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Beneficial Apps for Solo Women Travellers

by Sudha Chandrasekaran
(Coimbatore, India)

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” — Robert Louis Stevenson.

The above quote reflects the thoughts of several travellers today. More so we find many solo women travellers on the travellers’ list, all eager to explore the world on their own. For some female travellers the thought of going on a solo trip can be a strange one at first, but with the correct preparation this mountain quickly becomes more of a molehill. When considering an app, safety and security are among the first concerns. There is no question about the fact that smart phones have revolutionized the way we travel and we now have access to numerous apps helping us from planning our trip to getting around our destination safely. The tech savvy millennial female solo travellers find that extra little nugget of information or support through these apps.

According to National Crimes Records Bureau, India (2017) the crime rate against women has risen in the last five years. Taking good care of women in our country has become an important issue and our government has taken several initiatives to ensure the safety of women. From incredible audio guides to intuitive safety apps, here are some must-have apps for the solo traveller.
So grab your smart phone and check out the top travel apps.
1. Google Translate- With this free app, your vocabulary will instantly expand as you type in words or phrases in your native language to have them translated on your phone. The number of languages available for translation is 58. With this advantage of languages you never will feel lost in a new place when telling a cabbie where to drop you off or negotiating the price of a souvenir in the local market. This app has some impressive text recognition technology that allows travellers to scan signs, labels, etc. This is a lifesaver when deciphering restaurant menus, especially if you have food allergies.
2. LinCodes: provides a Digital Address for almost every nook and corner of India. This app gives your exact address in 12 digits. With SOS/ "Help Me" feature you can send out emergency messages to pre-selected contacts with your last location by clicking on the “Help Me”. You no longer need to worry about your location, how to pronounce the name of the place or figure out how to communicate it to somebody. LinCodes does it all for you.
3. Smart 24 x7: Designed for the safety of the women and senior citizens, this one is linked directly with several states’ police stations. The app sends panic alerts to contacts in case of emergency by sending SOS signals to them. Recording of voices and taking of photos during distress and tormenting circumstances; and transferring them to the police is yet another important feature of this app. Its other features include sharing travel alerts with contacts, chat with friends and domestic help registration with police and status update.
4. The Shake2Safety app: The simplest and easiest app is Shake2Safety that just requires you to shake your smart phone or simply press the power button four times, to send out an emergency SOS message or place a call instantly to the registered numbers. The best part however is that it can work with no internet connection and locked screen. It also allows you to lodge a complaint about accidents, robbery or any natural disaster. It is an all-in-one app and a must download! In the preferences of the app, you can even choose to automatically take a photo and record audio when shake action is triggered.
5. Toilet finder apps: Only a small fraction of women is aware of the plethora of toilet finder apps that are available these days. Toilet finder apps present toilets in a way that people might not have imagined. Some toilet listings include pictures, features, ratings, and facilities available in the toilet – be it toilet paper or health faucets, while the others just show basic information (viz) if it is a free-to-use toilet or a paid toilet. One common feature in all of these apps is that they use the GPS location of the user to direct them to the nearest toilet. It is easy to find such apps on the Google Play store. Some of the ones that tend to catch the eyes are Mutralaya, Flush, Swach Bharat Toilet Locator, GottaGo, ToiletFirst, and Susuvida.
6. Safetipin is an exceedingly useful map-based free and safety app that makes navigation safe and easy. Available in three languages- English, Hindi and Spanish, this app
only notifies the user’s location but also alerts the contacts in emergency situations. Safetipin helps the user in taking safety decisions, especially when travelling in the night. Safety decisions include the one in which the user takes the safest route to his destination based on the safety score of that area. An area is termed safe, based on specifications like conspicuousness, availability of public transportation, diversity, the general crowd, pedestrian pathway etc. An alert is sounded when the user enters an unsafe location.
7. Pukar: is yet another app that connects to friends, family and local police in case of an emergency. You press the SOS button and send an alert message with GPS location to emergency contacts. The alert is displayed at the police control room with your GPS location. I would pair these with a quick-reaction app like iGoSafely – the alarm system in which is triggered when you unplug your headphones, or shake the phone vigorously. The phone in turn messages your contacts.
8. Tripoto : Download this app to tap into a global community of travellers. Here you can discover trips shared by real travellers. There is everything from weekend breaks to road trips and from backpacking to cycling holidays. The app has an extensive library of trips and itineraries for India, from Ladakh to Kerala, and everywhere in between. Tripoto also has a collection of recommended hotels, home stays, resorts, and B&BS to match every budget. You can book directly through the app.
9. Smart 24X7: Apart from basic precautions such as being aware of your surroundings, dressing modestly, and keeping local emergency contacts on hand, it always helps to have a personal safety app on your smart phone and this is one of the best apps for solo travellers. You create a list of 5 emergency contacts beforehand. When you are in an unsafe situation, generate a ‘panic alert’ by pressing the panic button on the app or by pressing the power button thrice. Once the alert is generated, your emergency contacts are immediately informed. The information also goes to the Smart 24X7 call centre as well as to the local police who will be alerted to your real-time location.
10. There are a few more useful travel apps which include:
Himmat that is designed by the Delhi Police is primarily for women in the capital. To use the app, users need to register in, then a registration key (OTP) will be received that must be entered to complete the app configuration. It is available in two languages- Hindi and English. The nearest police will be informed in case of emergencies; Raksha: sends an alert message along with your location to your contacts at the press of a button, when you are in danger. An added advantage is that even if the app is not working or switched off, you can still send an alert by pressing the volume key for 3 seconds; bSafe is an all-encompassing free safety app for women. It allows the users to set up their own social personal safety network of friends, family, and co-workers. The app features a Live GPS tracking method through which the contacts can trace the user’s movement from any location. It also has an automatic alarm, called Timer Mode that will trigger if the user has not checked in time. The user can also make the phone ring itself using the Fake Call feature in which the person can identify the caller as well; VithU: This free app starts sending the alert messages to the designated receivers every two minutes at the click of the power button twice consecutively. The receiver will also get a link to the user’s location along with the message; Nirbhaya, a free mobile app for women in distress triggers an alert, along with your current location to your designated contacts, when placed in an emergency situation. There is this feature of ‘Unsafe Area Alert’ that instantly cautions the user when the lady enters an area which is designated as a potentially unsafe one. It can also be used for communicating exigencies like accident apart from attempted molestation through pre-defined text messages.

Women safety has always been a debatable issue in our country. The crime rate today is increasing in leaps and bounds, thereby threatening the safety of women. From kidnapping to molestation, and rapes to sexual abuse, there is an increase in the number of such cases as years roll by. Nowadays, walking down the street alone late night can be unsafe. With a whole host of safety apps available, they are sure to become your favourite travel buddies.

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