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I think we all wish it shouldn’t be necessary for women to take extra caution when travelling solo. But unfortunately that’s the reality. I don’t want to pretend that there’s nothing to fear – that would be irresponsible. But we have to remember that the fear is both at home and abroad, so it shouldn’t stop you from travelling solo if that’s your dream.
I’ve been travelling solo across the world for six years and nothing bad has ever happened to me. By always following my own solo female travel safety tips, I’ve managed to keep safe in any situation. And you can do the same!
Always remember to think smart, to know that, yes, there is danger out there. But there’s danger everywhere – even at home – and you can avoid it with a few travel safety tips, ensuring a fantastic solo travel experience. Because it really is the best!
Read next: The ultimate guide to solo female travel
Table of Contents
1. Trust your instinct
Your instinct is your biggest asset when you travel. Knowing which areas of a city look dodgy or knowing when to walk away if you’re feeling intimidated, is the biggest solo female travel safety tip I can give.
Does a situation feel unsafe? Walk away. Does the stranger you’re talking to seem too pushy? Just walk away. Say that you’ve got stuff to do – or even better, say that your friends or husband is waiting for you or meeting you. You know when you don’t feel safe and secure; you know when you’re out of your depth or feeling vulnerable. So, trust those instincts and get somewhere safe.
Don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings. Your safety comes first!
This can apply to rough areas, potential scams, forceful strangers, and any other potentially dangerous situation. Don’t push yourself into feeling like you have to press on. Your safety is always top priority.
2. Carry a rubber doorstop
This is a simple, cheap, and lightweight thing to carry around, and it guarantees a feeling of safety, privacy, and security when you’re travelling solo. Something as simple as a rubber doorstop ensures that you are safe in your own space.
3. Carry a safety whistle
Another simple and cheap thing to keep on you that can keep you safe and keep you feeling safe is a safety whistle. Sometimes just having a thing with you, which gives you confidence, is enough to shake off your nerves and fear. Keep it on you, hidden away, and you’ll always know that it’s there if you need it.
4. Pay a bit more for accommodation
Three things to look for in accommodation when you want to travel safe are:
- A central location
- A well-lit area of town
- A front desk that operates 24/7.
If you have to pay a little more to get these things, so be it. Well-lit central locations are the safest places to travel alone, and no matter when you return to your hotel, the streets are lit, there are people around, and the front desk has people there who can help you.
5. Watch your drink
When you’re out, always pay attention to your drink. And never taste someone else’s drink – it might be spiked. This safety tip also applies at home. I always, always watch my glass, and never leave it out of sight.
6. Dress conservatively
We all know that the responsibility is on men to be better, but when it comes to your own safety – as well as being respectful of other cultures and customs – dressing conservatively can go a long way. Consider where you are and how the women there typically dress.
You don’t have to disguise yourself, but just try to match their way of dressing. Cover your legs and your shoulders if it’s the done thing. It helps to get some respect from the locals, and more respect means less staring or harassment. Being treated with kindness by the local people goes a long way when it comes to solo female travel safety.
7. Don’t tell anyone where you’re staying
Use this as a rule of thumb for anyone you meet on your travels. You might make a new best friend on your trip to Thailand or Bali – and I hope you do! – but you don’t have to risk your safety and your personal security in getting that friend. While you’ve got your own secure space in your hotel room, keep it that way! Meet in a neutral space and keep your room yours.
8. Avoid eye contact
This one might seem odd, but it’s about respecting local customs and behaviour. Avoiding staring at people means they won’t have a reason to stare back and potentially get provoked, offended or think that you’re flirting.
You don’t need to keep your head down at all times, but there are places in the world where eye contact is seen as a challenge, and you don’t need that! For instance, in China, people only make eye contact when they are angry. In Japan, it’s considered rude to look someone in the eye. And in most conservative Muslim countries, eye contact or a smile could be seen as a sexual advancement (dark sunglasses help).
Even in the safest places to travel alone, it’s always best to respect local customs and avoid drawing unwanted attention.
9. Register with your local embassy
One of the best travel safety tips I can give is to let your local embassy know you’re in the country when you arrive. Get their address and phone number ahead of time and, when you arrive, register with them. In the event of an emergency or even a natural disaster, they know you’re there and that they need to help you. For US residents there’s also STEP: Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
10. Don’t trust people too quickly
I don’t mean to always be on high alert, but this goes hand-in-hand with trusting your instincts. If someone in, say, Thailand, is eager to help you and give you a tour or a ride in their taxi, just consider why they’re doing it and be firm in saying no. Look out for your own safety first, always, before making friends too eagerly.
11. Avoid walking alone at night
Make a schedule, and make sure that you’re always travelling in daylight. Daylight means safety, and also that there are people around to help if you get lost. Travel safe by keeping to the daylight. Enjoy a dinner and a drink out, but head back to your hotel when the sun sets. Get all your exploring done in the daytime.
12. Learn emergency phrases
It’s always good to know a few key phrases in the local language, but don’t overlook words like ‘help’ or ‘fire’. Mixing these with the use of a safety whistle when you’re in a tight spot could save your life.
13. Make friends with hotel staff
They’re there to help you, after all! Hotel staff are always happy to lend their support and guarantee your safety, so make sure they know your name and your face. Have a chat with them and get to know them. Having a friend in a position like theirs is invaluable!
14. Let someone know your travel plans
This could be a friend or a family member. Just make sure to note down your itinerary, your hotel addresses, and a phone number, and give them to someone you can turn to in an emergency – someone who knows where you are at all times. This is essential when it comes to solo female travel safety.
15. Look confident (even when you’re not)
You never want to stand out and look too much like a tourist. Look like you know the terrain. Don’t wander around with your phone out, looking lost. Keep your head high and look like you always know where you’re going and what you’re doing. It keeps you from looking vulnerable and keeps away unwanted attention.
If you do get lost, ask another woman or find a shop and ask the staff.
16. Keep emergency numbers close
When you get to your hotel, ask them for a business card first, before striking up a friendly conversation. Also make sure to note down the local emergency numbers for the police and ambulance services – jot them down on some paper or in your phone, and then you always have someone you can call.
17. Don’t drink too much
Being drunk means being vulnerable – we all know this. And when you’re in a different country or city, going overboard means risking your safety. You can’t trust your instincts if you’ve had too much to drink.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have a drink and enjoy yourself. It just means that you should stop before you can’t keep a firm grasp on where you are, how to get home, and who you’re with. Keep focussed at all times and don’t let alcohol take away your instincts.
18. Book things in advance
Always be organised. Know where you are and where you’re heading. Get all your flights, hotels, and tours booked ahead of time so you always know what’s happening next and when it’s happening. The more organised you are, the less lost and vulnerable you’ll feel. You have a plan, and you’re confident in that plan!
19. Remember travel insurance
This is another must-do when it comes to solo female travel safety. Wherever you are in the world, get yourself some strong travel insurance that covers accidental injury, illness, and lost luggage at the very least. I personally use World Nomads Travel Insurance to cover everything I need and make sure I feel safe and secure in any situation.
20. Check in with family
I always let me mom and husband know where I am at all times. My husband because, well, he’s my person, and my mom because I know she’ll appreciate it and worry less. Remember that your family loves you very much and they’re probably worried about your travels. So for your own and their sake, check in regularly and let them know how you’re doing.
If you’re feeling lonely, make sure there’s someone you can call or text to give you some words of comfort or just a friendly chat. It goes a long way in keeping you feeling relaxed and happy. And when it comes to solo female travel safety, feeling relaxed is worth everything.