Did you know that solo female travellers make up more than half of the highest travel demographic these days? It’s been proven:
However, despite the hike in solo female travellers globally in this day and age, this question still lingers: “But is it safe for a girl to travel alone?” While some of us girls have mustered the courage to see the world without any company, many still shy away from just the thought of going out there without a group of friends, or at the very least, a male companion to give us that added confidence and security.
But you know us here at travel360.com believe that you should never turn down an opportunity to see the world and experience another culture, so we urge you to make some travel plans. After all, they do say that you ought to give solo travel a shot at least once in your lifetime!
However, before we get too excited about planning our trip and actually going through with it, we also implore you, our dear solo travellers, to keep in mind the following tips during your next trip, to ensure that you have a good time while staying safe.
1.Do Some Heavy Research
The best part of the trip is arguably the researching. That’s where all the excitement starts to bubble, but do remember to look up safety information while you’re at it. Some questions to ask yourself, and about the place:
- Is the neighbourhood I’m staying in safe?
- Are there certain spots that I should avoid?
- What do tour reviewers say?
- When it comes to my hotel, what are the safety ratings like?
- What did other previous (female) guests say about their stay?
- Are there any patterns I should be worried about?
- How am I going to get around safely, especially at night?
- Are there any additional health issues that I should be worried about before I get there?
- Are there hospitals and emergency services available nearby the lodging?
One very helpful tip is to always make friends with the hotel staff. You can get them to write the hotel name and address in the local language. This is in the event that you are unable to communicate with the local taxi or drivers. Plus, the hotel staff will keep a closer eye on you!
Main takeaway: Be knowledgeable about your destination and know your whereabouts.
2. Keep Your Valuables with You at All Times When Commuting
Or better yet, don’t even take them! Sure, you do need your documents and all but don’t overdo it, especially with things like birth certificates, family heirlooms, expensive jewellery, and so on. Here’s a handy tip, if you love it too much, don’t take it with you.
Your absolutely necessary items should include your passport, camera, medication, credit card (activated and used only in emergencies) and a smartphone. And these items should be put into your handbag or day bag, which will be with you at all times when you’re out and about. Never leave them in your luggage, general backpack or any bags that would require handling by other people.
Main takeaway: Passport, medication, phone, camera, smartphone to be carried at all times.
3. Don’t Take Everything with You When You’re Exploring
Not to scare you or anything, but most crimes are opportunistic. Remove the opportunity such as not evidently carrying a lot of valuables and loads of cash. Take what you need for the day, like a good amount of cash, a debit/credit card and keep the rest locked in the hotel room safe or locker. If your accommodation doesn’t provide such facilities, consider getting a portable safe.
Also, if you’re travelling solo after dark, walk closer to a group or a family.
Main takeaway: Bring only the necessary, leave the extra behind safely
4. Meet New People, but Don’t Trust Too Easily
You’re out and about in a newnknown city with nobody to turn to. Naturally, you’d want somebody to click with. It’s human nature, after all, to find a tribe or a group to belong to. While that’s lovely and all, since you might just create lifelong bonds and friendships, some might take a nasty turn.
Again, not to scare you, but to warn you, some con artists are known to be incredibly charming and have mastered the act of befriending tourists. Once they believe they have managed to win them over, robbing them becomes an altogether easy act.
When meeting new people, there is a chance that romance might be in the air too. When this happens, be sure to protect yourself too. Side but very important note: do not tell people where you’re staying. Another side note: politeness is never more important than safety.
Main takeaway: Always be suspicious of everyone and everything!
5. Watch What You Sip
It’s part of certain cultures to drink alcohol, and it’s most certainly part of every country’s night scene to try local ale or spirits, right? But bear in mind that drinking alcohol might make you vulnerable. Things may be different back home where you’d have a designated friend to look after you, so don’t take the chance by doing it elsewhere alone.
Pace yourself, and make sure you know what you’re drinking. Don’t ever take drinks from anybody else aside from the bartender, and always remember to be in control at all times. Plus, you wouldn’t want to spend the rest of your trip nursing a massive hangover!
Main takeaway: Don’t get drunk, or vulnerable, especially when alone! And don’t accept drinks from strangers.
6. Think and Act like Locals
You may not know what it’s like to be them or speak like them, but one thing’s for sure: you do need to blend in. People may dress differently in another country or city, and one way to get the attention of potential pickpockets is to stand out. What could be normal in your country (short shorts, tank tops, flip flops, for example), might look too different in a city where everybody dresses up conservatively.
Think of it this way: The more you stand out, the more you brand yourself as someone who is unfamiliar with the location, which makes you more vulnerable to criminals.
Keep your head up, shoulders straight and walk with a purpose. If you get lost or become unsure, quietly slip into a café or a shop and regain your bearings privately. It’s always a dead giveaway when you’re looking confused or frazzled, and clearly out of place.
Main takeaway: Research your destination, note how the locals dress, blend in and remain confident.
7. Keep Backups in Case the Worst Happens
Anything can happen when you’re travelling. Keep copies of your credit cards and passport online on Google Docs, Dropbox or Cloud. Once that’s sorted out, make sure you keep a stash of emergency funds and a backup credit card, and hide them in a place where a criminal would not think to look or steal, such as a tampon or pad, inside a sock, or another secret spot inside your bag.
This way, if anything happens to you, you’d still have financial backing to sort yourself out.
Main takeaway: Always think of the worst-case scenario, and be prepared.
8. Weapons Are Obviously Not Allowed, but Bring These Other Handy Items
Some suggest that female travellers should always carry a little plastic doorstop. It takes up very little space, and it’s good to stick it under your hotel room door at night — just in case someone tries to break in. This would give you enough time to yell for help, grab something for self defence or even escape. Although pepper sprays aren’t allowed, a mini hairspray would burn the eyes as much as a pepper spray could.
Keeping a whistle at the ready whenever you travel is always a good idea. Strap it to your bag, keep it in your pockets or anywhere that’s easily reached, so if ever you encounter a worrying situation, put it to good use and capture the attention of those around you.
Last but not least, keep a mini flashlight in your shoe. You might forget to carry a flashlight which you’ve packed in your bag, but you would never forget to put on your shoes before you go out.
Main takeaway: Pack doorstops, whistles, hairsprays and mini flashlights.
9. Always Update Your Loved Ones, and Constantly Check In
Now’s a good time to always give your friends and family TMI (too much information). Always tell someone where you’re going, what you intend to do, and if you can, send them a real-time location of your whereabouts.
If that certain country or city does not have any Wi-Fi available, it’s always good to book a portable roaming device, or a traveller’s SIM card such as Flexiroam, for your safety. Technology and Internet connection is your best friend if you’re travelling solo, as it can help you update the necessary parties as well as do other things like translating certain phrases for you and finding your way back to the hotel.
Main takeaway: Be online, always!
10. Trust Your Gut, and Practise Situational Awareness
Learn how to read situations, and trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, just say no or don’t do it at all. Practise situational awareness by observing everything, everyone and every place, and be aware of what others are doing around you at all times. Being mindful can teach you a thing or two about preparedness, and will allow for quick reactions if the situation calls for it. If a place feels unsafe, avoid it. If the group of people inviting you to join them for drinks feels off, just say no and walk away. After all, the priority is you, and you shouldn’t worry about others.
Main takeaway: Don’t forget to have fun, but be aware of your surroundings at all times!