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Traveling alone in supposedly dangerous countries

Traveling alone in supposedly dangerous countries

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Old Jan 27, 07, 10:23 am
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Traveling alone in supposedly dangerous countries

Is there anywhere that you've gone alone that people think you're crazy to?
I have a lot of places I want to go, but there are also a lot of places I won't go traveling solo.
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Old Jan 27, 07, 1:32 pm
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I travelled solo in Uganda - parts of it remain on the FCO "do not travel to" list because of an on-going civil war/uprising. However, I did actually hire a car and driver and go on safari, so I'm not sure if it fully counts. OTOH, I do remember being quite nervous about it all! In the event it was a fantastic trip - the Ugandan people were so friendly, the street prostitutes always used to say hello as I walked by them in the evening And I met up with two New Yorkers my age at a couple of the places I stayed who were good to hang out with.

The big problem I did have was in the hotel in Kampala, with an overly amorous bellboy who saw me (lone western young female) staying in a/the suite (I swear I didn't book it, but got it anyway ) and decided it was worth a try
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Old Jan 27, 07, 7:11 pm
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Unfortunately with a husband and kids I don't travel alone except on business. However my sister who is young, single and completely fearless will go almost anywhere alone. A couple years ago she spent 7 weeks in Africa doing things that were probably not recommended. (Including crossing the border into Uganda on a bus at night which required getting off the bus and actually walking across.) The year before that she visited some remote Thai islands by herself. Last September she bummed around Central America with a friend who had never traveled before.

There really is something to be said for good instincts and knowing how to travel. We grew up traveling a fair bit, plus common sense goes a long way. Often she'll chat with other "western folks" to get feel for how the locals are reacting to tourists. Sometimes she'll travel for a while with other women she meets. Plus, she always has $100 US hidden on her person at all times. If all else fails in most parts of the world this should get her to someplace where she can get help.


Personally, I think that if you really want to go someplace you should go while you can. Do your research, know the risks, try and understand the local politics, have a plan B or C, and then go for it!
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Old Jan 27, 07, 7:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Jenbel View Post
The big problem I did have was in the hotel in Kampala, with an overly amorous bellboy who saw me (lone western young female) staying in a/the suite (I swear I didn't book it, but got it anyway ) and decided it was worth a try
If you were interested, then would it be characterized it as "the big problem"? Or was it something else?
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Old Jan 28, 07, 12:44 pm
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I was not at all interested. Just as an example, he did try to snog me after bringing my bags up

And I did end up sleeping with my case against the door (I hate doing that because of fire) because I knew he'd be able to get a pass key...

Just because I was female and western (and therefore rich and able to get him a visa for the UK), did not mean I wanted to be hit upon.
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Old Jan 28, 07, 5:24 pm
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"Snogging" someone is passionately kissing someone, right? I wonder how it got close to that. Did you complain to the hotel management?

This kind of stuff (minus the presumptive visa dynamic, but not always) happens in European enviornments (including government, financial and law offices) as well. Actually, Europe is where I've heard of such things happening to "female and western" persons more than it happens to "female and western" persons in "supposedly dangerous countries".

In any event, women-only, women-and-children-only, or couples-and-minor-children-only (family) sections do have their benefits in some people's opinions and are gaining new vogue.
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Old Jan 28, 07, 6:31 pm
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My gal friend just did a solo trip taking the Trans-Siberia train from Beijing to Moscow, covered quite a few other East European countries along the way..sounded dangerous but things turned out all fine.

I travelled alone most of the time, slept over in Madrid airport, took overnight buses, did parts of China solo. But there will be some places ( e.g. middle eastern countries where women are discriminated against) I would think twice about going solo...
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Old Jan 28, 07, 6:32 pm
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Originally Posted by artemis021 View Post
Is there anywhere that you've gone alone that people think you're crazy to?
I have a lot of places I want to go, but there are also a lot of places I won't go traveling solo.
I've been to lots of places, most of which I'd go back to as a solo female traveller, for biz or pleasure. I'd say that there isn't one place in Asia that I would hestitate with, including Jakarta. Rangoon has a certain stigma attached to it, but I wouldn't hesitate to go there, either, and safety certainly isn't the concern there.

As for other places, I wouldn't want to go back to Karachi by myself, but if I had to, I would hire a personal guide/driver. I would go back to Cairo by myself, but I would get burnt out after awhile. Same for the busier cities of India, I would travel there alone, but would get burnt out very quickly. I would, however, hestitate in certain off-the beaten parts of East and South Africa and probably arrange for a guide if I had to go it alone.
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Old Feb 3, 07, 2:56 pm
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I've gone solo or with 1 other woman to places all over the world, Turkey, Cambodia, Thailand, Latin America and I'm leaving this evening to Dubai solo. I'm saving up money and miles to do Africa in a year or so.


A lot of it is being aware of your surroundings. I have eyes in the back of my head and am very aware of people who seem to be following me around or paying undue attention. Dressing in a way that does not attract attention is also good - especially in more conservative countries. And don't wear a lot of jewelry or throw money around.

I say go for it! Travelling is a blast and just because you are single or can't get someone to go with you doesn't mean that you should miss out on it!
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Old Feb 9, 07, 7:25 pm
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My parents and friends think I'm nuts for traveling anywhere solo! I tend to go on long trips internationally, 2-4 weeks, every few years.

I've been to South Africa, they thought that was pretty adventurous. Actually, Cape Town gave me weird vibes (though I met a cool female cab driver there). My trip next month is a month in southeast Asia -- Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos -- and no one can understand why I want to go there.

I, on the other hand, can't understand why people have no desire to see foreign cultures up close. Plus I like the 'adventure' of traveling solo around the world. It's a pretty safe adventure, but still gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I guess I got hooked ever since I did a summer backpacking in Europe after college with a friend. I gained so much confidence, best thing I ever did.

I'm probably not as security-conscious as I should be. I do make sure my parents know where I'm going, keeping in touch in email. And I tend to stay at middle-class places -- not that it's a guarantee of safety, though. I do tend to either turn in early, around dark, or else I stay somewhere populated and public and take a cab directly back to where I'm staying. I won't walk around on the streets at night, I actually wouldn't do that here where I live outside Atlanta. I'm not a night owl. And I tend to join up with either other travelers during the day, or 1-2 day tour groups, for English-speaking company.

Oh, and not more than a single drink at a meal, if that. I never drink at all at home, but sometimes the easiest thing is to have a beer or glass of wine, and I will. But I avoid anything I think will impair my sense of judgment when traveling alone.
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Old Feb 11, 07, 1:20 pm
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Does any destination have a higher rate of violent crime than New Orleans? I'm probably safer traveling solo, when I do, than when I stay at home.

I do not trust U.S. cab drivers. I wouldn't get in a car with any strange man, why get in a car with a strange man, probably himself from a foreign country, who has paid off somebody for the right to drive a cab and who can't be found again if something happens to me? When I had to file a complaint against a cab driver in Vegas, even with the information including the number right off the license posted in the cab, the Taxicab Authority claimed that they could not figure out who it was actually driving the cab who robbed me. The guy who held the license claimed it wasn't him driving that cab, no way, not him. I was never able to figure out why he shouldn't have been fined for allowing a criminal to drive his cab, but whatever. So, again, traveling in a foreign country is probably safer by a ton if you take cabs instead of public transportation.

Family and friends always think you're nuts. If not for traveling solo, they'll find another reason.
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Old Feb 25, 07, 9:38 am
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I have had friends say stay out of New York and I have never been afraid in New York.
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Old Feb 26, 07, 2:48 pm
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I have travelled to many foreign countries solo. The only "dangerous" trip was a trip to Croatia while the war was still going on. At the time I didn't think anything about it because there wasn't active fighting in the area when I intended to stay. I did get a mild reality check when I saw two soldiers in full combat gear, holding automatic weapons, and patrolling the street.

I didn't find out until I got back home that everyone I knew--my family, friends, and co-workers thought I was absolutely nuts for going. Funny that none of them mentioned it before I left.

It was a fantastic trip, by the way.
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Old Mar 10, 07, 4:20 pm
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I do some consulting and training on a range of issues including sexual harassment and workpalce protection. I think sometimes it's less of where one goes than how one is. A book I recommend for those interested in some preventive reading and in honing one's intuitive skills and travel more safely is

"The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker (paperback.) Basically, IMO it's an empowering book that attempts to show true fear is a gift one can tap into to make protective decisions and protect oneself from violent and potentially violent behavior - and that unwarranted fear is a curse that can distract us. De Becker helps us tap into our powers of intuition and use it for our own benefit.

(I've used much of this information when traveling through a number of countries where military coups were occurring, or even revolutions.)
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Old Mar 10, 07, 5:05 pm
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
I do some consulting and training on a range of issues including sexual harassment and workpalce protection. I think sometimes it's less of where one goes than how one is. A book I recommend for those interested in some preventive reading and in honing one's intuitive skills and travel more safely is

"The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker (paperback.) Basically, IMO it's an empowering book that attempts to show true fear is a gift one can tap into to make protective decisions and protect oneself from violent and potentially violent behavior - and that unwarranted fear is a curse that can distract us. De Becker helps us tap into our powers of intuition and use it for our own benefit.

(I've used much of this information when traveling through a number of countries where military coups were occurring, or even revolutions.)
Thanks for the book idea. De Becker is a very interesting character.

I've traveled in places that may not have been too wise including areas of South Africa where I had to go for our projects, but tourists never see. Looking back my biggest problem was complete fatigue. Totally worn out. The fatigue was a bigger threat to my health and safety than anything else.

I got so tired that at one point I fainted getting out of a van at my hotel in Johannesburg. The doorman tried to help me to avoid falling, but I outweighed him 2 to 1.

Lesson learned. I do a much better job of scheduling now, know when to say 'no' to doing more than I ought to do in a day and when to decline a trip all together.

Thanks JDiver. As usual. On the spot advice.
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