This is a very spur of the moment post prompted by someone asking for advice (on this Facebook group) on how to avoid unwanted attention/advances from men whilst travelling solo. Unfortunately there are a few creepy guys out there and they can be a bit of pain in the bum. Also if you’re anything like me, sometimes you just wont be in the mood to be chatted up even by the nicest of guys, so having a way to deflect their advances comes in handy.
Of course, I do wish there was no need to have this conversation but c’est la vie. It’s better to discuss and be prepared then pretend it doesn’t happen and it definitely shouldn’t put you off travelling solo. So here are my tips on avoiding/dealing with unwanted attention from men as a solo female traveller. I hope you find it helpful and if you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments.
Ignore It – I know this is rubbish but I really have no other suggestions when it comes to catcalling, hissing, clicking, pats on the bum etc. The best thing to do is point blank ignore. I realise it can be difficult. I found it difficult to cope with all the unwanted attention I received backpacking around Morocco as it was pretty relentless. However, most of the time it was just annoying and they didn’t do me any harm.
Wear a Wedding Band – This may seem a bit much but in a lot of cultures men don’t act around married women the same way they do around single women. In fact now that I think about it, I’d say it’s the same with western cultures too. Wearing a wedding band also tends to deter direct attention so definitley consider it if you’re worried.
Speak Another Language – My go to solution when approached is pretending I don’t speak English. Honestly! If I would rather be left alone I’ll reply in German and look confused/sorry. “Ich spreche keine Englisch” works wonders. 50% of the time they loose interest immediately and the rest know that I’m taking the mick but are too embarrassed to continue trying. Of course, if they then reply in German or have already heard me speaking English I have to move on to my second escape technique.
Pretend You Have A Boyfriend – If pretending not to speak English fails my next go to is telling a little lie… “sorry, I have a boyfriend”. I try not to be presumptuous so only say this if they want my number or to join me etc. But again, from experience that is all it takes for them to loose interest.
Female Backup – Usually it doesn’t get to this as they’ll have already taken the hint, but not always! Guys can be persistent when they like what they see. In this instance I would look to nearby females for help. We should all have each others backs so be it to a group of girls in a hostel or an assistant in a shop, explain the situation and you might end up making some friends in the process!
Expect it – Being blonde, blue eyed and pale means in some countries drawing attention to myself is unavoidable. So in these situations I expect to be stared at (especially when looking ridiculous in a snorkel). Most people are just curious and I would never consider curiosity a bad thing even if it does feel a little weird.
Dress Appropriately – What I mean by this is dress respectfully of other peoples religions and cultures. When entering holy buildings or walking around temples and ruins in South East Asia, I was expected to cover my shoulders and legs. Following these customs stops unwanted attention and is just the right thing to do. I was once told off by a man for having my shoulders out in the Notre Dame. I didn’t think to cover them which was silly of me because despite being very touristy, it is still a church.
Research Local Customs – In some countries, for example Japan, making eye contact with strangers is considered forward. In others a smile is considered impolite. Even just being an unaccompanied woman is strange in a lot of countries. So understanding the situation you are in and the meaning behind what you’re doing is always good.
Be Sensible – Travelling alone requires sense and I know you guys have that already so I won’t say any more!