It shouldn’t be the case that solo female travel needs its own discussion about safety but unfortunately it does. There are additional risks when traveling as a solo female rather than a male. That by no means should stop you from doing it. I’ve been traveling for almost two years as a solo female and love it but there are certain behaviours that you should adopt to increase your safety.
Solo Female Travel
This is by far the most important tip for solo female travels. There are instances when traveling where you’ll get off a bus and be swarmed by a crowd of people or where people will invade your personal space. If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable at any point be firm and tell them to back off.
Don’t be rude or aggressive but do be assertive and state what you need. Say things like “I just need a minute” or “Please give me some space”. This is especially important if you think someone is making unwanted advances towards you. Be very firm in telling them to back off and if there are other people around speak loudly so that they’ll hear what is going on.
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Know where you live like the back of your hand
The address of your accommodation and where it is in relation to other landmarks should be ingrained in your head at all times. Your priority in arriving in a new location should be to memorize where you will be staying.
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Be prepared for finding the accommodation in the first place by having the address written down and a screenshot on your phone, or the map downloaded, of its location. Once you arrive at the accommodation, take a business card if they have one so you have the address written down in another place and then walk out of the front door and take a good look at everything that is around.
Then walk around the block so you properly get your bearings and know where your accommodation is in relation to the surrounding streets. Looking like you’re lost is unfortunately likely to attract predators. Always walk with confidence (even if you are lost).
Get a fanny pack
I know fanny packs aren’t cool and belong somewhere in the 80’s but they will make you so much safer when traveling. In both Europe and Asia snatch and grab bag theft (where someone goes past on a scooter or in a car and grabs your handbag off your shoulder before driving off) is a huge problem.
A lot of travel tips will therefore tell you to wear your handbag across your body. But what happens if someone tries to grab your handbag off your shoulder while it’s across your body? You go down with it.
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I’ve seen one of my closest friends dragged along the pavement as a result of someone trying to steal her handbag in this way. I don’t say this to scare you. I say it so that you can be prepared and take a fanny pack instead. It makes your possessions much less obvious and would make it extremely hard for someone to attempt snatch and grab theft (plus it is so much fun going for a night out and not having a handbag get in the way the entire time!).
Arrive during the day
It is not always possible to control when you will arrive in a location but if there is ever an option try to ensure you arrive during the day in a new place. That way you’ll be much safer in whichever transport you use to get to your accommodation.
It also means you can explore before dark, get a feel for how safe the area is and don’t have to worry if anything doesn’t go to plan, such as your accommodation having lost your booking (this happened to me the first night I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, which is not the safest of cities to travel around at night).
Clothing: Cover up
If in doubt, cover up.
There are a lot of places in the world where it’s seen as culturally unacceptable for women to show their shoulders or legs in public. Or where doing so is likely to mean you get a lot of unwanted attention. If you ever have any doubt as to whether it’s ok to show your knees or to wear a tank top, just cover up. Cover up until you have time to find out what is ok and safe to do in that area.
This is especially true if arriving somewhere late at night. I always make sure I arrive wearing long baggy trousers and a shirt no matter where it is if it’s the middle of the night.
It shouldn’t be the case that there are situations where women feel the need to cover up out of fear for their safety. Nor would it make it their fault if they didn’t cover up and something did happen, but unfortunately the current state of the world is such that it’s a good idea to do so.
Solo female travel is not something to be scared of. As long as you are sensible, use common sense, trust your gut and take any precautions you can, such as the above, you will have a wonderful time and don’t need to live in fear. Solo travel is one of best things I’ve ever done. Don’t let the fact that you’re female hold you back from getting to enjoy it. Why should the guys get to have all the fun?
Chantell quit her job to travel the world in 2014 and it’s one of the best decisions she ever made. Her aim is to help inspire others to do the same. Her book, Travel for Your Life, shows people how to get over the obstacles which all too frequently stop them from traveling and what the benefits of traveling will be. Chantell also shares her advice on travel, including suggested routes around countries to reduce planning time and essential traveling tips on her website www.TravelForYourLife.com.