Solo travel for women?! Aren’t you in danger?
Are you traveling the world alone? That’s just scary.
You’re going to get kidnapped or murdered!
Wow, you don’t travel with anyone? I could never do that.
The last three years of my life people have bombarded me with these same exact questions. Each time I get asked one of these jarring questions, they get the same exact answer:
No, I’m not scared, but I go out of my way to make sure I don’t put myself in any unnecessary, stupid, scary, or sketchy situations. When learning how to properly solo travel the world, I think before I act and only act with smart decisions. I make sure that I’m always aware of my surroundings. I rely on myself to keep myself safe and everything ends up fine.
People who don’t immerse their lives with travel and wanderlust don’t always understand that just because I travel and live in a foreign country, doesn’t mean I’m really in any more danger than I am back home.
Traveling by yourself can be filled with risks, but when you take the right steps towards awareness, they vanish in a snap.
What’s the crime like in your city, is everything sunshine, puppies, and rainbows? Are there no murders, kidnappings, and rapes? NO?! Please tell me where you live! That sounds like an utter utopia, pure bliss, I would love to move there as soon as possible!
In all seriousness, there is crime everywhere you go, it’s not something you can escape, individuals should always be careful of their surroundings and that doesn’t change just because you’re in a different country.
I’m not sure why people think traveling alone, especially being a solo female traveler is so absurd.
Now, if I was the type of person to get hammered and walk down a dark alley alone, or decide at 1 am to go for a nice walk down the beach, or perhaps stays in an area where nobody else is except the creepy butcher across the street, THEN perhaps yes, my travels could end up being scary as shit. But you’ll never find me doing any of those things, even in my own neighborhood!
I travel smart. That’s all you need to do.
When you are traveling by yourself, traveling smart is the only kind of travel you can entertain.
Especially when dealing with the positives and negatives of solo travel for women. It’s not to say nothing will ever happen to me and I’m invincible.
But by making smarter decisions to keep myself safer in the situations presented to me at the time, I have a sense of control over the situation and how I feel in my surroundings. I can’t completely prevent something from happening to me, but I can take measures to deter and avoid bad outcomes. Just like you would need to do anywhere in the world.
I’ve curated a list of my top tips that I’ve learned and applied to my own travels as I continue traveling the world alone. I hope they allow you to feel more confident and comfortable when getting out into the world. Let’s go travel!
Traveling the World Alone Tips: Solo Travel for Women
Choosing the Right Places to Travel Solo
There’s a misconception about how scary the world is, especially for solo females traveling. The reality is, the majority of countries are totally fine. I’ve lived and traveled most of Southeast Asia alone and I’ve meandered around Africa, Australia, and Europe solo as well. There are plenty of other places that are safe for women traveling alone, do your homework and stick to the more well-trodden paths at first.
Follow The Light
One of the most important tips to remember when traveling alone follows the light. Stay in well-lit areas as often as possible for your own safety. If you have a few choices for dinner, you choose the closer and better-lit place.
If you find it safe enough to wander further, just make sure there are street lights and people on the way home, aka potential witnesses for any sketchiness.
When traveling by yourself, you should always stick to this rule of thumb, even if you’re in a busy area.
I always have backups! If one hotel is full, no worries, I’ll go to this one. Should my taxi not understand where my hotel is, no worries, I screenshotted the phone number, they can call. If my T-Mobile data isn’t working for me, no worries, I downloaded an offline map (Google or Maps.Me) and screenshotted the info I needed.
Also, make sure you have a backup in case something doesn’t work out.
Don’t be afraid to make friends so you can travel in numbers. You’d probably be surprised at how often there are people who can either relate to you or even speak the same language, especially if you’re an English speaker.
You never know who you will meet abroad. It’s safer to be in groups and of course, it’s fun too. On that same note, don’t be scared to ask someone else to go with you somewhere, like my friend and I did in Nong Khiaw.
My friend and I had each other but still needed more people with us to feel safe enough to walk 10 minutes down a road to get food in the pitch black with rabid dogs around us.
I even made a friend on my very first day in Thailand as I was running to the bathroom to puke!
He was a lifesaver when I needed him to walk to me to the pharmacy. Not my most glamorous story, that’s for sure, but my new friends did help me!
Even when you are traveling by yourself you don’t need to really be alone!
Make sure to stay in the center of the town or city. Better lit, more things around you, closer to things, taxis etc… When you do want to wander off to the outskirts make sure you do a bit of homework and see how it is getting around in the area.
Plan ahead and have everything outlined, even when it comes to a backup plan in case original plans fall through.
You won’t want to be stuck on the outskirts of a city alone.
Always walk in the middle of the street at night. Obviously, if the streets are busy you probably don’t have much to be afraid of.
However, when you are walking alone at night and the streets are empty, walk in the middle of the road.
I always think, if someone wants me, they will have to come out in the middle of the street and do it. Not only will this help your awareness be more heightened in the moment, it will make it harder if some creep does want to try something! If I walk down the sidewalks where there are entrances to alleyways and doorways, then I am only making it easier for them.
You should always do a bit of research before traveling the world alone, and when you think you’re prepared, research some more. Know your area a bit if you’re walking around. Traveling by yourself doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Just look up the big landmarks so you can get your bearings.
You should never leave your hotel or hostel without a plan in mind.
If you have a target, check it out on the map a bit before heading out. When you look completely lost, you make yourself more of a target. Of course, it’s a new city and you will need to get your map out and ask around, but avoid looking totally clueless, especially at night.
Like the tip above mentions, keep a constant lookout for landmarks. Let your research help you remember them.
Take pictures of the bank you used to draw money, pictures of your hotel sign, roads, and landmarks.
This can be used if you forget where you are staying, have issues with your ATM cards, or if you lose your way and need a reminder of some landmarks.
You can even show the picture to a local to help in asking for directions if you’re lost. This is a must for solo travel for women, even if you don’t use them, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
Walk This Way
Always walk confidently. Look around like you know where you are, especially when you’re in an area that’s not crowded with people. In some not so great areas, you will stand out already as a tourist, but if you look helpless and confused, it will make creeps think you’re an easy target.
It’s a new city and you can only take this so far, but do your best by being as prepared as possible.
Know where you are and even if you don’t, act like you do. Head up, body straight, looking around, show people you are paying attention to everything around you and you know what’s up.
On the same note, walk fast. I always do anyway, but when you’re alone and it’s getting dark/already night and you’re trying to just get somewhere, swift walking is best. It makes it look like you know where you are, where you’re going and making you less of a target when traveling the world alone.
When you are on the move, make it a point to always arrive during the day.
You will have plenty of time to find your accommodations, walk around, get to know the area before dark, and not be stuck in a city or town at 2 am with nowhere to go. When you travel during the day there will most likely be twice as many people around as well, ideal for when you’re traveling by yourself.
Arm yourself, especially when traveling the world alone.
Carry something to protect yourself. Anything. From keys to even mace.
I used to have an asp, which was totally awesome yet not the most convenient thing to lug around with you.
I now carry mace with me. It’s easy and small. Just remember to check it in if you are flying. Even by making sure you have all local emergency numbers to call when in a new country, this can be a lifesaver when you find yourself in sketchy situations.
Dress appropriately for where you are. If you’re not sure, carry something to cover up such as a sarong or scarf. This way if you’re getting weird stares or calls, you can throw it on.
While we should be able to express ourself how we want, when dealing with solo travel for women, sometimes that expression needs to be put on the back burner when traveling the world alone.
Less skin usually lessens the annoying hollering.
I know it’s hot in some of these countries, so we want to wear our shorts and tanks tops, but it’s not always a good idea in some places and you will attract unwanted attention. Keep true to the normal customs in a country, especially countries that are drastically different from your own. Reach out to the locals if you aren’t sure about certain morals and ethics in the community.
When you go out at night, make sure you’re at a bar down the street from your guesthouse.
Don’t walk too far from your place if you plan on getting drunk, better yet, don’t get drunk when traveling the world alone.
Stumbling down an alleyway at night after a few drinks are just a poor choice, to say the least.
The only time I ever have multiple drinks is if I’m out with people I’ve met and were all looking after each other. Otherwise, I go out but only have a drink or two. I never let my drink out of sight.
Always wear purses that cross your body. Also, preferably deep ones that also have a zipper.
These are the only ones I wear. It’s nearly impossible for someone to get anything out of a purse like this, no less without me noticing. I can barely find my own things!
This is a huge tip to keep in mind when learning how to solo travel for women. If your purse goes across the shoulder this will deter people from wanting to grab it off you.
In some countries, people on motorcycles will just drive right past you and snatch your purse off your shoulder. If it crosses your body, they will probably target someone else. Taking these small but drastically important measures when traveling by yourself can be the difference between a bad trip that was ruined by a petty thief, or a great memory!
Stare ‘Em Down
If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to let them know you are aware of them.
Many times when I’ve been traveling solo I’ve seen some individuals staring at me, ignore it for a bit, and when they don’t stop, I stare right back.
I make sure that they are well aware that I am aware of their creepiness and I’m not afraid… Even if I am.
Same if someone is walking towards you. They might just be walking passed you, actually, they very likely are, but just let them know you see them coming and give them a look.
I give them “that look” while picturing myself karate chopping them.
Unfortunately, I don’t know karate though. I have goals to learn some self-defense moves though, I only know the basics.
People looking to cause trouble prefer the person who isn’t paying attention; a completely unaware victim. Keep this in mind even when in a crowded place.
Just Say No
Being a solo female traveler you’re going to get hassled and asked things while you are walking around town, especially when you’re new to the hassles of solo travel for women. I feel like this is almost stupid to say, but you would be surprised at how many people think they’re invincible while they are traveling… We’ve probably been there at some point or another.
For the love of god, don’t take up anyone on sketchy offers!
Even if it feels really legit and you have a good feeling about it, don’t. Many locals (and foreigners for that matter) can be nice and offer things out of the goodness of their hearts, others will offer things that sound good, but put you in bad situations.
For example don’t say yes to a random guy outside a bar who offers to drive you home, don’t think walking off with a huge group of local men to have a friendly drink at their bar alone is a good idea, and please say no to the dude who randomly pops up out of nowhere with a drink for you.
I mean, would you say yes to these things back home? If so, you need a reality check before something happens to you quicker than you think. It could be completely fine and innocent or it could end up in a huge mess, or worse, a tragedy. Why take the chance?
When you’re traveling by yourself who is going to be there if something happens? After all, you are alone. You need to watch out for yourself.
You can, by all means, enjoy your time out, but be responsible, which includes declining these offers that have no backing in a safe reality.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything and you should just sit home. It just means to make the right judgments and choices when traveling the world alone. These situations could be risky, so I would avoid them and I have avoided them many times in my travels.
The Realities of Solo Travel for Women
I wish solo traveling females can walk around a town naked, or get totally hammered and walk home drunk, or wear a bikini at a bar and not be groped, raped, or hollered at, but unfortunately, in the world today, this isn’t the reality.
So we have to look out for ourselves and “play” along so that we’re safe.
Solo travel for women just takes being smart and aware to stay safe abroad as a solo female traveler. Don’t be afraid of traveling alone and go for it head on! So many strong women do it and you can too!
It’s an amazing and liberating feeling. You just have to trust yourself and always ask yourself the right questions before you take the next step on your journey.
If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do. Happy travels, ladies!
Do you think these solo travel for women tips are helpful?
Are you still scared and have doubts?
Share in the comments below and let me know your thoughts!
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.