Solo MALE Backpacker Safety Tips.

Ultra manly guide to staying safe on your gap year

Despite what you may hear with the focus on solo female travel safety in the mass media men actually travel the world solo too, and statistically we are at far greater risk of most forms of violent crime and death. So with that in mind here are some expert safety tips just for the male travellers! 

That’s right, you did read that correctly I said MALE safety tips!

What, did you women think that you were the only ones at risk when you are travelling the world? Did you think being a solo female backpacker somehow automatically made you more at risk of becoming the victim of a crime or falling foul of some unexpected disaster?

Did you think it was somehow easier and safer for men to travel solely because of that magical appendage between our legs? Sorry ladies, it doesn’t work that way.

The title solo MALE backpacker sounds strange, I grant you, because generally men do not need to create a gender specific identity in order to make ourselves feel empowered or inspired, and society in general does not single them out as a separate group that needs protecting too. Men are just expected to get on with it. But that does not mean men are exempt from the worry or fear of something happening on the road, and men are certainly not automatically safe.

In fact the opposite is often true.

It is certainly true that men in general terms have a much more muted fear of anything negative happening to them. That is probably a by product of a lifetime of macho, testosterone fuelled socialisation. We are not allowed to show fear and therefore learn to act strong and tough. Unfortunately a lot of the time this often leads to an overblown self confidence too and a blind spot when it comes to actual risk.

But contrary to popular belief men do not have some sort of hidden copyright on safety. In fact statistically it is men who are far more likely to become the victims of most types of violent crime despite having a far lesser fear of it, and there are even gender specific risks associated with being a man too.

Yet all the focus on travel safety and protection is aimed mostly at women, yet this gender bias is never really spoken of.

So for all you men about to set off on your round the world adventure, here are a few tips to keep you safe.

Act like you are invincible.

Exuding confidence is one of the key weapons you have to deter any trouble. Even if you don’t feel confident, never let that show. A quiet confidence that tells everyone around you not to mess with you or they’ll be in trouble if they did is often more than enough to make any would be attacker think twice. Most potential attackers instinctively target a weaker opponent, so if everything about you from your demeanor to your body language screams ‘I am in my element and can look after myself,’ your chances of being targeted will drop dramatically.

But don’t be cocky.

Being confident doesn’t mean you have to act like a complete cock. Never mistake confidence for arrogance. You don’t need to be brash or loud, you don’t need to puff up your chest or start getting all gobby if something or someone annoys you or touts get a little too pushy. That is far more likely to get you INTO trouble than keep you out of it! Especially since you are a man, as men are statistically much more likely to use violence on another man if you escalate a situation to that point through your own behaviour, they are much more likely to become a victim of all types of violent crime in general than women are and statistically much more likely to be killed as a result of violent crime. Wind your neck in and calm down. Practice exuding a quiet self confidence instead, that is what will keep you safe.

Pay attention!

Get your face out of that smartphone screen and take those damn earphones out! Paying attention? Good! If you don’t pay attention to your surroundings or the people around you or if you don’t keep an eye on your belongings, then you are simply asking for trouble. If you aren’t paying attention you run a much higher chance of having your stuff nicked or of being robbed or scammed. You don’t need to be overly paranoid here, and that is an essential point, just be aware of what is happening around you and keep your eye on your stuff.

Blend in.

solo male backpacker on a gap year

Spot the backpacker?

No that garish Hawaiian shirt or that Tiger Beer singlet is not the height of fashion, so put them away! I don’t care what that tout told you when he chased you down the street shouting ‘sir, sir, suit for you!’ You don’t look like god’s gift wearing that god awful T Shirt.

Sound harsh? Maybe. There’s nothing wrong with the odd beer branded vest top and shorts when you are relaxing on a tropical island somewhere, but wherever you go you should be mindful of the way you dress so as not to stand out and draw even more attention to yourself than you are already getting.

One of the best ways to stay safe is not to make yourself a target in the first place, and if you look like a typical tourist or backpacker and you stand out like a sore thumb, then you are going to have a huge tout target on your back whether you realise it or not. If – like me – you are 6”2, broad shouldered and Caucasian, then you are going to stand out in certain parts of the world no matter what you wear, but there are ways to minimize that problem and at least try to look like less of a target to all the touts, scams artists and criminals out there.

You don’t have to swan about dressed in full local dress regalia of course, you’ll look even more out of place than those inappropriately dressed, bum bag wearing tourists straight off the cruise ship, but you should make an attempt not to look like a tourist. Dress comfortably, but dress in a manner that makes locals think you may be an ex pat living and working in their country rather than just another tourist. (This works best when combined with a good dose of self confidence and a few phrases of the local language). Trust me, you’ll thank me when the hordes of touts rush past you and head straight for the fresh faced couple with vest tops, cargo shorts, brand labelled laptop or camera bags and overstuffed backpacks on their shoulders.

Another common mistake many men make is by offending people without even realising it by having a T shirt emblazoned with a logo that will offend local religion, culture or sensitivities. Did you see that episode of Top Gear where they drove to the deep south of America and declared that Jesus was of a particular sexual orientation on the side of the car? That was for entertainment but you get my drift. Your favourite T Shirt with a ‘sex, drugs and whatever’ logo or a picture of a half naked woman plastered over the front of it may look amazing and be quite common back home (but if it does I really don’t want to see your home town), it may even be fine in the more touristy parts of wherever you are visiting, but it isn’t the best idea to wear it in a conservative Muslim country that may be offended by the message you are displaying on your chest, is it?

Why draw the attention – and possible hassle – to yourself? Simple, plain clothing with no potentially offensive slogans is all that is needed.

Don’t fight back.

solo male backpacker gap year safety

Not an appropriate response to a pushy tout!

I don’t care how many Jackie Chan Films you have seen or how many times you have seen Out For Justice or Kickboxer, you are not Steven Seagal or Jean Claude Van Damme! You cannot fend off twenty armed assailants with a few deft moves! Are you listening Tackleberry? (Extra points for getting that reference!)

If the worst does happen and you are mugged or robbed, then don’t be a hero and do not fight back. Especially if you’re assailants are armed.

I understand the instinct to fight back, believe me, I do. It’s natural for guys and there is nothing wrong with it. When testosterone mixes with the traditional fight or flight response it can be a powerful brew regardless of what choice you make. It is only natural you will want to fight back, and if you don’t, it is only natural that you will replay that scene over and over in your head imagining what you could have done differently.

The truth is it really doesn’t matter, as long as you get out of the situation safe and alive, then that is the main thing. It is the only thing that counts. I understand that you will have to run the gauntlet of anger, humiliation and shame, and you will replay the situation in your head a thousand times or more, that is a natural part of the male psyche too, but your pride is not worth getting killed over. It goes without saying that your life is far more important than your wallet.

The one exception to this rule is when being submissive and giving your mugger or assailant what they want will still result in you being harmed or worse, if for example your assailant is out to hurt you rather than simply take a bit of money or is so impaired through drink, drugs or whatever that their behaviour is completely unpredictable. In that instance and you feel that your life is in immediate danger, the fight response is the right one, do anything and everything you can to defend yourself and get out of there at the first available opportunity.

Swallow your pride.

There may be times on the road where something gets to you. Scratch that, there will be times. It’s inevitable. Even Gandhi got annoyed from time to time. You will get annoyed by the incessant touts, you will get fed up of the taxi or tuk tuk drivers constantly trying to rip you off, you may get the odd call out at a bar or may even get into an argument. The best thing to do is to deescalate the situation as quickly as possible and get out of there. Just smile, say you are sorry and try to walk away at the earliest opportunity. Do not let the situation escalate to the point where an argument or even violence becomes a possibility. Your pride is not worth putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

That goes for having a sensible approach to risk assessment too. I know, you are very manly and full of testosterone filled goodness, but if jumping off that cliff or going tubing after one too many whisky buckets looks too dangerous for you to handle, then it probably is. Just don’t do it, I don’t care how many of your mates are daring you.

Man tests are all fun and games until someone smashes a skull in.

Independent travel should be fun, it should have an element of risk, but there is a limit so just try and be a little sensible about it and don’t let your masculine pride put you in avoidable danger!

Don’t get too drunk.

By all means have a drink or three, have a great time. This is a holiday after all and should be enjoyed as such. You should never deny yourself a good time. But as always, there is a limit. When you are so drunk you have no control over your actions you are as much a danger to yourself than anything else may be. Remember when you are drunk you not only lose your inhibitions and ability to make rational choices, but you leave yourself vulnerable to all sorts of dangers, from the various scams and touts trying to rip you off, to being unable to moderate your own behaviour, which could get you into a certain amount of trouble. Have a drink, enjoy yourself by all means. Just stay in control.

Research the local scams.

There are plenty of scams, cons and tricks out there, most of which are simply designed to part you from a little bit of cash, and it is always worth researching as much as you can and being aware of them so that you can recognise them before they happen to you. As a man however, there are certain scams and even downright crimes where you will be specifically targeted for your gender. The bar tab scam, the ‘buy me drink’ overcharge, the date rape drug robbery … there are a lot of them. Many involve a young pretty woman using her looks to either distract you or massage your ego, so if you are in a bar and are approached, remember that you are not Brad Pitt (or any of the other vacuous film stars or singers that happen to be considered good looking at the moment!) and just be on your guard. There is absolutely no need to be too paranoid, odds are she may even just want to chat to you, but there is always that small chance you are about to get scammed. Have a great time, be friendly, always be polite, just be on your guard.

Taxi mafia Khao San Road Thailand

So there you go guys, just a few basic tips and tricks to keep you safe on the road. Okay, so apart from the odd gender specific exception, these tips can be applied to women too, in fact general safety tips are almost universally the same for men as they would be for women, but that doesn’t mean men don’t need to take a sensible view on their own personal safety and security.

Last week I wrote a post on solo female backpacker safety simply in response to the almost overwhelmingly female dominated emails and questions I get about travel safety every single day.

The fact of the matter is it is safe for ANYONE to travel the world independently, it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever whether you are a man or a woman.

Of course there are some gender specific issues that women will face that men won’t and vice versa too, each genders experience will be slightly different, but on the whole one gender is not inherently safer when travelling than the other.

There is a big difference between FEAR of becoming a victim and the actual risk of becoming one.

You just have to do some research on the places you are visiting, have the right knowledge and information, use your common sense, and apply some reasonable and sensible safety precautions to your behaviour without going over the top and letting them ruin your trip.

If you want to prepare yourself as much as possible, you can do some more reading on how you can avoid dangerous situations and keep yourself safe here. But don’t let fear ruin your trip. Do your research, apply your common sense and enjoy yourself! Backpacking around the world will be one of the best things you will ever do, you will have an absolute blast, and by listening to these tips and doing your research you will come back safe and sound too.

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

Related Articldes

Solo Female Backpacker Safety Tips.

Solo Travel Makes You A Superhero!

Top 5 Ultra Manly Places Where You Can Pretend To Be Indiana Jones.

Why Solo Travel Is Awesome!

Further Reading

Gap Year Safety

If you want to gain a more in depth knowledge and understanding about how to keep yourself safe on the road as well as research and understand some of the risks and dangers that you may face out there, then you should get hold of a copy of Gap Year Safety. The book that is here to reassure, support and encourage you to follow your dreams of travelling the world and give you the tools and knowledge on how to stay safe in the process.

Gap Year Safety is the essential, comprehensive safety resource for anyone about to embark on their first gap year. Delving much deeper into issues such as how not to fall prey to common scams around the world, how to stay safe and not become a victim, how to recognise and deescalate potentially violent situations and what to do and where to get help if things do go wrong, Gap Year Safety is an invaluable resource to keep yourself safe on your travels.

It is here to answer all your practical safety and security questions, relieve you of your fears and worries of what may happen and provide you with the tools, knowledge and information you will need to make sure you stay safe on your trip. With the information and knowledge contained in this book, many dangers and troubles can be avoided altogether, or at least dealt with safely if they do occur.

With comprehensive advice from ex military personnel, self defence experts as well as qualified health care professionals and utilising the unique REACTE system of personal safety, this book is an absolute must read for anyone about to set off on their gap year or round the world adventure.

Buy The Book Here

Gap Year Safety: The ultimate guide to safely travelling the world is available in traditional paperback, or in eBook format across all platforms including Kindle, Apple and many more.



Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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Posted in Travel Safety
38 comments on “Solo MALE Backpacker Safety Tips.
  1. Rachel says:

    Is there a boy quote like “you go girl!” b/c i’d say that here 🙂 great post!

  2. globalmouse says:

    I think this is such a great post. It’s important that everyone thinks about travelling safely – female OR male and it’s brilliant to find tips to get guys thinking about ways to look out for themselves when travelling. Definitely one I’d want to point my children to when they’re older and looking to go solo travelling for the first time. Thank you for what you’re doing!!

    • You are exactly right, travel safety is important for both genders. Travel can be very safe provided people have the right knowledge and prepare well, and it is important that people remember that applies to men as well as women. Men aren’t automatically safe just because they are men! Thank you for visiting and commenting, I appreciate the kind words!

  3. King Lewis says:

    Such great advice, its super important to keep yourself safe for both men and women and i didnt know it could be this easy to lower the risk of injury! definitely keeping this in mind for my travels and will recommend to family and friends! thanks for the wisdom

    • Thanks King Lewis (awesome name!) I totally agree, too much emphasis is put on female traveller safety sometimes. Safety is a concern for everyone, regardless of gender, and the majority of tips work regardless of gender too (with the occasional gender specific tip thrown in). By taking reasonable precautions, using common sense and reducing the risk, both genders can travel the world very safely.

  4. Jamal says:

    Oh come on, surely you’ve been tempted to put your fists up with those touts! Hahaha! Awesome read!

  5. Bob says:

    Hahaha, I absolutely LOVED reading this! It made me laugh so much. Women have such a victim complex sometimes, all we ever hear about is ‘womens safety’ and it’s ‘so much harder for women’. Absolute rubbish. This was a really refreshing read. Thank you. 🙂

  6. Marlon Flores says:

    It’s really helpfull tips since I’m strarting my solo journey in cambodia.

  7. Kim says:

    Oh my god I have just found this from one of your other posts, it is hilarious! I never even considered male safety as a thing! Haha

    • Thank you, but yeah contrary to popular belief men are statistically vastly more likely to become the victim of all types of violent crime with the exception of sexual assault, and more likely to be targeted for a greater variety of reasons too. Men need safety tips far more than women do.

  8. The Ben Man says:

    Thanks for the post! I’ve never traveled solo before (let other people talk me out of it in the past). I’m married now, but in the last year and a half, I’ve gotten the itch to try it at least once, and my wife is actually ok with it. Just need to save up for it. Since the interest came back to the forefront, I’ve tried looking up solo tips, and almost everything is geared specifically toward women. The first thing I found was written by a woman, and this may not be the case with all women, but she understood nothing of the male psyche.

    Personally, I think it’s good to learn the needs that are common to both genders, as well as the gender specific ones.

    • To be honest with you Ben the majority of the tips are generally gender neutral. The absolute disparity between female and male advice on travel safety is mostly down to the disproportionate fear levels (women are generally far more fearful despite being statistically drastically less likely to become victims of most crimes) when it should be the other way round. But you are right there are some gender specific issues (psychological and practical) when it comes to safety and it is important that all sides are addressed. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  9. Claire Foster says:

    So funny! Laughed out loud so much at this!

  10. Sean McColl says:

    Hell yeah! Preach the truth brother! This is amazing. I know the stats will be skewed because men in general will not ask for help or admit to being afraid (or for that matter BE afraid). It is in our biological and sociological make up. But it is the truth that men are generally and statistically the ones more at risk (both travelling and at home) and I am tired of hearing women say that it is so much more dangerous for them just because they are women. It isn’t. They may FEEL more at risk, but that doesn’t mean they actually are, but god forbid you try and tell them that because you are then discounting their feelings! Well done on stating the facts here, and good tips too!

  11. Tom says:

    Brilliant post! It’s about time someone talked about male safety.

  12. Dan says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, legend! Great post and it’s about time this topic was brought up!

  13. Eido says:

    Thank you very much for your detailed article! It really opened my eyes as a man traveler, and I hope will literally save me if I’ll step into an unpleasant situation.

  14. Fozia Ahmed says:

    Haha I loved this, I know it was funny but it is also very serious too. Great post

  15. Andrew says:

    This is brilliant! Its good to see a male perspective on this issue.

  16. Kamille says:

    Bwahahaha, this is amazing! And so true.

  17. Alex says:

    So true, statistically men are more at risk yet we fear becoming a victim less, that is fact, so why is it ALWAYS women saying they are always in more danger?

    • Perception of the world through a victim mentality, conflation of different societal expectations/experiences in certain parts of the world into a risk factor, there are plenty of reasons Alex, but very few of them change that basic statistical fact you are absolutely right.

  18. Frank says:

    Good article. This would have applied to me 30 years ago when I did have a backpack and stayed in hostels. Now old and not traveling alone it still applies. Blending in is so important as is knowing the local customs. Thanks for reminding us of propriety when traveling.

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a published author, qualified nurse and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent 15 years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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