One of the most common questions I get from my female readers is how to stay safe while traveling solo. Maybe you’ve heard travel horror stories from your family and friends, maybe you’re filled with anxiety over fear of standing out, or maybe you just want to be as ready as possible for any situation.
As someone who has been traveling for years, a lot of the time by myself, I can tell you firsthand that the world isn’t as ominous as the media can make it out to be. All it takes is a little research and planning, and you’ll be well prepared to keep yourself as safe as possible and have a great time on your trip.
10 Important Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers
Keep In Touch
Always keep at least one friend or family member clued in to where you are and check in with them regularly. While checking in can be easily done if you regularly post online, it’s also a smart idea to give your accommodation addresses and flight numbers to a specific person back home, away from the many eyes of social media.
Bring A Door Stopper
Whether you’re staying in 5-star luxury accommodations or a cheap motel for the night, putting a door stopper under your door when you’re in the room is definitely a good idea. Even if you feel the chances of someone trying to break down your door are slim, electronic keycard mix-ups do happen from time-to-time, so a door stopper provides an extra layer of security.
Research Your Destination Thoroughly
Before you land in your destination, always make sure you know the in’s and out’s of local customs and laws. Know where the safer parts of town are as well as those that maybe you shouldn’t venture to after dark, know what gestures are deemed respectful and which are considered offensive, familiarize yourself with the transportation system, and know what the region’s political and religious situations are like.
Additionally, be sure to talk to a healthcare professional about your destination as well. Ask them if there are any vaccines you should get or health precautions you should take before you depart.
While sampling the local spirits can be a great way to explore a destination, it’s also a good idea to practice moderation when drinking alcohol. Keeping your mind sharp when in a foreign land and culture is vital.
Also be sure to research local drinking laws before you indulge.
Dress Like a Local
It should go without saying that what is generally accepted as appropriate clothing by one country may not be in the next, and that especially rings true for women. Make sure you research what the dress-code norms are in your destination, and bring at least a few pieces along that comply. For the rest of your stay, I recommend purchasing clothing locally, as not only will you be able to further blend in this way, clothing makes for a great souvenir!
Purchase Travel Insurance
It’s an age-old saying in the travel community that if you don’t have the money for travel insurance, then you don’t have the money to travel. Travel insurance could save your life if you wind up in a compromising situation, it could cover your luggage in case it gets lost, and it could cover your electronics if they happen to be stolen. (We’ve used World Nomads for our travel insurance for the past 8 years and completely trust this company.)
Additionally, before you make any purchases, check and see if you employer offers travel insurance as part of your benefits package.
Keep Expensive Items Hidden
For the average traveler, a good rule of thumb is to not bring anything along with you that you would be heartbroken to lose. This includes expensive jewelry and anything with sentimental value. That said, traveling with valuables is almost an inevitability, as most travelers today carry at least a smartphone, camera, Kindle, and laptop (or tablet) with them.
When traveling from place to place, always keep your valuable items with you in a secure day bag and avoid flashing them around whenever possible. If you let them out of your sight for even a second, they could be gone forever.
Learn Basic Words in the Local Language
Before you arrive in your destination, practice some key words in the local language. In addition to the basic “hello”, “goodbye”, “no”, “please”, and “thank you”, I also recommend learning some phrases that you know will be useful on your journey such as “Where is the bus stop”, “Do you speak English”, and “I’m allergic to…”
Digitize Your Documents
From your passport, drivers license, booking confirmations, travel insurance, and beyond, always make sure you have back-up copies of your documents stored securely online. If, for whatever reason, your documents get lost, stolen, or damaged, having a backup could be an absolute lifesaver. Personally, I always leave a copy of these with a trusted someone back home as well.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to have emergency contact information on you at all times, and not just on your phone. In the digital age, I surely don’t have every emergency contact’s phone number memorized, so having a physical copy of these definitely does not hurt.
Trust Your Gut
When you’re alone on the road, trusting your intuition and being in tune with your feelings are things that will naturally sharpen and heighten. Whether you feel uneasy with a reckless cab driver, decide to exercise caution with a new group of friends, or don’t feel comfortable accepting a drink from a man at a bar, trusting your intuition can go a long way to keep you safe.
If you’re uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to say no and get yourself out of the situation.