How Women Can Stay Safe When Travelling Solo
Ciara Johnson has been travelling the world alone and she has shared her tips for other women who want to give in to their wanderlust and stay safe.
Im a woman and I travel the world alone, from Mexico to Morocco to Cuba to Bosnia to many other countries. Here’s a thread on how I stay safe: pic.twitter.com/ANnxNlWTYr— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
In a Twitter thread, Ciara shared her personal experiences as a solo traveller and highlights especially what it's like for a woman.
She said "It’s made me hyper aware of my surroundings. There’s no other option. Pay attention to the people in your surroundings."
"I do lots of research before I go - cultural norms, customs, how to dress, scams, natural disasters, political climate, etc. Instead of listening to people who’ve never visited these places before, I look for first hand knowledge from other solo female travellers."
She gave thanks to modern tech, saying she can use it to let people know where she is at all times. "I use google maps, translation apps, and drop my pin to friends/family often."
"When it comes to posting on social media, I never post in real time. I never tag locations while I'm actually there. I usually only post photos or share where I was, once I've left. You really never know who's lurking."
I fell for Mexico City. I was lucky to be stationed at @chayabnb for a few days, the center of Mexico’s historic district. Overlooking Alameda Park, the area was the perfect base for exploring the city. The bed & breakfast is on the top floor of Barrio Alameda, a renovated 1920s building. In this building alone, there was a mezcal bar, tattoo shop, yoga studio, vintage shops, and other creative shops owned by some of the city’s leading entrepreneurs. Simply being in this building made me feel inspired. Then I step outside to see iconic architecture dating back to the 16th century - the perfect clash of old and new. Can’t wait to return to explore more of this big city!
In terms of travel, Ciara relies on Uber.
She says, "I Uber. No, Uber is not perfect, but I think it's a bit safer than hopping into a random taxi abroad. At least my location & the driver's info is stored in the app. In foreign countries, it can be hard to know if a taxi is even official."
When Ciara is travelling, she says she is wary of pickpockets. She shared, "I split up cash & cards throughout different bags in case one is stolen. I hold my bags directly in front of me with my hand over the opening if I am in a crowded area to avoid pickpockets."
To see, hear, feel, and breathe the energy in Havana. . The spirit of the city was alive & it was everywhere I turned. I told my Cuban friend that I could walk down the street of my neighborhood & never see a soul. I lived in an apartment for 2 years and never saw, heard, or talked to the 6 other people that lived on my floor. This wasn’t the case in Havana. As you walk down the street, you can peer into everyone’s home bc their doors are wide open, you’ll hear someone from the 4th floor apartment shouting down at someone on the street, you’ll see tables set up in the middle of the street full of people playing dominos, you’ll hear that constant reggaeton beat everywhere you go no matter how early or late, you’ll see and hear people pushing carts down the street chanting/shouting out the name of whatever they’re selling, you’ll hear constant construction & machinery work being done on the dated buildings, you’ll see people doing business(selling food, doing nails, cutting hair, etc.) directly from their living room, you’ll see groups of strangers jumping into the same car to get from one point to another, you’ll see fresh animal parts laid out on the street for sale like it’s no big deal, you’ll see the elderly walking hand in hand with their grandchildren, and if you’re a woman you’ll likely hear hisses or shouts of “que lindaaaaaa” as you walk down the streets. People are constantly outside, talking to eachother, dancing with each other, and simply being around each other. Heck, even accessing wifi is a group effort since everyone must gather at one spot to use it. . There was a strong sense of community I was able to witness by simply walking down the streets of Central Habana. It initially threw me off, bc it’s something we’re not used to in the US. You talk to who you know & that’s it. If you’re laughing too loud in your apartment, your neighbors just might even report you. What a shame. There are many reasons why things are the way they are - both political & historical, but these are just my observations. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you visit a completely different environment and I think that’s what travel is all about.
Predators tend to target women who are travelling alone and appear insecure.
"I'll lie if someone asks if I'm alone. Traveling alone actually causes you to depend on strangers for so many things, and majority of the time things work out great. "
"Fake it till you make it. I swear I walk around like I know exactly what I'm doing, where I'm going...even when I don't."
Was the 14hr journey to the blue city worth it? HECK YES, IT WAS! i took a 12 hour sleeper train from Marrakech to Tangier. I opted for the WOMEN ONLY train & my bunk mates were 3 older Moroccan women. The beds were actually comfy, so I slept like a baby till morning. 1 particular woman was helpful when I asked her which stop Tangier was. After this, she motioned for me to take some photos of her sitting in her sleeper bed before we got off. I happily obliged as she posed next to the bunk bed. Y’all know I’m all about photo shoots...even if it’s in a sleeper train haha. Once we arrived, she told me how I needed to get from Tangier to Chefchaouen. When we stepped off the train, she held my shoulders & walked me past all the men shouting “taxi” as if I was her daughter. She didn’t speak English, nor did I speak french or Arabic. I still needed to figure out how to get to the blue city. I stepped in the Tangier train station to charge my phone. A girl around my age sat next to me. I thought, “great, I can ask her! She’s young so she MIGHT speak English.” She didn’t, but she was still very nice. So I pull out my phone and we start communicating via google translate - passing my phone back & forth between each-other, giggling in between. She asked if I could add her on FB and she even welcomed me to visit her in Casablanca. We both had to leave though, so I asked her if she could help me negotiate a taxi price. Oh, and did she.Y’all, she argued with this man so passionately for at least 10 minutes like I was her sister. He was charging me the foreigner price & this really upset her. They’re yelling back & forth in Arabic, hands flailing & all and I’m just looking so lost lol. People are staring. I want to tell her to calm down...but then again, I liked her passion lol. Thankfully, she was able to talk the price down, so I hopped in the taxi. I thanked her, she gave me the biggest hug & kiss on the cheek. I never saw her again. So I got into this broke down Mercedes taxi & the driver spoke in Spanish the full 2hrs. I sat there thinking of these 2 stranger women. I don’t think they’re random in anyway. When I’m alone, they’re Godsent.
"I'm fully aware that the world can be a very dangerous place. Instead of living in fear, I do my best to play it safe - both at home & abroad. Sharing these tips for those that live alone or those who may want to travel alone."
I've written many other tips in full detail here for how I stay safe as a solo female traveler: https://t.co/RRAlxM8L4j— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Check out more from Ciara here.