Today, I wanted to discuss something that hits super close to home for me and for many of you judging by how frequently I get this question: safety while traveling. Specifically, I wanted to talk about being a woman, traveling alone, and staying safe in this dangerous world. It can be a lot easier than you think!
As a woman who travels solo for about 90% of my travels, I get this asked of me a lot: “Do you like traveling solo? Is it safe? Do you have any tips for those who want to but are too scared?” This post is for you! Solo travel can be daunting but with these tips, even you can do it. Let’s get into the tips
- Follow your INSTINCT – Instinct is your best friend in situations that have you on edge such as traveling alone. Our instincts, our gut feelings are that little inkling that is always with us, a silent guide of sorts. It’s that feeling you get when those red flags start to pop up.. listen to this! Your gut feeling will never steer you wrong. I know a lot of times as women, we tend to try to shake this off out of courtesy to others or to not come off as rude but don’t do this. Your safety comes first. Be nice when it’s warranted and choose your own welfare when it isn’t. If a situation seems shaky, get out of there.
- Blending in – Blending in is kind of huge when it comes to staying safe. People prey on people, remember that. If you look like a tourist, you are more likely to be preyed on simply because they immediately know a few things about you: that you are unfamiliar with the place and you most likely have money. These two things make you a perfect candidate for someone to rob you or worse. Take note of the ways locals dress or the way they do things normally and adhere to those.
- Memorize emergency numbers – This may be a surprise to many but all emergency numbers are not the same so this is definitely something to look up before you go to a new land. A quick google search will give you the emergency number for whatever area you are going.
- Staying Aware – This should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway: please stay aware of your surroundings and the people in it. This is so important for your own safety! If something seems off about what is going on or a shady character just seems out of place, you should leave or at the very least keep your distance and know your exits just in case you need to make a quick escape.
- Don’t overshare – In this digital age we live in, it is so easy to fall victim to oversharing. It almost becomes second nature to disclose as much info as possible. However, when you are on vacation, avoid this! People literally search tags, look at geotags, look at locations and easily can stalk you that way. I personally never post a location I’m CURRENTLY at, only after i LEAVE. You would be surprised at how much info someone can glean from your social media page. This also extends to talking to people in person. People love talking to solo travelers; it is an instant conversation starter! However, everyone doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Some people are literally just trying to get info from you to use to harm you. Be careful with the info you divulge to people you just met.
- Plastic door stops – This is a great tip a fellow female solo traveler taught me. You can use a plastic door stop to thwart entry into your room. Most people who are trying to break in will typically leave at the first sign of it being harder than they originally thought and a plastic door stop is a simple, cheap way to hinder any unwanted entry.
- Learn the local scams – Every city has their own idea of what the local scam is. It could be pickpocketing under the guise of signing a petition like in Paris (I was nearly victim to this!), or it could be a taxi driver taking you to their friends’ shop instead of where you want to go like in Bali. But familiarizing yourself with the ways of the local scammers will be huge in ensuring you yourself aren’t scammed.
- Not walking alone at night – As a woman, walking alone at night (and sometimes even in the day) is a huge no no. We learn this so early in life but sometimes it is unavoidable! In times like this, walk close to others. You don’t have to be right up on them, but close to where you feel comfortable as well as without making them uncomfortable and close enough to where if someone was wanting to try anything they may think twice due to others being in close proximity. You can even ask others if it’s okay if you walk with them as you’re also headed in that direction. Most people will be super understanding of this request and you may even make new friends in the process.
- If you ever feel you’re being followed, stop into the nearest establishment – Stop into a hotel, a restaurant, a store, etc and ask a worker for help. This alone a lot of times is enough to get a would be stalker off you and you should alert the authorities as well if you really feel the need. They most likely won’t be able to do much, unfortunately but they may be able to see you to your destination safely at the very least. NEVER EVER GO TO YOUR HOTEL/ACCOMMODATION IF YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING FOLLOWED. You don’t want them to know where you stay.
- Don’t keep All your money in one place – This is big for just in case you lose it or worse it gets stolen, you will still have extra money somewhere so you are not broke and in a city by yourself. I usually keep cash, multiple cards. I never keep all my cash on me and never take more than one card somewhere. Most rooms have safes to keep your valuable items!
There’s about a million other tips to keep you safe while traveling but those are my biggest ones as a solo traveler for the last 5 years. Other tips I think come in handy are checking in with your friends/family, keeping copies of important documents, walking around with confidence, learning basics of a new language/using google translate, not getting TOO drunk/high while alone, taking screenshots of directions, carrying an extra battery, not accepting drinks from strangers, getting a weapon that is legal for where you’re going (such as pepper spray, an alarm, a knife, etc). Another smart thing to do for when you’re unsure about a new country, is to check the travel advisory before you even start to plan your trip. You can check that here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/.
The biggest thing to take away from here is solo travel can be scary but it doesn’t have to be. Equip yourself with the proper tools and you’ll find that solo travel is no more scary than walking out your house alone and going about your day. Take the same precautions you take in your day to day life and you will be fine. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from going to see the world, even if you have to go alone. My biggest advice is to JUST DO IT. Jump headfirst into solo traveling because the biggest obstacle you’ll face is your own self doubt. Once you get over that, you’ll find it isn’t nearly as scary as we make it out to be in our own heads.