Who doesn’t love a good holiday, right? It’s always fun to immerse yourself in new cultures, experiencing the best of what a country or city has to offer. However, as much as it is fun and eye-opening to explore new destinations, safety is often a paramount concern, especially if you’re a woman or a solo traveller. Many cities and countries aren’t as safe as Singapore is, especially after dark. With that in mind, it’s essential to prioritise our safety when out and about and strike a balance between staying safe and having an absolute ball of a time.
So, we spoke to Geraleine Yap, a luxury travel consultant at Scott Dunn Travel, who’s a seasoned traveller herself. Drawing on her knowledge and personal experience, Geraleine shares her tips on what to keep in mind when planning a girls’ trip, and how to have fun while staying safe overseas.
When overseas, you are likely to explore different modes of transport, such as walking, taking public transport and private cars. While there’s no innate danger, there’s no harm in taking extra measures to make sure you’re safe.
“When taking a private car to get to places, I’d recommend having a trusted number ready on speed dial, as well as keeping track of your journey on Google Maps to ensure you’re going in the right direction,” Geraleine advises.
When walking or taking public transport, look after your belongings and be smart about the bags you choose to travel with. For example, it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to carry your glittering new Chanel bag when walking around in an area prone to robberies. Hold your bag in front of you, and leave your back pockets empty.
And chances are, you’ll need the help of a GPS map to navigate. While that is a surefire way to look like a tourist, there are ways you can blend in more with the locals. “I usually use earphones and voice activation on Google Maps, so that I don’t stand out like a tourist while trying to navigate,” Geraleine says.
It may seem obvious, but the key to this is research. “Before booking an accommodation, read unbiased reviews by others who have stayed previously — visit a few websites to see if people generally say the same thing,” she shares.
“I also highly recommend checking the actual location of the property on Google Maps to see if it’s within proximity to any neighbourhoods or areas that tourists should avoid. At Scott Dunn, our global team regularly visits and inspects the properties we work with to ensure they are consistently top tier before we recommend them to our guests.”
Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Additionally, know your limits — and keep to them! “It’s always better to take extra precautions especially when in a foreign country, no matter how ‘safe’ it may seem to be,” Geraleine urges.
“I’ve noticed that in general, women often plan their trips around food and cuisine. They also really appreciate suggestions for bars and restaurants and prefer to ensure reservations are made in advance,” Geraleine notes. “When it comes to hotels, women do pay more attention to the styling, decor and theme of the hotel. They also tend to favour properties that are bright, airy and modern.”
With that in mind, if you’re looking to satisfy your wanderlust, Geraleine has some destinations to recommend for every kind of traveller — whether you’re a foodie, shopaholic or an adrenaline junkie.
Here are some of her recommendations according to the type of traveller you are:
I’d really recommend planning a trip to explore the wilds of Chilean Patagonia (pictured) as it truly is an outdoor adventure utopia. You can hike, climb, kayak, ride horses and more! Southern Patagonia also hosts the incredible Torres del Paine National Park, which was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1978. The park is internationally known for its incredible trekking and hiking. I had a guest share with me that she really enjoyed all her car transfers while visiting and each drive was extremely beautiful and picturesque.
Another one is South Africa. The country has some of the best outdoor wildlife experiences. Head out on a safari drive to catch a glimpse of the Big Five. It’s an exhilarating experience and each game drive presents a completely unique experience. At the end of the drive, sip sundowners and munch on some local snacks — it’s a magical way to experience an African sunset. Or, for something a little different, head to the coast to spot the Marine Big Five — penguins, dolphins, sharks, seals and whales.
Italy for sure. I recommend starting your journey in Venice as it has such a fairytale aesthetic with its canals, colourful historical buildings and drifting gondolas. Then, head to Florence which houses a third of the world’s major masterpieces. The Uffizi Gallery (pictured) in Florence is definitely a must-go for art connoisseurs and it’s a fantastic place to plan your trip around.
One of our itineraries includes arranging a private tour through the museum to delve into its history and the masterpieces that reside there, led by our expert guides. Florence is also home to Hotel Lungarno, a traditional boutique hotel that houses an impressive contemporary art collection featuring Cocteau and Picasso’s works. A stay there makes for a truly holistic artistic experience.
Rome is also great — there’s plenty to see and explore, from St Peter’s Basilica to the National Rome Museum. Or venture out slightly and schedule an early morning visit to the Vatican. On my last trip, I had a surreal experience exploring the Sistine Chapel, and spotting the figures of Adam and Eve on the ceiling.
Fun fact, no photography is allowed, which is actually a great thing as it allows you to truly be in the moment. So I highly recommend taking a trip to marvel at all the amazing art in person. There is a spiritual intensity that permeates throughout the place and you can’t help but fall into a sort of contemplative reverence as you wander through. Exploring with an expert guide really helps you to visualise the cultural and historical context behind these incredible masterpieces.
The Maldives is the ultimate beach paradise — azure waters, endless white sandy beaches… It’s one of the best places to soak up some ‘Vitamin Sea’ and partake in all sorts of water sports and activities from surfing, swimming with whale sharks and manta rays, or even embarking on a submarine excursion. Luxury accommodation is aplenty there, but I like Soneva Fushi which features the first fine dining zipline experience and an outdoor movie theatre and Anantara Kihavah, where you can indulge in exquisite meals underwater.
For somewhere a little closer to home, I’d say hit up Song Saa, a private island hideaway on Cambodia’s untouched Koh Rong Archipelago. This eco-friendly property sits amidst a pristine marine reserve so underwater enthusiasts can spot all sorts of fascinating marine life from dugongs to seahorses and tropical fish.
Italy is a food and wine mecca! Head to Puglia for classic hearty Italian fare and feast on bread, pasta, cheese and pastries. Florence and Tuscany are well known for their wines and meats, while seafood lovers must go to the Amalfi Coast.
The Arctic Bath Hotel in Swedish Lapland is a truly unique floating hotel that fully utilises the tranquillity and beauty of Lapland’s scenery and effortlessly combines it with striking architecture resulting in a breathtaking retreat with amazing spa treatments. If you’re feeling brave, try taking an open-air cold bath in the natural plunge pool. If you’re lucky, you might even catch the Northern Lights while taking a dip!
Or, check out Amangiri, a celebrity hotspot that’s the ultimate contemporary hideaway. Located in Southern Utah, the property is nestled in the wind-carved mesas, canyons and desert. It offers a serious wow factor with all the pampering you want — the Aman Spa (pictured) is expansive, covering 25,000 sqft, and offers all sorts of treatments from colour therapy-enhanced floatation treatments and even a watsu pool.
New Zealand has all sorts of activities that would please any adrenaline junkie. Go jet skiing, or head out on four-wheel drives. At Scott Dunn, we can arrange for three-day nature walks or schedule in glacier hikes — swimming with dolphins is also a pretty popular activity that is sought after by our guests.
These destinations are favourites with guests who enjoy retail therapy. In Paris and Milan, Scott Dunn can provide a VIP shopping experience where you can beat the queue. We can even schedule in personal visits to ateliers or studios ranging from art to handicraft and fashion. These cities also offer a wide range of culinary and gastronomic experiences, perfect to indulge in after shopping.
Greece, for sure! Head to Athens (pictured) if you want to be immersed in history and culture. For a more relaxing retreat, visit Peloponnese, which has a hilly and more mountainous terrain. For those looking to party and enjoy nightlife, Mykonos is it. And for spectacular Greek sunsets and shopping, we can arrange activities in Santorini, such as a sunset cruise on a caldera boat. Food and wine in Greece is also divine. If you want to see firsthand how olive oil and wine is produced, head to Crete. Or island hop and see neighbouring islands such as Naxos, Paros and Anti Paros.