9 Safety Tips for Solo Female Travellers
brought to you by Trang from Travel with Trang
Have you ever had any of these thoughts?
“How do I stay safe overseas?”
“What if I can’t make friends?”
“What if I get lonely?”
“I don’t want to eat alone because it’s so awkward.”
It’s easy to have fear hold you back from taking that leap to travel solo. I used to think all those thoughts in my head too.
Let me tell you, there were hundreds of solo female travelers I met on the road who were in the same exact boat as you are. None of them ever looked back once they set foot in their first country, and I’m here to show that YOU can do it too!
The thought of traveling alone can seem overwhelming – planning it all, figuring out where to go, and safety can hold you back. Something that helped me was reminding myself that change is never comfortable, but that’s also how I’d grow.
Here are some of my 9 key safety tips for solo female travellers and wisdom from traveling around to world to over 40 countries:
1. Be Assertive & Confident
Fake it if you have to! There will be times when people will swarm at you after getting off a plane or bus to take their taxi, their “amazing” tour package, scuba diving experience, and more. Instead of looking scared, it helps to say “No.” and move along. Another option that helps is to sit down at a simple cafe in the airport and breathe for just 15 minutes or grab a snack. Not only are you able to prevent yourself from possibly being ripped off in a taxi scam, but those people will most likely disappear during that time. Also, the people in the cafe can help you figure out how to get to your next place.
2. Know Where You’re Going
Before I get to my destination, I usually have my hostel address written down or I simply take a screenshot of it on my phone. I then use the phone app Maps.me since I can use it offline without wifi or data (just make sure to download the map beforehand!) It’s great for when you’re lost or are trying to get somewhere. This saved me a lot when I entered a new country, hopped off the train at night, and had to find my hostel. This helped me start off walking in the right direction. Also, when I took a motorcycle or taxi ride back to my hostel, I could tell immediately if the driver was taking me in the wrong direction.
3. Consider Getting A Good Handbag
I used the Pacsafe Citysafe Anti–Theft Travel Handbag. It seriously eased my mind from worrying about pickpocketing and theft and is just the right size to fit your belonging when you go exploring around town or in the city. If handbags aren’t your thing, you can check out their smaller day backpacks and other bags. The straps are strong so no one can cut it and run off with your bag. There’s also a steel mesh lining so if anyone were to slash or cut the bag, your things won’t fall out. Finally, there’s also a hook that attaches to your zipper when it’s closed so a person can’t just unzip your bag, grab your items, and run off with it.
Pro Tip: Also, when I eat at a restaurant, sleep on a bus/plane/train, I keep my passport, important docs, a majority of my money in that day bag and wrap the straps around my leg when I take a nap or go to sleep.
4. Try To Arrive During The Daytime
Sometimes we don’t get lucky with the flight options, but if you do have a choice, it makes life easier if you land at your destination during the daytime. When you come in at night and taxis are the only available mode of transportation, they tend to raise prices. They know you’re tired and not in a position to bargain.
5. Dress Modestly
Avoid wearing flashy jewelry and carrying around accessories/purses/shoes with expensive name brands. Look low key. Take a look around: how do the women dress? That’ll give you an idea of how much to cover up. Going to a temple? Time to cover your shoulders and legs, out of respect. Does covering up guarantee that no one will bother you? Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way so, no. However, it’ll help you get less unwanted attention.
I love packing a lightweight scarf because you can use it as part of your outfit and it’s lightweight enough to keep you cool in the summer weather. I don’t do well in extreme humid heat, so if I need to cover my legs, I’ll wear a maxi skirt or harem (“elephant”) pants (yes, they look funny but I can see why many people wear them – they’re so breezy and comfortable and keep you cool)! Yes, at home it’s ok to wear what you want, but don’t forget – you’re not at home. Even if there’s no danger, it’s just respectful to the culture to cover up, depending on where you visit.
6. Use Your Common Sense & Trust Your Instincts
Use the common sense that you’d use back home (you know, the same things your parents tell you) such as avoid being loud and obnoxious so you don’t draw attention to yourself and don’t walk home alone at night especially in poorly lit places. If you grab a taxi, make sure to use a marked taxi and always request that they turn on the meter as well. The meter will always be cheaper than what you can bargain with the driver. In sticky situations, your gut knows when something is off. If you feel uncomfortable or doubtful, it’s always better to err on the safe side.
7. Keep Important Things On You & Photocopy Important Docs
Whenever I’m traveling to another country with my luggage, I carry the most important possessions in my day bag which include my passport, phone, camera, credit cards, and (most of) my money. I usually keep $30-$40 USD cash in a hidden part of my luggage (ie. inside a rolled-up sock) in case of emergency. Once I get to my hostel/accommodation, I lock up the important stuff in a locker. Then when I go out and about, I carry only my driver’s license as my form of ID, a photocopy of my passport, and just enough cash for the day.
In case your stuff does get stolen or pickpocketed, (I hope it doesn’t happen), have a Plan B. Before your trip, it’s a good idea to email yourself and a trusted friend/family member photocopies of your passport, driver’s license, travel insurance information, important phone numbers, and have the country’s emergency phone entered in your phone.
Things happen on the road: theft, catching a cold, breaking a leg, food poisoning, and the list goes on. I know I know, it’s tough looking at spending that chunk of money on something you might not end up needing. Do not skimp on this because in the rare case that you need it, you’ll regret having to pay that whopping fat medical bill. You will also have to check with your current health insurance provider to see if they cover things internationally. Most don’t. I didn’t think I would get sick from a random earache in South Korea but I did, and I’m glad they covered my doctor visit and meds.
9. Pay The Extra Bit For Your Safety
Walking home late at night? Your life is more important than worrying about spending that $10-$15 for a taxi/Uber, and make sure it’s a marked (aka legit) taxi. Go ahead and pay for your hostel/accommodation to pick you up at the airport if you arrive at night in a city known to be sketchy(unsafe?) at night. That hostel or Airbnb that has high ratings on security? Definitely worth paying for it. Your safety is priceless. You may be on a budget but when your life could be at risk, now’s the time to compromise it. It’s just not worth it.
Still hesitant on going alone? You can always start small and take baby steps. Try traveling to a tourist friendly and English-speaking country such as Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada, and USA! That way you can slowly start to get your bearings down. Once you arrive to a new place, trust me, you won’t look back and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner!
For more, check out the full guide to solo female travel!
Who is Trang?
Trang is the creator of “Travel With Trang“, a blog and resource website showing how you can make your travel goals happen and create life-long memorable experiences. Check out her blog to learn how prep for your next trip, see how you can live and work abroad, or become inspired to overcome your mental hurdles, build confidence to start traveling, and transform your life.TYou can also follow along on her adventure on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!
Now that you’re confident that you’ll be safe traveling solo, it’s time to decide where to go. Drop your email below and I’ll send you a 4 step destination decider to get you one step closer to your adventure!