Solo female traveler safety concerns are what stop many women from taking the plunge.
“What if I get sick and there’s no one around to help me?”
“What if I get lost, and I’m all by myself?”
“How do I navigate a country I don’t know? What if I end up in a bad neighborhood?”
“What if something goes wrong and I end up getting robbed, or worse?”
These are all incredibly valid concerns that any female traveler has likely asked herself at some point, and the thought of something bad happening on the road is extremely anxiety-inducing. You might find yourself catastrophizing the experience prematurely by thinking of every little thing that can go wrong. It’s paralyzing – especially when it is your first time opting to travel by yourself.
Solo travel is daunting, and while solo female travel has become increasingly prominent and more widely accepted on a global scale, there is unfortunately still a risk involved in going anywhere alone as a woman in today’s world.
And, while incidents that can happen to you on the road are also just as likely to occur in your home country, it’s definitely important to keep your guard up when in unfamiliar situations. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself, ease your mind, and most importantly, still have fun.
Here are my top tips for solo female traveler safety both before, and during, your trip.
Solo Female Traveler Safety Tips Every Woman Should Know
Start By Taking a Solo Trip in Your Home Country
Booking your first solo trip as a female traveler is daunting. I’ve been there, and I know those feelings well.
One of the best ways to put your nerves at ease is to start with a trip in your home country. Doing so can help you begin getting comfortable being by yourself in the world.
And, it doesn’t have to be crazy. It can be something as small as planning a road trip a couple hours from your hometown. Even if you aren’t crossing state or international lines, you’ll still get to use the same skill sets that you’ll eventually need when you do decide to travel solo abroad.
A quick solo trip in your home country will still force you to:
- Plan your transportation
- Book accommodation for yourself
- Eat dinner alone
- Do activities solo
- Flex your general solo travel safety and self-awareness muscles
The more you become attuned to solo travel situations, the more confidence you’ll build and the less daunting a bigger trip will seem.
Do Your Research on International Travel Tips Ahead of Time
Things can often go awry when you don’t plan ahead. From procrastinating on booking a hotel, to forgetting to research transportation from the airport before your flight and getting stranded at 2 am – not having a plan can give you unnecessary headaches.
The only way you can avoid travel mishaps (many of which are in your control) is to learn absolutely everything you can about the destination you’re headed to.
- Is there a reliable public transportation system? How much does it cost and how do you buy tickets? What about rideshares and taxis? Could you book private transportation ahead of time, if it’s late?
- What are the visa requirements? Do I need to provide any documents on arrival or book a visa meeting at a consulate?
- What’s the weather like? Am I traveling during cyclone, rain, or wildfire season?
- Are there known tourist scams? What is safety like? Should I avoid any specific neighborhoods?
- What are the cultural norms? Do I need to pack clothes that cover my shoulders? What’s the political climate like?
All of these questions (and more) will help you mentally and financially plan for your solo trip. It minimizes careless assumptions that things will be the same as they are at home, and equips you with the right knowledge to handle situations like a pro.
Where can you find the answers to all your burning questions? Join solo female travel groups on Facebook, read blog posts, review official government and travel sites, and ask people in your personal network what their experience was like, so you can plan accordingly.
Sign Up for STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)
Are you a US citizen? Be sure to add STEP to your pre-travel checklist.
It’s a free program that will register your solo trip with the US Embassy in the country or countries you’re visiting.
If something happens like a major natural disaster, an unstable political situation, or a planned riot near you, the embassy will know how to find you.
You’ll also get up-to-date information about the safety conditions of a destination, making it easy to re-route your travel plans before you arrive, and during your trip, if need be.
Turn On Location Sharing On Your Phone
As a frequent solo traveler, I have my location shared with my dad and my boyfriend 24/7.
Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, sharing your location is a secure way of letting the people you care about know exactly where you are without needing to update them constantly. If you share an itinerary with them before you travel, they can cross-reference with your geo-location to get a sense of whether your plans are going smoothly or if something might’ve changed.
And, if for whatever reason something does happen, or you lose your phone or cell service, your contact will be able to locate you or your device quickly.
Consider Buying Travel Insurance
I know – travel insurance seems like such an annoying extra travel cost.
When I first started traveling the world, I didn’t feel like I needed it. But the more I travel, and the more gear I bring with me (in my case, laptops, cameras, etc), the more precautions I take to ensure my peace of mind.
Learn from my mistakes and buy travel insurance for your solo trip. It can save you from expensive hospital bills, forking out money for lost luggage, and having to pay for emergency repatriation.
Not sure who to use? I recommend looking into:
Both offer travel insurance for travelers / digital nomads and offer a number of different options based on your needs and the length of your trip.
Be More Aware of Your Surroundings
Now that we’ve got more of the basics out of the way, let’s dive into the solo female traveler safety tips you can employ during your solo trip to have an incredible –and safer – time.
The first thing you want to do is practice increasing your self-awareness. It sounds a bit ridiculous, but it’s important to pay extra attention to your surroundings when you’re traveling by yourself. Tune into where you are, who is around you, where potential exits are if needed, and where your belongings are at all times.
Noticing what is happening around you empowers you to make snap decisions and avoid reacting too late.
- If you notice someone has been following you for several blocks, you can step into a store and call an Uber.
- As someone is walking towards you, and you’re alone, you can cross the street.
- If someone at the bar is coming on too strong with you, you can signal to the bartender for assistance (in my experience, many are often happy to help and are trained to handle these kinds of situations).
Stay at Hotels or Women-Only Accommodations
When traveling solo for the first time, I always recommend hotels over Airbnbs because of the added peace of mind that comes with having a front desk and security.
If you’re traveling on a budget and looking for a hostel, consider booking a spot in a dorm that’s women-only if that’ll help you feel more safe. Hostels typically offer co-ed, all-men, and all-women setups, as well as private rooms if you have the money to spare.
On the rare occasion that you find an all-women hostel or accommodation, that could also be an option to give you added security and support while roaming the world solo. One company I love, Wanderful, is even working on launching a global hosting network where members can meet and stay with others in their community of women an allies all over the world, and it’s worth checking out.
Research Your Accommodation
Before you book, do your due diligence and spend some time researching the hotel or hostel first. While that hotel or hostel is ridiculously cheap and looks great, is it safe?
Some of the things you want to make sure your accommodation has are:
- A 24/7 front desk: If something happens, you know there will always be someone around to help.
- A central location: This will make it easy to self-navigate back to your room, help you find your bearings, and ensures other people will be around.
- Good reviews: Online reviews from past travelers, especially fellow women and fellow solo travelers, are a huge tell. Make sure there are no red flags on Google, Tripadvisor, or any other review sites before you book.
While staying in central locations means you’ll likely end up paying a bit more, ask yourself what’s more important. Extra cash in your bank account or extra security?
Don’t Tell Strangers You’re Traveling Alone or Where You’re Staying
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know (or have noticed) that I hardly ever post anything in real-time (save for the random selfie or food pic). I check out of every hotel before I share a single tag or geo-location.
Use this as a rule of thumb for all your solo trips. Don’t tell strangers you’re traveling alone (unless you’re in a very unique scenario, like a mixer with other solo travelers, for example), and definitely don’t give away where you’re staying. It will keep you safe and avoid risking your personal security.
Of course, you should make friends on your trip to Bali or Australia – new travel friends are part of the fun, after all – but always err on the side of caution, at least at the start. You don’t know these people yet, and you can’t know for sure what their true intention or nature is like.
Play your cards close to your chest, and don’t risk your safety. If someone asks if you’re traveling alone, lie and say your friends are in the room (have fun with it, make up a story if you must).
If you’re meeting up with new friends, meet somewhere neutral and keep where you’re staying a mystery until you feel more sure of the situation you’re in.
Be Extra Cautious at Night
Once the sun goes down, it’s time to dial up your spidey senses. There may be fewer people out, or if you’re in a big city, more people getting ready to party.
Of course, this goes for anywhere (including your home country), but the added complexity of a foreign language, unfamiliar streets, etc. makes solo female traveler safety at night especially important.
Here are some things to keep in mind to help you stay safe as a solo female traveler after dark:
- Plan to arrive in a new city during the daytime, if possible: This way, you don’t have to worry about catching a night train and trying to find your hotel in the dark. If you can’t avoid it, plan ahead by booking private transportation to your hotel from a reputable car service. It may cost you more, but it’s worth it if you’re arriving in the middle of the night.
- Avoid walking around alone in empty places at night: Rather, call an Uber or use public transportation and stay in well-lit places if you can help it. When I can’t, I usually use this opportunity to call a friend or my boyfriend while I’m walking to keep me company on the phone.
- Go out at night in a group: Most hostels organize pub crawls, or you can make plans with your new travel friends in public places.
- Watch your alcohol consumption: As a solo female traveler, keep your wits about you and avoid drinking beyond your limits. It can affect your judgment, make you less aware, and possibly make you an easy target for theft (or, you know, worse). And, when drinking, always watch your beverages! When I need to go to the bathroom, I ask the bartender to guard my drink behind the bar and they’re usually very happy to do so.
Use Ride-Sharing to Get Around
Sure, not all ride-shares are safe, but they are generally safer and more cost-regulated than local taxis, which can sometimes be a scam.
Drivers who sign up for Uber, for instance, go through background checks, and you can see the driver’s information and rating on the app before you get into the car.
With local taxis, you typically get none of that. You might even get into a vehicle with someone who is pretending to be a driver, which is all kinds of annoying.
One other perk of doing a ride-share like Uber? You can share your location when you’re on the road.
Your mom, dad, or friend back home can watch your trip and get notified as soon as you arrive at your destination safely.
And if something does go wrong? Your location-sharing contact will have all the right information to pass on to local authorities.
Get an Anti-Theft Day Pack
Pickpockets are a plague anywhere in the world. Whether you’re exploring the streets of Rome or Cape Town, someone with sticky fingers could find you and relieve you of your wallet or phone.
These are specifically designed to keep people out of your belongings and make it hard for someone to attempt to pickpocket without you noticing.
When putting your stuff in your bag, distribute your money throughout the compartments. For example, put your credit card in a different place than your cash.
This way, if someone does make it into your bag, you won’t lose access to all your money.
Pro Tip: Travel with two cards and keep one card in the safe at your hotel. Same goes for your cash – divide it up between your purse and your luggage. You’ll increase your odds of still having resources to tap even if you do end up getting pickpocketed.
Solo Female Traveler Safety FAQ
- Is it safe for a single woman to travel alone? Yes, it is safe for a single woman to travel alone. I’ve been doing it for years, and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever given to myself. While each country will be a bit different, there’s enough solo female travel trailblazers – and resources available – these days to arm you with all the information you need to know to stay safe.
- How do you become a solo female traveler? Pick a destination (even a city just a few hours from your hometown will do!) and plan a trip there. Voila. You’ve successfully become a solo female traveler.
- Where can a single woman travel alone? There are loads of incredible solo female travel destinations. Some of my personal favorites that are popular – and generally quite accommodating – for solo female travel are Bali, Australia, Iceland, and Singapore.
Solo travel has changed my life in so many wonderful and affirming ways. It has helped me see so much of the world, and learn so much more about myself and what I’m capable of in the process.
And I know I’m not the only one.
As you’ll soon come to realize, there is a solid – and growing! – community of solo female travelers out there doing their thing and hoping other women will join in on the fun. It’s empowering to go out in the world alone and explore it on your own terms. It’s self-indulgent and self-motivating in all the best ways, and I hope these tips for traveling alone a a woman help you feel more confident about solo female traveler safety, so you can look pre-trip anxiety in the eye, and take the plunge anyway.
Read This Next:
- How to Overcome Feeling Lonely While Traveling Solo
- How to Prepare for Your First Solo Trip
- The Best First-Time Solo Female Travel Destinations
- 7 Tips to Ease into Your First Time Traveling Alone
- 10 Priceless Benefits of Traveling Alone