When I was younger, and living in New York City on my own, I had a good female friend I’d occasionally get together with. Sometimes, we’d find ourselves in a place that wasn’t looking too secure. As you know, this can come upon us quite suddenly.
Well, she never skipped a beat, and begin talking rather loudly about how her husband was about to arrive to meet us. At the time, she wasn’t even dating anyone.
“Huh?” I said, the first time it happened. I followed her subtle gaze towards a couple of leering guys standing a little too close to us, and inching closer.
Being a feminist, I was horrified at first. Why was she depending upon an imaginary man to protect us from a couple of shady characters? The same shady characters who were looking and sounding as if they were inebriated. I had no idea at the time how this would become one of many wise safety tips for female solo travellers that I would appreciate.
Well, she was more seasoned than I was because it worked. After a few more mentions about this imaginary husband, the leering strangers walked away. And this technique of hers worked several times after that.
I know, I know. Many of you will say that this shouldn’t be the case, that we’re strong, independent women, after all. We are.
But remember: When you are in danger, it is probably not the best time to make a point.
By protecting us, my friend taught me something important: how to value yourself as a woman.
There are several safety tips for women travelling alone, and one thing that is especially important to remember is that you are protecting someone valuable –YOU!
The point is that we must do what we can to protect ourselves from danger always, but we have to be especially careful when we’re away from the familiar. Especially when we are travelling alone.
All it takes is for you to take a few simple precautions in return for your safety.
Pay attention to travel advisories
As part of good safety tips for women travelling alone, we want to mention that it’s always a good idea to check out the travel advisories for where you are headed.
We all know that for a variety of reasons, things in the world change, sometimes quickly, sometimes sneakily.
For example, you might wonder: Is it safe to travel Europe alone as a female? Generally speaking, yes, but you should still make sure by checking the advisories. Is safe to travel to South America as a female? The same rule applies basically anywhere. Keep in mind, though that there are countries where there are more restrictions on females than males.
Some countries are safer than others, which is especially important to pay attention to, particularly if you are a woman travelling alone. Educating yourself on up-to-date information will help you make an informed decision.
For Canadian travellers, you can go here.
For American travellers. you can go here.
Most other countries will also have updated travel information, so be sure to double-check those. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your friends for any additional safety tips for women travelling alone that might come in handy.
There’s safety in planning
What about those places that are usually deemed safe? Fantastic.
Enjoy that trip. You’ll still need to learn best practices, so use our safety tips for female solo travellers.
Our top 5 safety tips for women travelling alone isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good start.
Also, feel free to share in the comments your favourite safety travel tips.
5 Safety Tips for Women Travelling Alone
Safety Tip #1:
Consider going with a tour, especially if your trip is somewhere less densely inhabited or off the beaten path.
If you are planning something more off the beaten path, particularly if you are going to be exploring nature, consider going with an organized tour. It’s ideal because you’ll be alone, but still belong to a group, and therefore, safer.
Not to scare you, but this little-known fact is an illustration of the need to be careful. Every year, hundreds of people who have ventured out alone, go missing from US national parks. The US isn’t the only place this happens in. Sadly, there are many other examples of this. One recent example is the case of experienced traveller Esther Dingley, who went to explore the Pyrenees alone, and perished there.
Plus, if you go as part of a tour, you should also find other people who have similar interests and it may make for any nice surprises. If you’re worried about cost, there are tours across the world for every budget. This is one of the best ways of how to travel alone safely as a woman.
If you want to splurge a little, and travel solo while working, you could try doing a remote year (link to another article in the blog).
Safety Tip #2:
When booking accommodations, consider the following:
- Don’t stay on the ground floor of an Airbnb because ground floors are easier to be broken into.
- Apartments are generally more secure than houses, especially if you are alone.
- That cute place that you saw for a great price where you have to go through a back alley to get in and out of, is not a good idea. You are better off along a busier street, which will be better for you to get to after a late night out.
- Before you enter your place, take a look behind you. Make sure no one is close enough to barge in after you.
- Sleep somewhere with a window. You don’t want to be stuck in a room without an exit should you need to get out quickly.
- Stay central. While it may be more expensive, it’s one the most important safety tips for female solo travellers. It’s where more people will gather and businesses stay open longer, which makes it safer for you. You can roam the city/town to your heart’s content later into the night, so you have more freedom to visit without worry.
Safety Tip #3:
If you’re dating while travelling, use the same caution that you would at home. Travel can accelerate things and that can be thrilling, but you really need to pause for thought here.
That handsome stranger who knows-a-great-place-you-will-love-if-we-leave-right-now can wait for the following day, perhaps when you are thinking a little more clearly, or when you have more details about where you’re going, should you decide to do so. And that somewhere needs to be someplace in public until you know them better.
Seriously, no exceptions, no matter how handsome or pretty! If someone wants to see you again, they’ll respect your boundaries. This is an important reminder of how to value yourself as a woman.
Safety Tip #4
Take the following tools and skills with you:
- Since many places don’t necessarily have a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm, bring along your own. It’s best to use a two-in-one that you can plug in. So easy and can save your life.
- Use a portable lock on your door for extra protection.
- Consider taking some self-defence spray with you. Most are small enough to carry in a pocket or your purse. Just be sure to keep it where you’ll have easy access should you feel you need to reach for it.
- Before you leave home to be travelling alone, take a self-defence class. It could be one of those things you haven’t gotten around to yet, so what better time than now?
Safety Tip #5
Because they work, practice the tried and true:
- Leave the dangerous selfies to the pros. Your life is not worth the greatest photo ever. You know you can be creative without putting yourself in danger.
- Don’t leave your drinks unattended. EVER. If you do, get yourself a new one.
- Don’t walk too close to buildings or near parked cars after dark or in deserted places.
- Call a friend. Stay on your phone talking as you walk. Film anything suspicious. Don’t be shy about people seeing you film.
- Keep the local emergency number taped to the back of your phone whenever you’re travelling alone.
- If you’re in danger, approach someone who looks trustworthy and begin acting as if you are friends.
You could approach another female. Or someone in a group. Slide right up to them, and quietly tell them what you’re doing.
You could say, “Hi, I’m _____. I have a bad feeling about those people, so can you pretend to be my friend and let me walk with you?”
I’ve done this. My friends have done this. It’s been very helpful. This has become more common than you’d think.
Stay with the group/other person until it’s safe to leave.
- Keep your phone location on. If you need to call for help, they can get to you faster.
- If you are feeling unsure about where you are, leave when it’s safe to do so.
- Trust your instincts. Always.
So, the next time you ask yourself, is it safe to travel Europe alone as a female? You’ll know how to make your trip safer.
You don’t need to feel overwhelmed. We think all of these are important, but even if you practice one or two, it may make a huge difference to your personal safety.