Solo travel is one of the best ways for women to explore the world and to become more confident and empowered travelers. There is no doubt that solo travel is usually an amazing life experience.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be reckless or do things that you wouldn’t do at home, so finding a balance between those amazing experiences and staying safe is vital.
Here are ten solo female travel safety tips to make sure you make the most of your journey!
Keep Your Valuables Hidden
The key reason for this is that many tourist areas will have pickpockets and thieves, and they will target those with expensive cameras around their necks. Only take your gadgets out when you are using them.
In the case of smart phones, you can never be too careful. Some cities (even major ones like Amsterdam and London) have issues with phones getting grabbed right out of your hands if you aren’t paying attention.
Don’t be paranoid, but use good judgement. Common sense goes a long way!
Avoid Traveling at Night
Night time can be an intimidating time for travelers in a new area, especially as a solo female traveler. While it is normally fine to visit an area where there are plenty of other visitors, you may want to arrange a taxi back rather than walking to your hotel.
Also, where possible, try to avoid using overnight transportation unless you are able to secure your belongings as they also tend to be more prone to crime than traveling by day.
Learn Emergency Phrases
Being able to tell one of the locals that there is an emergency or that you need help is essential. Most criminals will look to isolate you from others who can provide help, so if you think something is wrong be prepared to approach a stranger to ask for help.
Aside from emergency phrases, it also helps to learn key phrases in the local language. It will make your life a lot easier and will usually win the kindness of strangers for having put in the effort.
Make Friends with Hotel Staff
Hotel staff are not only there if your hot water isn’t working properly, but they will usually be locals who know the area quite well. Remember not only to ask them about the best places to go, but also where you should avoid as a visitor.
They should also know not to say your room number out loud when giving you the key, in case someone is trying to listen in to know in which room you are staying. Personally, I like to notify the hotel in advance that I’m traveling solo and always leave a memo with the desk clerk when I’m leaving and when I intend to return.
Let Someone Know Your Travel Plans
Whether you are simply visiting a few of the local attractions or heading out for a wilderness experience for a week, make sure someone knows your plans. Of course, try to keep friends and family at home updated, but as I mentioned before, someone such as the hotel receptionist will be able to raise the alarm if you don’t return as planned.
For US Citizens, you can use the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to enroll your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Travel insurance is also vital for every trip you take, as it provides both medical and travel protection to ensure you have a safe journey.
Stay Alert and Keep Looking Confident
Thieves and criminals will usually target those who look the most vulnerable, so try to walk and appear as confident as possible, even if you are lost. Be aware of your surroundings, and if something feels wrong or you are getting a bad vibe from someone you are speaking with, find a way out of that situation.
Know Conversation Points to Avoid
Whether it is discussing Communism in Cuba or the Royal Family in Thailand, there are some subjects that are best to avoid. Not all countries are as liberal as the west, so know what to avoid when talking with locals as much as what you should be discussing with them, as they can be perceived as rude in some countries.
Make Copies of Your Travel Documents
If you lose important travel documents, especially your passport, it can be an absolute pain to get them replaced or even to continue your travel. Having photocopies or even a photo of the documents saved on your computer or smart phone can be very useful.
They can show local authorities that you have a valid visa and make it a lot easier to arrange replacement documents should you need help from your local embassy.
Keep Emergency Numbers in Your Phone
While it is not essential to have an international phone plan while you are traveling, a pay-as-you-go SIM card with a cheap unlocked phone can be very helpful. Save the local emergency number in your phone, so that if you do need the police or an ambulance, you can call quickly for help.
Don’t Let Music Distract You
It can be easy to put in headphones and drift off into your own world when you are on a bus, sitting in a waiting room or even walking around a city. It’s really important to remain alert and not get distracted from your surroundings.
It is also best to use a cheap pair of headphones instead of expensive ones that could attract the wrong type of attention.