Solo travel as a girl can seem scary. You might be worried that you’ll run into uncomfortable or even dangerous situations if you’re on your own. While there is always a chance that something can go wrong, there are many ways you can prepare yourself for safe travels. Take a look at my best tips for solo female travel safety below!
1. Don’t engage in cat calls
Seems like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised with how many people will respond to men making comments or trying to talk to them on the street. You never know what a stranger may want. From sexual harassment to theft, you don’t want to chance it!
2. Share your location
Before you leave home make sure to share your location with close friends and family on your phone. This way they can check in on your whereabouts if you aren’t answering them and have some piece of mind. If something goes wrong, they can see where you were last.
While you’re at it, print off or email a copy of your itinerary to your family with as much information you have such as hostels and exact locations you’ll be going to.
3. Don’t go too hard on the alcohol
It goes without saying that if you get too drunk when you’re travelling alone, you won’t be thinking straight and your guard may be down. This makes you a lot more vulnerable and an easy target.
Now this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have fun and drink with some new friends, but as a rule of thumb I drink at least 2-3 drinks less than I would at home. Also make sure you don’t accept drinks from strangers unless you see the bartender pour it for yourself. As my mother always said, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
4. Don’t be afraid to leave unwanted situations
If you’re uncomfortable, never be afraid to leave. Sure, it could be a little awkward but when you’re travelling alone you need to put your safety first and foremost. You’ll have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes dealing with an awkward situation is just a part of solo female travel safety. You’ll thank yourself later!
5. Make sure you ALWAYS have travel insurance
Travel insurance is one of those things you cannot forget about when you’re travelling alone! Medical coverage is probably one of the most important aspects in case there is an unforeseen accident or injury.
With that being said, having insurance on your flights are important as well, in case you find yourself in a scary situation and want to leave the place you’re at immediately. It will save you money and stress in the long run.
6. Make friends
Safety in numbers! Not only that, but you won’t want to be alone all the time and you’ll naturally find yourself meeting new people to do things with. Not sure how to make friends on your own? Check out my 11 tips to making friends when travelling solo here!
Whenever I travel alone, I find that I gravitate towards making friends with guys in my hostels – probably because having a male presence makes me feel safer. While I’ve always been safe when travelling with new guys I meet in hostels, I’m usually a little more on guard in the beginning before I get to know them better.
After all, they still are strangers if you’ve only met recently and you never know what someone could be capable of. If I get a strange or weird feeling with a guy I’m travelling with, I cut ties immediately. Some ways you can get out of an uncomfortable situation like this is by finding out where they’re planning on going/staying next and saying your travel plans have changed. Then make sure to book different accommodation.
7. Report creepy or unwanted behaviour
If you meet someone who makes you uncomfortable/unsafe – whether that’s a fellow traveller or local, let people know about it! If it’s not too serious let other travellers, your hostel/hotel staff, friends and family know what’s going on. Hopefully the the situation doesn’t get worse but if it does, let the authorities know ASAP.
I personally underwent a situation that made me feel very uncomfortable with an older man I met at a hostel in the Philippines. We met on an island there and he asked me where I was going next. Stupidly, I told him where I would be staying and the flight I was on and he booked the same flight and hostel as me right as we were sitting on the beach with other people. I found it a bit unusual at first but didn’t think too much of it at that point. I had him on Facebook so we could communicate about getting a ferry to the airport the next day. This left me feeling more and more uneasy about the situation so I sent my friends and parents his profile and all the information I had.
Once we got to the next island, I discovered that he had asked to be in the same room as me … When this happened my paranoia was through the roof. I immediately sought out girls in the room and made them aware of the situation.
Upon arriving at the next island, I was graced by his creepy presence once again at my hostel. I realized that he had followed my travel instagram account a few days prior had probably seen my location on my stories. At this point I was freaking out a bit and notified my hostel staff to make sure they knew what was going on and that he had been following me from island to island.
It may have just been a coincidence but I did not want to chance it and neither should you if you’re in an uncomfortable position!
8. Download maps on your phone
Whenever I travel alone, I usually get a SIM card right away so that I know where I’m going. Sometimes I don’t get around to doing that right away and if that’s the case, I make sure to have maps downloaded on my phone so I know where I am.
This is especially important when you catch a cab/Grab etc from the airport to a hostel at night. You never know where this driver could be taking you so I like to follow along on Maps.Me to put me at ease. It’s one of my favourite travel apps to use and completely free!
9. Always know where you’re going
Okay, this isn’t realistic when you’re travelling alone but if you don’t know where you’re going, always act like you do! Speak with confidence and research where you’ll be headed beforehand so that you don’t appear as an easy target to prey on.
10. You’re never alone
Similarly, you should always act as if you’re with other people – think back to your glorious childhood days when imaginary friends were a thing!
When someone asks you if you’re alone, tell them that your friend is just in the bathroom or your boyfriend just left to grab a snack etc. If a predator knows you’re with someone who would be worried if you went missing, there’s a lesser chance of something bad happening.
11. Learn how to avoid theft
While it’s not always possible to avoid theft entirely, there are a few things you can do to make sure your valuables don’t go missing.
- Keep money in different places – that way if someone gets into your purse, you still have money hidden in your suitcase somewhere.
- Lock up valuables at hostel if the locker looks secure but keep passport on you. Sometimes I will leave my passport behind in a safe in the hostel if I’m planning to go to the beach or be in the water. If the hostel doesn’t have a secure locker, I will sleep with them under my pillow or in my bed over night.
- Keep phone away – If you’re on your phone on the street especially in Asia, someone on a motorbike can drive by and easily snatch it from you.
12. Don’t stand out too much
If you’re from a Western country and are travelling alone in a more conservative country, you may need to change the way you dress a little bit. I personally wear a lot of t-shirts and don’t bother putting much makeup on to avoid standing out in a crowd.
If you look like you have money could could become a target, so don’t wear expensive jewellery, purses etc out.
13. Don’t be plugged in
When I’m home, I always walk around with earphones in because I feel fairly safe. When you’re travelling alone, especially at night, you don’t have that luxury. It’s always best to be aware of where you are and who’s around you!
14. Avoid walking alone/travelling at night
It’s not always easy to avoid travelling at night. If you’re a budget solo traveller like myself, you may need to get the flight that gets in at 1AM but if you can avoid arriving at night, do it!
I rarely walk anywhere alone at night when I’m travelling by myself but if I find myself in that position I’m more aware of my surroundings than usual. I also look for a couple walking nearby that I can stay near in case anything goes wrong.
15. Know emergency numbers
Coming from North America, I grew up with 911 as the emergency number. When I started travelling alone, I didn’t even think about the fact that other countries have different emergency numbers.
When I got to Australia there’s was 000, which really threw me for a loop. Keep this in mind and make sure you know the emergency number for the country you’re in, just in case!
16. Have a copy of EVERYTHING
When you travel alone, things can go missing. One of my biggest fears is losing my passport. To ensure you have access to all important documents throughout your travels, make copies of everything!
I photocopy my passport, license and confirmation of hostels I’ve booked. I’ll also email the documents to myself and my family and take pictures of everything. If you have iCloud and your phone is stolen, you’ll still be able to access your pictures.
17. Portable phone chargers are key
Because we rely so heavily on our phones to get around these days, it’s important to have them charged all the time. If you’re out for the day, always bring a portable charger with you. That way, if you get lost and your phone dies, you’re able to access maps again.
18. Doesn’t hurt to carry a mini flashlight
You never know when you’re going to need a flashlight. If you’re on a hike and it gets dark, a mini flashlight can save you from a dangerous fall! It also comes in handy if your phone dies and you’re walking somewhere at night that is poorly lit.
19. Don’t leave luggage in the trunk of a cab
I used to always let cab drivers put my luggage in the trunk until recently. I was getting dropped off at the airport in Cebu, Philippines and when I got out the driver almost drove off with my things! Luckily I was able to stop him but after that experience I’ll keep with my things with me.
This is also important for scenarios where you feel unsafe in a cab and want to jump out. If your things are in the trunk, you’ll be more willing to stay in a unsafe situation.
20. Join a walking tour
Walking tours are a great way to get to know a city you’re in for free. By making yourself more familiar with the place you’re in, you can identify safer spots. It also a great way to meet new people!
21. Ask other travellers for advice
Solo female travel safety 101: When in doubt, ask another backpacker. People are usually very friendly and willing to help. If you feel unsafe, chances are that others have been in the same position.
I’ve learnt a lot from other backpackers! It’s prepared me to look out for certain things when I’m travelling alone.
22. Carry yourself confidently
Confidence can go a long way in travel. Even if you aren’t the most confident person usually, be confident when you’re alone. This will help you avoid unsafe situations and prove to yourself that you can travel by yourself!
23. Trust your instincts
Trusting your instincts is probably the most important thing to remember for solo female travel safety! If you get a bad gut feeling, it’s probably right and you should remove yourself immediately.
Although there are many things to keep in mind when it comes to solo female travel safety, remember that not everyone is out to get you. Solo travel is a great way to learn more about yourself and experience all that the world has to offer.