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I’ve been traveling around the world on my own for seven years, seven years of beautiful moments, major screw-ups and everything in between.
Lucky enough, I learned more about myself and how to stay safe on the road than I could have ever imagined.
Here are 10 of my best tips for staying safe as a solo female traveler around the world.
1. Dress like a local
In my opinion this one could be highly debatable and theoretically women should be able to dress how they like wherever they go, but that is just not realistic.
One of the best lessons I learned traveling alone over the years is how to blend in, and that means dressing like a local when necessary.
If that means covering your hair, cover your hair. Or wear long sleeves or loose clothes, etc. It’s important to do some research before traveling and check out what the local customs are.
It’s often good to not draw attention to yourself on the road if you want to be left alone.
2. Don’t get wasted
Getting blitzed drunk while traveling alone is never a good idea – you open yourself up to all kinds of problems.
3. Don’t tell people where you’re staying
Blinding flash of the obvious – if you are traveling alone as a women and you meet people, don’t mention where you are staying, especially if you feel uncomfortable.
No one really needs to know the name of your hotel, and if you make plans to meet someone, meet at a local landmark or point instead.
The majority of the time, nothing will happen, but a little self-preservation never went amiss.
4. If you feel uncomfortable alone, join a day tour.
I went to Turkey alone back in 2013, right after the murder of an American woman traveling alone and I was met with so much skepticism and fear mongering I almost canceled my flights.
Luckily I’m stubborn and decided I needed to see for myself everything that was going on. Still I was nervous walking around Istanbul alone so I decided to join some tours to get to know the city.
I went on a market and spice tour with Turkish Flavours and also went on some cooking classes. It was the perfect introduction to Turkey and helped me get comfortable being there alone later on.
5. Avoid being “forward” when necessary
It’s really important to remember that in many cultures around the world, women who are very outgoing can be seen as being “forward.”
This means anything from making eye contact with men walking down the street to being super chatty with people in shops to dressing in tight clothes.
I am a very friendly person and I love talking with strangers and meeting locals on the road, but over the years I have learned to lean on the side of caution after I have had one too many men think I was trying to hook up with them or go out when in fact, I was just being myself.
6. Learn to read situations
It’s really important as a solo female travel to learn to read situations and if you feel in anyway uncomfortable or nervous, get the hell out of there.
Don’t worry about offending people or being rude, self-preservation is the most important thing and to stay safe.
7. Book a few things in advance
One of the situations I hate being in the most while traveling is showing up in a new city or place at night with nothing booked.
I am one of those travelers who prefers to “wing it” but I am careful about booking things for when I arrive straight off the plane in a new place or if I know I will be arriving somewhere at night, just to avoid any unwanted scenarios.
8. Carry a doorstop
One of my best tips for solo female travelers is to carry a little plastic doorstop.
It takes up no space and is great to have to shove under flimsy hotel room doors at night just in case of someone trying to come in.
9. And also a whistle
You never know when you’re going to need a travel safety whistle. Many great backpacks have built-in whistles in the straps.
10. Trust your instincts
Over time, you will learn to develop good instincts on the road which will really help you as a solo traveler.
I am a big advocate of building experience on the road.
For your first solo trip, maybe head to a place that’s considered an easier destination, where they speak the same language, have a small population or a very tourist-friendly, like Iceland or New Zealand before working on to places that can be more challenging, like India or Egypt.
Obviously, people have different instincts and learn different ways, so what works for me can be totally different than what works for you, but at the end of the day, my best piece of advice is learn to trust those instincts!