Traveling the world, as a solo female traveler, is something that I’ve wanted to do as far back as I can remember. I didn’t get my chance to embark on my adventures until I was 47…yep you read that right…47! Why? I had other things I wanted to do first.
I got married, had children, a career and honestly, I wasn’t confident enough to travel to places I’d always wanted by myself. I let my fears hold me back, unfortunately.
The opportunity presented itself just a few short years ago. My children were living their own lives and my husband was transferred to another country by his employer; giving me the perfect opportunity to start living my dreams. I’ve always been a travel lover and writing was a passion of mine very early on. I found myself with all this extra time on my hands and in a part of the world that I’d always wanted to see. So the next phase in my life seemed obvious.
I started my blog, researched places I’d always wanted to go, and off I went. It was that easy you ask? Hell yea, it was that easy! I believe that we’re only limited by our own fears. Family, friends, and my followers always ask me how I have the courage to travel to exotic places alone. My response to them is, “I don’t let fear hold me back?”
Most questions I am asked by readers relate to safety as a solo female traveler. Many of them I’ve had myself and I’ve compiled a host of information and answers to those who wonder how I successfully and safely travel the world alone.
I’ll admit, there are places that I probably wouldn’t go by myself or with my husband. There are certain parts of the world that are volatile and nothing is worth putting myself in harms way for. But for the most part traveling is extremely safe.
Here are a few tips that I have used over the years as a solo female traveler.
1. Thoroughly Research Your Destination
For me, planning and researching a new destination is as enjoyable as traveling itself. Research the best places to stay (depending on your budget), places to eat, and activities to participate in. Also pay close attention and take extra time to scope out safety information on the destination.
Look up travel blogs and get advice from other travelers. Find out what the best neighborhoods to visit are and the ones to stay away from. Research the best way to get around; taxis, tuc-tuc, motorbike, or private car. Also, never leave for a destination without first finding out if they have a hospital or medical center near by just in case one is needed.
Don’t be afraid to ask bloggers their recommendations for local guides. Most are happy to pass on their advice. I’ve gotten to see some amazing off the beaten track places by using local guides that have been recommended to me. Almost every time I’ve become friends with them and passed on their info to other travelers.
If you’re not going to stay on a resort or in a well known hotel always make sure to do research on the place you’ll be staying. Google it, ask travelers that have been there, look at the accommodation’s ratings.
Most important, find out all these things before you leave for your trip so your prepared before hand.
2. Keep Your Valuables On You
This one always throws people off. You’ve been told a hundred times that you shouldn’t bring valuables with you in the first place!
It’s true that you shouldn’t bring with you things that you can’t replace – jewelry, family heirlooms, birth certificates, etc.
But what you do need are things like passports, credit cards, your phone, camera, and medication. Carry all these in a day bag preferably one that is waterproof. Always keep it on you! Don’t put it in checked baggage, the luggage hold on a bus, or in the trunk of a rented car. It’s very likely that you’ll lose them or have them stolen.
Once at your destination, only carry what you’ll need for the day. I carry a picture of my passport, my debit card, and about $50.00 cash. Lock the rest up at your accommodation. Even if you’re staying at a hostel, most reputable places will have a safe. If for some reason they don’t then invest in a slash proof bag and lock it to a pipe or something else sturdy in the room. I lock mine to the leg of the bed and tuck it under when possible so it’s out of sight.
3. Trust Your Instincts
That little nagging voice in your head is there for a reason! Pay attention to it. As much as it looks like fun to go off with a group of fun loving travelers or locals, be weary. There are predators out there looking for unsuspecting travelers to befriend and earn their trust just to rob them blind. Hell, it can happen in your own home town.
Sometimes the need to want to be part of the local scene is so great that we’ll let our guard down. You may have spent five hours happily talking with a fellow traveler and feel that you’ve formed a connection but that doesn’t mean you should trust him/her to guard your bag with your camera and money in it while you run to the bathroom. Err on the side of caution and bring it with you. Don’t worry about it seeming rude, it won’t be if they’re honest!
4. Back Off On The Alcohol
One of my biggest tips to fellow female solo travelers is to be weary about drinking too much. Alcohol inhibits your senses and slows your response time, making you vulnerable.
Don’t feel like you need to keep up with the crowd and match drink for drink in a group. It’s okay to back off and keep your wits about you. It can mean the difference between a bad decision that will leave you without your belongings or worse, hurt and having a nice experience with new friends.
5. Dress Like A Local
One way to attract every pick pocket or ill meaning crook in a foreign country is to dress like a tourist. The more you stand out the more you alert people around you that you aren’t familiar with your surroundings. Research how local’s dress at your destination.
Leave the backpacks with your destination patches behind. Don’t wear the tell tale, “I Love XXX” t-shirts. And whatever you do don’t stop in the middle of an attraction and look at a travel guide! You may as well have a cartoon neon sign above your head.
Maintain confidence, keep your head up, walk at a normal pace, and act like you know where you’re going. If you do encounter street harassers, ignore them and keep moving. If you do find yourself lost, go into a local restaurant or store and use the restroom to look at your map or smartphone.
6. Prepare For The Worst
Being prepared for anything can mean the difference between a safe trip and a horrible experience. Prepare for your purse, cash, and credit cards to be stolen by keeping secret cash. Store $50 – $100 USD in a tampon or sock tucked in a secret spot in your luggage. Keep a spare credit card available in case everything is stolen from you. You’ll need that financial buffer until you sort everything out.
Don’t second guess travel insurance. Get it and keep it current. Even if you’re a budget traveler your best investment will be travel insurance. Nothing else will throw a wrench in your plans like getting sick in a strange land. There are several fantastic companies out there that offer very reasonable pricing plans. Do your research and sign up for one before you travel.
7. Stay Connected
Out of all my advice, I offer this one the most…designate a family member or friend as the person you keep in contact with every day while you’re traveling. Give them your itinerary, copies of your travel tickets, passport, insurance policy, and phone numbers.
Check in on your social media daily. Even if it’s just a, “Hi I’m here today”. If internet connection is limited or non existent then send a simple one word text to your friend. Come up with a safe word so, if you do encounter trouble, that person will know to immediately try and contact authorities. Have a plan…if no one has heard from you in more than a day, two days, three days then have them send up the alarms. You can never be too safe and keeping in touch with your loved ones is a way to ensure you’re safety.
There are loads of advice out there and many solo female travelers that have been happily and safely traveling the world for years. These tips are just a few that can help you safely realize your dreams of solo travel.
Are you a solo female traveler? Do you want to be? Share your experiences with us!