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Safety Tips for Solo Women Travellers in Bali

I was asked to write a post about how to safely travel around Bali for women travelling by themselves, but I’m hesitant writing about this topic… because, well, I’m a man. But several readers emailed me and started a dialogue worth exploring.

So this post is going to be my first collaborative effort — the comments will inform the post and hopefully become something meaningful — with the long term goal of creating a forum where women can share tips and stories on how to successfully and safely navigate Bali as a holiday destination.

I’ll kick off the list, but I will need help, so please feel free to comment below.

Bag Snatchers.

First cab of the rank. Don’t ride around on a motorbike with a purse or bag on a shoulder strap. There are countless women who have thought they were safe by carrying their purse with a should strap, thinking that will deter purse-snatchers.

Quite the opposite. The criminals who specialise in bag-snatching will identify you, follow you, and patiently wait until you are somewhere they can literally run you off the road, or grab you as a pillion passenger and drag you off your motorbike to take what’s yours.

The number of instances where women have been dragged off their bikes to have their bag taken is increasing, as is the level of aggression involved.

Canggu is gaining an ugly reputation, but the back alleys of Seminyak, Legian and Kuta are seeing increasing levels of aggressive bag snatching with, unfortunately, Grevious Holiday Harm (GHH).

It may seem like an overreach, but putting your back under the seat on a motorbike, even if you are a pillion passenger reduces this risk to nil.

Phone Snatchers.

Taking the selfie video while on a bike is mandatory in Bali. It almost feels illegal not to do so. But your phone represents around a month’s salary or more for a local petty crim.

Grabbing your phone is low risk for the crim. A pair working together can easily come up behind you and wait for the opportune moment to make the snatch-and-away with your phone. And remember, the phone part of a smart-phone is the least of your worries.

It’s not a phone, it;’s a small computer that holds your contacts, personal details and perhaps most importantly, your photos.

When you think of your phone, think of the things that cannot be replaced, or will be difficult to replicate if stolen.

Back-up Everything.

Work on the worst-case scenario and plan for the best. Don’t have passwords stored in easily accessible files. Always have cloud storage enabled for your photos and emails. Never use the same password for your internet banking for anything else.

Never have your ATM Card Inside Your Phone Cover.

It’s just too obvious. I have met too many women that lost their phone and ATM card in the same snatch-and-grab. Have a back-up plan for your critical things — separate your phone, ATM card, passport and purse. I know it’s difficult. But do it anyway when you’re travelling solo.

Always have an exit strategy.

Asking for Angela is not a great way of asking for help if you feel unsafe in a bar in Bali, without being overt about feeling unsafe, because code-words like this for staff haven’t made the mainstream in Bali, yet.

But with your help, they will.

If staff don’t know about Asking for Angela they can’t react appropriately. And let me tell you something you need to know about bar and restaurant staff in Bali — they are only to willing to help if they know what the problem is.

Where to Get Help.

If you have your purse snatched, or are dragged off your bike and have had your critical belongings stolen, you need help. What I do know is the last people, unfortunately, you should ask for help is the local police. Just don’t.

If anyone is aware of a local hotline to support women who have been robbed or assaulted, please comment below and I’ll include the details in this post.

Next steps:

  • A better understanding of tips for women travellers in this post.
  • Numbers or places that solo women travellers can go if robbed or assaulted.
  • Agreed meeting venues – cafes, restaurants and bars — where solo women travellers can meet each other without being harassed.

2 Comments

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  1. As always, you offer great information and most important (as difficult as it might be) it needs to be said. Specifically for solo women travelers, we need to consider ALL the possible scenarios to keep up safe. Bali is one of the places that seem perfect and blissful and so I think we as women and travelers fool ourselves into thinking THIS couldn’t possibly happen here. Great information as always.

    • Thanks Casey.
      One of the reasons I get asked to write about this is because, after doing my own research, most advice for solo women travellers is just generic “where to stay and what to see” travel writing, and not specifically about the personal safety aspects.

      Really appreciate your encouragement.

      Safe travels,
      Michael

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