There are plenty of articles out there on staying safe but I felt this was the perfect platform to gather my honest safety tips for female solo travellers.
As a solo female traveller, I sometimes get people enquiring as to whether I think it’s safe to visit certain countries on one’s own. I’ve traveled to plenty of countries by myself and haven’t let the fact that I’m a solo female traveller put me off going anywhere. Nor should you if you want to visit a particular destination.
That being said, being a solo female traveller comes with a whole set of issues that solo male travellers don’t face. We live in a world where, unfortunately, some countries’ attitudes towards women aren’t the same as towards men. This means women can be treated unequally and occasionally with disrespect.
Whether you’re male or female, travelling alone means you have to be even more conscious of your safety and how you’ll deal with possible situations while on the road. So here are some safety tips for female solo travellers which you can use either at home or while galavanting around the world!
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Dress like the locals
This point is dependent on where you travel. In many places, the dress code will likely be the same as back home. However, in some countries – such as Muslim countries – there are dress codes which should be observed. Though you may argue you should be able to wear what you want, when you want, the reality is you’re in their country and need to respect their customs and cultures. Do a quick Google search for “(Country) dress code for tourists.” The plus side of dressing like the locals is that you fit in a little more, and will hopefully avoid any unwanted attention.
Send a message home
I am usually the one to contact my family
before they contact me. I’ve even gone as far as messaging them the
co-ordinates of where I’m spending the night – just in case. Though you don’t
need to be that thorough, it’s a good idea send the odd message back now and
again, just to let your loved ones know that you’re safe and that nothing
untoward has happened. This is especially a good idea if you’re staying in a
sketchier area or taking an overnight bus. Tell them you’ll send a message when
you arrive safely and what time that will be.
It’s okay to be bitchy
The most important of my safety tips for female solo travellers: Being kind has lots of advantages, and it’s how I believe everyone should live their day-to-day. That doesn’t mean you have to be kind to everybody. If you meet someone and they seem to be over-friendly and ask where you’re staying, don’t feel obligated to tell them. The same goes for details – where you’re from, who you’re travelling with, or your travel plans. If someone is genuinely making you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to calmly but firmly tell them to leave you alone. Though it may seem embarrassing, you can even make a scene or seek help if you need some assistance getting rid of this person. I used to feel bad I’d hurt the feelings of others, but have now learned my health and safety comes first. Learning to read people and situations is useful when travelling alone, regardless of whether you’re male or female. Recognizing a situation before it escalates can help you get out of it quickly. Listen to your gut. I mean it!
Nothing attracts unsavory people and situations more than someone looking like they don’t know what they’re doing. If you look like you’re confused, vulnerable, or lost, some people could choose to take advantage of it. Even if you’re not feeling that confident, try to look as if you are: walk with your back straight and head up, as if you’re a person who knows where they’re going and what they want. You’ll probably find that, even if you don’t feel like that at first, you’ll soon gain that posture anyway – travel tends to do that to people.
Catcallers and thieves
Catcalling is no fun, whether you’re at
home or abroad. If it does happen to you while you’re travelling, the best way
of dealing with it is just to ignore it. In most cases, they will get bored and
leave you alone. If you do feel concerned, head for the nearest cafe or
restaurant and seek refuge there. Catcalling is something which men do to try
and get the attention of females, and tend to be quickly put off if there are
If, however, you find yourself the victim
of a theft or mugging, it’s much better to allow them to take what they want;
no amount of money or gadgets are worth your life. In this situation, you
should be more focused on keeping yourself safe, and if that means losing some
things, then so be it. Plus, if you have travel insurance, your belongings can
usually be replaced without too much of a headache.
Carry a dummy wallet
In the unlikely event you get mugged,
it’s a good idea to carry around a dummy wallet. A dummy wallet contains old,
expired credit or debit cards and a little bit of cash – a good tip is to put a large note
on top to give the impression that there’s more money in there than there
actually is – which you can then give to them if needed, meaning they think
they’re getting something but you are actually still in possession of your
money and current cards.
Try to make journeys during the day
It’s a fact that most incidents of crime
and attacks happen after the sun has gone down. One way of getting around this
is by making any journeys you need to make during the day. Of course, if you’re
travelling to another city which is quite a distance, this may make for a long
day on public transportation, but it’s the safest way of doing it. If the
distance is too big for a day journey and you find yourself having to take an
overnight bus or train, there are ways of minimizing risk. If it’s a bus
journey, book with a reputable company and check their reviews on social media
or Trust Pilot. If it’s a train, pay the little extra for a sleeping cabin
which you can lock and bring an extendable lock to loop around your bags and
the bed frame.
If you’re out and about in the city where
you’re staying, try not to walk home alone after dark. Uber is available in
many cities across the globe, or if it isn’t, there will be a local version available,
so make sure you download the app for it before leaving your accommodation. If
all else fails, ask someone who works in the restaurant or bar that you’re in
to call you a taxi.
Join a tour
Just because you’re travelling alone, it doesn’t mean you have to be alone! For the coutries I so badly wanted to visit but didn’t want to be completely solo, I jumped on a G Adventures tour! This included India and Morocco. Other options are to take part in day tours, this is really good to do at the beginning of a trip while you’re still getting your bearings. It’s also an opportunity to ask your guide any questions you’ve had on your mind about the area.
Be mindful of your drinking
Going out and having a good time is part of
a lot of people’s trips, and technically you should be able to have a few
drinks if you so wish. Unfortunately, if you’re travelling on your own,
especially as a solo female traveller, drinking copious amounts of alcohol is
not the greatest idea. Alcohol has the effect of slowing down reactions, losing
inhibitions, and loss of memory. Of course, have a couple of drinks if you
want, but don’t go out and get wankered. Also, ensure you keep an eye on your
drink at all times, and if someone buys your drink for you, be there at the bar
when it happens to ensure nothing is slipped into it.
Though your safety is essential, if you
focus too much on these “risks,” it can be easy to forget that you’ve
traveled to that country for a reason. Yes, you should be mindful where you are
going and who you’re speaking to, but most places are safe, and the majority of
people are good and kind, so remember that while you’re away.
Travelling is a fun activity, and there’s absolutely no reason why you should let being a solo female stop you from exploring the world. The critical take away here is to stop and think about your actions for a moment to keep yourself safe, just as you would if you were at home.
Have you got any safety tips for female solo travellers to add? Please comment below!