Top 10 Solo Female Travel Safety Tips.

top-10-solo-female-travel-safety-tips

Solo travel as a woman can be a little daunting at first, and is often seen as too dangerous or risky, but it really doesn’t have to be. Solo travel is one of the most empowering, rewarding and downright awesome things you will ever do, but you do have to balance that out with your own safety concerns too. So here are the top 10 expert tips to help you reduce any risk to your personal safety and security whilst on your travels.

Safety for solo female travellers is something I have written a lot about before, but it is a topic that comes up time and time again and one of the single most common questions I get asked about every single day, so I thought it would be a good idea to just go over some of the best and most effective tips for women to stay safe on their gap years and backpacking adventures.

It is important to remember that the world in general is quite a safe place, and the simple fact of being a woman does not automatically make you more of a victim or make it too dangerous to travel. That doesn’t mean there aren’t risks however, of course there are, but there are ways to minimise those risks and it is essential that you don’t let fear dictate your actions. Preparation is good, paranoia is not. As I have said before, one of the main tricks to keeping yourself safe when travelling the world simply lies in …

Understanding the potential risks and dangers,

and ..

Reducing that risk as much as possible.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of expert tips or an in depth discussion on spotting, avoiding, deescalating or dealing with potential problems, all that is for other articles and discussions. There are also the common sense essentials that should go without saying. But here is a top 10 list of the most popular safety tips that all women about to embark on their round the world adventure can use to immediately reduce any risk to themselves.

Stay Alert.

This is an important one as one of the most effective ways to ensure your own safety is situational awareness. All that means is being actively aware of your surroundings. It can be so easy to put your earphones in on a long bus journey, lose yourself in your surroundings and not concentrate, so stay aware of the things around you, your belongings and the people around you at all times, and you will be far more likely to spot and avoid any potential trouble before it even happens.

Be Confident.

Confidence is absolutely key. Even if inside you are feeling a little lost or nervous, don’t worry, just acting confident will make a huge difference. Fake it ’till you make it! Predators, thieves and con artists all prey on those who look like an easy target and look weak – it’s a natural animal instinct – so be the exact opposite of that. Act and look like you are confident, know where you are and what you are doing and it will greatly reduce your chances of being picked out as a victim.

solo female traveller

Blend in.

Look like just another one of the crowd as much as possible and don’t stand out. This tip is all about not drawing any undue attention to yourself. By being mindful of what you look like and how you act you can blend into the crowd, not stand out and by virtue of that not make yourself a target.

A lot of this comes down to what you wear and how you look.Look around at what local women or local expats are wearing and follow suit, you don’t have to completely copy that of course or go to extremes, just use your common sense.

If you look like you belong, you’re more likely to be looked over. If you wear anything that screams ‘tourist’, You may as well be painting a massive neon target on your back!

Wearing a bikini top and shorts may be appropriate in Malibu for example where a lot of women will be wearing the same, but it just isn’t appropriate walking around Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran.

But it is more than what you wear, it is how you act too. Don’t get that huge tourist map out and stand around looking lost, be careful of that massive bulge where it is obvious you have a ‘secret’ money belt, you know what I mean. Act like you belong, and try to look like you belong too.

Now it doesn’t matter what you do or where you go, there will always be some parts of your appearance that will make you stand out in certain parts of the world. That is completely unavoidable and I would never suggest you even try. In those circumstances it is still relatively easy to look like an expat or a foreign worker in that country, and combined with an air of self confidence and a little bit of the local language, will help you significantly reduce the risk of being notice – and targeted – by undesirables.

Solo female backpacker traveler safety

Learn a little bit of the local language. 

This is always a polite thing to do anyway, and learning the basics such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, this just shows a little respect for your host country as much as it helps you blend in. It is also a really good idea just to memorise and learn a few phrases that will help you raise the alarm in an emergency or ask for help if you need it. The word ‘help’ is not universal, and if you think something is wrong and need to ask a stranger for assistance or you need to ring the emergency services then having at least a phrase or two in the local language will at least give them an immediate idea of what you need.

Be sensitive to local custom and tradition.

Understanding the place you are in and the culture you are visiting is essential when backpacking so you can be sensitive to local customs and manners, everything from wearing appropriate clothing at religious sites to watching the topics you discuss with a local. Doing so will help you avoid bringing any extra attention to yourself and reduce your chances of being targeted.

Keep your valuables hidden.

This should be a bit of a common sense one really and again, is all about not drawing any unwanted attention to yourself. Even if you look like a cross between Mr T and half of the Kardashian clan at home, it is no reason to look like an explosion in a jewelry shop when you are travelling, and I know everyone simply must travel with all of the latest tech and an entire extra pack of go pro accessories now, but it really is not a good idea to have them all on display all of the time. If you do, you are essentially a huge walking neon advert to every thief, pickpocket and con artist in the area. Leave the fancy jewelry at home and only take out your tech when you are actually using it and be mindful of how you carry it when you do.

Bonus tip: Ladies, don’t slap me when I say this, but hide a couple of your valuables in your bra. (Okay, get all the double entendres out of the way, I heard them in my head as I was typing that, but I’m serious!) You can get specifically designed bras with secret pockets, but a bra with extra padding (with the padding taken out) works just as well, and you can easily hide some cash and your passport in a waterproof bag in there. Think about it, it’s probably the most difficult place to pickpocket for obvious reasons, right? And probably the last place any potential mugger or pickpocket will look. I’m not normally one to recommend money belts of any kind, in fact I hate them with a passion, but since you already have a natural one that you are wearing anyway, why not?

Be careful with alcohol.

A lot of this is common sense really. I know this is your gap year and you want to have fun, that’s fine, no one is going to deny you that. Just be careful. Have a bit of fun and a social drink with those awesome backpackers you met at your hostel, just do it in moderation and don’t get so drunk you lose control and have no idea of what is happening around you, or to you.

It is always a good idea to keep your drinks to sealed cans or bottles when you are at a bar too, and just like you would on a night out at home make sure that no one can slip anything into it either.

Avoid walking alone at night.

This especially applies if you happen to be walking in a deserted or sparsely populated area. If you do go out at night try to be with or around other travellers from your hostel, or spend that little bit of cash and take a taxi. A big part of staying safe when travelling is avoiding risky situations or taking steps to minimise that risk, and this is really no different than the common sense approach you would take at home. I mean would you walk down that dark alley on your own at night at home? Why would you do it in a strange city?

Be prepared when you arrive in a new place.

Arriving in a new town, city or country, especially late at night, is often when travellers are at their most vulnerable. You will probably be tired and a little groggy from a long bus or plane journey, you will be disorientated and perhaps even a little bit culture shocked. It happens to everyone, don’t worry. The big problem is that also makes you a prime target for touts, thieves and other unwanted attention. This is where it really pays off to prepare things beforehand and is one of the few occasions where it is a good idea to book your accommodation in advance (splurging on a private room for the first night at least is a good idea to just to allow you to rest), and get a metered and licensed taxi there.

Trust your gut instinct. 

This seems like a bit of a cop out piece of advice but believe me it isn’t. Your gut instinct is one of the best and sharpest weapons you have for keeping yourself safe when travelling the world. If something doesn’t feel right, if that person you are talking to is making you feel a bit uncomfortable or you just have a bad feeling, then trust your gut and leave. Get out of there. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Bonus tip: Don’t be paranoid.

The tips and advice given above are designed to help you reduce any potential risk out there as much as possible, so that you can get on and enjoy your gap year or backpacking trip in peace and safety, but they aren’t there to scare you or worry you into thinking that the world is a much more dangerous place than it really is.

Remember that being prepared and being careful are good and wise things to do, being paranoid is not.

Not every person that says hello is out to scam you, not all the attention you get as a woman is negative (sometimes you will feel like a celebrity as whole families just want a photo with the tall, pretty blonde westerner), and despite what you may hear not every man is out to rape you. So before you get out that pepper spray and start screaming at everyone who comes within a 2 mile radius of you just remember, the world is generally a safe, welcoming and wonderful place. Simply having the knowledge and the tools to reduce the risk that is there means that you are more ready and able to protect yourself and keep yourself safe if the worst does happen.

 

Solo female backpacker safety advice    safety-tips-for-solo-female-travel

I really hope these basic tips have eased your fears a little and given you the confidence to look at all the different ways you can stay safe on your travels.

The absolute reality is that thousands of women travel safely every single day, and by taking reasonable steps to ensure your safety and security there is absolutely no reason you can’t too.

This isn’t a comprehensive list and there are a lot more in depth ways that you can reduce any risk and increase your chances of staying safe, but by keeping these basic tips in mind you are already well on the way to reducing the risk that is out there to acceptable levels so that you can relax and enjoy your awesome round the world adventure, and return home safe and sound.

Remember, travel is not as scary as you think it is once you get out there!

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 Travel Makes You A Superhero!

Solo Female Backpacker Safety Tips.

Solo MALE Backpacker Safety Tips.

The Reality Of Fear And The Truth About Travel Safety.

Travel Safety Advice. The Good, The Bad And The Downright Crazy.

Why Solo Travel Is Awesome!

Further Reading

Gap Year Safety Books

If you want to gain a more in depth knowledge and understanding about how to reduce the risks of travelling and keep yourself safe on the road then you need these books.

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, Gap Year Safety is an absolute must read for anyone about to set off on their gap year. It delves much deeper into issues such as how to stay safe and not become a victim, how to recognise, avoid 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.

Solo Female Backpacker deals with all these issues and more specifically from a woman’s perspective, with the same essential safety tips and advice from ex military personnel and self defence experts as well as inspirational stories from women who have travelled independently around the world.

With the information and knowledge contained in these books, many dangers and troubles can be avoided altogether, or at least dealt with safely if they do occur.

Both books are available in traditional paperback, or in eBook format across all platforms including Kindle, Apple and many more.

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Michael Huxley is a published author, freelance travel writer and founder of Bemused Backpacker. He is also a charge nurse by vocation with an interest in emergency nursing and travel medicine, but his real passion is travel. Since finding his wanderlust a decade ago in South East Asia, he has bounced from one end of the planet to another and has no intention of slowing down.

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Posted in Solo Travel, Travel Lists, Travel Safety
50 comments on “Top 10 Solo Female Travel Safety Tips.
  1. Sarah says:

    These are some great tips, thank you so much!

  2. Lisa Hudson says:

    I love your posts Michael 🙂 I’m leaving to backpack solo around South America for 6 months in 2017 and I have to admit I was scared to go at first but you have really given me a lot of confidence. I’ll definitely be following your advice to the letter and I’m sure with that I’ll have nothing to worry about.

  3. Crystal says:

    It is posts like this one that is giving me so much confidence in my decision to travel solo. Thank you xo

  4. Em says:

    I love these tips! I’m actually travelling through Thailand with my boyfriend at the momennt but I am finding that I can employ a lot of these tips anyway. You can’t be too careful!

  5. Carol says:

    Nice tips! Not only for solo travellers or for women, any traveller can benefit from using them.

  6. Sally says:

    Great tips. You can never be too careful, bad things can happen anywhere at any time, even in the safest of places

    • Thanks, yes they can and I hope that is a message a lot more people take away from my post. No place (with the exception of active war zones of course) is inherently dangerous, bad things can happen to good people anywhere, even at home.

  7. Rachel says:

    A smart list for all female travellers, it really does pay off to be careful and take precautions.

  8. Stacey says:

    I am so bookmarking this and keeping it for when I go travelling. I won’t be alone (my GF is with me) but I think these tips will still apply.

  9. Nichola says:

    Great tips, and I think that they are not only work well for solo female travellers but for men and couples or people who are travelling together too.

    • Oh definitely, the absolute majority of safety tips and advice can work as well for either gender, solo or otherwise. There is the occasional exception to that rule of course but on the whole safety and security training and advice is not really gender specific. It is only presented as such to make it easier for women to find the article.

  10. Sarah Krause says:

    I loved this post, you’ve really helped me look at my worries a little bit more rationally, thank you.

  11. Leanne Chandler says:

    You are so right. Fear keeps a lot of women from travelling solo but once you realize as long as you practice common sense you will be safe, there should be nothing to stop you. Thankyou for this post.

  12. Camila says:

    There are some good tips in this article, the problem is for women that fear is very real and the risk of being raped or being sexually assaulted anywhere in the world is very real too. It is just different when you are travelling as a woman and as a man you can never understand that.

    • Of course men and women have different experiences when travelling, I have never claimed differently, nor have I claimed to understand that experience. That has nothing to do with the facts about travel safety, because what I do understand is the facts and statistics about the dangers both men and women face, and I also understand that the safety tips, techniques and preparations to reduce the risk of becoming a victim are applicable to both genders equally.

  13. Laura Fitzpatrick says:

    Such amazing tips and so important. Thank you.

  14. Natalie says:

    Thank you so much for writing this, I’m dreaming of/planning my gap year at the moment for early next year, and you have really helped in more ways than you can know.

  15. Poppy says:

    This is amazing, thank you. It is always worth just having a think about how you can make yourself a bit less of a target, especially when you’re on your own and have no one to watch your back.

  16. Melissa Arnold says:

    This is such an important post, thank you. I’m sharing this with everyone. Definitely buying your book too.

  17. Mia Kuar says:

    I love this! Such good advice. Thank you for posting it.

  18. Michelle says:

    I’m sorry but how is you mansplaining safety to women going to help us? It is far more dangerous for women to travel, especially alone. You just don’t get that.

    • Well first of all the facts and statistics disagree with you. It is men who are more likely to become victims of crime overall and more likely to become victims of every type of violent crime with the exception of sexual assault, which women are more likely to be victims of. (See the British Crime Survey for the past ten years, Home Office statistics and also British, American and Australian consulate assistance statistics if you want to look that up.) Second of all, it is sexist to assume that I can’t advise anyone just because of my gender, because I tend to think that my physical training, qualifications and experience in the military, the martial arts and teaching self defence to both civilians and professionals, as well as my academic knowledge with a degree in Criminology, tend to give me a fair bit of authority in the subject. My gender doesn’t come into it.

  19. Abbie says:

    Yes! This! I love this post, thank you.

  20. Amber says:

    I think splurging for a private room and a taxi when you first arrive is an excellent idea, not only is it safer it just gives me so much more peace of mind too. Its fine to go exploring and look for new places when you are more alert and have your bearings after a day or two. Solid advice Mike.

  21. Louisa says:

    This post is giving me so much confidence for my trip already, thank you

  22. Leanne Davies says:

    Thank you for this, the tips are fantastic and it has given me a bit more confidence about my own safety when I go away in April.

  23. Michelle Heggarty says:

    I found this article after seeing your post on that awful rape in Australia and I have to say I love it, the tips are spot on and you are absolutely right that safety is all about the steps YOU take to reduce risk to yourself. Most articles I read on this subject talk about female empowerment and then in the same breath devalue women by saying how dangerous the world is for them, but I think you have done more to empower women by putting the tools and the knowledge of how to protect themselves in their own hands. If I could put an emoji giving you a round of applause here I would!

  24. Khaleesi says:

    Love these tips, thank you for this article.

  25. Kate Bamford says:

    This is amazingly helpful, thank you. Definitely buying ur book now! Xo

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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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