Is Solo Travel Safe for Women?
Over the last few years, I have travelled solo to many countries. Well, you can say that travelling the world has been my dream ever since I can remember. And to get to live that dream on my own terms, I would never give that up for anything. While all of this does sound dreamy, I get a lot of questions about whether it is safe for a woman to travel alone or not.
I have heard and read the experiences of other female solo travellers about their safety being threatened. But in all honesty, I have never had to deal with such experiences during my solo visits to different countries. Even with countries such as India that are considered dangerous for women travellers, I had no issues whatsoever.
If you are planning your first solo trip and are worried about your safety, or you just want to know a few tips that will help you have safe solo travel to any destination in the world, this blog is for you. I will be writing down tips that I personally use to ensure I have a safe stay on all my solo travels. So let’s get started!
1. Do thorough research before deciding on a country to visit
This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you have a safe trip to a foreign country. Learn everything there is before planning a trip. I would say the best way to do this is by reading blogs and personal stories on the internet or asking questions and queries on social media travel groups. Trust me, this really works. You can read up thousand of articles on travel websites but to speak to a fellow female solo traveller is an effective way to know a traveller’s experience of the particular country.
Another thing you can do is read about the environmental and political scenarios of the country. This will help you understand how the country functions.
Also, remember that when you visit a foreign country, you may come across completely different norms and cultures than your home country. Sometimes, it may even feel like a whole new world! But this is also one of the best parts about visiting a foreign country.
So, if you do your research right, you are good to go!
2. Take baby steps if you are new to the world of solo travel
Going anywhere alone for the first time might be a little scary. And a foreign country is a whole new ball game. So my recommendation would be that you visit a smaller country for your first solo trip. This will help you know your surroundings in a much better way and boost your confidence as well.
Before travelling to a foreign country, I visited the different states of my country. This made my perspective of solo travelling a whole lot clearer and made me confident enough to take a big leap of travelling internationally.
3. Never carry your passport while you go out exploring the country
Travelling to a foreign country may make you feel like carrying all your important documents with you at all times. But no, that can do you more harm than good. In case you get pickpocketed or robbed, you will lose the most important document you own at that moment. So, leave your passport and other essential documents behind.
It will be a smart move on your part if you invest in a safe and secure lock to keep your documents safely.
When I went on my first solo trip, I invested in a TSA Approved Lock for my backpack. The best part about this lock is that it has a numeric combination passcode, and it is very safe. I stored all my documents in a small pocket of the backpack and sealed it with the lock!
4. Always carry photocopies of your documents with you
Now that you have locked all the essential documents with a safe and secure lock, you must be thinking about how you are going to tackle a situation that asks you for identity verification? So, for such situations, always carry a photocopy of the documents in your handbag. This is a much better option than carrying the original documents. Even if you lose the photocopy, you have still got the original ones!
Apart from carrying a photocopy in your bag, you can also keep pictures of the documents on your smartphone. However, I would recommend you show the photocopy only if asked for identity verification.
5. Be smart on social media platforms
As much you want to share your travel experiences with the world, it is also important to maintain a little bit of privacy when you are in a foreign country. The best way to be smart on social media platforms is to not rush into posting updates on your accounts. You can click pictures while you are at a certain place and upload it on your social media platforms once you leave them. This way, you won’t even have to compromise on your safety by giving out your current location, and you can also share your travel experiences online with your friends. It’s a win-win situation!
Also, if you make a new friend in the country that you are visiting, ensure that you wait for a few days before adding them to your social media. And if you decide to meet him/her, select a public place like a famous restaurant or a shopping mall. This way, if you sense something fishy, you can get out of the situation pretty quickly!
6. Be extra cautious at night
The chances of something dangerous happening to you are more at night. So, here is what you can do to avoid being out at night unnecessarily.
- If possible, try to book your tickets to your destination with the landing time in the mornings.
- If something urgent comes up that requires you to get out of your hotel at night, leave all your valuables in your room. Carry only a small amount of cash and your smartphone. And most importantly, stay alert.
- Try to avoid taking shady passageways at night. Always books cabs or taxis at night.
- If you are an extrovert, you can find a group of female travellers to join on your solo trip. This will help you make new friends and also stay safe.
7. Know your limits and take care of your body
A solo trip to a foreign country might seem like the best idea to try out everything you have ever wanted. But sometimes, it is best to lay low and know your limits without harming your body. Here are a few things that you can keep in mind to ensure your safety in a foreign country.
- Do not get drunk! It is good to have fun drinking but do not get so drunk that you forget what is happening around you and lose control of yourself.
- Avoid food items and drinks that can harm your body. If you are allergic to something, don’t try it just for the sake of it. The last thing you want on your solo trip is to harm your body by consuming unnecessary food items and drinks. Also, if you are on certain medications, never forget to take them on time.
- If you are not a great swimmer, do not get too deep in the water bodies just to try out something new. Speaking from personal experience, losing control of a water body is extremely scary!
- If you end up doing adventurous activities such as hiking, make sure you hydrate and nourish your body enough. If at any point you feel you cannot continue, turn around and get down. Do not push your limits, and listen to what your body tells you.
8. Make use of your smartphone if you ever feel lost
When I say your smartphone can be your life saviour, I mean it. There is a huge difference between wandering around and getting lost. If you feel you are not good with directions and find yourself lost on the way, use Maps on your phone.
A translation app is another smart way of using your phone in tricky situations. Instead of expecting the other person to speak in your language, you can always use the translation app for basic words and phrases.
Also, invest in a good portable phone charger. This will save you in situations if you get lost on your way and need to contact someone urgently. Well, there are always public telephones, but the comfort of having a smartphone is something else in itself. And it is not always possible to remember every contact’s phone number either.
9. Buy an international SIM card
As soon as you land at your destination, make sure you purchase an international SIM card. This will help you avoid excess charges on your existing SIM card in a foreign country. Not just that, using an international SIM card will help you get better internet deals as well.
Now, when you decide to get an international SIM card, always purchase it from official mobile stores or shopping malls. Many a time, fraudsters sell fake SIM cards on the streets and make promises of fake data plans at cheaper rates.
10. Read reviews before booking hotels, restaurants, or cabs
This is extremely important when it comes to your safety. If a place does not have any reviews, chances are it is a fake one. A similar thing happened to me when I was planning my solo trip to Dubai and wanted to book hotels for my stay. Although the price of the hotel was quite reasonable, it did not have any reviews. After thorough research on that particular hotel, I found out that it was fake. Some tourists had previously booked it for their vacation, only to realise it did not exist upon their arrival.
11. Pack only the essentials
No matter how badly you want to take all your new clothes on your much-awaited solo trip, I would recommend you only pack the things that you really need. For instance, if you have plans of visiting a beach, pack only one swimwear. Or at the max, two. Extra swimwear will only take excess space in your luggage and make it difficult for you to carry your luggage around.
Also, if, during any part of your solo trip, you feel someone is watching you or following you, running with a smaller backpack will be much easier!
12. Fake confidence if needed
Doing new things for the first time can get a little scary. The same goes for travelling solo for the first time. And if you do feel a little scared and worried to be out exploring places, do not let it show in your eyes. Walk with confidence and purpose and make eye contact with people as much as possible, without looking scared. If needed, carry a pair of sunglasses with you.
13. Buy a daypack
For when you go exploring the country in the morning, a daypack can be helpful. You can keep the cash in smaller amounts in different compartments and bags. This way, even if you magically lose money from one compartment, you will still have access to some of your cash. Also, never pack all your valuables in your check-in or main luggage bag. It is better to keep them in your handbag that you can take with you on the flight.
When standing in crowded places, always keep your bags in front of your body and in your sight. Do not get too busy looking at your phone that you forget you have luggage too.
So, do you still consider travelling solo unsafe when it comes to female travellers like you and me?
Whenever I went on a solo trip, I never allowed my fears to dictate the kind of vacation I was going to have. Although it can get a little scary at times, trusting your gut instinct and having confidence in yourself is the key. Solo travelling has not only changed my life but also made me a better person. And not just me, many of the fellow women solo travellers that I meet feel the same way too. All you need to do is be aware of your surroundings and make the internet your best friend in times of need, and you are good to go!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.