcast can put some pep in your step and make the journey easier. You should also be aware of your surroundings so keep one ear open just in case.
Even if you’re following google maps because you’re in somewhere new don’t just look at your phone, it audibly directs you, so keep your eyes up and aware.
Call someone – I would ring my parents when I had to walk home in the dark. Talk loudly, you may be afraid or embarrassed to draw attention to yourself but if everyone looks at you then a predator will see you as less of a target. They want to not be noticed and will go for someone who seems like they won’t be either.
Try to avoid badly lit areas – I know, you know, we all know. Often times, this is unavoidable., But not unresolvable: bring a torch. Again, it seems silly that it’s your job to light up the streets, but also few predators are going to go after a person literally emitting light and if you were attacked, the struggle may whip your torch around enough for someone else to notice and help.
It’s awful, but we do have to seriously consider the possibility of someone giving off bad vibes and following you.
Look at them, make eye contact and stare them down. If that person is planning on attacking you then 1. You look a lot more confident, making you less of an easy target. You may be scared but you can fake looking intimidating too. 2. You now could give the police a more detailed description of their face, as you’ve just really taken in what they look like. They may be deterred and leave you alone.
Everyone knows the key trick of putting them between your knuckles but that only works for a frontal attack. Predators are inherently cowards and also it’s easier to subdue someone using surprise – they will likely attack from behind. Hold your longest key in your hand, like you want to act out that scene in Psycho where the killer uses a downward stabbing motion. If someone grabs you from behind then you have access to their leg/side and your key is already facing them. Stab as hard as you can and the second their grip loosens, break free and run. Don’t have a long key? You can buy random long metal keys from Etsy – look it up.
Solo travel tip
There are ‘singles tours’ that cover main attractions, accommodation and travel to certain countries. This can be perfect for people who just want to travel alone, but want the safety of a larger group around them. Chances are there will be discounts as well, as it is technically a group booking. Hopefully, this type of travel opportunity will spare you having to deal with the dangers mentioned in this article.
But the idea of a singles tour brings me to my final point. To consistently be safe, we need to look out for each other and the best way to do that, rather than hoping a random stranger will help us in our time of need, is to organise! Talk to other people at work, create communities on social media, maybe your neighbour up the street gets home the same time as you, say walk with me. Until someone does something, we need to look out for each other!
Written by Beth Percy.