This day and age, the world has never been more accessible for solo female travelers. A 2014 survey found that a staggering 65% of solo travelers were women! Great news for any first-time solo female travelers--we’re in good company.
With that said, we understand that for many women, solo traveling is intimidating and holds more danger than for men. Sadly, some parts of the world are still not female-friendly, and you’ll need to take extra precautions. This article isn’t meant to scare you away from solo travel, but instead to give you some essential tools so you feel safer.
Read on for some tips that will help keep you safe no matter where you go in the world!
1. Know The Culture
It goes almost without saying--make sure you are very familiar with the culture of the country you are visiting. This goes for food, language, and religion. Knowledge will help you blend into your surroundings. Criminals look for the naïve tourists. Learning a couple of phrases, dressing appropriately and blending in removes the target from your back, and it has the added bonus of helping enrich your travel experience through cultural immersion!
Knowing the culture will also give you an idea of what is considered “normal” in terms of hospitality. For example, in Ugandan culture, residents frequently invite tourists into their homes for meals, and it is perfectly safe. However, in some countries, this is not common, and a local acting overly friendly could be a warning sign.
2. Have A Backup Plan
So you’ve just gotten back from a full day on holiday swimming with dolphins and exploring marketplaces, but your Airbnb or hostel seems a bit sketchy. Should you:
A. Stay there, not sleeping a wink because you have nowhere else to go and feel uncomfortable
B. Get out of there and go to your closest Plan B option
Hint: it’s answer B.
Before you arrive at your destination, make sure you have options for accommodations. When it comes to sleeping at night and leaving valuables in your room, it is better to be safe than sorry. Don’t be helpless in an uncomfortable situation, which leads us to the next point:
3. Trust Your Gut
We’ve all had interactions with creeps. There are plenty of warning signs that can set off alarm bells- unsavory comments, touches, and even certain looks. However, sometimes we feel obligated to stay in an uncomfortable situation: “But I already paid”, “I have nowhere to go”, “What if this person gets offended?”, “Oh, I’m just overreacting”.
Stop it! When traveling, safety is the first priority. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, take care of yourself before worrying about the other person’s feelings or even your bank account. Those things are irrelevant if you get hurt. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to tap out of a situation right when you get a bad feeling.
4. Stay On The Grid
Solo traveling comes with this sense of unbridled freedom and adventure. You’ve made it this far, so why not take that road less traveled? It can also be tempting to forget about your friends and family and revel in all your new experiences. The problem with this is that if something goes wrong, no one will miss you until it’s too late. Save that remote hiking trip for a girls’ trip and make sure someone knows where you are. Whether you text your parents that you should call them by a certain time or asking the hotel staff to watch for you, be alone without being invisible.
5. Stay Present
It can be tempting to enjoy all that exotic food or walk around the beaches with music playing in your headphones, but losing your wits as a tourist can be dangerous. Getting drunk or distracted is unwise even at home, but in a foreign country, it’s asking for trouble. Take out those headphones and keep your wits about you at all times to maximize your safety.
6. Learn Self-Defense
We might not all be black-belts, but we can all learn a couple of moves that can help you be prepared for unpleasant situations.
Start with basic principles like creating distance and making noise. It’s better to know something instead of nothing.
Additionally, research concealed weapon requirements wherever you go. In some countries, using mace or pepper spray is illegal and you should opt for hairspray instead. Being aware of how to defend yourself will go a long way in making you feel more confident even if (fingers crossed!) you never use these techniques. Everyone has the ability to travel solo successfully. Just be smart and aware, and bon voyage!
Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.