I stood in my empty hostel room while folding my laundry one day, speaking with an employee who was cleaning the room. He seemed harmless. He made natural conversation until he asked, “Why would a woman travel alone?” Aside from being completely offended and replying, “Why does a man travel alone? Isn’t it the same reason- to see the world?” I started to get uncomfortable. When he began asking what I was doing with my day and subsequently suggested that we hang out and have sex, I knew immediately that I had to get out of there. I gave him a hard no and got out quick.
While I was scared at the time, it didn’t make me pack my bags and go home. And it hasn’t stopped me from traveling alone since. I wasn’t going to let that moment take away from the most empowering thing I’ve ever done. Other than that moment, the whole trip was the most intense, wonderful, awe-inspiring, and liberating thing I had ever experienced.
Traveling solo as a woman sounds daunting. I get questions about safety all of the time. But it’s not any different than living in your own hometown. I don’t feel any less safe being abroad than I do at home in the U.S. Don’t let your fears prevent you from having an amazing experience abroad. Follow these tips and feel confident and stay safe on your solo trip.
1. Be aware of the culture.
Before you even get on the plane, research the culture. Is it more conservative? Do they dress conservative? Do they regularly look each other in the eye? Is eye contact weird for them? Being mindful of the culture will not only help you stay safe, but to avoid uncomfortable interactions in general with locals.
A pro-tip: Google fashion blogs of women from the particular cities/countries you’re going to. This will give you a big idea on what people tend to wear (and maybe give you some fashion inspiration for your trip)!
2. Don’t tell strangers where you’re staying.
This is probably common sense, but just like you wouldn’t give your address to a complete stranger at home, don’t do it abroad. They do not need to know where you are staying, and if they are asking, don’t give any specifics. It’s always better to stay safe and don’t bring strangers back with you either.
3. Do tell your family and trusted friends where you’re going.
Before I leave for a trip, I give a full itinerary to my family and close friends. I list out everywhere I’m going, everywhere I’m staying, hotel phone numbers, etc. I also make sure to check in with them occasionally, whether via Imessage, Whatsapp, or FaceTime regularly. This helps them feel better about me traveling alone, and keeps them up to date on where I’m at.
4. Don’t get drunk.
I know there is all kinds of fun to be had abroad. Maybe it’s your first ever Oktoberfest in Munich. Maybe you are going to a music festival in Croatia. You may even be tackling the Full Moon Party in Thailand. As a solo female traveler, I cannot emphasize the importance of not getting hammered. Sure, have some drinks. But never have too many that you do not feel in control.
5. Do as you would at home (use common sense) and stay safe.
Like I said before: Traveling solo is the same as being in the U.S. or wherever you call home. Use your common sense and you’ll be fine. Don’t walk alone at night in the dark- call a cab instead. If you have a gut feeling something isn’t right, trust that feeling and get out of whatever area you’re in.
6. Walk with purpose and confidence.
Be confident while walking alone. Don’t carry your map around you in an obvious manner. Instead, download the maps on your phone or look up where you’re going ahead of time and memorize the route. Walk in areas you see other women. The point is, be confident and appear as local as possible.
7. Buy international data for the trip and have a personal safety app.
While you don’t necessarily need a data plan while traveling, I would recommend it as a solo female traveler. Get enough data that will cover your trip. That way you can use it for emergencies (or even if you just get lost).
Another reason to have data? To download a personal safety app. These apps are great whether home or abroad. Basically, depending on the app, if you either shake your phone or press a button, it will call your emergency contacts. Some great apps include bSafe and React Mobile.Don’t let safety concerns be a reason to skip the solo trip you’ve been dreaming of. Follow these tips, stay safe, and overall, use common sense. I cannot stress enough that traveling is not any more dangerous than being at home. Women travel alone because it’s empowering (and yes, we do want to see the world too). 🙂
Where are you going on your solo trip? Or what questions do you have about traveling solo? I’d love to hear in the comments!