Going solo – tips for female travelers
There’s no escaping the stark fact that solo female travelers are more vulnerable than their male counterparts. No matter where in the world you’re travelling, if it is one of the best solo destinations or elsewhere, as a woman going it alone you’ll need to put certain safety practices in place to relax and enjoy your trip.
Follow these simple guidelines and you can turn your attention to deciding where to go next!
Unfortunately, particularly around airports or popular tourist attractions, there are people that may wish to take advantage of a vulnerable traveler. Giving the impression of confidence, even if you’re not particularly feeling it, can help protect you from becoming an easy target in cities like Barcelona, New York or Paris, for example. This might include walking tall and with a sense of purpose, slapping a smile on your face and making eye contact with others. It may also help to keep tickets and necessary information to hand rather than appearing flustered whilst fumbling for them in your baggage.
Plan in advance
Part of the fun of traveling is being able to act spontaneously, but some degree of advance planning and organization will help keep you safe and able to fully enjoy your adventures. Looking lost can attract the wrong kind of attention, so if you need to track down your new hotel or visit an attraction for the first time, familiarize yourself with the route you need to take and carry a phrasebook so that you can ask for directions if required. It’s also best to book accommodation in advance if you’re visiting an unfamiliar place as playing pot-luck isn’t ideal in the safety stakes.
It may sound obvious, but it’s worth remembering that you are less safe in the dark — so plan to arrive at new destinations during the day with ample time to find your accommodation before evening falls. Stock up on shopping essentials during daylight hours and once it’s grown dark, stick to busy, well-lit streets.
Avoid attracting unwanted attention and you’ll be free to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Before travelling to a new place, look into local customs — in some countries, for instance, women are required to dress modestly and cover their heads, particularly in places of worship. Standing out as a tourist rather than a local or seasoned traveler may make you a target, so adopt the styles of manner and dress you see all-around you. Don’t heave luggage around with you all the time, and leave items like baseball caps and bum bags back at home!
Trust your instincts
If you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t feel right, trust your gut feelings and walk away as calmly and quickly as possible. A guide book may describe a hostel as safe and well-staffed, but if your experience doesn’t meet that description on arrival, go elsewhere.
Have some back-up
Booking accommodation and travel through companies rather than making arrangements with individuals will provide you with support and is usually a safer option in general. An example might be organizing an airport transfer through a holiday provider for a set price, rather than relying on finding a taxi in an unfamiliar location and haggling over cost.
Personal safety is paramount
Don’t let the holiday vibe distract you from thinking about your safety as you would automatically do at home. Nobody would deny a sole female traveler a few drinks or the chance to socialize with new people. But sticking to well-lit, well-populated areas while partying and ensuring you don’t drink excessively (or better not at all which is what I’ve been doing since 2009 with 0 alcohol) will help you make sensible choices. Remember too that hot climates and unfamiliar drinks may mean that you feel the effects or alcohol more quickly and intensely than you would at home.
Time spent alone, exploring our wonderful world, is an enriching and empowering experience for any traveler. Follow these simple rules will help to enhance your independence rather than spoiling your fun.