Once you've set your sights on getting out of your daily routine and embarking on a new adventure — look out! The allure of exploring new travel destinations is intoxicating, but it can lead you to ignore some key safety tips as a solo female traveler. Add these tips to your traveling checklist as a reminder of some smart practices for staying safe while enjoying your destination.
Look for blogs or social media pages that describe travels to your desired destination. If there’s a forum for you to ask questions of other solo female travelers, even better. Don’t rely on captivating Instagram posts or corporate-sponsored reviews as your sole source of information about a country or region. Bottom line: If you hear from multiple sources that the area is sketchy because of weak infrastructure, political unrest, or limited resources, then you should reconsider your plans.
How often have you walked an entire block with your head buried in your phone and not realized a single thing that was around you? Being blissfully unaware of your surroundings is fine if you’re on a desert island, but not so much if you’re in a crowded square. Use your senses. Be aware of what’s around you. Avoid areas that don’t “feel” right.
Did you notice that in-room safe you’ve been putting your coffee on every morning? Its true purpose is so much more than just a coaster! Set a pin number and put your passport and larger sums of money into it before you head out. The last thing you’ll want to do is replace your passport if you’re pickpocketed or it's lost or stolen.
This is one way to use the cloud to your advantage. Make a digital copy of your passport. Then store it in a secure online dropbox for easy access if your physical one gets lost. Or stolen. This is also handy if someone needs to see a copy of your ID for a rental or excursion. Just pull up the doc on your phone! You should also leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, just in case.
When you’re just learning to ride a bike, you don’t sign up for the Tour de France a week later. The same goes for travel. You might have grand plans to backpack around Europe for a month, but if you’ve never left your home state, think smaller. Plan, pack, book flights and hotels, and experience a new destination on a much smaller scale. Think closer to home or just a few days away. If it feels great, then expand your travel horizons. If it doesn't, continue taking smaller trips. It’s easier to make this call when you’re a quick flight or drive from your home and not across an ocean.
This might sound like a revolutionary idea, but you don’t have to document every moment of your trip on social media! Sure, you’ll create some serious FOMO for your friends and colleagues, but you’re also providing people with detailed information about exactly where you are… and the fact that you’re not home. If you really have to do it for the 'Gram, wait until you’re no longer in the location to post your pics.
It sucks to say this as a solo female traveler, but you have to be so careful at night. Once the tourist crowds have dissipated for the day, nighttime can be pretty unsafe if you’re all alone. Join a group activity like an evening sightseeing tour or a pub crawl to make sure that you’ve got other people with you throughout the night. Remember what Mom says: "Nothing good happens after 10 p.m."
It’s useful to know how to defend yourself. Taking self-defense courses before you go builds both your strength and your confidence. This is a case of being proactive, rather than reactive, to potential danger. Knowing self-defense techniques is useful in many areas of your life, and is an empowering tool.
Places that seem like they’re too good to be true often are. If they have no online reviews, that’s a clear warning sign to stay away. Look for reviews written by females, and note any mentions of travelers saying that they felt unsafe or taken advantage of. Reputable rental and hotel establishments pride themselves on great customer service and providing a welcoming and safe atmosphere for everyone.
You sleep on 800-thread count sheets at home, so why would you try to cheap out on your vacation digs? It feels great to save some cash when you’re on holiday. Yet you don't want to end up in a dicey neighborhood or with rowdy guests. It’s okay to spend a little more to upgrade where you’re staying or save for a few months extra to afford something that meets your standards.
Want to indulge in a few cocktails? Treat yourself! Can’t stand up by the end of the evening? That’s a huge problem. You’re on vacation to relax, but if you completely lose control, you’re in a potentially terrifying situation. Know your limits, and be okay with saying “no” to extra booze.
Look into local groups that meet at your destination, especially if they’re specifically for women. That’s a great place to meet other females and learn about the greatest parts of their city or region. If you have a specific interest or hobby, search your message boards for a meetup while you’re in town. Meeting up with other “Schitt’s Creek” fans means you can be a little bit Alexis, even if just for one evening.
If you haven’t thought about the words “fanny pack” since you were in middle school, you’re not alone. Good thing they’re back in style now! It's a super useful and safe way to carry your money and cards. It’s also wise to look at your purse before you depart. If it’s a big, clunky bag with lots of pockets and a wide opening, consider a sleeker option that is worn across the front of your body.
You don’t need to give a minute-by-minute report of what you’re doing every day, but basic flight info, where you’re staying, and some places you want to see are good pieces of info to leave with someone trusted back home.
Yes, they will look hideous against your perfectly paired luggage pieces, but the lock is essential for an added layer of security. It’s also a good idea to set the luggage lock when you leave your hotel room.