It’s a traveling solo woman’s world.
Women are traveling solo more than ever, according to a 2018 poll. Half have vacationed alone and 75 percent are planning a solo trip. If you’re considering a solo trip, you’re not alone. Vox recently found that women travel alone more than men.
Travel safety starts before the trip. Many of the following tips require that you know about the customs and issues at your destination, so be sure to spend as much time researching the place you’re about to visit as you did finding the best travel deal.
Women are naturally equipped to be great solo travelers thanks to intuition – that feeling a woman gets when something doesn’t feel right. Your intuition will be the most valuable item you pack. Don’t dismiss your gut feelings while traveling.
Do some research online about the most popular scams at your destination before you go. Rick Steves and Fodors Travel forum have lots of information. In most countries, pickpockets and petty theft are at the top of the list.
Because theft and pickpocketing are the top scams when traveling, it’s important to hide valuables like your passport, phone and camera. Standard backpacks are easy to open and empty out, so consider wearing a waist bag under your clothes for cash and a passport. Use a messenger bag or purse that can be worn cross-body and in the front so you can see it at all times and always watch your luggage.
You may be relaxing on vacation but your alertness level should always be high. You need your senses aware of what’s happening around you to know if something looks, feels or sounds off. Avoid distracting activities like listening to music, texting or talking on the phone when out. Scan your surroundings regularly to stay on top of what’s going on.
Try to schedule all airplane, train and bus travel for daytime – it’s when most locals are out. If you’re going out in the evening, solo travel expert Kara Harms of Whimsy Soul suggests using Uber instead of taxis: “I use the Uber trip status feature to share my travel status with someone back home,” she says. “If something did go awry, a trusted friend or family member would at least know where I am.”
Blending into the crowd is vital when you’re a traveling solo woman. The easiest way to do so is to dress appropriately. Wear simple and understated clothes that aren’t too tight or flashy. You don’t have to cover your hair in most Muslim countries but dressing conservatively by covering your shoulders and legs would be a good idea.
Traveling solo safe may require carrying personal safety devices to get you out of a bad situation fast. Some safety items you should take on your trip include:
- A whistle for alerting others you’re in trouble
- A door stop or jam lock to keep intruders out
- A portable flashlight
There are friendly locals everywhere, especially when you’re traveling solo. But if someone you meet is interested in your itinerary or where you’re staying, it’s best to steer clear. No one needs to know the name of the hotel you’re staying at. If you’re making plans to meet up, choose a public location as the meeting point
Be careful with the drinks you’re served when you’re out solo. It’s easy for someone to slip something into a drink that can make you feel sick or unable to function properly. When out at bars or cafes alone, order a closed can or bottle that you can open yourself or that’s opened in front of you. Solo traveler Kara Harms advises, “If I can’t watch a bartender make my drink, I order a can of beer so I can open it myself.”
You may need a break from being on guard while traveling solo and that’s ok. A guided day tour can be the perfect solution. You’ll get an insider view of the city from an expert and may meet other travelers. Ask the visitors’ bureau for recommendations of reputable guided tours.