Safe travels

Published On: March 8, 2019 09:38 AM NPT By: The Week Bureau

As a woman, you have to be extra careful about your health and hygiene when you are traveling. Eating properly cooked food and staying hydrated should be your number one priority especially if you are on a trek or will be walking a lot.

Everyone wants to travel. But traveling or planning for it so that all goes well can be confusing and tedious. And when you are traveling alone, it’s necessary to be mindful of all the thing that can go wrong and iron out the details as far as possible. So, we have two avid travelers to share some of their travel tips with us: Pooja Rijal, who was crowned Miss Nepali Travelers 2019, walked from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp. It took her 33 days. And Nishma Shrestha won the Asian Enduro Series for mountain biking. Here Rijal and Shrestha lay the groundwork for safe travels. 

Research, research, and research
The key to any successful trip is good research. We advise you to plan your trip well in advance and finalize where you will stay and what you will do at your travel destination before you leave for the trip. It’s also good if you have a ‘person of contact’ i.e. a person you know or have talked to previously at certain stop points, especially at places where you know you will be spending the night. Shrestha says that one should always pre-book hotels when traveling and that you should always check the hotel’s ranking for safety, region, and service, especially if you are traveling alone and don’t know the area well. “Learning some phrases and numbers in the local language before you reach your destination can also help you communicate better. This will go a long way in ensuring your trip is as hassle free as possible,” she says. 

Blend in as much as you can
The key to making your travel safe is to blend in as much as possible. For instance, if you show up in shorts and t-shirts when you are visiting a Buddhist monastery anywhere in the world, chances are you are going to be stopped by security or even get pickpocketed because you stand out as a tourist. So, the important thing is to try and be mindful about the culture of the place you are visiting and to look as ‘local’ as possible. The main thing is to not stand out amidst the crowd as someone vulnerable but instead try to look like someone who knows what she is doing and where she is going. “It’s also important to see yourself as a part of their community. So try to make some local friends. It’s a good way to get to know any place and its culture better,” says Rijal.

Make health and hygiene a priority
As a woman, you have to be extra careful about your health and hygiene when you are traveling. Eating properly cooked food and staying 
hydrated should be your number one priority especially if you are on a trek or will be walking a lot. Also, it’s always a good idea to carry sanitary products if you are traveling to rural 
places because you never know if you will find the right supplies there. Shrestha says that she always has some medicines with her when she is traveling because small issues like a headache or gastritis can pose a lot of problems. “So it’s a good idea to tuck in a strip of paracetamol and other bits and bobs in your bag,” says Shrestha adding that one should also be careful when drinking alcohol, especially if you are traveling alone. 

Spend money on staying safe
Always set aside some extra cash for an emergency. For instance, if you arrive someplace late at night, it’s better to spend some extra cash on a cab rather than taking the public transportation. Similarly, if you are traveling through a rough area, it’s better to book a hotel at a more busy as well as commercial area than somewhere quiet or residential. “The key is to follow your intuition and be extra careful whenever necessary,” says Rijal. It might cost you a little more but nothing is as important as safety when traveling, especially if the country or place you are going to is notorious for violence against women. Similarly, if you choose to go skydiving or rafting, it’s better to opt for a well reviewed albeit a little expensive tour company rather than a sketchy, cheaper one that will let you do it at a lower price. Remember, there is always a reason why it costs less.

Check in regularly
Send out your full itinerary to someone at home or someone you trust. Give them a call or leave a message after you get through certain checkpoints. Also, plan ahead regarding how you will check in and how often you will do so, whether it’s through daily emails, texts, social media updates, or regular Skype chats. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you are on schedule. However, both Shrestha and Rijal say that sometimes things may not go as planned and you have to be prepared for that as well. “Don’t panic when the plan changes. You might get lost or be unable to find a good hotel and at those inevitable times just take a deep breath and try to find a solution,” says Shrestha.

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