Traveling is one of the most genuine experiences ever when you travel you get to discover the world and see life as it is from different perspectives. A traveler is nothing like a tourist, a true traveler offers himself the chance to be challenged and get out of his comfort zone while learning and getting to know things he never knew existed, but there is always a difference between visiting unknown places as a woman alone and traveling with a partner.
Is it safe for a single woman to travel alone?
Now, what if you were a solo traveler woman?! That’s what we call incredibly courageous. Like it or not, women are always considered more exposed to danger than men, rapes, assaults, attacks, and various other types of violence are always threatening women wherever they go.
Even when it’s not physical, women are always treated as inferior human beings who don’t have the guts to do something courageous and alone. That makes traveling without a partner definitely one of the most wonderful irritations and problems to have. However, nothing could stop women from striding up, ladies have made strides in politics, business, technology, and culture.
Traveling solo should never be considered an obstacle or something so hard to do. In fact, every year, thousands of women around the world travel alone, women of different ages and origins. Yet, caution should be taken seriously, no matter how courageous you are my lady, there are always some safety rules to consider before getting your airline ticket.
You may find the fact that when you hang out on your native city and its streets a good experience and there is nothing to worry about, but keep in mind that in many countries, that can be somehow a danger. Do you remember documentaries and films about Mexico or any other place in South America?
What’s safe in your mind is not necessarily good in someone else’s eyes, so, don’t take the risk, and you should separate two things, the adventure and the risk of being killed or kidnapped. Don’t just believe what TV channels advertise, they were paid for that and the truth may be completely different than what you see.
Tips to protect yourself when traveling alone
1. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally
Before you decide to go anywhere, you need to be emotionally and mentally prepared for your next journey. In other words, you don’t want to just pack your things and leave while you have unfinished business back home. Make sure everything is settled before you leave so that you ensure emotional comfort. Besides that, check the official websites in your country and see if there are travel safety warnings about countries, carefully read the details, and don’t mess with your life.
2. Choose a convenient place
The destination doesn’t always matter if it’s not a place of war of course, what matters really is the journey you’re about to have. However, the place you’re going to visit still plays an important role, make sure your body goes to where your heart desires.
That being said, you should be aware that many countries are dangerous places to travel alone, not only for ladies or girls alone but for everyone. Think about isolated places where bad people keep hostages and even kill them, there are many bad stories out there in the Philippines and other regions.
Countries like Thailand, the Philippines, Afghanistan are known for this kind of danger, don’t just trust what travel agencies say, they can lie and they don’t even care about you, you should know where to go and stay safe.
Here is what you can do, start with a Google search, see what others are saying about the country that you want to travel to without a companion. Then, add a few keywords like “travel danger” or similar words with the name of the country or the state and see what you get as results. In addition, you can check if the country you want to travel to is safe or not with your embassy there, call them and even ask your authorities to provide you with details or tips and how to prevent danger when going for a trip alone.
3. Wear a smartwatch or similar devices
This may not be important for many, but believe it or not, it saves the lives of many and in different countries. Apple watch is the best device you can wear and share your real-time location, trip trajectory, and even more, it can send a video and recorded voice if something wrong happens to you.
If you trust someone in your family, give him your iCloud login credential, so he can access the data in case of danger. Many travelers, no matter if they’re women or men disappeared, and because of the Apple watch, their families tracked their locations and saved them with the help of local authorities.
4. Read reviews before going to any place
You’re not in a hurry, your safety is your priority, so, look for reviews on Google about the country you wish to travel to without a partner or tourist guide. In addition, use trusted websites like TripAdvisor, and others to find travel advice and reports. Just use this form of search “country name” plus the word “travel advice” or “safety”, you’ll find lots of information and articles.
Some places are known for scams and others are known because of other problems, so, read different reviews on websites and see what people are saying. Females who already traveled alone may have posted their own reviews about the same destination you want to go to, thus, you get the right tip from the right person who already tried different things.
5. Give someone your itinerary
Give someone back home, maybe your boyfriend, or anyone close to a general idea of what you’re going to do and the places you’re willing to visit. Just in case of an emergency, they will be able to track you faster.
Going alone and visiting another country you don’t know may look exciting, but what if bad things happen? Are you going to just wait and see what happens? Or you prefer letting someone you trust know your travel destinations and plans?
It’s always recommended to have a clear idea of where you travel and what you’re going to do exactly, even if new things may change your mind, let your sister, brother, mother, or anyone in the family know about that and keep track of the places you visit. Send an email each day and describe what you’ve done, that may save your life if bad things happen.
6. Consider travel insurance
Agencies like world nomads provide travelers the insurance needed to cover all manners of unexpected costs. Other than medical insurance, they will reimburse you for lost baggage, delays, rental car damage, etc.…
Before thinking about traveling alone, you can ask the insurance agencies about offers, options, and what you can get when going to a specific country. Don’t be surprised to know that many regions were already added to the blacklist of places you should not travel to, so, these places will be completely excluded. Thus, by taking the risk in such destinations, no insurance agency can help.
7. Don’t pack heavy
Just keep it simple, you’re a traveler, which means your first purpose is to explore and spend days wandering around cities, therefore, you don’t need many bags. Instead, try to pack one bag and not a big one takes only the clothes you need.
Carrying heavy things when you’re a lady is not comfortable at all, there can be situations when you should walk to get a taxi or any kind of transportation. I know that it can be strange to many, but in many places in the world, rain can cause trouble in transportations, and the lady can find herself locked out for hours or even days because of trip cancellations, etc…Thus, taking what you really need is what will make your move better with no obstacles and bugs.
8. Beware, strangers,
Alright, this might sound a little silly because one of the most frequent things a traveler does is befriending new people, but, that doesn’t neglect the fact that many strangers could be dangerous. So, before you consider trusting or making a friendship with someone, analyze their behavior as well, and try to figure out their purpose, you don’t want to be murdered by a serial killer on your vacation.
As a piece of advice here, don’t trust anyone and never accept his invitation to dinner or home unless you’re 100% sure, I remember stories of ladies who lost their lives in countries like Colombia and Mexico.
Lots of people pretend to be your best friend, and they just want to win your trust, later, they may sell you like a sex machine (sorry, that’s real and happened) or they will force you to be part of drug trafficking and so on, just search for these stories on the web, and you’ll find a lot.
9. Pack smart
Other than clothes, some things are considered necessary to pack, like bands-aids, global calling cards, medication, and other personal necessities. In many situations, you’ll need specific things you don’t even expect, so, do research on Google and see what travel experts have to recommend in specific destinations. Think about a second phone you may use in case of emergency, and also, hide it well.
10. Get a guidebook
If you don’t have a SmartPhone to upload travel apps, consider buying a guidebook to help you a little with your destinations. Besides, you can search for maps of the country you want to travel to, make sure the map includes city names, routes, and other details. Every single detail on maps can help one day, there are many circumstances and different things to be aware of, and by having a physical map, you know where you are and what road you should take.
11. Find the right transportation
There are many ways of transportation for sure, it all depends on your travel plan and the cities you visit. Some places have trains, while others have public transportations, so make sure you search and see what works better in that region. Some ways are safe, efficient, inexpensive, and comfortable, and you may ask the local police office for that, they can help.
12. Learn the local language
You don’t have to be an expert in the local language, but learning a few words is always helpful, you may consider purchasing a translation book to help you out with communication. On the other side, there are many applications you can install on a smartphone and get instant translations for nearly any language.
Some translation apps are completely free and some are paid, so, define your needs from the beginning, and having such a useful tool on the go is highly recommended. You may find people who don’t speak English, nor other popular languages, so the only way to understand them and say what you need is by showing the phrases on your smartphone translated.
13. Be aware of different cultures
The world is a place of differences, the culture you’re used to at home may not be suitable for another place around the globe. Indeed, what you need to do is learn and get the right information about your destination’s culture just to make sure you respect the norms of that country and avoid exposing yourself to certain kinds of dangers…
Google as a great search engine can help, take note of the things you need to avoid when traveling to any destination. At the same time, make a list of the things that are not allowed or prohibited, and also, add notes, so you remember that later.
14. Make copies of important documents
Make copies of the important documents you carry with you like your passport or the driving license, then lock them safely in your hotel/hostel room, and carry the photocopies while you’re exploring. Just in case you lost your bag, the original copies will still be safe.
It’s also a good idea to have a certified copy of your identity documents and to go further, scan them before you travel, and hide them in a folder, so you can find papers when you need them. Don’t just do that, if you have other important documents, save them in the cloud, or with Google Drive, that way, even if you lose your mobile phone, you still have another way to access your files with the Gmail account and the password.
15. Don’t seek attention
A foreigner can always be spotted from a mile away, and a lot might get the advantage of that from sellers to thieves and even regular locals. So try not to dress very differently and don’t carry a camera wherever you go, just act like a local so that you avoid other attention. In many countries, stopping at every shop and taking a picture may be good for you, but also, that can bring lots of problems, harassment, and issues you never know.
16. Don’t keep all your money in one place
Always keep your money in more than one place, you never know when you might get stolen. There are many ways to keep and hide your money like hiding them in your underwear, it’s a smart yet effective way to protect your dollars. Meanwhile, notify your bank about your travel, and tell them that you may access your account online from a different country IP address. That may save your online bank account from being blocked because of security reasons.
Don’t rely on real money all the time, take your credit card, and hide it well in your underwear, yes, do that for your safety. When wrong things happen, use an ATM in public places like commercial centers, airports, and never do that when no one is there.
17. Befriend a local (most likely your hotel/hostel employee)
Befriending your hotel employee might help you out with knowing a few tricks that would make your journey even better and safer. But be careful with this, don’t make things too personal if you don’t want to, many hotel agents will take advantage of you and take your money in a way you can’t notice.
Here is an example in Arab countries and also in China, the best friend you found in a hotel may show you higher prices of things you buy and then, he gets the difference, that’s what happens and personally, I saw that in my eyes. For that reason, be careful all the time, and if you feel that he or she may hide something and always talk in your place, then, be sure at 80% there is something to worry about.
18. Don’t neglect your instinct
Always follow your instincts, if you feel like something is wrong, then it is wrong. If someone you don’t know tries to invite you for dinner and you have that “uncertain feeling”, then don’t do it. Many people look and pretend to be the best person you can meet, and all that will be later a game just to take your money or other reasons you don’t expect.
If you want to ask for information, try Google first, and if you get no answers, you can ask local people. In reality, search engines know all the details about countries, cities, and their local businesses, so, you’ll find answers in the majority of cases. That’s better than asking someone about a local Pizza restaurant and finding yourself a victim because the person you asked got a commission for recommending that place.
19. Don’t sleep on trains or cabs
Just never do that, sleeping in public places even if you’re tired and exhausted is the biggest mistake that females can make. Even in the best countries, that’s not safe, so how can that be on destinations that are too far away from your homeland?
Being alone in Colorado or in the national Kamtschatka park is not the same as being in Asia, Africa, or other places in the world. So, keep all that in mind and treat each destination differently as it should be.
20. Track your cab via Google map
If you carry a smartphone with you, install an app that allows you to track your cab direction just to make sure he’s not taking you somewhere unknown. Google maps will be your best friend of both, traveling and letting others your trust find your position on the map.
21. Register with IAMAT
You can register with the international association for the medical assistance of travelers (IAMAT). They’ll help you locate a nearby medical clinic with approved doctors where they speak English.
22. Bring emergency contraception
Even if you think you may not be sexually active during your journey, carry contraception tools with you, you never know! And it’s one of the specifications that make traveling alone as a woman not the same as a man.
23. Don’t use your phone in crowded places
Buying a smartphone in your country may be simple and normal, but with its price in the third world, people can buy lots of things. In other words, your phone may be attractive to many on the streets, places like Barcelona in Spain are well known for this kind of stealing. Make sure to use your phone in safe places like coffee shops or WC, you don’t want somebody to steal your phone!
Now, prepare yourself for this kind of danger, in many places, even in the most developed countries, someone may approach you and ask you to use your phone for an emergency call, just don’t do that. No matter what the case is. if you’re a tourist and a local asks you for a phone, be sure 99% he’ll run away with it. Just say no, you don’t have one or it’s not working, and say that with confidence.
24. Never identify that you are alone
Some people are just dangerous, and letting strangers know that you are alone might give them the chance to think of robbing you or even kidnap you. So, to protect yourself, especially, when you’re traveling the world alone, always pretend that you’ll be in touch with others who will follow you and complete the trip together.
If you feel in a bad situation and that someone is following you, make a fake phone call, and act as you’re filming the place, he’ll think twice. In addition, call the local police if you have doubts, and be careful with that, just act like everything is Okay, and getting help from official authorities is better.
Solo female travel destinations
Not all the places in the world are equal in safety, living, and traveling, some are dangerous while others are very welcoming to foreigners to discover their culture, religion, and places. The being said, you need to remember that some countries where Islam is the main religion, have conservative rules, that does not mean “dark age” as many see that, these people are very welcoming, they share their dinner and food with you, then, they may offer something valuable for free without issueS.
Females in Islamic countries may need to dress conservatively, and that has nothing to do with freedom in the western world, that’s how people live and think.
The UAE and Oman are one of the safest places to discover Islamic cultures without being harassed like other places. In addition, these two countries are very rich, and you may discover amazing things there, but as I said, respect their culture when dressing, that’s it.
When it comes to Africa, you can look for places like Seychelles, Botswana, Namibia, and Ethiopia, the list may be longer, but these are on the top of the list. However, because many African countries have Saharas and Savanas, you may need to think about everything like a satellite phone, mobile solar panel, emergency health kit, water filter, and more.
It depends on where you’re going. If it’s in rural areas, things are going to be better, and if you want to go for an adventure where there is a cellular network or roads, then, make a list of things you may need there.
In Europe, there are many great places to discover, for example, Germany, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Scandinavia are the safest places to travel alone, even for ladies. However, there are many other countries with great views, traditions and of course food. So, make your search and compare them based on your main goal of the trip, is it just for adventure? Or you want to try new food, traditions, and local handmade products?
Remember to have fun, no matter how many obstacles there are, try to do your best in facing them and overcome your fears. There is nothing more exciting than traveling solo…But when you know what you need to do, beware of problems, and take what you need as tools and things, you’ll be safe. Just avoid dangerous places, look for what your official governmental website says about the country you’re willing to visit, and follow the tips.