Women travel alone for various reasons: be it for business, to discover new places or just to rest and relax. No matter how much the world has changed, traveling for women still differs greatly than it does for men and the fact remains that women face greater obstacles when they travel alone. Here are some important solo female travel safety tips to consider
1. Know before you go
The more you read up about a destination, the safer you will feel. Read up all you can about the destination you have in mind particularly, its laws, cultures and rules. If needed, search for some solo female travel blog about women who have been there and blogged about it. No matter how brave you are, it is best to choose a destination that is deemed safe. If you have any doubt whether you can safely put up with the challenges, then you may want to strike that destination off the list. Get in touch with women travelers through international associations and social networks. Seek out women who have recently visited the country you are headed to.
2. Do an all-encompassing risk assessment
If you are a single woman traveling alone, then you may want to find out about the health conditions, political situation, local laws, customs, economic environment etc. Some Arabic countries have very strict laws against women wearing bikinis or exposing themselves. So always check if there are any laws you need to know before you travel. If possible, seek out possible best solo female travel destinations before booking your tickets.
3. Visit travel advisory sites
Each country has a travel advisory for its travelers. For solo women traveling from USA to other countries, one can visit this site. For health advisory for travel abroad, you can visit this site. Always supplement all this information with other resources from solo traveler women blogs, sites like Trip Advisor, and also use magazines, travel channels etc.
4. Keep travel documents safe
Always leave copies of important documents with friends or family back home. Scan and email yourself copies of these documents so you can access them from anywhere. Obtain a valid passport of your home country and get valid visas of destinations you are traveling to. Before traveling, contact a travel insurance company to cover expenses incurred for theft, medical assistance, loss/damage to baggage, flight cancellations etc. Keep copies of documents in multiple bags in case you lose or misplace the original.
5. Consider taking a self defense course
If you have the time, consider getting a self defense class. This is an important among all solo travel tips for women traveling to unsafe areas. Taking a couple of classes will allow you to embark upon your journey with confidence.
6. Travel light
Do not carry too much stuff with you. This will allow you to be more flexible and also minimize damage should there be untoward incidents like theft or missing baggage etc. Always carry a safe handbag with inner pockets to keep extra money and documents. You can also carry your papers and extra cash or traveler’s checks in a pouch around your waist. A sturdy backpack that can be placed in front on your person is also ideal for women travelers. Carry only those items that are lightweight and that you really need.
7. Keep your hands free
At least one of your hands should be free so you can defend yourself. Wear pants with multiple pockets and a backpack that lets your hands remain free. Always watch out for pickpockets. Be aware of your surroundings.
8. Never show you are a tourist
Avoid displaying wealthy cameras, jewelry, expensive clothes or accessories when traveling in unsafe areas. Keep your phone hidden when not in use. Do not get distracted with checking your phone for messages. In some cultures, making eye contact with men means you want to be with them. It is best to wear dark glasses and keep yourself abreast of customs and rules. If possible, dress like the locals
9. Be aware of credit card scams
Please read our safety tips about keeping your credit card safe. Never let anyone take your card out of your sight.
10. Follow luggage safety
Stitch some secret pockets inside your pants or consider buying pouches to keep all your documents, tickets, extra money, passport etc safely out of sight on your person. Keep contact person of emergency local contacts, if any, handy at all times. Lock your luggage at all times. For day trips and excursions, carry small tote or backpacks. For larger trips, consider trolley bags with secure padlocks. When leaving your hotel for work or sight-seeing, make sure you keep all luggage locked. If you are using luggage tags, make sure you do not display your names or contact details on it. However, if you do, keep the tags hidden from prying eyes of con artists.
11. Pack your own bags
Never allow anyone to touch your bags or slip items into your pockets or your luggage. Do not offer to carry any items even a small envelope for someone across the border or through customs.
12. Crime proof yourself
Be wary of over friendly strangers or travel guides who promise to show you around for cheap. Be especially suspicious of friendly locals and fellow travelers. Do not accept food or drinks from anyone when traveling. Lower your tourist profile and show the confidence that you know the local area. Be wary of sex trafficking which is usually done by luring innocent women through ads promising easy jobs. Do not fall victim to online romances in faraway places. If you are meeting a romantic interest, make sure you do so in a public place.
13. Familiarize yourself with the area you are living in
Always carry the exact address or visiting card of the hotel/accommodation you are living in. Study the street maps well. Use only reputable taxis. Avoid hailing taxis or cabs without license plates. These days, many cities have women-cab driver services. If possible, pair up with someone you trust for local sightseeing.
14. Keep yourself safe from sexual assault
- Do not leave drinks unattended and do not accept drinks or food from strangers.
- Know the risk of going with strange men no matter how nice they may seem.
- If you feel ill or intoxicated, ask someone you trust to take you to a hospital.
- Be wary of anyone who makes advances or appears over friendly, ignores your protests to be left alone or makes you feel ashamed for turning him down.
- Shout and make a fuss to draw attention to you if you feel threatened. Consider wearing a whistle around your neck if needed.
- Never go jogging/walking or exploring in the dark.
- Minimize alcohol consumption and do not carry any illegal drugs.
- If you drive, lock all car doors to prevent anyone from getting in.
15. Follow hotel safety
- Never choose ground floor accommodations. If you do, keep windows closed and locked from inside.
- If you are dining out, choose a restaurant nearby. You could consider leaving a note at the hotel explaining where you are going. This way, if you do not return on time, the note can be used to track you.
- Book your lodgings in advance and make sure you ask to see the room. Ensure that the door lock works. Check the walls for holes. Look out for fire alarms and escape routes.
- Understand that low price/budget accommodations can be risky.
- Never leave travel documents and valuables unattended in the room. When sleeping, keep them close to you.
These days, many travel companies have specials for solo women travelers. There is safety in numbers and these groups give you the privacy you need without compromise on your safety and security. It is also a great way to make friends along the way. Consider joining a group of solo women travelers especially when traveling to countries having strict Sharia laws and rules. If you still decide to go alone, then choose a country with a more relaxed attitude.