My Top Travel Safety Tips for Solo Female Travellers
Planning a solo adventure and wondering how to keep yourself safe? Don’t worry, you’re in the right place. It can be easy for your mind to disappear down a rabbit hole and create a world of worst-case scenarios when you’re focusing on safety and talking about it can help to dispel some of that.
However you’re feeling when it comes to travel safety is perfectly valid and there are things we can do to keep ourselves safe. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you’re overthinking things just for worrying about the unknown. It’s something many of us worry about.
Today, I’m going to be sharing my top safety tips for solo female travellers.
The Importance of Travel Safety Tips for Solo Female Travellers
I get asked a lot of travel-related questions, but one of the most common topics touched on would have to be safety. Some people are curious about whether or not I’ve encountered dangerous situations travelling alone, others want really specific advice when safety is on their mind.
When you’re travelling as a solo female, you do need to prioritise your safety. There are lots of things you can do. Some of these tips are perfect for everyone, regardless of identity, but they’re the first that come to my mind when I think about how I’ve kept myself safe as a solo female traveller.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to reach out to me via Instagram. I try to answer as many as possible.
1. Thoroughly research your destination.
When you think about where you’re from, you probably have some idea of which areas are safe and which are unsafe. For example, you might be able to tell me which areas are safe during the day but should be avoided alone at night. When travelling, we don’t usually benefit from this sort of familiarity.
I would always recommend thoroughly researching your destination. Try to find out which areas are safe and which are worth staying away from. Look for the insight of both locals and travellers, who each experience things slightly differently.
Is your destination known for a specific type of scam or crime? Are there areas locals recommend avoiding? Some cities are known for pickpocketing, others are known for tuk-tuk scams. What you have to watch out for depends entirely on your destination.
One area I like to focus on while researching is public transportation. In some places, it’s perfectly safe to hop in a taxi alone or book an Uber. In others, it’s worth avoiding taxis altogether and sticking to public transport where you can. I would suggest checking whether or not there’s a local public transportation app that locals like to use.
2. Let someone know where you’re going to be and when.
When travelling alone, I would always suggest making sure that someone back home (or present in the area) knows your itinerary. If you make any changes on the go, update the person you’ve shared your plans with.
In doing this, we offer ourselves an extra layer of protection. Someone knows where we’re supposed to be and when. If something should happen, they will be aware of it much quicker than they otherwise would be. If they know where you’re staying, they’ll be able to ring your accommodation provider if you go off the radar.
Even after years of solo travel, I still like to make sure someone knows where I am. I don’t post on social media to let them know as my social media lags behind me slightly, as I was once stalked while travelling in Japan. I try to check in with my point of contact daily, even if it’s just with a quick text or photo.
3. Watch how the locals behave.
Depending on where you’re travelling, you might find that tourists are frequently targeted by criminals and conmen. We’re often less aware of our surroundings, distracted by the beautiful things around us and not quite as savvy as the locals to certain scams. We also tend to be carrying more valuables around with us.
I highly recommend trying to blend in a little bit while travelling. This doesn’t mean pretending to be one of the locals. If you’re in a country where people dress a certain way, it can help to. But, I’ve never been very good at blending in based on dress codes so it’s not an area I touch on too frequently.
Instead, I blend in in other ways. I don’t use my phone to talk loudly if that’s not the norm, nor do I put my brakes on in front of strangers walking to take photos of something interesting I just saw. I’ve often found that, when lost during the day, it can really make you stand out if you look lost. It’s best to pop into a café or a shop while you find your bearings again.
4. Be careful when sharing information.
I do not want to tell solo female travellers not to talk to strangers. It’s just not practical advice. Sometimes, talking to strangers can be a necessity, especially if you get lost. Some of my closest friends are travellers I met on my adventures.
I do want to tell you to trust your gut. Watch out for red flags and people asking for a little bit too much information. Be careful when sharing any personal information about yourself and where you’re staying. For example, learning to say, “I’m in the hotel by the (insert area with lots of hotels)”, can be much safer than saying I’m in this hotel.
If something makes you feel uncomfortable, at any point, saying “no” firmly can be equally as important. Don’t be afraid of being firm and standing your ground because your safety is always the most important thing.
5. Look into safe transportation.
As I previously brushed over, different forms of transportation can come with different problems. The problems depend on where you’re travelling. In some countries, it’s taxis you should avoid. In others, you have to be extra vigilant on public transport. For example, there’s a reason why it’s completely normal to see women-only train cars in some countries.
When I was last in Mexico, I only used one taxi company and it was the one affiliated with the hotel I stayed at. It was not worth the risk of just jumping in a taxi in an area known for so many taxi scams involving tourists. When in doubt, your accommodation provider should be able to make suitable safe recommendations for you.
In some places, walking around at night can be dangerous. I would always make sure you know when the sun is going to set and how you’re planning on getting back to your accommodation. This is something you should definitely think about if you’re going to be arriving with your luggage at night.
If you do have to walk around alone at night, I would recommend sticking to crowded areas. If you ever feel uncomfortable, sticking to busy places can help you to stay safe.
6. Don’t be afraid to lie.
I have definitely made reference to a completely imaginary husband while travelling. When people won’t leave you alone or stop asking you if you’re single, it can be a quick way to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Unless you’re met by the one idiot who sees that as a personal challenge, that is.
I’ve told people I’m staying in hotels I’m not staying in, lied about not travelling solo and said whatever I’ve had to to get people to go away. If you have to lie, lie. And do not feel guilty for doing so. Whatever keeps you safe when someone makes you uncomfortable is important and our gut often lets us know when a situation isn’t quite what it appears to be.
If the lying doesn’t work and someone keeps pestering you, please try to be as assertive as you can. Or be assertive rather than lying in the first place. I’m not always the most confident person so I find lying easier, personally, but it’s about whatever you find easier. Whatever feels best for you is what you should do.
When you are being followed by someone who will not leave you alone, I would recommend sticking to a busy area or diving into a hotel. I once had to nip into a hotel after someone shadowed me for a little over a mile and the receptionist behind the desk was very understanding of the whole situation.
7. Make sure your accommodation is comfortable and safe.
When I’m talking about comfort, I’m not talking about a comfortable bed. As much as comfortable beds are appreciated. I’m talking about making sure that you feel comfortable in your accommodation. If it doesn’t feel safe, you probably won’t settle down.
As a solo female traveller, I don’t think it’s worth risking the dice with unsafe accommodation. I would encourage you to check reviews on several different websites. I’ve worked as a copywriter in the travel industry since I was 17. In that time, I’ve been offered more jobs writing fake reviews than I’ve ever kept track of.
You have to be very, very careful with the internet. Does something seem too good to be true? It probably is. If you notice that a hotel has amazing reviews on TripAdvisor and terrible reviews on Google, that’s a huge red flag. Those who pay for reviews will often have their writers target one platform at once and it leaves things looking unbalanced. Look for phrases that repeat as they often tell their writers what they have to include.
It’s also worth knowing your own limits and what makes you feel comfortable. Some people have an amazing time Couchsurfing, others find it nerve wracking and don’t relax. Whatever feels right for you is the best option. Knowing your own limits and what you like can be the difference between a good and bad trip.
8. Think about what you’ll do in an emergency.
One thing I always recommend to every traveller is to have a plan for what you’ll do in an emergency situation. Hopefully, you will never ever have to use that plan, but it can help you in the long run to have one.
Make sure you know what the local emergency numbers are and that you have your travel insurance reference number saved. Try to give someone back home a copy of your documents and keep a copy with you. It’s hard to know what shape an emergency could take and best to prepare for common issues.
Learning a few basic phrases of the local language can help you to communicate in an emergency. If you have any serious illnesses, I would always recommend learning the word for them so that you can share them with medical professionals. Some people choose to keep a list of their allergies and illnesses with them, as that can help doctors if you are ever unable to communicate.
Make sure that you have some emergency money with you too. Pickpocketing and petty theft are rife in some cities so I’ve learnt to always keep my valuables in different places when there. Some will be in my purse, some in my bag…and an emergency card in either my bra or boot.
Staying Safe While Travelling
While I hope you’re always safe while travelling, I know it’s best to prepare for the worst and be relieved when that doesn’t happen. You never know when you might have to deal with the unexpected and your safety is paramount. Have fun, relax and trust your gut.
If there are any safety tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comments below. I would love to hear about them.
– Kimberley Ann