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6 Safety Hacks for Solo Female Travellers

My top safety tips for women travelling on their own.

Those who know me well know that I am passionate about solo female travel.  For this reason, I was thrilled when AIG Travel Guard asked me to not only write about it on the blog, but also to co-host a Twitter chat on solo travel and sustainable travel later on this week!  Join the conversation online this Friday, June 16 at 2:00pm EDT– more details at the end of this post!

Congrats! Tired of flaky friends and family who don’t have the time, funds, or inclination to travel, you’ve gone ahead booked your first solo trip to a faraway land.

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Solo trippin’ in Mongolia

Not only is this a huge step as a woman (we’re often told solo travel is too dangerous for us), it’s a golden opportunity, because travelling by yourself is not only empowering, but hugely fulfilling.

After all, the benefits to travelling solo dolo are manifold: among other things, it’s freeing, builds self-confidence, and helps you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings.  

What’s more, you’ll never have to compromise on where to eat, sleep, or spend your time while on vacation, which is one of the major disadvantages of travelling with a partner or a group.

But before you jet off on your journey of discovery and enlightenment, consider the following tips meant to ensure your security and well-being on the road. Because, while us girls may just want to have fun when we travel (thanks Cyndi Lauper!), we need to make sure that we stay safe while we do!  So, with this in mind, here are my top 6 safety tips for women travelling solo:

Research, research, research

While advance planning may not be your strong suit, it’s a necessary evil when you’re travelling alone so that you can stay safe and out of harm’s way.  My top recommendation? Book at least the first two nights of accommodation, making sure that you keep a close eye on the type of neighbourhood you’ll be in (safe area or one you should avoid?) Other questions to consider: How will you get to your accommodation from the airport, train station, or bus station?  How much local currency will you need, and is it better to get it once in your destination or before you leave home? Are there any potential risks in certain places or at certain times of the day for female travellers specifically?  These are all things to ponder before you start your trip, so you are adequately prepared for all eventualities.  Google is your friend!

PIN IT!

Try to remain as inconspicuous as possible

When I travel I try to stay “under the radar” — undue attention (particularly from lecherous locals of the opposite sex) can be unnerving for a woman travelling on her own.  As such, I try to keep a low profile by blending in as much possible– now is not the time to stunt! Part of this means adhering to cultural norms, particularly when it comes to the way I dress. Ergo, I keep my head, shoulders, and knees covered when it is expected, realizing that not only is it respectful of the local culture but also might save me from negative attention or harrassment.  After all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?  

Be vigilant, especially when you party

Successful solo travel as a woman hinges on common sense.  Keep your wits about you and don’t make yourself a target: leave the expensive jewellery at home, don’t flash your cash in the street (you should really only carry a minimum amount on your person), and don’t trust strangers too freely or willingly.  Going out to sample the local nightlife?  Please do, but think about limiting your alcohol intake, if you must drink at all.  The reason? Alcohol can impair your senses, reaction time, and leave you vulnerable to others. With that said, why not “turn up” with a soft drink “on the rocks” instead? It’s way cheaper and more fun!

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Partner with other female solo travellers

Travelling solo doesn’t mean that you have to be alone all of the time! The beauty of travelling on your own is that you’re often way more open to meeting new people– and can pick and choose just when you’d like company. I’ve always found it helpful to link up with other solo female travellers because we understand each other’s concerns, triumphs, and challenges whilst on the road– and can trade tricks and tips for going it alone.  

Don’t compromise your safety to prove a point (or save a dollar)

You may feel invincible but it’s silly to put yourself in potentially dangerous situations just because you’re convinced that you’ll never be a statistic.  Likewise, it’s just as silly to compromise your safety in order to save a dollar (or twenty).  Your life is valuable, so invest in yourself.  This means purchasing travel insurance even though you’re sure you’ll never need it; this means springing for that $15 taxi ride back to your hotel after a night out, even though you’re convinced that walking back in the dark is completely fine. Better safe than sorry– now is not the time to be cheap or “fearless”!

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Saving a buck here and there just ain’t worth it!

Keep family and friends informed about your whereabouts

This is perhaps obvious, but you may find that you’re having so much fun on your trip that you neglect to keep your nearest and dearest updated about what you’re up to! Be conscious of the people back home who care about you and will worry if they don’t receive any signs of life while you’re away.  Before leaving, send them a draft of your itinerary, and don’t forget to include the contact information for the accommodation and tours you’ve signed up for.  And, if sending individual messages to them whilst on the trip proves to be too onerous, point them in the direction of your social media channels, which you’ll of course update with exciting photos and statuses from your journey!

Join me and some other fun, fearless travellers for our Twitter chat this Friday afternoon!

Come one, come all! This Friday, June 16th at 2:00pm EDT I’ll be co-hosting a Twitter chat about solo and sustainable travel and I’d love for you to join! Our featured guest is adventurer Cassie DePecol, who holds the world record for being the youngest and fastest woman to travel to all 196 sovereign countries, and we’ll be using the hashtag #WhereNext.

However, if talking travel isn’t enough for you, there are a few prizes available to sweeten the deal! Three participants will walk away with a $100 VISA gift card and one lucky grand prize winner will get a basket of travel gear curated by Cassie!

Be sure to RSVP to be eligible for prizes! See rules here.

Here’s some additional info:

Date and time: Friday, June 16; 2:00-3:00 PM EDT

Where: Twitter (use the hashtag #WhereNext)

Prizes: $100 gift card (three winners); plus a grand prize winner will receive a basket of travel gear curated by Cassie

Be there or be square!

SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL SAFETY TIPS

Ladies, what are your safety hacks when you travel on your own?

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Jill at Reading the Book
    June 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I love solo travel for all the reasons you mention – no compromising, no flaky friends holding me back and plenty of quality time to myself. Your tips are spot on and great advice for newbie solo ladies!

  • Reply
    Siarra | Wander.Focus.Love
    June 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks for this!! I’m just starting my travels and most will be solo–I’m terrified, but excited at the same time. These tips help to alleviate some of the anxiety. Plus, I’m a planner so all tips and preparation helps!

  • Reply
    Alissa
    June 17, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Hey Oneika! These are some great tips. I especially think your tip about booking the first few nights of accommodation to kind of “feel out” the new city is a great one. It is not appealing to me to arrive in a foreign city with no place to stay!

    This isn’t really a critique so much as a suggestion… while I understand the importance of posts like these, due to the inherent risks of being a woman out in the world, I generally find it reassuring to read some context for /why/ we have to adhere to these types of tips when we travel. I.e. some acknowledgment of the patriarchal system in place that makes the world unsafe for women, and how sometimes there really isn’t anything we can do and that it might just be about luck whether or not we stay safe. I mention this because I think that sometimes these types of lists can set a precedent for victim-blaming if something does happen. Which is why I think it’s important to acknowledge that yes, these tips are important to keep in mind, but also important to keep in mind is the systemic violence facing women in the world, so if we follow these tips (or don’t follow these tips!) and something shitty happens, that it’s still not our fault.

    Anyway, just thought I would share my two cents 🙂 Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

  • Reply
    Milini
    June 29, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    This is great information! My dream is to be well – traveled. And it looks like I may have to do this solo. So your blog is inspirational to me! Thanks! 🙂

  • Reply
    Tenille Galloway
    July 29, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Great list! I first started traveling on my own a few years ago.. I went to London and then Paris. I was clueless to parts of the culture and so of course with my coach bag and brand new white sneakers- i stuck out like a sore thumb!! Someone even stopped me to say that I “must be American” LOL!! I Still have yet to choose my next destination but we learn by trial and error and I’ll definitely be mindful of these tips!

  • Reply
    Caroline
    August 23, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Solo travels mean no consultation and you get to go where your heart desires. Thanks for the tips.

  • Reply
    abbyk
    November 7, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    I love solo travel because it forces me to meet and mingle with those around me instead of staying in the safe cocoon of friends. I’ve met some of the begets people that way. I would add make sure your cel phone is ready for your new country (SIM card, whatever) and, even if you’re traveling domestically, carry a small backup battery and an extra charging cable for it. You’ll be taking more pictures and maybe using the GPS and you don’t want to get stuck without juice.

  • Reply
    abbyk
    November 7, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    BEST people, not begets. Oh, autocorrect!

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