It takes courage and a sense of adventure to strike out alone as a woman and travel to new places. There will certainly be many people who do not understand this desire and will share their concerns for your safety. Perhaps you will start to wonder if you are making a wise decision in traveling alone after all, or if it would be better to simply stay home.
In his book The Art of Travel, author Alain de Botton says, “It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others…Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion’s questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.”
Don’t let your relationship status or the unavailability of your friends and family keep you from exploring the world! You may discover the wonder and richness that only come from engaging new cultures on your own.
If you’re a seasoned world traveler looking for an exciting new destination or someone embarking on your first experience traveling solo, here are some tips to make your time in Oman as enjoyable (and safe) as possible.
How To Dress
Omanis are used to seeing tourists from all over the world in their country and they expect you to dress differently than they do. There are some general rules for what is considered appropriate clothing here, that will help you avoid standing out as much and drawing stares.
– Skirts or pants that cover your legs and shirts that cover your elbows, collarbones, and torso will be best in public places in Oman.
– Shorts and t-shirts are okay for the time you spend at your hotel.
– Good walking shoes that are broken in and comfortable are a must!
– Sun protection in the form of hats, scarves, sunblock, and sunglasses will prevent burns.
– Loose clothing is not only more appropriate in Oman, but also more comfortable because it allows cooling airflow to regulate your temperature.
– If you plan on swimming, opt for suits with more coverage, especially if you will be on public beaches and not just in your hotel pool.
How To Interact With Men
The main rule of thumb in interacting with Omani men during your tour is to wait for them to initiate everything. This means that you should not make strong eye contact with a man, avoid flirtatious conversations, and never offer your hand to shake first. The majority of Omani men are respectful and will keep their distance when appropriate.
When you interact with male tourists in Oman, remember that public displays of affection are considered inappropriate here. Do not touch a man or laugh/speak loudly in public.
Be prepared to answer the question, “Are you married?” many times in conversations with local people. It is unusual in Omani culture for a young woman to travel without a male relative to protect her, so local people will be amazed that you are traveling alone. Don’t feel the need to share too many personal details. A simple “No, I’m not married” will suffice.
How To Interact With Women
If you get the chance to interact with Omani women, you may find that they seem demure and quiet in public, but come to life in more private settings. If you can chat with a woman in a place where she doesn’t feel the weight of people staring at you both, she will be much more comfortable.
It’s appropriate to greet local women, shake their hands, and generally be friendly with them in public. If they do not want to interact with you, don’t be offended. They are probably very curious about you, but they’re not in a setting where they feel free to engage with a foreign stranger.
Women who sell handicrafts and other items in the souq (traditional markets) are more comfortable speaking with foreigners and can be wonderful resources to explain how items are made and what life in Oman is like. They often will speak English well, too.
How To Stay Safe
Oman is a wonderful destination for a woman traveling alone, because there is almost no crime here. Men and women keep their distance in public, which means you won’t have to worry about pickpockets, being groped or hassled by men, or other issues.
If you want to go out at night to explore the beaches, restaurants, and souqs after dark, it’s a good idea to take someone else along. Maybe someone in your tour group or even your tour guide can join you for an expedition. If you don’t have anyone available, most places will be safe at night, especially if you stay near groups of local women and in well-lit areas.
If a man is being too friendly with you and you feel uncomfortable, simply say “I must go now” and walk away. If he will not leave you alone, ask a local family to walk with you. What the man is doing is impolite and local people will be quick to come to your aid.
Allow An Expert To Help Plan Your Tour
By letting us help you plan your trip to Oman, you can avoid sticky situations like forgetting the name of your hotel, not being able to find a taxi when you need one, or navigating unknown territory. We handle all of the details so you can see the beauty of Oman while feeling safe and comfortable at all times. Contact one of our Oman Travel Experts today to ask about pricing for a solo tour.
By Shanae Eddy
Shanae is a freelance writer from the USA. She has lived in Salalah, Oman since 2015. When not writing content for Experience It Oman, Shanae enjoys learning Arabic from local friends, exploring the Dhofar mountains during Khareef (monsoon season), and drinking tea.