No matter where you live or how safe you think the locality is, never underestimate the badness of bad men. You never know when you'll have to travel or walk alone. Nights can get really nasty if you don't have a car and if you're alone.
Sometimes, I leave office around 7:45 pm, and though this timing is somewhat 'late in the evening' and not 'at the night', the area where my office is located is dark and quiet. It's not a residential area, and so you won't find any shops or women shopping groceries here. I walk from my office to the station everyday, and I admit I feel slightly unsafe while doing so, if the sun has completely set down.
These are some of the tips I follow. Of course, the basic 'carry a pepper spray or knife' is like an unwritten safety rule, but these are some tips I follow myself.
DON'T WALK ON THE FOOTPATH; WALK ON THE ROAD
Whenever it's dark around, I don't take the footpath; instead, I walk on the road. This way, no crazy man can grab me and take me into a corner. The footpaths can be creepy. I always walk on the road if I feel the footpath is not safe.
DON'T LISTEN TO MUSIC
Ears can be used to sense footsteps or whispers. Spare those eardrums and don't use earphones until you reach a safer place.
PRETEND YOU'RE TALKING ON PHONE (WITH SOMEONE WHO LIVES NEARBY)
I always do this. If at all I'm frightened, I pretend I'm talking on phone. I say something like,"I just crossed your building," or "I think I saw your mom in the car." If you do this, the men would know that you have contacts in the area and that you're not alone.
PRETEND THAT SOMEONE IS COMING TO PICK YOU UP (AND HAS ALMOST REACHED)
I've done this several times. I say something like, "Yes, mom, I'm reaching the signal; where are you guys? I can't spot the car." This works wonders.
CARRY A SCARF OR A PAIR OF LEGGINGS (IF YOUR CLOTHES MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE)
Wanna wear that gorgeous short dress? Oh, you can! Wanna wear that super cute tube top? Of course, what's stopping you? But make sure to carry a scarf (to cover your shoulders) or a pair of leggings (to cover your legs). I don't mean to snatch away your freedom, but sometimes, covering yourself up could be the best solution. (Note: I don't support the 'men rape women because they wear revealing clothes' notion.)
TAKE A KNOWN ROUTE
If you know a route, it's fine. Just make sure the route has 'good' people around. Even if the route is a longer one, take it. Better to walk/pay more than to be sorry.
PRETEND YOU'RE A DUDE AND WALK IN CONFIDENCE (EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE SCARED)
As funny as it sounds, but I do this. Sometimes I chew gum and walk like I'm Salman Khan just to tell people I'm the bhai. It works. Pretend as if you're a tough prey, so that they don't harm you. I love when I'm angry at someone and walking down the road; it just makes me appear violent.
INFORM YOUR PARENTS/SPOUSE/FRIENDS THAT YOU'RE ON YOUR WAY
As soon as I leave the office, I message my family group on WhatsApp saying I have left the office. I feel like they're with me in my loneliness.
INFORM YOUR PARENTS/SPOUSE/FRIENDS ABOUT THE CAB NUMBER
This is a common safety thing vulnerable people do. Send the driver's details to your parents or someone you know would come running straightaway. If your parents do not know about your sneaky night-out, message someone else--like your boyfriend, your brother, or a male friend.
ALWAYS KEEP OLA/UBER APP IN YOUR CELLPHONE
I don't travel by these cabs, but if ever there comes a need, I always have one of these apps in my cellphone. You might have to pay a bomb for getting to your home, but safety is more important, and always should be. It can get too late sometimes and your usual train/bus has already gone. At such times, Ola/Uber cab can be a saviour.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE INTERNET AND BALANCE IN YOUR CELLPHONE
Make sure to have enough talk-time balance to place calls. Also, the internet could be useful. You might need it for directions and messaging your parents or somebody close to you regarding your whereabouts. To certain extent, you can also tweet to a police officer.
MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS HAVE MONEY
If you know you're going to get late, make sure to have some cash at disposal. During night time, withdrawing money from an ATM could be risky. Also, don't worry about not having enough money for the impromptu cab ride; you can pay the driver on reaching (after borrowing money from your homies), or you can also borrow it before hand, if you live alone in the city.
DON'T LOOK AT THE PASSERSBY, BUT KEEP OTHER SENSES SUPER ACTIVE
If you make an eye contact with these bad men, they might read your fear and throw those "Ooh, kya maal hai" sort of looks. Better is to avoid eye contact, but being extremely cautious of their activities. If you're not sure if the man has crossed you or if he's following you, just pretend that someone you know have just passed by and look behind to know the man's position.
ENSURE YOU HAVE COMFORTABLE SHOES ON
If you're wearing sexy stilettos, don't fail to carry an extra pair of really thin flats. That way, your bag won't be heavy and you'll also be all-ready to run if a situation demands.
THANK THE DRIVERS AFTER REACHING DESTINATION
I do this; if a cabbie has driven me home safe, I always thank him saying how safe I felt. Last time, on my trip to Pune, we'd gone clubbing. After reaching home, I thanked driver saying, "There should be more people like you; we felt safe around you."
Being good with the good cabbies can prove helpful; because, if you're in a trouble and they spot you somewhere, they can always bring you help. More the number of contacts, better the safety.
TRY TO GET SOMEONE TO ACCOMPANY YOU
If someone has the same route as you, don't hesitate to ask that person if you could join them on your way home. You might feel weak and dependent, but so be it. If that person has to leave from the venue immediately, you leave with him/her too. You can always have a "best night" some other night. Don't take safety for granted.
What are your tips?