Solo travel can be richly rewarding, once you overcome the initial fear and intimidation. You don’t have to wait for a life-altering event before taking your own personal adventure. But for female solo travelers, you’ll want to take extra precautions to ensure a good trip. Here are the top nine safety measures you must take.
1. Research, research, research
This tip applies to all travelers, and not just females going solo. In between scouring the best tours and attractions for your trip, dedicate some time to check out safety information about the place. Some questions to keep in mind:
- How safe is my hostel’s neighborhood? Which areas should I avoid?
- What’s the best and safest mode of public transportation? Is it all right to take a taxi?
- What’s the crime rate in the area? Are there any recent incidents you should worry about?
- What are other traveler experiences in the area?
2. Make sure your health is covered
Schedule a doctor’s appointment at least 6 weeks before your trip. Depending on where you’re going, you may need to get certain immunizations, or stock up on vitamins.
You can also register with the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT). This free network helps you locate a nearby medical clinic with approved, English-speaking doctors.
3. Have back-up documents and extra cash
When you’re traveling alone, you’ll need to keep your identity and finances in check. Keep soft copies of your passport, itinerary, and credit cards on the cloud, like Google Drive or Dropbox. It also helps to have the addresses written out in both English and the local language (for places like China, Thailand, or the Middle East).
On top of stashing your money in different places, Female solo traveler Adventurous Kate also advises keeping at least $50 in US dollars tucked, and a spare credit card in a separate place. This ensures you have a financial cushion in case you lose everything.
4. Pack light, and smart
Leave as many valuables as you can back home. You can easily downsize your multiple gadgets into just your smartphone. Everything from your documents, to you wallet, and other valuables should fit into an inconspicuous day bag that you can keep with you at all times.
For female solo travelers, you should also pack a small safety mechanism you can carry at all times. Things like a whistle, a small pocket knife, or mace are good to keep on hand.
A number of female solo travelers also wear a fake wedding ring. While not an actual weapon, some find it a handy accessory to ward of unwanted advances.
5. Blend in like a local
Research on the normal attire of the location and culture, so you know what to pack (which can mean leaving your tank tops and flip flops at home). Criminals will be on the lookout for tourists, and your clothes could be the biggest giveaway.
Apart from this, make sure to walk with confidence. Keep your pace with the crowd, don’t bring out your map in the middle of the street, and walk with purpose. Even if you need to ask for help, ask politely but confidently, so you don’t come off as gullible and vulnerable.
6. Spend the extra dollar on your safety
If you’re traveling on a budget, you may think twice about where you should scrimp and where you should save. But safety is a non-negotiable, and is always worth the extra dollar.
So if you don’t feel safe walking back to your hostel at night, take a cab. Spend more for a hostel in a safer neighborhood, and choose the better rated tours and activities. As you’re planning and saving up for your trip, pad up your budget for these instances.
7. Trust your gut and know your limits
It’s easy to feel like you have to be nice in order to blend in. But traveling alone means your guard should always be up.
From going out for drinks with new friends from your tour group, drinks with the cute stranger also there to travel, or even just accepting a stranger’s help with your bags—most of these can seem harmless enough. But if your gut tells you something is up, if you even feel the slightest bit suspicious or unsafe, then say no. Take things slowly, and remember that it’s not rude to be cautious.
8. Make female contacts
But just because you’re being careful doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. From hitting up other female travelers from groups like The Travelettes, Go Girl Travel Network, and Pink Pangea, or befriending the ladies at your hostel, it’s always great to get a girl’s perspective of the place. And while you should always be wary of strangers, you could make some lifelong friendships this way!
9. Check-in back home
Maybe you’re traveling alone to take a break from home. But just because you’ll be away from your family, friends, and co-workers, it doesn’t mean you should cut off communication from them during your trip. Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member, and have quick check-ins (even if they’re just short messages or email) every so often.
Female solo travel can be incredibly rich and empowering. So as long as you’re prepared and cautious, go on and get out there.