Wednesday 21 October 2015

Personal safety when Solo Travelling in South Africa

There are many countries I've travelled alone to or visited with hubby. With the UK, it is where I grew up, where I know and where I slot back into with relative ease. I've travelled freely in America with hubby and 4 of our children, I also visited Canada on my own earlier this year. I've driven across Europe and quite a fair bit of it on my own and flown to many cities to meet up with hubby while he's been working and travelled around in the day on my own also.

I've always been more cautious when travelling to Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt, but that has been due to the political unrest of these countries.

Having lived as an expat for 5 years, I've done a lot of exploring in my local area both in Pretoria and now in Dubai, where I travel freely and without fear. I've also travelled freely around South Africa, on my own and with hubby as well as taking the train from Joburg to Cape Town with the teen boy and flew solo to Cape Town and explored the Western Cape as well as numerous trips to Kruger and Durban on my own by car or with the teens and hubby.

I wrote this week about my return to South Africa for a 5 week visit to work with charities as a volunteer. Having lived in Dubai for the last 10 months, personal safety is not something I've had to focus on daily. I am very aware of this since my arrival last week, but not frightened like I was when we first arrived here.

I'm staying with various friends in and around Pretoria. I have access to vehicles to get around in as apart from the Gautrain, which I caught from the airport, there is no public transport. I'm driving into Joburg tomorrow and will be visiting townships within a 200km radius.

I'm finding it a little unnerving living behind security fences and bars on the windows and doors, but also find it reassuring to know that I am safe when I sleep at night. Something I gave little thought to when I lived her, it just takes some time to readjust to.

I'm not really doing anything different in regards to my personal safety here, but I am having to think a bit more about it. Here are some of the things I'm doing to ensure my personal safety while I'm solo travelling in South Africa.

  • Purchase a sim card at the airport as if you do in outside you'll be required to provide proof of residence to register your card.
  • When leaving friends house, let the next person know I'm on my way and call the person I've just left to let them know when I arrive.

  • Give friends a copy of my medical aid/insurance so they know what to do if required.

  • Keep handbag in the footwell under the drivers seat.

  • Carry a spare phone.

  • Keep all valuables locked out of sight, especially in the car. I tend to carry my laptop and camera with me when I go to a mall as we had our car boot broken into in a security car park.

  • Have a copy of passport and ID in suitcase.

  • Only carry the cash needed for each day and leave a bank card at the place you are staying.

  • When driving remember to leave a hijack space at the lights.

  • Plan your route in advance, there are plenty of routes that are safe to drive in the day, but not at night.

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