Traveling solo is challenging, rewarding, and a great way to build your own confidence, but navigating foreign lands on your own can also be intimidating. It’s natural to have safety concerns lingering in the back of your mind. It’s also more than likely that your loved ones will have their own set of safety concerns and their well-intended words of warning can sometimes lead to even more anxiety when it comes to the prospect of traveling solo.
While you can often rely on the kindness of strangers throughout your travels, it’s also wise to take extra precautions to protect yourself. From stocking up on theft proof clothing, learning self defense, or foregoing alcoholic beverages, you’ve got to have your own back as a solo female traveler.
So what can you do to ensure your solo travel adventures are both fun and safe?
I asked some fellow female travel bloggers to share their top tips for safety on the road, and none of them involve waiting for your friends to finally save enough money to go with you! These ladies have traveled solo all over the world and their advice is sure to help you stay safe and sound whether you’re at home or abroad.
- Is Mexico Safe For Female Travelers?
- 18 Incredible Solo Travel Destinations in Mexico
- What To Know Before Going To Mexico
Safety Tips For Traveling Alone
Keep Family & Friends Updated
The most important tip I could bestow on the solo female traveler (or any traveler, mind you) is to be in contact with someone back home. Being able to depend on someone to know where you are and be aware that you’re alive and safe every day means that, in the worst case scenario, you’re covered. While I’m not suggesting that you’re likely to be the next horrible news story, it’s always good to be prepared, even in more minor situations.
A perfect example: I was wandering around Atlanta, Georgia alone. I was looking for directions and stopped to talk to a valet to figure out how to get somewhere. He gave me some advice, and then quickly switched gears and started hitting on me, pressing me on details like where I was going– he definitely made me uncomfortable. I couldn’t leave the area because I was waiting for a bus to come and he was at work, so I felt stuck trying my best to push off his “interest” with a smile.
Looking for an excuse to avoid eye contact and conversation, I took out my phone and texted my boyfriend about what was happening. I was pretty panicked and also trying to hide the fact that I was panicked, so when my boyfriend asked what hotel I was at I didn’t think anything of it. Turns out he was calling the hotel to speak to a manager, complaining that one of their employees was being very unprofessional and making me uncomfortable. I don’t necessarily think that I was in any real danger, but it definitely felt good that someone had my back even when I was alone!
Contributed by Jamie of Crashed Culture
Join A Group Tour
As a naturally cautious person, I was feeling apprehensive about safety before my solo trip to Southeast Asia. In the end, I decided to join a group tour to ease my nerves.
6 years and many countries later, I have now taken 11 group tours as well as taking many completely solo trips. The group tours are brilliant for more risky locations where safety in numbers is an important consideration. Also, the guides are knowledgeable and often give advice about where is safe to go and where to avoid.
The other advantages of group travel include a ready-made set of friends with similar interests to you as well as managing to see a lot in a short period of time as all the travel and organisation is taken care of. You can just relax and enjoy your trip!
It’s important to make sure you choose a good group travel company for single travellers but if you travel with a reputable company, you’re sure to have a great experience.
Contributed by Leanne of The Globetrotter GP
Keep Money in Multiple Places
When you travel you should never keep all your money in the same location. Instead, place your money in separate locations so that if your money is stolen, you don’t lose it all. Keep some in your wallet, some in a money belt (I’m a great believer in money belts) and perhaps some in a secret pocket in your clothing. Just make sure you don’t throw that piece of clothing into the laundry forgetting the cash is in there. I’ve just given you something else to worry about, haven’t I?
If you are staying in a location that has a safe, place some of your funds in that safe. Don’t take it all with you when you go exploring.
It goes without saying that you should never flash cash in a public place. If you need to dish out an unusually large sum of money, like for a nice meal in a restaurant that doesn’t take credit cards, go to the restroom and remove the funds there.
Contributed by Talek of Travels With Talek
My favourite part about solo travelling is exploring a new city and wandering around and “getting lost.” It is one of the best ways to discover a new place and a new culture.
In fact, sometimes I wander off a bit too far and can’t seem to remember my way home. But I wouldn’t let it show that I am lost. I would continue to walk at a steady pace until I find a safe spot so I can check Google Map on my smartphone. Preferably a spot where my back is against a wall so I can quickly check my smartphone.
As soon as I know how to make my way back, I continue to walk at a good pace until I reach my destination.
Whenever you are in a new city, always walk with confidence, even though you may not feel confident inside. It shows that you know what you are doing and nobody will bother you. And you might even look like you are a local living there!
Contributed by Queenie of Ms Travel Solo
Be Open to Meeting People & Making Friends
One of the greatest side-effects of traveling is meeting new people, hearing their story and at least for a moment seeing the world through their eyes. While exploring the world by yourself don’t forget to stay open-minded and sociable. Not only will this help you enrich your horizon, but it will also ensure you stay safe. Solo travelers of both genders are usually great at supporting and looking after each. Even if not for safety, experiences are more memorable when shared.
I remember when I was backpacking alone through Bosnia and Herzegovina a few years back and met an elderly gentleman renting out his spare room. Since I already had a bed he invited me over for a coffee instead. Although I really wanted to go, being a twenty-something years old young woman I was reluctant to accept the invitation by myself. I told the story to the guy I had met at the hostel and he gladly joined me at the old man’s house. I am so happy we had gone there – this turned out to be one of the most unforgettable evenings of my entire trip. The three of us laughed, drank coffee and exchanged stories all night long.
Although I am now exploring the world with my partner, we’re both always excited to get to know new people and travel with them for a while.
Contributed by Darja of DeeGees Life
Use A Dummy Wallet
I first started using my dummy wallet when I was traveling in South Africa. Muggings in the cities there can be common, unfortunately, so I carry a dummy wallet to help curb that issue because traveling there is so wonderful in many other ways.
A dummy wallet basically just means creating some kind of fake purse or a wallet with just a few little things in it like canceled cards and a few dollars so that you have something to give to a thief. It’s important that they can get away with something, while the rest of your stuff is safely hidden. I tend to put my phone in my bra, wear boots so that my money can be rolled up and stuffed into the sock, and I put my keys in my shorts pocket, which usually buttons.
Thankfully I’ve never had to use it, but I think it’s a genius way to be able to hand something over and keep the rest of your items safely hidden. Solo female travel in Africa is awesome, please don’t let the media scare you!
Contributed by Kristin of Be My Travel Muse
Keep an Eye on Your Drink
In college, one of my best friends was unknowingly slipped a date-rape drug in her drink and after a blacked-out night that she doesn’t remember, wound up hospitalized from the drug’s after-effects. Common date rape drugs, like Rohypnol (commonly called “roofies”), are odorless, flavorless substances that can be easily put into a drink and cause severe drowsiness or amnesia for several hours, which make it easier to take advantage of the affected individual. While my friend was surrounded by supportive friends that helped her in this dangerous situation, a solo female traveler may not have trusted people to turn to and unfortunately, may seem like an easy target to a would-be predator.
To protect yourself, only accept drinks which you have personally watched bartenders make and insist on having a server bring a drink directly to your table. Don’t put your drink down or let it out of your sight for even a second– if you have to go to the bathroom, make sure to finish it first or get a new one when you get back. The effects of these drugs are pretty quick- about half an hour from first ingestion- so it’s important to be prepared with an action plan.
If you start feeling unusually tired or intoxicated, immediately remove yourself from the situation and try to find someone at the establishment that you can trust, like a hostess, and do your best to communicate that you suspect you’ve been drugged so they can help you find a way to a safe place, such as a hospital or police station. Whenever I travel solo, I follow these simple tips to reduce my risk of being put in harm’s way so I can keep on safely exploring the world.
Contributed by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
Choose Accommodations Wisely
After years of travel, for both business and pleasure, I’ve learned the hard way that choosing accommodations in a safe location is critical when traveling solo. In an effort to save money, there were times when I regretted my selection of accommodation, and over the years I’ve done a better job of balancing safety concerns with pricing.
Here are some tips I’d like to offer: Whether booking AirBnB or hotels, read the reviews carefully. It’s likely that one or more of the reviewers has written about the surrounding neighborhood and whether or not they felt safe. For hotels, I like the reviews on TripAdvisor since I find these reviewers tend to provide more detailed information.
Next, also look for comments about the hosts or staff. If traveling solo, you want to know that an AirBnB host or hotel representative will be happy to help guide you when it comes to safely. I like to go for a walk or run early in the morning, and many times while traveling I’ve consulted someone about the safe areas to do so. Reliable and helpful staff or hosts will also be willing to make changes should something make you feel uncomfortable.
Finally, consider how far the accommodations are from conveniences like public transportation and dining. Is there a restaurant or market on site or close by? How far will you need to walk to the subway station? When unfamiliar with a neighborhood, it’s both helpful and less stressful to have this information in advance when possible. Fortunately, many websites provide this information, and again, helpful reviewers will often include this in their write-up.
Contributed by Wendy of Empty Nesters Hit the Road
Learn Basic Phrases in the Local Language
Learning basic phrases in the local language will allow you to better read signs and maps and ask for directions and help if needed. It will make you less vulnerable to scams and rip-offs since you’ll be able to negotiate prices more easily. It’ll also help you connect with and befriend locals who can provide assistance if necessary.
Speaking Spanish has benefited me immeasurably during my frequent travels in Latin America, where English is scarce. Often, locals have warned me to avoid certain parts of town, for example, or I’ve been able to avoid being scammed due to my bargaining ability in Spanish. At a minimum, besides standard greetings and courtesies like please and thank you, memorize some safety phrases like “Go away” and “Help.”
Contributed by Ingrid of Second Half Travels
Don’t Over-Indulge in Alcohol
I’ve been traveling solo for years and during my time on the road, the biggest safety tip I’ve picked up is making sure you don’t drink too much. It’s just a fact that when you get drunk, you get a little stupid. You become more willing to take risks and you could end up putting yourself in dangerous situations whether you intend to or not.
I was backpacking around Mexico, and during my last day in Cancun, I got talking to a fellow solo female traveler who had just finished an epic journey around South America. Sadly, she had a story to tell me about a night she drunk too much that didn’t exactly end well. For me, that was the biggest wake-up call. So now If I’m drinking when I’m away I remember these top things.
- Know your limits – don’t get blackout drunk. If you are on a night out, maybe every other drink just have water instead.
- Make sure to have a good base of food before you drink. Drinking on an empty stomach never ends well.
- Know your way home and make sure it’s a safe way. Is it safe and easy to get public transport? Can you make friends from your accommodation to walk back with, or can you get an uber?
- Don’t ever take your eyes off your drink, honestly, this is a thing even in my home country of the UK. Drinks can get spiked so it’s better to be aware.
And remember, you don’t actually need to drink to have a good time. Stay safe and enjoy your travels.
Contributed by Rebecca of Rayner en Route
Carry the Contact Details of Your Accommodation
One of the things that I carry with me every time I am new to the place is the contact numbers of the hostel or the host where I am staying. As a solo traveler, I make sure that I have all the details on my notes from the hotel’s name and their contact number, which I also double check is working. I also carry the full address which I pin on the phone for the app I am using.
In addition, I write this info on a piece of paper and slip it into my travel wallet. I also mark the exact details on the printed copy of the map I have with me all the time. This way, I know that I won’t be lost in the event my phone is in trouble.
My reliable map has been a great asset. Following these steps was especially helpful the time I totally forgot the name of the hostel where I was staying in Bali, outside the touristy area. Unfortunately, my phone and my memory bank had an empty battery, but that piece of paper and the printed map were a big help in getting me back to my hostel.
Contributed by Ferna of Everywhere With Ferna
Turn on Location Sharing
I’ve been traveling solo for almost four years now, but while backpacking in Southeast Asia, I discovered a new safety trick – turning on my Google location sharing with my family and friends. Even though this smartphone app requires an internet connection to update your location, it does help to let our love ones that we are safe.
The location sharing automatically updates as soon as you connect to the internet. If anything happens to you during your trip, your family can see your last location which will help them know where to start looking.
Personally, I’m not good at keeping my family updated on what I’m doing. However, since this Google feature can show how long you have been offline, my family can message me once in a while to see if I’m okay. Sharing my location with my family gives them peace of mind knowing they have some way to track my movement, which is useful in case of emergencies.
To turn this on your phone, simply go to Google Maps, click the three bars on the top left to show the options and click “Location Sharing”. You can then enter the Gmail address of the person you want to share your location with.
Contributed by Mary of A Mary Road
Take A Dog (If You Have One)
Contributed by Gemma of A Girl & Her Dog On the Road
My rescue dog Annie is the best travel companion.
Whilst this is not the reason I travel with her, it does have an added advantage of making me feel more comfortable and a little more protected if I ever find myself in a vulnerable position. To be honest, it doesn’t happen often. It is usually the opposite and it encourages people to be even more friendly towards me.
A lot of the lovely people I have met on my travels have been introduced to me as a result of them wanting to give Annie cuddles!
But, if I am in an area that may have a reputation for being more troublesome or more remote and I meet someone that makes me feel uncomfortable, having a dog ensures that I feel less threatened. I am sure if anyone was going to try to steal a purse or worse, they would be less likely to target someone that has a dog that could give them a nasty bite if they tried. Annie is actually one of the softest dogs and I don’t think she has hard-wired guarding instincts, but a potential troublemaker would not know that!
oInterested in traveling with your canine companion? Check out these tips on digital nomad life with a dog.
Carry Deep Heat
Depending on where you are in the world, carrying mace or pepper spray might seem like the most obvious way to keep yourself safe when, say, walking around in a city you don’t know or a country you aren’t familiar with.
But in many countries, those products are illegal, not welcome in your hand luggage and hard to explain at customs. A far safer bet, recommended to me at a police safety workshop, is a spray such as Deep Heat or any similar brand. Basically, it’s legal to carry everywhere and is used by athletes to warm up fatigued muscles and help them heal. When you spray even a little, skin will instantly get quite warm.
So it’s totally innocuous and easy to buy in pharmacies, but if you spray it on an attacker it’s going to produce a lot of heat and should definitely shock them into letting you go.
It’s something that has served me extremely well on my travels, and I carried it on many short term sabbaticals around the world.
Contributed by Danielle of Live in 10 Countries
Use a Door Stop in Your Hotel Room
While it’s easy to worry about safety around us – at night, in the streets or on public transport – one place we sometimes neglect is our own hotel room. Don’t panic, they’re usually perfectly safe but sometimes your accommodation may leave something to be desired. It might be old, the door might not lock properly, there might be a gap at the bottom (so people could listen in) or, as happened to a friend of mine once, someone might actually get into your room while you’re asleep and steal your belongings (or worse).
So how do you keep your belongings safe and people out of your hotel room? Easy! Use a plain old-fashioned rubber doorstop! We don’t see them as often anymore, but it’s almost impossible to push open a door once you’ve jammed the stop up against it. Of course there’s always the more traditional “wedge a chair against the door and balance something noisy on top” approach, but a doorstop is easier.
Contributed by Leyla of Women on the Road
Choose Accommodation in a Safe Neighborhood
Most of the time I travel solo – and as a solo female traveler, I am automatically more careful. Security plays a big role but does not stop me from traveling. One thing that is super important to me: Choosing the right neighborhood when picking my accommodation.
It does not have to be a very fancy neighborhood, but do not save money and pick a dodgy neighborhood when traveling solo. Even when you are on a budget, read reviews about the neighborhood and do not pick an area that is known for being unsafe.
I had to make the mistake several times before I finally learned my lesson.
Personally, I love how safe I feel in Dubai as a solo female traveler. It is such a safe city – the only time I thought differently was when I stayed in Dubai Deira. This area, the old town of Dubai, is nice for strolling during the day but after dark, I did not feel safe at all.
I should have listened to the advice and should not have booked a booked there – but my tight budget back then still made me do so. In the end, this meant that I did not go out in the evening and if I did I took a cap rather than public transportation to get back to my hotel, so I paid even more.
So, if you are on a tight budget, rather than pick a cheap(er) hotel, choose a safer area!
Contributed by Arzo of Arzo Travels
Learn Self Defense
Out of all the solo female travel tips I can give you, learning self defense is it. It is a tool that you will be able to carry with you at all times. Not only does it give you self-confidence in your own abilities; it can actually really help you out if it comes to the crunch.
I learnt self defense for 3 months straight at a Jiu Jitsu school in China. I honestly didn’t particularly enjoy the training but I knew that mastering these different moves would give me the power to nip potentially dangerous situations in the bud…and manage them fully if things got out of hand.
Unfortunately, my skills had to be put to the test when I encountered a situation in India. I am thankful everyday for having learnt Jiu Jitsu. It saved my life. If there’s one thing that you should learn as a woman, regardless of whether you are travelling or not, self defense is it.
However please let me stress this…
Do not be fearful. Embrace the world. There are many beautiful and wonderful people on this planet waiting to meet you. Share your beauty with the world and let the world share its gifts with you too. Happy travels!
Contributed by Alice of Teacake Travels
Arrive During Daytime
As a solo female traveller, I’m always mindful of the time I arrive in a new destination. Arriving in day time usually feels much safer when you have daylight on your side, especially if you need to organise onwards travel to your accommodation when you get there.
I’ll frequently check sunset times before I book a bus or train to a new destination to ensure that I won’t arrive in the dark and feel uncomfortable alone. If it’s not possible to arrive before nightfall (for example if it’s a long journey taking more hours that there are daylight), I’m consider taking an overnight journey and arriving in the early morning.
Another way to stay safe when arriving in a new place is to book a taxi in advance! This is easier from airports or anywhere you can be sure of your arrival time – it might be tricky on a long haul bus when you don’t know when you’ll arrive!
Contributed by Rose of Where Goes Rose?
Don’t Forget Your Phone Charger
Your phone can be a lifeline in so many safety situations. Apart from calling for help in an emergency, you can also use your phone to book a taxi home through a ride-hailing app like Uber or Grab, access safety information, or use a map app to prevent you from getting lost.
You can even use your phone to block your bank cards if your wallet is stolen. Plus, it’s amazing to be able to contact friends from home for advice or reassurance if you need it. I’ve used my phone for all of the above!
In short, if you’re a solo female traveller, you really don’t want your phone to die on you. But travelling is also unpredictable, with unexpected bus breakdowns or amazing temples you just have to explore even though your battery is on 5%.
That’s why my portable phone charger was probably the most important item I packed for Southeast Asia. It’s a cheap, useful and reassuring gadget to throw in your bag before heading off sightseeing and can really help you stay safe abroad.
Contributed by Maire of Temples and Treehouses
Did we leave anything out? Share your best solo travel safety tip in the comments!