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I’ve been traveling around the world on my own for over eight years, and it has been years of beautiful moments, major screw-ups and everything in between.
Lucky enough, I learned more about myself and how to stay safe as a solo female traveler on the road than I could have ever imagined.
Solo travel is so freeing and enlightening. It teaches you so much about the world, and yourself, and is something everyone should try at least once in their life.
But is it safe to travel alone as a woman? The answer is yes, but there are some things you need to know.
As a woman, there are more precautions you should take to stay safe.
In this guide, I’ve listed some of my best tips for staying safe as a solo female traveler around the world.
24 Tips for Staying Safe As A Solo Female Traveler
Below are some of my top tips for safety as a solo female traveler…
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
You may find yourself meeting some other travelers in a hostel, and they all want to go out and explore the nightlife.
While it’s always fun to go out with new friends and enjoy a few drinks, dance in a club and mingle with the locals in a bar setting, make sure you know your limits.
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.
Note from Caz: As we share our travels on social media, I never share hotel details until I have left the property and destination. I also make sure I delay my sharing by at least a day so no one knows where I truly am in the moment.
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.
You can also join the free walking tours, which are a great way to learn about the city’s history and culture, and meet other travelers too.
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.
Also, be careful of having your photo taken with men, as they could interpret that the wrong way. The photo above is of Caz with a bagpipe player in Jerash, Jordan. It was a touristy thing to have your photo with them (for a tip!)! Otherwise, she wouldn’t take a photo with a random stranger.
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.
Your gut instinct will tell you a lot about a situation. Intuition goes a long way. Follow your instincts no matter what.
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 and safe for solo women, where they speak the same language, have a small population or a very tourist-friendly.
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!
11. Share on Social Media
While it’s always nice to switch off, social media can be a useful tool for letting people know where you are and what you are doing.
Tell your friends and family how often you intend to post, so that they know if you don’t update your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, they should alert the authorities.
12. Get Uber instead of taxis
Uber, and other ride-sharing apps, can be a much safer way to get from A to B than licensed taxis.
They allow you to follow your journey in real time and share your journey with others.
Make sure you verify the driver’s identity and check the license plate number matches before you get in.
13. Keep batteries and devices charged
Sometimes we forget to charge our phones and they die on us when we’re out hiking. When you travel, you cannot be flexible about this.
If your phone runs out of juice, then it can be a huge problem for you. Not only does it mean you can’t call for help if you need it, but you also can’t see where you are.
Keep your batteries charged at all time.
14. Stay in hostels
Hostels are a great place for introverts and people who are worried about loneliness.
Hostels allow you to meet other people, and break out of your comfort zone.
Not to mention they are the cheapest form of accommodation for solo travelers.
15. Get travel insurance
You never need it, unless you don’t have it. Travel insurance protects you from anything that could go wrong, from being robbed, to having an accident.
A $50 annual plan for travel insurance is much better than the $50,000 medical bill you receive if you get into an accident. Here is a post on the benefits of an annual travel insurance plan.
16. Be aware of your surroundings
It’s always a good idea to research the cities you are visiting and learn the “no go” neighborhoods. This allows you to be more aware of your surroundings and know what to expect.
If you hear running for example, keep an eye on the person behind you. It could be a harmless jogger or it could be someone looking to cause harm.
17. Know where your embassy is
It’s always a good idea to know where your embassy is so you know where to go if there’s a problem.
Your embassy can help you if you have lost your passport, and work with the police should anything bad happen.
18. Lock your valuables up
If you’re staying in a hotel or hostel, they will usually provide a safe or locker where you can lock up your valuables.
Keep jewelry, laptops, cameras, and other important items locked in the safe while you’re out and about.
If there’s no locker or safe, at least carry a padlock so you can lock your bag and leave it in a safe place in your room.
19. Get a local sim card
This not only allows you to have data at all times, but calls and texts so you can call for help if you need to.
The best option if you have an unlocked phone, is to purchase an eSim. It’s easy, and automatic, and you don’t need to run around the destination trying to find a sim and then understand how it works. Airalo is our preferred esim provider.
20. Be aware of cultural norms
The easiest way to feel safe in a foreign country is to understand the culture and traditions.
If you are traveling to the Middle East, know that they dress conservatively, and you should do the same.
Some of the biggest problems you receive on the road is causing offense to others because you haven’t looked up the cultural norms.
21. Carry pepper spray or a rape alarm
This is going to sound like scare mongering, and it really depends where you travel to where you might need these things.
If you’re visiting somewhere known to be dangerous, such as South Africa, carry these things so you can use them as a weapon if you need to, but if you’re just visiting somewhere in Europe, you probably won’t need this level of protection.
22. Don’t feed into harassment
If someone approaches you, and you think they are trying to do you harm, don’t feed into their approach.
This means don’t talk back to them, keep calm and avoid eye contact, try to walk on and don’t engage with them.
They will usually give up and move on when they see you’re not feeding into them.
23. Carry valuables in pockets, not bags
If you don’t need a bag, and you only carry your wallet, keys and phone, then keep your belongings in a pocket rather than in a bag.
Most robberies are bag snatchers, so if you avoid putting things of importance into your bag, then your valuables will be much safer.
24. Bring all medication from home
Bring all the medication you need from home, plus some preventative ones. Bring paracetamol, diarrhoea tablets, and other sickness pills you might need with you.
You should avoid buying medicine from local pharmacies as they may either not work, or not be what they say they are. Here is our medical packing list.
Final Thoughts on Safety for Solo Female Travelers
I know that these tips may be overwhelming or frightening even, but do know that it’s very unlikely you will run into any issues when on your solo adventure.
As long as you stick to the tourist trails, and follow this advice, you are about to walk into some life-changing experiences that are only going to leave positive impressions on you.
It’s easy to get caught up in the negatives, and so many people will try to scare monger you into not going alone, but remember that each person has their own perspective of the world.
The true world is out there, waiting for you to explore it.
More Solo Travel Tips
Need more inspiration for solo female travel? Here are some other useful resources…