Solo female travel has become quite popular lately, yet many women still feel unsafe traveling alone. We’ll dispel the myth that solo travel is dangerous and share 11 tips every solo female traveler should know to stay safe on her first trip.
It’s no secret that females, in general, need to be more cautious than males in every aspect of life, but this shouldn’t keep us from traveling alone.
While it may appear scary, traveling alone is safer than you think.
This article will include the following:
- Helpful travel tips
- Travel warnings
- Do’s and don’ts as a solo female traveler
- Five countries unsafe for women
- Things to watch out for
- A mini travel checklist
We have lots to discuss, so let’s dive right in.
11 Things Solo Female Travelers Should Know to Stay Safe
Whether you want to travel the world or visit a few different countries, research is the most important thing for solo female travel. Assuming this is your first solo trip, find out which countries are the safest and which are not.
Below is a small list of five countries considered unsafe for solo female travel. To find out more, check out this article from Insider.com.
- South Africa: not safe to walk alone at night
- Brazil: 3rd worst rate of intentional homicide against women
- Russia: 2nd worst rate of homicide against women
- Egypt: not safe to walk alone at night/gender inequality issues
- Afghanistan: many reports of violence against women
It’s essential to do some research if you plan on traveling to any of those locations.
Also, when researching the most dangerous countries for solo female travelers, remember that some of the crimes committed in these countries are among locals, not against tourists.
Remember when choosing your destination that every country, worldwide, has danger to some extent. Some of the top destinations in the world have had tragedies involving solo female travelers.
If political unrest or war occurs in a particular country, it’s best to avoid it for the time being. Put it on your bucket list to visit when it’s safe again.
11 Things You Should Know as a Solo Female Traveler to Ensure a Safe Trip
1. Use Common Sense
Apply the common sense you would use in your hometown when traveling, including simple things like not leaving your purse unattended or walking alone at night.
If your purse gets stolen at home, replacing all your belongings is much easier than in a foreign country. Keep your essential documents in a safe place (passport, wallet, and ID, to name a few) at all times.
2. Don’t Get Into Cars With Strangers
In some countries, taxis are unmarked, so it’s hard to tell whether they are legitimate. When in doubt, stay out.
Never get into a car with a stranger, no matter what. One seemingly innocent move could turn very bad quickly. Refer to the first tip here and use common sense.
3. Read Travel Blogs Before You Go
There is a wealth of information about the travel industry on the internet, with many top-notch travel blogs written by well-seasoned women travelers.
If you’ve already decided on your destination, a quick Google search will bring up all the information you need to know before you go.
Still undecided? Reading travel articles from other solo female travelers or travel bloggers might give you some ideas and direction.
4. Join Facebook Groups or Follow Instagrammers
Social media can be your worst enemy or best friend. And in this case, the latter is true. Travel is a significant industry on Instagram, and if you follow the right people, you can get valuable information.
Facebook travel and ex-pat groups are fantastic ways to learn about towns, countries, and safe areas, among other essential things.
If you already know your destination, find a group specifically for that area and get to know people there. Ask lots of questions. Everyone will be more than happy to help.
5. Let Friends and Family Know Where You Are
No doubt your friends and family back home will worry about you. It takes little to no effort to let them know where you are at all times.
While this may sound like overkill, daily check-ins with people back home is a good safety measure to include in your travel routine. This way, someone knows where you are if anything should happen to you.
A simple text to let them know you are going off the beaten path or jumping on a boat to an island could help save your life.
6. Make Friends While Traveling
It’s also good to let other travelers know your plans in case anything happens to you because you’ll have someone close by to help.
Getting to know people along the way is good practice. You never know when you may need them.
7. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
It’s easy to get lost or disoriented while traveling to a foreign location. Just in case, remember landmarks, street names, stores, and other recognizable things.
If you feel you are in danger or you’re scared, call or text someone to let them know where you are and the situation. Sometimes speaking to someone else can calm us down and help us think more rationally.
8. Don’t Accept a Drink or Drugs From a Stranger
While this may fall in the “common sense” category, it’s still good to repeat. Don’t get into cars with strangers, and don’t accept drinks or drugs from people you don’t know.
It’s not uncommon for perpetrators to slip Rohypnol (a date rape drug) in a drink or lace a simple joint of marijuana with something highly potent and potentially fatal.
Say no, and buy your own drink.
9. Stay Away From Dark Alleys and Abandoned Buildings
While exploring new places is exhilarating, be careful. Stay away from abandoned areas, buildings, or empty and dark alleys.
If anything should happen to you while you are out alone in deserted areas, no one will be able to find or help you. It is best practice to explore with others.
If an area intrigues you, ask a friend to join you. Remember, solo travel doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. It’s perfectly ok to have company at times.
10. Don’t Leave a Bar With a Stranger
While this may be perfectly safe to do back home, remember you’re not at home anymore. Being drunk alone in a strange place is generally not a good idea.
Practice saying no.
We want to think that everyone is lovely and can be trusted, but such is not the case. You need to be careful and not act hastily.
If you like a new person you just met, exchange numbers and contact them another day to meet again, preferably when alcohol is not involved.
11. Keep Pepper Spray Onhand
It’s always good to have pepper spray on hand, just in case. You never know when you may have to use it.
While pepper spray certainly does the job to scare someone off, it’s not deadly.
It’s also important to know that you may also run into danger from animals. Stray dogs are common in many third-world countries, and pepper spray can save you from an attack.
Travel Checklist for Solo Female Travelers
A travel checklist is great to have before you leave. You don’t want to be thousands of miles away from home and suddenly realize you forgot an important document or medication.
Make a list of everything you need, including:
- Important phone numbers
- Names of people you are close to
- Emergency contact numbers
- A list of medications
- All documentation you need for your travels
Make a copy of your travel checklist and leave it with a close family member or friend. If you have a travel itinerary, share it with your trusted friend or a resource back home.
It’s also imperative to care of financial matters and all banking before you leave. Some banks will put a hold on or lock your credit cards if they suspect fraudulent banking behavior. Call or speak to your bank representative and let them know you will be traveling abroad for a while.
If you are gone for more than two weeks, arrange for someone to collect your mail and check on your house every other day. It’s crucial to tie up loose ends at home before you leave. This way, you don’t have to worry about anything, and you can enjoy your adventures!
If you’ve planned an extended trip for three months or more, canceling monthly subscriptions at home is also a good idea. No sense in paying for things you aren’t using. This way you will have more money for your trip.
The Joys of Being a Solo Female Traveler
While traveling solo, you will learn much about yourself, other cultures, and life. It truly is eye-opening and remarkable.
Yes, travel safety is essential, but if you follow the travel tips above and keep a level head, you will have the experience of a lifetime.
Keeping a journal of your travels is also an excellent idea: the good and the bad. This way, you can look back, reminisce about all the beautiful things you explored, and keep track of what went wrong.
Take pictures of everything, make videos, and buy trinkets and postcards! Remember to have fun. Going solo is liberating and exciting. This won’t be your last solo trip, but it may be your best trip.
Image Credit: SrdjanPav via Canva Pro
Iva Ursano is a solo female traveler originally from Canada currently residing in Guatemala. After hitting rock bottom in 2013, she completely reinvented her life at 52 years old, packed up two suitcases and bought a one way ticket to Central America. She runs a website for women over 50 to help them make the rest of their lives, the best of their lives, while feeding street dogs and helping the less fortunate in the town she now calls home, Panajachel.