15 Ways to Be a Safer Solo Female Traveler
Have fun but stay safe.
Traveling alone as a woman can be one of the most exhilarating and liberating experiences in the world. You can go wherever you want, eat whatever you want, get up early or sleep in, and march completely to the beat of your own drum. Having to deal with the problems that inevitably crop when you're by yourself can be truly empowering, since you don't really know what you're capable of until you find yourself without a hotel room in Bangkok in the middle of the night, and have to figure things out alone.
Without any of the noise of day-to-day life—or the distractions of a friend—traveling alone can also be an amazing opportunity to get to know who you are and what you want. Not to mention, it's even easier to make friends with the locales when you're flying solo, and the fact that you can chat with friends back home anytime you have Wi-Fi curbs any potential loneliness.
For many women, traveling alone feels very modern and feminist, which is probably why it's such a rising trend. For centuries, men were the ones who got to go off and have adventures, whereas women were told to stay home where it was "safe." Even up until recently, a woman traveling alone was kind of a rarity, and anyone who's read Wild or Eat, Pray, Love knows that a solo female traveler is often looked upon as an oddity—a courageous adventurer taking her life into her own hands. Unfortunately, the reality is that a woman traveling alone does have to take safety precautions much more so than a man, but that shouldn't dissuade you.
Recently, travel blogger and solo female traveler Ciara Johnson shared some great tips on Twitter on how to stay safe while traveling alone in a thread that has now gone viral.
Do your research.
"I do lots of research before I go—cultural norms, customs, how to dress, scams, natural disasters, political climate, etc. Instead of listening to people who've never visited these places before, I look for first hand knowledge from at least one other solo female traveler."
Splurge on data.
"Thanks to T-mobile, I have free texting and data around the world. Family and friends are literally a text or phone call away. Make sure someone, anyone… knows where you are and where you're staying."
Keep your loved ones informed.
"Thanks to [modern technology], I use google maps, translation apps, and drop my pin to friends and family often. I'm not above using my phone to stay safe, but I avoid pulling it out on the street or walking around with my head down because I have to be aware."
Be careful with social media.
"When it comes to posting on social media, I never post in real time. I never tag locations while I'm actually there. As a solo female traveler, I usually only post photos or share where I was, once I've left."
When in doubt, ask a woman for help.
"Women around the world really look out for each other, and it's heartwarming. I sit next to women on buses. If I need directions, I usually ask a woman. This is not to say all women can be trusted, but I feel more comfortable trusting a woman on first instinct."
Seek out female reviews.
"Read reviews for hotels, Airbnbs, hostels, etc. Once again, all reviews aren't real, but it's better to have some frame of reference. I specifically look for reviews written by women, and I'd never book a place that has no reviews."
Take extra care of yourself.
"I know my limits. Like, I can swim, but I'm not above using a life vest if I'll be in the sea for extended periods of time. I'm not too embarrassed to be the last one on a hike if I feel like I'm getting altitude sickness. I'll take an Emergen-C if I feel myself getting sick."
Stick to apps you trust.
"I love Uber… I think it's a bit safer than hopping into a random taxi abroad. At least my location and the driver's info is stored in the app. In foreign countries, it can be hard to know if a taxi is even official."
Split up your valuables.
"I only carry the cash and valuables that I need. I leave all valuables behind at nighttime. I split up cash and cards throughout different bags in case one is stolen. I hold my bags directly in front of me with my hand over the opening if I am in a crowded area to avoid pickpockets."
Follow your instincts.
"Trust your gut. Traveling alone actually causes you to depend on strangers for so many things, and the majority of the time things work out great. I listen to any odd feelings I get, and I've learned to discern people and situations."
"Fake it till you make it. I swear I walk around like I know exactly what I'm doing, where I'm going… even when I don't. Head held high like I was born and raised in whatever country I'm visiting. Predators look for those who appear lost, scared, confused, insecure, etc."
Don't worry about being nice.
"I'll lie or be rude if I need to. I'll lie if someone asks if I'm alone. I've gotten over being 'nice' where nice is not warranted, especially when it comes to strange men."
"Pay attention to the people in your surroundings, both near and far. Scan your surroundings. Is someone walking close to you? Does someone appear to be watching you? Did that car just pull beside you and slow down?"
"When I'm walking, I'm fully aware of what's happening around me. I keep an eye on cars driving past me or anyone that slows their speed near me. I listen to footsteps and watch shadows…"
Don't worry about looking paranoid.
"If I'm walking in a quiet street and I see that a man is about to walk closely past me I'll even cross to the other side of the street if no one else is around. It's better to look a little paranoid than be harassed, robbed, or worse." And if you're looking for more places to go stag, here are the 17 Best Solo Travel Destinations To Visit in 2020.