I love travelling solo. It has it’s positives like being able to do what you want and run by your own budget. For more you can check out my post Pros + Cons: Travelling Solo.
However, sometimes it can make you vulnerable to scary and sometimes interesting situations, and in a foreign city it can be quite nerve-racking.
I’m no stranger to situations where someone I don’t know comes up to me and either starts having a conversation or asking me for directions or whatever is on their mind. But there is one story I thought was worth telling.
Back in September 2016 I went to Sydney by myself for a few days. It was a pleasant trip, nothing major. I had spent a lot of my time at Circular Quay because I just love it there.
On my last night after dinner I went to Messina ice-cream and then walked towards the Opera house and sat by the water on the concrete seats by the Opera bar. Peacefully eating my ice-cream…alone.
All of a sudden a man approaches me (this is where it gets interesting). He’s very tall, slim, also alone and the first thing he asks me is “Are you here alone?”.
Now first of all I’m annoyed because someone has interrupted my peaceful moment looking out onto the water and the bridge but secondly it really freaked me out and turned my survival mode on instantly.
I immediately said NO. He goes on to ask who am travelling and where they were, where I was staying, where I’m from and how long I was staying. Here is what I said
My name was Gemma (my go to fake name, you always need one), I was travelling with a friend who was back at the hotel just behind us working, I was from Brisbane and was leaving in two days. ALL FAKE. I now thank all those Acting classes with improvisation activities. He seemed to believe it.
He kept asking me questions, and when I made small talk about the weather he began to take of his off jacket to give to me. I quickly moved away from the subject and him, by this point he had sat down and moved quite close to me. My friends had questioned whether he was trying to be nice and trying to get a girl’s phone number, but it was quite late at night and I could tell that wasn’t the vibe of the experience.
In my head I’m thinking “How am I going to get out of this?”. It was running through my brain because he wasn’t making it easy. I had made all the gestures of wanting to leave so, I politely said “I’m sorry, but I have to go meet my friend. It’s been very nice meeting you”. I stood up to leave, said goodbye and walked away. Only to notice he began to walk behind me… SO now I’m truly worried.
This was the moment where it could all go wrong. I mentioned that the hotel was right behind me but I had to make it to the train station. What do you do? Now you could go in to the hotel and wait but I decided to duck between groups of people hoping I’d lose him. Thankfully it was a busy night in Sydney with many Pokemon goers.
I go into a nearby toilet, take my time and then make it to the train station and wait on the platform being unbelievably aware of every person around me. Thankfully the train comes, I get on it and get back to my hotel safely.
Now, he may not have been a dangerous person with scary intentions but you always have to be cautious when travelling alone. When he started walking behind me he could of just been going in the same direction but you never know.
- Always have a backup fake name/ character (it has come in handy so many times! Whether I’ve been in my home city or travelling).
- Stay calm and polite in the situation. I always say kill them with kindness.
- Always be aware. Understand that travelling alone means you are more appealing prey. So make sure to not let you guard down.
- Have an exit route, just like you would on a plane. When you go somewhere find the safe spots.
- I believe that you should never tell someone you’re travelling alone, it’s common knowledge, but it is up to you.
- When you get to leave the situation send someone a message either about what has just happened or where you are going so someone knows your whereabouts.
- And lastly, if you feel like someone is following you, notify (if you feel the need to) someone like an authority figure, a waiter/staff member who is around and don’t take a direct route back to where you are staying until you know you aren’t being followed.
It all sounds scary but it’s what you need to think about when travelling alone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or guy. It happens to all of us.
I now laugh about that night but if things went down another path who knows what could have happened.
Stay safe, keep travelling. If you’ve had a similar experience leave a comment below. I’m interested to hear your stories.
Stamped Passport xx