15 Ways to Be a Safer Female Solo 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 doomed 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 solo female travelers are often looked upon as oddities—courageous adventurers taking their lives into their 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. Read her tips below, and for more ideas on how to travel better, check out The 7 Best Luxury Fitness Vacations.
"Pay attention to the people in your surroundings, both near & far. Scan your surroundings. Is someone walking close to you? Does someone appear to be watching you? Did that car just pull beside you & slow down?" And for more great travel advice, know that Saying These Two Secret Words Will Get You an Instant Airline Upgrade.
"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/quicken their speed near me. I listen to footsteps & 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." Are you looking for some good, original travel spots? Consider one of the 15 Spookiest Places in America.
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 other solo female travelers."
Splurge on Data
"Thanks to T-mobile, I have free texting & data around the world. Family & friends are literally a text or phone call away. Make sure someone, anyone…knows where you are & where you're staying." And for more smart ways to travel, know that This Is the Best Way to Do Yoga on an Airplane.
Keep Your Loved Ones Informed
"Thanks to 2018 tech, I use google maps, translation apps, and drop my pin to friends/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 bc I gotta 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. I usually only post photos or share where I was, once I've left. You really never know who's lurking." And speaking of social media: Beware the One Thing You Shouldn't Do with Your Boarding Pass.
When in Doubt, Ask a Woman for Help
"Women around the world really look out for each other though & 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, airbnb, 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 Uber. No, Uber is not perfect, but I think it's a bit safer than hopping into a random taxi abroad. At least my location & 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 & valuables that I need. I leave all valuables behind at nighttime. I split up cash & 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 majority of the time things work out great. I listen to any odd feelings I get and I've learned to discern people & 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 & 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."
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