When you first told your friends and family that you planned to backpack solo through Africa, they weren’t all so sure at first. They scoffed, and when they saw how serious you were, they worried a bit.
They tried to talk you out of it, but you were persistent. You are following your dreams and goals, and if you’re reading this article, then you’re doing it in a way that carefully considers safety and common sense.
Now that you overcome the naysayers and raised eyebrows, you’re ready to set out on your adventure! In this article, we’ll explore some tips backpacking in Africa so that you can make the most of your trip; most of these tips are safety-based.
Carry the Essentials
When you’re traveling anywhere, the two most important things to have are the proper documents and money. You should always have your documents in a safe place; in some cities, this could mean locked safely away in your hotel room; if this is the case, be sure to carry photocopies of your passport and visa.
In other destinations, it might be safer to leave the copies in the hotel room and carry the original documents concealed on your body. The same can be said of money: never carry too much money, but make sure that you always have enough in the local currency to get “home” at the end of the day.
Africa is a huge continent, so scams and safety differ from place to place. The best way to prevent pickpocketing is to research the common scams in the specific cities where you plan to travel.
Have a Plan
While it may seem romantic or adventurous to just show up in Africa to trek around with no real plan, it’s not a very safe or economic way to travel. If you make a plan in advance, you’ll find that you’ll save plenty of money on travel between cities as well as on accommodation. Furthermore, it’s a great idea to make a detailed scheduled that says when and where you plan to travel on each leg of your journey. Then, you should share this schedule with at least one close friend or family member, and make it a point to check in with them at each step of the journey. You might find that the social networking platforms that you use to stay in touch with your friends and family is blocked or monitored in the region where you’re traveling. If this is the case, the best way to get around it is to use a VPN.
You should also register your travel plans with your embassy in each country that you plan to visit. This way, if anything happens to you (or your essential travel documents), the consulate can be prepared to help you. The consulate will also send you travel warnings and up-to-date information about any security threats in real time.
Send a Message
Depending on where you’re traveling in Africa, you might not know the local language. While English is quickly becoming a global language, you may find it necessary to communicate some things nonverbally. One of the easiest ways to do this is to smile and be friendly, but not overly so. People will be more willing to help you out. If you have to ask for help, try to ask from another woman, and ask with a smile. Where verbal language may come up short, your body language can make all the difference!
If you find that men are constantly coming on to you despite your refusing their advances, a simple way to curb their overtures is to wear a fake wedding ring, even if you are single. If you are already married and just traveling without your significant other, you can point out the ring that you’ve already got. Again, Africa is a huge continent with widely varied cultures, so the flirting culture of each stop can be different. However, a wedding ring sends a pretty universal message.
Know Your Limitations
The first limitation to address is your physical limitations. There will come a point in your travels when you’ll want to do nothing more than stay in your hotel room for an evening. Maybe it’ll be because of culture shock or maybe it will be because of the sheer amount of energy that it takes to change cities every few days. When this feeling strikes, don’t fight it too much. It’s perfectly fine to spend one night in watching Netflix, especially if you’re craving something familiar and less lonely. Getting some rest is a great way to stay alert and safe throughout your whole trip; there’s no shame in catching up on rest!
Trust Your Gut
When push comes to shove, there’s no replacement for your instincts. If a place or situation feels inherently wrong or dangerous, get out of there! You don’t anyone an explanation in this case! If you feel uncomfortable by someone approaching you, the best course of action is often to ignore him or her, even if it may seem a bit rude. You might have read the situation wrong, but taking no action is the safest way to play it in these cases, especially if it doesn’t feel totally right.
This is the ultimate goal of your travels! While it is important to be safe and aware of your surroundings, don’t be paranoid. If you act like the victim, you become the victim, so don’t walk around thinking, talking or acting like a victim.
Don’t be afraid to make friends wherever you go, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Remember, you have the privilege to step into new places with new cultures; don’t let fear rule this experience.
The secret to having fun is seeking to understand those around you. If you start your adventure with prejudices or unrealistic fears, your trip will be dominated by those themes.
Travel with a sense of openness and a desire to understand, you’ll be amazed by the outcome!
More links for women travellers…
- Tours for Women around the World
- Tour Companies run by Women around the World
- Accommodation for Women around the World
- Women who are Local Tour Guides
- Retreat Places for Women Around the World
- Tours which include Retreat Themes