The alarming rate of increase in crimes against women in the recent times has made us ponder over about our security as women. Being Armed Forces aspirants, bearing a brave heart and having a smart reflexive mind are required to tackle the problems of life, one includes travelling. If we can’t protect ourselves, how can the security of millions be rested on our shoulders?
After you have received your call letter from the respective forces, you seek for travel plans. Making reservations for trains, flights or whatever conveyance, right from boarding to de-boarding the transportation, your parents/family members/relatives/guardians are concerned all about your safety if you are travelling alone. Not only this, it gives you goosebumps too, at some point or the other, admit it! However, one of the delightful things about travelling alone is that you are living life on your terms. It’s always empowering to learn about yourself and what you want.
We are providing women candidates with some useful safety tips for travelling alone for SSB interviews, nevertheless, you may follow them anytime, anywhere travelling solo.
- Always crowdsource your research: Never forget to acquire information about the place you are about to visit. If you arrive a day before the SSB interview, take the help of reviewing sites like TripAdvisor, Trivago for booking hotels and the neighbourhood it is in, so you can see which areas seem safe.
- Give someone back home your itinerary: Someone back home should know or have a general idea about your whereabouts, in case something goes wrong or if they need to get in touch with you.
- Take a picture of all the documents you are carrying for the interview and keep them safe in pen drives, mobile phones, locked sites: Unfailingly take scanned pictures of all your important documents and put them on a locked site (Like Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc) or in pen drives that you can access from any computer anywhere.
- Consider travel insurance: Always insure your travelling so that all manner of unexpected costs is covered. For a reasonable fee, your medical and dental emergencies are covered, reimbursements for your lost baggage, damage, and more are issued.
- Schedule a regular check-in with someone back home: Whether it is through a phone call, Whatsapp, or any e-medium, it is a good safety precaution to keep your family informed and updated about your status.
- Pack light: This can actually be a safety tip because the less number of bags you carry, lesser get the opportunities for people to rob you. You will also be more mobile and comfortable with smaller bags in case you need to move quickly or cover greater distances. Carry all the necessary items like a small first aid kit (which has bandages, cough medicines, paracetamol, etc.), sanitary napkins, cell phone chargers, etc.
- Carry hard copies of your itinerary and important phone numbers with you at all times: This includes the phone numbers of your family members, the number and location of the SSB centre you are travelling.
- Don’t keep all your money in one place: Keep some cash with yourself in your pockets and some in your bags.
- Keep your mobile phone charged, carry phone chargers, LED flashlights: Do not use all of your mobile phone’s battery by chatting on Whatsapp or using Facebook and Instagram. Carry phone chargers or power banks. Remember to have a small flashlight or just check if your cell phone has it or not.
- Bring a portable door or window alarm (if possible): These easily make travelling and any accommodation safer. It is a motion sensitive door alarm that will send off an alarm if someone tries to open your door. Useful in your hotel stays.
- Carry a safety mechanism that you feel comfortable with: Carry a pepper spray, knife, mace or a cat key chain, all work for self defense, just in case.
- If you order room service or something from a hotel, never identify that you are alone: If you have to order room service for any reason, say the other person will “be right back” or open the door only part way.
- Have the address of your SSB centre written down to hand to auto or cab drivers: Have the right and full address written on a piece of paper to hand it to cab drivers so that you don’t mess with the location and end up some other place.
- If you’re listening to music, don’t wear both headphones: This way you can always stay alert. You can also wear headphones with no music on as an excuse for not listening to an unwanted conversation and a way to eavesdrop and overhear anything threatening that might be going on.
- If you get lost, don’t look at your phone or a map in the middle of the road: Never operate your phone in the middle of the road, it may get dangerous, just get into a shop or cafe and check there.
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- Take your bag with you to the restroom every time: Either you are on a bus or a train, always take your purse with you to the washroom.
- Always go in the bus that has other people in it. Also, try sitting close to the front: Never board a deserted bus or which has fewer people in it. Consider taking seats in the front.
- Don’t sleep too tight on trains and keep your luggage chained: Never sleep too soundly while travelling. And if you can’t help it, then don’t take night trains alone. Also, secure your luggage with chains and locks.
- Eat your own food only and buy packaged foods and water bottles from vendors: This point has been put in our heads by our parents since we were kids. And yes, it holds right even today. Avoid taking food or other stuff from strangers.
- Snap a picture of your cab’s license plate before you get in it: Both for safety reasons and also in case you leave something in it. Having the license number makes it much easier to track down.
- When you are on the bus, train, cab or just walking, make a real (or fake) phone call: In case you feel unsafe or just like that, make a real or fake call and say, “Yep, I am almost there. I will be there in xyz minutes” so the driver or the people around you think you are meeting someone at your destination. Even if you are not.
- Track your cab via Google Maps so you can tell if you’re going off route: Locate your place and keep a track.
- If you stop to buy tickets or food where your attention is away, put your bag between your legs or in between your body and the counter instead of beside you: That way it’s harder to swipe off your bag.
- Talk to lots of people: When you are out and walking around, talk to people and get a sense of what’s happening and where.
- If you get into a situation where you feel alone and unsafe, start telling stories using “we” about your (real or imaginary) mate or companion: It creates a sense of partnership and security.
- Never feel guilty about saying no to anything: It’s okay to turn down help with your bags, an invitation to dinner, etc. Don’t be afraid to be rude if it means feeling safe. And trust your instincts about when to accept help. Sometimes a male escort is a good way to feel safe, and there are plenty of nice strangers who are willing and able to help you.
Next time while travelling, consider these tips! Stay safe, travel safe.
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