Here are ten rules to live by (in my humble opinion) for when traveling alone as a woman. Disclaimer: I am not an expert on human behavior, nor am I promising that while traveling alone nothing bad will happen to you, but I do think if you are smart and a savvy traveler the likelihood of something bad happening to you is similar to it happening in the city you live in. I might even seem extreme to some of you, and that part of me comes from living in the slums of Tijuana Mexico, but I think in theory you can never be too careful when traveling alone.
1. This is not the time to impress. I know you want to look your best in Rome, but if you are alone it is not a time to stand out. Wear pants, and dark colors. Leave the rouge and cat eyeliner at home. You also don’t want to be wearing lots of jewelry or carrying your biggest, best camera. When I lived in Mexico I wore Big Smith overalls almost everyday (I love those), and my "biggest best camera" I was just telling you all not to bring along, got stolen (huge bummer).
2. Generally avoid male strangers. Men can always take things the wrong way. Even if you think he seems nice and harmless, you are alone and he may not be that nice. Also, if he knows you are a foreigner you are more vulnerable and need to be extra safe in all situations.3. Don’t let people know you are alone. You might attract some creepies that mean well but think, "oh she is alone she must want my company," when really, you don’t. It is also just good practice to not constantly let everyone know that you are the awesome lone female traveler. 4. Staying in a hostel is alright when you are 25, but if you meet someone who is 45 and hanging out there, that seems like a red flag to me. Also, make sure you sign up to stay in an all female room. I ended up in a mixed room one night and it was super weird. I was like: "where do I change?" and "Please sir don't look at me while I am brushing my hair." It had happened by accident so I changed things up the very next night and even though I was then surrounded by drunken sorority girls coming to bed at three in the morning, I felt way better and much more at home. 5. Be confident. Look and act like you know what you are doing. You don’t want to wander around telling everyone you are lost, can’t find your hostel, and then have a mini melt down on the sidewalk. Cry in the privacy of your hostel shower after you have conquered the sweaty subway and then the cab driver who tried to over charge you. 6. If you ever feel threatened, threaten back. I am really serious about this. It seems strange but the reverse psychology kind of works in my experience. Is someone openly staring at you? Glare back at them. I bet they will look the other way. Is someone nonchalantly following you? Turn around and stop (showing them the mace in your hand), let them know you see them following you and that if they don’t stop you are going to scream louder than you ever have in your life. 7. Stay in at night. I know I sound like a mom, but you probably should for the most part. There is still lots to do. Read a good book, or use the internet in your room to Skype your family. I met three luvvly ladies while traveling in Rome who invited me to spend the day with them exploring the city by foot. I felt comfortable in this situation because we had gotten to know each other over the last couple days in our hostel and we all seemed to have a lot in common. This same group of girls invited me to go meet them and some other travelers at the Colosseum that night. The truth is that I would have loved to go, but since it would be at night and I was traveling alone, I declined and went back to my room while it was still daylight. [caption id="attachment_1934" align="aligncenter" width="729"] This place is amazing all the time.[/caption] 8. Check in with your family or a friends everyday. Let them know what your plans are, whom you are hanging with, and what time they should expect to hear from you again. This will also prevent your parents and significant others from worrying themselves sick. I am looking at you Sarah Morton! Yes my sister traveled through India for three weeks and contacted us probably thrice. P.S. She is totally safe and had an amazing time. [caption id="attachment_1937" align="aligncenter" width="720"] If I had not checked my email I would not have gotten to see this amazing picture of my nephew that my brother sent me.[/caption] 9. Be smart. Study your map and get a general idea of the city, the currency, and the language so ill willed people are less likely to be able to take advantage of you. 10. Trust your gut and pay more attention to it than you normally would. If something doesn’t feel right don’t do it, and be confident in your decision. [caption id="attachment_1931" align="aligncenter" width="608"] If I was to create rule number 11 it would be: Don't ride the sleeping train from Spain to France. NO SLEEP, snoring people below.[/caption]