Setting out on a solo journey as a woman can seem like an unusual idea that most of us are quick to dismiss as unfeasible, rather than thinking "I can do this". We understand that, it sounds scary, intimidating and unusual. But setting out into the unknown and testing our limits can have more positive outcomes, more rewards, and more surprises than you can ever imagine. Here are our top tips if you're traveling through east africa alone as a woman.
Don't be deterred, turn the idea into reality and plan your trip to east africa! Here's what we want you to do:
Familiarize yourself with african culture
In tanzania, if you shake a man's hand and he rubs his finger against your palm, he is very interested in you. This will feel a little strange at first, but you can be sure that it is not a traditional tribal handshake and under no circumstances should you enthusiastically replicate it when shaking hands with this gentleman's family. What you consider a friendly encounter may mean something completely different to the other person. Always keep in mind that meeting a western woman is high on many african men's list of priorities. If you have a friendly conversation with a man, he can easily interpret this as the beginning of a romantic relationship. Sure, this conversation may pass the time while you're on the bus, but you can give the impression that you're interested in more than just a general chat.
If you are in malawi, you may notice a hand sign used by young men who press their thumb between their middle finger and index finger and laugh at you as you walk by. It's best to ignore these gestures. To avoid unwanted attention or gestures, it's best (if you don't have one) to invent a friend and carry a photo of him with you. If you are really worried, just wear a "wedding ring. .
We believe that this should be your motto on the journey as well as in everyday life. Confidence is one of the best keys to ensure that you enjoy your trip to the fullest. Don't doubt your decisions and trust yourself a little more than usual when traveling. If you are a woman traveling alone in east africa and look lost or confused, this can quickly attract the wrong kind of attention – be self-aware!
Clothes make the man
It's unfortunate that we have to worry about such things, but one of the easiest ways to attract negative attention is to wear clothing that gives the wrong impression or that marks you out as a tourist. Especially in destinations like east africa you will be noticed already by the color of your skin and hair. Most of the time the attention we receive is warm and welcoming, but sometimes we stand out as a destination because we look so different from the locals. To avoid this try to dress simply and not provocatively.
Stay in contact
Let family and friends know that you are safe and well. Knowing where you are serves as added security – as long as your friends and family can track your location, they can be sure you're enjoying your trip.
Do not take any valuables with you
We know how nice it is to have all your electronics at your fingertips when traveling, but it's important to remember that this will only attract more attention from thieves. Try to avoid showing these items around and only take them out of your bag when absolutely necessary. Leave the laptop at home if you can do without it.
Do your homework
Educate yourself about east africa and the places you want to visit on your trip. If you are unsure, there are always online forums talking about recent incidents. Follow your instincts above all. If you have a strange feeling, it is likely that you should listen to it. You're probably somewhere you shouldn't be.
Meet other women traveling alone
You will be surprised to see that you are not alone and that many other women are making the same journey through east africa. Take the opportunity to meet them and share your experiences and tips with each other. You can build strong friendships with women around the world that you probably never would have met otherwise. You can post your trip on joinmytrip and see if other women want to join you halfway through your trip. Find an africa travel partner here!