The idea of visiting a foreign country alone is daunting, especially for women. But don’t let it stop you from experiencing the wonders of the world’s cultures. Here are 10 tips for solo female travellers to ensure that you stay safe while having fun abroad!
1. Plan Ahead
Even if you’re a habitual “pantser” (one who flies by the seat of their pants), travel planning is a good way to take your mind off routine worries so you can travel smarter. Make sure you have your destinations, transfers, and accommodation planned out beforehand to avoid unnecessary worries. Travellers preferring a more spontaneous travel style can do without a detailed itinerary after that.
2. Inform Someone of Your Plans
I’ve known travellers who’ve sneaked off without their parents’ knowledge, but for safety reasons, you should have a point of contact back at home. Give them your travel dates and the corresponding destination and check in with them every so often. A short WhatsApp message saying “I’ve checked in at Happy Hostel” is good enough.
3. Arrive in the Day
Flights that depart and arrive at obscene hours may be cheap, but not the best choice if you’re not familiar with your location and/or destination. Save yourself the worry of having to trek five kilometres to a hostel in the dark in a foreign land and finding it unsuitable. Safety always comes first.
4. Separate Your Cash
The old adage goes, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, and it never rings more true than when you’re travelling alone. Things happen, and you’ll want to have a backup plan. Most of these involve some cash. Split your stack into three and place one in your backpack, one in your pocket, and the last in your day pack. As you go along in your travels, you’ll figure out a proportion that works for you.
5. Dress Conservatively
We’d all prefer to believe in a world of true equality, where women are not judged or harassed on the basis of their clothing choices. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Err on the side of caution and dress in a way that doesn’t attract attention. Be street smart. If you see local women in tank tops and shorts, you’re probably safe dressing that way. If most cover up, then do the same.
6. Common Sense is Key
Whatever you won’t do back home, don’t do it abroad. This applies to everyone, not only to women travelling alone. Don’t take dark back alleys. Don’t walk through parks at night. Don’t hop into a strangers car. Don’t accept food and drinks from a stranger you just met at a bar. Don’t worry about seeming rude. Your safety is your top priority. Repeat that last sentence again.
7. Deploy Lies
Hopefully it won’t come to this, but if you have to lie to get out of a sticky situation, do it. Buy a cheap wedding ring and point it out when receiving unwanted attention. Being “married” is a surefire way to divert their attention elsewhere. Tell your taxi driver that your boyfriend is waiting for you at your destination or that you’re travelling with family.
8. You Know What You’re Doing
Even if you don’t. Look confident and focused all the time, even when you’re just wandering around or feeling lost. Predators first look for vulnerability in demeanor.
9. Be Sensitive
You’re the visitor to someone else’s home. Do your research beforehand on their cultural norms and pay attention to nuances when you get there. Don’t engage in activities that are frowned upon by your host country. Respect them as you hope they would respect you.
10. Safety Over Money
We budget travellers are extremely careful about where our money goes. But the truth is, if something untoward happens, we stand to lose more than a few hundred dollars of cash. Always read reviews of hostels before booking. Don’t hesitate to find alternative accommodation options if you don’t feel comfortable at your current one. Take public transportation or a taxi if it’s dark out. Choose accommodation in safe neighbourhoods even if it costs more. Your safety is worth more than dollars.
We hope this post has been helpful for all you women looking to travel solo! The media often portrays the world as a huge hellhole, but this is far from the truth. Trust your gut and stay alert, and we’re sure you’ll have the trip of your lifetime!