Every year, many women, young and old, travel to Europe on their own. Using the good judgement you use at home is all that you need to be safe and sound while traveling in Europe. Be cautious and stick to your gut feeling as to what feels right to you.

The two major concerns for traveling women are theft and harassment. But then, if you are used to travelling alone in India, you can handle travelling alone in Europe. In India, theft and harassment is often accompanied by violence. In Europe, you’ll rarely, if ever, hear of violence. Being street-smart, self-reliant and well prepared will help you get through such situations. Carry enough cash for your daily needs, a reliable map, a well-researched guidebook and a local language phrase book to help you. Stride confidently. If you are lost in an unfriendly neighborhood, be sensible in picking the person you would ask for help. It is better to seek help from a woman or a family, or from a store or restaurant nearby.

It is better to withdraw cash from ATMs in the daytime when streets are busy rather than at night.

Get practical information about public transportation. Do consider visiting your departure bus or train station one day ahead and check out the time you would take to reach there from where you stay and also if it is safe and what facilities are on offer. Check and confirm your departure time. If you have a late departure, and you find the bus or train station not too safe, you can always wait in your hotel lounge. You could also choose to wait at cafes that have free internet.

Avoid empty compartments when taking a train. Sharing a compartment with a family is safer. Overnight train journey is better taken in a couchette or a sleeper as we call them here in India. Sleeper compartments are attended by a guard.

European men are more likely to speak in English than women. So, if you do not talk to them, it is likely that you miss out an opportunity to learn about the country. So, do talk to men. You just have to choose the right man and the right environs.

You would not attract more attention in northern Europe, but you may attract attention in southern Europe, especially Italy, but only in the form of a long look. You can handle it! But beware of the fact that it is considered an invitation, if you smile and look a man in the eye, especially in the Mediterranean world.

Modest dressing would minimize attention. Take your cue from the local women. Young women always run the risk of facing unwelcome advances, even if dressed in a shapeless sack. Stay with a group when exploring and avoid strolling alone at night, particularly in unlit areas. If you feel uncomfortable or bothered by someone, use your loud, firm voice, or facial expression or body language to ward them off. If you feel threatened, there is no harm in shouting aloud. Safety is the priority.

Important Tips for Female Travelers

  • Book well in advance the first night of your stay in a new location. It is not safe to scramble for a place to stay at the last minute.
  • Plan your arrival not later than mid-afternoon. If you are not happy with your booked accommodation, it will not be easy to look for any alternatives after dark.
  • Try to avoid staying on the ground floor of your hotel. You will be much safer in a room on the upper floors.
  • A room closer to the elevator will help avoid walking the long halls alone at night.
  • Check out your hotel location using Google Streetview. It will give you an idea of the locality.
  • Do not opt for a hotel near the train station just because it is convenient. Some stations are in bad areas and may be dangerous to unsuspecting tourists.