12 Safety Tips for Solo Female Travellers
Not all of us have the opportunity to travel the world with someone and if you’re like me, you would much rather strike out on your own than wait for someone to come with you.
While travelling solo has its risks, there are measures you can take to increase your safety.
Here are my top safety tips for solo female travellers.
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#1. Travel to your next destination during the daytime.
Where possible, I always try to arrive in a new city or location during daylight hours. By arriving in daylight, it’s simpler to get around because there’s more public transport options running during the day and it’s easier to find street signs and numbers. It always feels safer sitting on a bus or walking around during the day when there’s lots of other people around.
#2. Know how to get from the airport, bus or train station.
Do your research about how to reach your accommodation. Simply having luggage and looking lost can make you a target – confidence goes a long way to keeping yourself safe. If you’re taking public transport, figure out before you go what bus or metro you need to catch to take you to your hostel or hotel.
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#3. Consider taking taxis at night.
If you end up at a destination at night, consider taking a taxi. Do your research beforehand so you’re aware of any scams and how much the taxi fare should cost.
If you choose to walk or use public transport at night, look like you know where you’re going, be alert, stay in well-lit places and try to blend in with other people.
In some countries, you can book a taxi at a booking office inside airports and you will be given a voucher. This avoids you being heckled as soon as you set foot outside the door.
If you’re taking a taxi from your accommodation to go out at night, it’s often a good idea to get your accommodation to book a taxi rather than hailing from the street.
#4. Keep a close eye on your valuables.
Always be alert especially on public transport and keep a close eye on your valuables. Don’t let your valuables out of your sight. If I’m on a bus or a train and need to use the bathroom, I take my valuables with me.
In third world countries, it’s recommended to keep your bag on your lap when on public transport such as chicken buses in Central America. Don’t put it above your head or at your feet.
When walking around, I have a cross body bag, so my bag is always slung on the front of me. When dining at restaurants, I put my bag on my lap, never on the floor.
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#5. Keep your valuables out of sight when sightseeing.
Items like watches, cameras, and rings can make you a target for thieves. Put your camera and phone in your bag when you’re not taking photos.
Depending on where you’re travelling too, it may be best to leave any expensive jewellery items at home.
#6. Be on guard with strangers.
It can be tough travelling on your own as you always have to be on guard. While 99% of people have good intentions and are just happy to meet a traveller, you can just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If strangers start getting too curious about where you’re staying, be very alert. Trust your gut, if something doesn’t feel right, get out of there.
I remember one incidence when I was on a bus in Java Island, Indonesia. I was the only female and foreigner on the bus. A man next to me started off innocently enough asking me where I was from, where I was going, what I would do there, and I let my guard down and indicated I was travelling alone. The questions then started about where I was staying. I started to have a bad feeling about where the conversation was headed and I injected a few comments about my friend was meeting me later that afternoon at the bus station. The man eventually lost interest and moved to another seat.
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#7. Take care walking around late at night by yourself.
While some countries such as across Western Europe will be mostly fine to walk around by yourself at night, others may not be so safe.
I feel very safe walking in Europe and South East Asia on my own, but feel less safe in South America.
Do your research and talk to staff at your hotel or hostel to find out if it’s ok to walk outside at night by yourself.
If I’m in a country where it’s not advisable to walk the streets at night, I’ll plan ahead such as getting my dinner before it gets dark or befriending someone to come with me.
#8. Dress appropriately.
You want to blend in so make sure you dress appropriately. For example, are shorts and singlet tops appropriate for women or should you cover your knees or shoulders? Be respectful of local customs.
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#9. Ignore any unsolicited approaches.
Travelling through countries like Central and South America, you’ll often get a lot of attention which may range from market vendors or random men asking to take you out to tea. The best way to handle this is to ignore them and keep walking, try not to make eye contact and it’s sometimes best to not be polite and don’t even say no, thank you – just get out of there.
If someone is particularly persistent, I’ve sometimes gone into a nearby hotel or shop until the person goes away. This happened to me in Turkey. A man was being particularly persistent about taking me to tea so I just went into the next hotel I saw and he promptly walked away.
#10. Only carry the cash you need.
A lot of people ask me what do I do with my passport and cash etc when I’m exploring a city. Of course it’s all in my locker at my hostel and I only carry the cash I need and also carry a dummy wallet with a few bills in it. My cash and cards are far safer in my locker than on the street. Don’t carry your passport with you either when sightseeing but it is a good idea to keep a copy of your passport on you.
#11. Trust your instincts.
If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t – so get out of there!
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#12. Research scams in the area.
Make sure you’re clued up on if there’s any scams in the area you’re visiting. Things like people distracting you, squirting some liquid on you and then offering to clean it up, or taxi scams.
A common scam I came across in Indonesia was someone would come up to saying the popular temple or museum in the city was closed for prayer time, lunch and so on and offer to take you to an art gallery instead. Obviously I declined that offer and went to the temple as intended – which was of course open!
Power to you if you’re a solo female traveller and hopefully you’ll get through your trip hassle free with the help of these tips.
Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 80 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer. Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More India.