Safety is a very important issue when travelling and even more so for women travelling alone. While you might think that you need to sign up for karate course, actually there are other ways of self-defense that doesn’t require you to be physical.
I do many things when I am abroad to be safe. Before my trip, I read up on dangerous places and avoid them. During my trip, I am aware of my environment and I get the hell out of a place when I feel unsafe.
I also take precaution and arm myself when I go out on the streets. No, I don’t mean taking a gun but taking everyday things that can be used as a weapon. Fortunately, I never had the chance to test of my “weapons” would work in a real threat.
Here are some of the unconventional ways I used to protect myself.
Deodorant spray/ hair spray/ medicated oil as pepper spray
Did you know that pepper sprays are prohibited in Singapore? That’s why I don’t have any of it for self defense. Luckily, other daily items can be used as an alternative.
During my very first solo trip in China, I wanted to take a walk in Suzhou at night but I didn’t have company. I looked around my bag and saw that I had a small bottle of medicated oil.
I uncapped the bottle and held it in my palm during my walk. I practiced in my head how I would give the bottle a good flick of the wrist so that the oil would sting the assailant’s eyes.
You can also use small spray cans to double as pepper spray. Travel-sized deodorant work well too and can leave a scent mark in case you need to identify the baddie.
Pen as stabbing object
Sometimes I hold a pen with its pointy side out (kind of like Buffy) when I am walking alone. I would visualize how I could use the pen to stab any strangers that mean to harm me. Thank goodness I haven’t poked my eye out this way.
[Edit: Works with a key too as pointed out by Ana in the comments.]
Umbrella as a club or eye-poker
An umbrella is a very basic weapon that has many other functions. I carry an umbrella to protect myself against sun or rain but also for protection.
A closed umbrella can be used as a stick to beat off animals. The pointy ends of an open umbrella can be used to poke bad people in the eye but you will need a good aim for that.
Bag of fruits as weighted bag
On one of the nights in San Francisco, I was walking back to the hostel at an hour that I would usually be in. Heck, I’m usually back in the hostel before sundown in case of any bad incidents.
I didn’t have anything that I could use to fend off any possible attackers. The only thing heavy enough that I had was a mesh bag of oranges which I bought from San Jose. A bag of orange in hand is better than a club nowhere.
So I held on to the mesh bag and practiced swinging it like a lasso. The oranges felt heavy enough to cause damage to any assailant that might be stupid enough to come near me.
Of course, I didn’t consider what I would do if the bad guy had a gun.
Whistle as loud noise maker
Some time ago, Debbie pointed this tip from Legal Nomad’s Jodi about bringing a whistle when travelling. Since then, I try to remember to bring a whistle when I travel.
I have only used it once in Egypt when a vendor kept trying to block my way to show me his ware. I acted like a crazy lady and blew on my whistle. He got the message.
Still, my whistle is a sports whistle from the two-dollar shop so I’m not that sure if it would work sending sounds far.
Flashlight as surprise blinding light
I keep a flashlight on my day pack when I travel, this is useful to light up the interior of my bag as well as dark streets. But it’s also useful when you have a strong light that you can shine into an attacker’s eyes and hopefully blind the person momentarily.
Share how you stay safe when travelling:
Well, those are some of the strange things I have used as self-defense when travelling. Do you have other tips to share?
- The Realities Women Face When Traveling Alone, And How To Stay Safe
- How to Stay Safe While Traveling Solo
- 20 ways to stay safe and prevent theft while travelling