People are often concerned on whether or not solo female travel is safe. As a solo female traveler, let me say YES! Although I say it’s safe to travel as a solo female, let me clarify that we are living in a changing world and we always need to take certain precautions to ensure a safe trip. By traveling smarter we can travel safer. As a woman, the travel advice I’m often given is to “wear a fake wedding ring” or to “never tell anyone if you are single”. While these pieces of advice alone may work for some, I’m going to guess that they probably won’t cut it for the majority of solo female travelers.
Investigate your destination ahead of time.
There might be parts of town that you shouldn’t venture into while alone, which is why researching beforehand is important. Even if you forget or don’t have time to do the research before departure, ask at the front desk of your hotel. Also give a friend or family member any information you have about your trip. Before you leave you may also want to copy all travel documents, and leave a set with them as well.
Save the spontaneity — book the first night.
A lot of people like to find a hotel upon their arrival, but as a female solo traveler I would recommend having your first night planned, just so you can get your bearings. Remember to pay a bit extra if you need to, in order to stay someplace that has good security, is near a main road and is well lit.
Protect yourself by packing smart.
Many people recommend female travelers to pack two things: a fake wedding ring and some pepper spray. While I don’t think those things are necessary, the things you may want to consider packing are a rubber doorstop and whistle. Use the rubber doorstop to wedge under your door at night if you’re staying someplace where you don’t feel secure. This will prevent people from being able to get in easily and being rubber, it won’t crack like a wooden stopper. As for the whistle, carry it on you in case of emergencies. Blowing a loud whistle will draw attention in any country.
Act like you belong, and leave the map in the bag.
Act confident. It’s hard to blend in when you may obviously look like a tourist, but you can at least act like you know your way around. Try to avoid fumbling around. Yes it’s tempting to pull out maps or guides when out and about, but this can identify you as a target. If you need a minute to look at these things, try going into a café or convenience store and do it there. If you need a little help acting more confident, walk with your cellphone out. Even if your cellphone doesn’t work in the country you’re in, it can be useful to pretend you’re talking on the phone. This can help you to feel more confident and can also deter someone who is following you.
Dress like a local.
Photo by Jaguar MENA CC BY
Now I’m not saying you need to wear burka if you’re traveling in a Muslim country, but dress smart. Be aware of when you may need to leave that super cute miniskirt at home in exchange for a long maxi dress. You don’t need to wear that Gucci bag or Tiffany’s necklace while traveling. While it may be the one single expensive item you own, robbers won’t know that. Don’t make yourself a target- leave it at home.
Be aware of your surroundings.
This is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often it happens. Enjoy some relaxing “me” time back at the hotel—or if you really want to go out, try to get a group of other solo female travelers to go with you. Be sure to watch anything you drink, and know your limits. While it’s great to make friends on the road, be careful what information you share with them. Strangers never need to know where you’re staying or that you’re alone.
Practice your slang.
Photo by Luiz Hernandez CC BY
If you know you’ll be traveling someplace where English in uncommon, you may even want to write down a few key phrases in the local language before you go. Try using a free language training site like busuu.com to practice some vocabulary and conversation before you go. Or download the app and practice while you’re in transit.