50 Incredibly Useful Travel Tips For Female Solo Travelers
“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.” –Roman Payne. For those of us who prefer to travel our dreams, sometimes the endless media scandals and reports can be enough to make even the most wanderlust traveler afraid to leave their home. Luckily, there are quite a number of ways for women who travel solo to stay safe while still circumventing the globe and not missing out on any adventure.
Ready to tackle the delight of seeing the world solo? Check out these pointers before you leave and you’ll be ready for any place you might go!
1 Travel Light
The best way to get yourself mugged is to look like an affluent out of towner. Keep your luggage simple and compact, so you don’t stand out of the crowd as an easy target.
2 Take Advantage of Being a Woman
If there’s one thing that scares of guys everywhere, it’s the sight of a tampon or box of pads. Use the inside of the boxes to store hidden valuables, like extra cash or your back up copies of your passport. No one will ever want to touch it, let alone think of looking there!
3 Invest in an International Phone Card
Changing your phone’s plan to an international one may be too pricy for the times that you’ll be using it, but it is much safer to have at least a half hour of minutes available in case of emergencies. Instead of changing your plan, buy a pre-loaded international calling card with at least 15 minutes of call time. For just a few dollars, you’ll always have a way to get in touch with people if you get stranded.
4 Never Act Like You Left
If you’re going to be staying alone in a hotel, you never want your room to look like it is abandoned. Always leave the do not disturb sign on the door handle, and if you’re leaving for the day, turn on the TV or radio so it sounds like someone is still in the room. It’s an easy safeguard against having someone rob your room while you are away.
5 Stay in a Female Dorm Room
If you’re limited on funds and trying to stay as cheaply as possible, budget hostels are sometimes the only option. Find hostels with female only dorms and book a room there for some extra piece of mind without paying for your own private room.
6 Plan a Date
No, not the romantic kind with flowers and candles. Instead, schedule a skype date with a good contact ahead of time, or an e-mail every Friday, even if just to say you are ok. If you miss your date, at least someone back home will know that something is wrong and to get in touch with the police.
7 Never Leave Your Luggage
This may seem kind of obvious, but it cannot be stressed enough; wherever you go, there your baggage shalt go with you.
8 Track Your Rides
Navigating cheap public transportation can be downright sketchy in some countries (Romancing the Stone, anyone?) but if you have a smartphone handy, you can track your ride on a GPS or map to make sure you got on the right bus, or the taxi is taking you the most direct way to the airport.
9 Pack Your Own Pills
Many countries don’t have birth control pills or even condoms as easily available as they are in the US. Bring a stash of your own just in case; in this case, it’s better to be prepared than stranded without.
10 Learn From Others
The best thing you can do preemptively is to thoroughly research the places you’ll be visiting. Read stories of other solo female travelers who have visited the same areas or stayed at the same places you’ll be staying. You can use the wisdom of others and learn from their mistakes without having to make any of your own.
11 Fill Up Early and Often
If you are driving alone in unfamiliar territory, don’t let your gas gauge fall below ⅓ of a tank full. You never know when the next gas station will be, and you don’t want to be forced to stop at a place that is clearly unsafe or much more expensive.
12 Wear Layers
The more layers you wear, when you travel solo, the harder it is for you to get felt up in crowded situations, like a packed parade or festival. A skin tight under armor shirt or even a one piece swimsuit is an easy way to protect yourself without dressing like an Eskimo.
13 Rent More than Just a Car
It is much safer for everyone, not just women, to rent a GPS unit with their rental car if you’re going to be navigating the road solo. Driving and looking down at your phone’s GPS is not nearly as safe or reliable as a dashboard system.
14 Don’t Go All Digital
As awesome as digital resources are, and as easy as it is to check into a flight with your smartphone, it is always a good idea to keep a hard copy of emergency numbers, flight reservations and confirmation codes, and even a couple of addresses. That way if you are unexpectedly parted from your smartphone or laptop, you still have the tools you need to get help.
15 Timing is Everything
Choose the right time to withdraw cash from an ATM. During the day on a busy street is a lot safer than at night outside of a bank after hours when no one else is around.
16 Use the word “We”- a LOT!
The more you sound attached, the less vulnerable you appear. Just throw in the word we casually every now and then.
17 Choose a Good Place to Wait
Often times, there will be a few hours between checking out of a hostel and catching the next train. If you have a few hours to kill and it’s getting dark out or the town isn’t that safe, find a nearby coffee shop where you can wait until just a few minutes before the train or bus comes. It’s safer to wait inside than to wait outside at a platform.
18 Wear a Fake Wedding Ring
It may not keep you completely safe, but in a lot of countries, showing a little bling on your left hand definitely helps keep you off the radar from unwanted attention, as you travel solo.
19 Wear Dark Sunglasses
Now’s the time to embrace your inner celebrity and deck yourself out in the largest pair of shades you can find. In many countries, direct eye contact and smiling can be seen as an open invitation for much more than just conversation. Since it’s a hard cultural habit to break, wearing a pair of shades can help you look more aloof.
20 Always Choose Public Meeting Places
If a newly made friend offers to take you out or show you a place, arrange to meet in a public setting. Stay in sight of other people.
21 Find Safe Accommodations
The biggest trepidation for many women who travel alone is where they’ll be staying overnight. Safety is a big concern, not only for yourself, but also for your belongings. Thoroughly research the places you’ll be staying and only book places that have plenty of positive reviews. If you see even a few negative reviews, pass it on.
22 Trust Your Instincts
If you feel a situation is unsafe, trust your gut. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
23 Learn Some Local Lingo
Even if you never learn to speak another language, you should always try to pick up a few key phrases of the native tongue, particularly the word no, when you travel solo. Using the word no in a native dialect can often help you to seem more assertive and be taken more seriously.
24 Carry a Whistle
While items like pocket knives won’t make it through security, a whistle is a cheap, safe way to bring some extra protection that won’t get you labeled as a terrorist. You don’t even have to bring a special rape whistle; just a simple whistle from the dollar store will work.
25 Always Be on the Alert
While it’s tempting to tune out the distractions around you and soak up some good music while you wander around town, it can make you extra vulnerable to things that would normally alert you of potential danger. A better compromise is to get a set of earbuds instead of headphones and only keep one earbud in, so your other ear can listen for rushing footsteps behind you, oncoming traffic, etc.
26 Never Be Alone
Although it may seem counter intuitive, don’t steer clear of crowds; embrace them! When it comes to utilizing public transportation like a bus or airplane, or even just walking down the street, there is safety and accountability in numbers. Always try to sit, stand or walk near enough to others so that you’re not entirely alone.
27 Make Sure You Have Access to Help
Medical emergencies are a pain enough to deal with in your home country, let alone a foreign country where English isn’t the predominantly spoken word on the street. Register with a reputable organization like the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers that will help you find English speaking hospitals, clinics and doctors on the road if you need medical attention as soon as possible.
28 Make Fake Phone Calls Often
Don’t be afraid to make a pretend phone call to a “significant other” if you feel like you’re in a sketchy situation. A simple pretend meet up with your friend in 15 minutes tells others that if you don’t show up somewhere soon, someone will know about it.
29 Make Friends with other Female Solo Travelers
If you can find other female travelers who travel solo, you can easily join up for a day or even a half day out together and find some safety in numbers.
30 Use Your Bag’s Straps
Just having your baggage near you isn’t enough; it is still very easy for thieves to snatch bags that are right by your side without your notice. Use your bags straps and stand in the arm hole rather than placing it on the ground by your side, or put the bag in front of you in between you and a wall or check out counter. Make it as hard to get to as possible.
31 Make Copies of Everything
Having your stuff stolen can quickly turn your dream vacation into a nightmare of red tape and expensive hassle. Make digital copies of your passport, confirmation codes, and reservations so that you can access them from any digital source.
32 Make Friends with the Staff
Your hostel or hotel staff or host family, in some cases, is a great resource of helpful hints and guidelines you should follow. They’ll be able to point you out in the right direction, and give you a heads up if there are places to avoid.
33 Trust the good side of humanity
The worst thing you can do while traveling is to cut yourself off from humanity, or see a rapist in every stranger. There are so many beautiful people and places in this world; keep your head, but also keep yourself open enough to appreciate it all!
34 When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do
Dress as much as possible like a local, when you travel solo. Try to blend in and wear similar clothes, even if it’s not your personal style. The more you fit in, the less you look like easy prey for pickpocketing and getting ripped off with higher prices.
35 Take Pictures of Everything
Go ahead and snap plenty of pics of monuments and popular attractions, but don’t forget to also grab a couple pics of the license plate of any buses or taxis you ride in, for safety and accountability.
36 Travel Safe at Night
If you fly in after dark or early in the morning, you’re at an increased risk for potential danger. Many hostels arrange for airport pick up, or you can arrange for a private ride ahead of time to get you safely to and from your destinations.
37 Pack a Bike Lock
Bike locks are inexpensive, and an easy way to chain your stuff up at night if you aren’t staying someplace with a locker or safe. They also work well on trains, planes, and buses if you fall asleep.
38 Know how to say “No”
Don’t be afraid to say no to offers, no matter how polite they may seem. You have the right to be selfish and not feel guilty.
39 Know What Subjects are Off Limits
In some countries, it’s not safe to talk about things like politics or religion. While some places are very accepting, in others conversations can quickly turn taboo or even land you a night in jail. Do your research and stay appropriate.
40 Let Others Know Your Plans
Before you leave and travel solo, make sure you have at least a couple of good friends or close family members who know where you will be traveling. Leave a basic itinerary, along with a copy of your passport and drivers license, and numbers of any places you may be staying in case of emergency. They’ll be good contacts in case of emergency, and they’ll be able to get in touch with people if something goes wrong.
41 Don’t Get Drunk
Yes, it would be a great world if women could get wasted without people seeing it as an open invitation for a whole lot more. But that’s not the world we live in, so deal with it and don’t become a victim. Drink responsibly, and you can still enjoy a beer in Munich without ending up on the local news.
42 Ask for Two Separate Keys
Losing your hotel key isn’t fun, and it happens all too easily. Ask the hostel or hotel desk for two copies of your key, and keep them in two different places when you are away from your room, like your backpack and your shoe. That way if you lose one, you’ll have an easy backup.
43 Have a Solid Emergency Fund
When you’re stressed out and strapped for cash, you increase the amount of risk you’ll take. Play it safe and have enough extra funds to pay for things like private rooms, taxi rides, or a safe in your room.
44 Keep Up to Date
If you’re traveling somewhere off the beaten path and a more dangerous country for foreigners, it can help to know as soon as possible when things turn south so you can evacuate or make alternative arrangements. You can easily register online with the US Department of State in just a few minutes, and they’ll send you updates as things progress so you’ll be the first to know.
45 Invest in a Door Alarm
Portable door alarms are a cheap easy way to keep yourself protected in shared bathroom scenarios. They set off an alarm and jam the door, so you’re a lot safer than just relying on a flimsy bathroom door lock.
46 Don’t Fall Asleep on a Train
Night trains are a great way to avoid paying for a place to stay, but they are incredibly risky for women traveling alone. Avoid sitting in an empty train car, and don’t fall asleep, or you may wake up to find yourself missing your luggage, or worse.
47 Spread Out Your Resources
Never keep all of your passports, money, and credit cards in one location, even if it’s in a hidden waist wallet or money belt. Spread out your resources and carry a backup set of emergency money or an extra credit card in your shoe or other hidden location as well.
48 Don’t Look Lost
Women may be known for always asking help with directions, but there is a difference between asking a local which way to the grocery store and standing in the middle of the street staring at a giant map with a puzzled look on your face. If you do find yourself lost, wait to pull out your map until you can go to a bathroom or sit down at a library or coffee shop where you won’t look conspicuously like a vulnerable tourist.
49 Never Tell Others You Travel Solo
This is pretty much a universal safety precaution no matter where you are. If you are at a restaurant, say you are waiting for someone. If you open up your hotel room, say that your partner will be right back. If you’re waiting for the bus, say you’re meeting someone on the bus. A single woman is much less of a threat than one with an imaginary studly boyfriend waiting to beat someone up.
50 Get a Travel Insurance plan
Getting travel Insurance is a very affordable way to protect yourself from finding yourself strapped for cash after an unpredictable accident. You can buy a travel insurance plan that covers medical emergencies, car rentals, luggage lost or damaged in the airport, and even cancelled flights.
Ready to travel solo? Before you start packing your bags, don’t forget to plan your big solo travel adventure with Trekeffect! It’s free, easy to use, and contains a lot of information for your next trip!